The renaissance taking place along Santa Barbara’s stunning waterfront has achieved a new level of sophistication with the Hotel Californian. Encompassing three remarkable Spanish Colonial Revival buildings, including the original Hotel Californian that debuted in 1925, the elegant 121-room property is a breath of fresh, sea air for discerning Angeleno’s seeking an exceptional get away with all the first-class comforts of a refined European hotel, yet is distinctly Santa Barbara.
When the Hotel Californian opened last September there were plans to celebrate in grand style, but when the monstrous Thomas Fire and subsequent landslides engulfed communities along the Santa Ynez Mountains the Hotel Californian did what any good neighbor would do, they put the party on hold and opened their doors. “It was our responsibility to the community to help,” says Carlos Lopes, Managing Director at the Hotel Californian. “Our staff worked tirelessly to provide a soothing refuge for over 200 families and their pets during this difficult time. ”
The long awaited launch party took place last week when Hotel California owner Michael Rosenfeld and his team welcomed several hundred A-Listers, including Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, Andrew Firestone, Nicolette Sheridan and Santa Barbara Mayor, Helene Schneider, to celebrate at a “Wonderland’ themed evening that included a private concert with John Mayer.
Revelers also had the opportunity to meet and mingle with Martyn Lawrence Bullard, the designer extraordinaire who created the hotel’s exotic look and feel. “The aesthetic was given a Moorish twist because it’s a natural progression to the Mediterranean/Spanish Colonial architecture of Santa Barbara,” Bullard shares. “It gives a sexy, fresh edge [that] is unexpected, yet flows perfectly with the local historic values and flavor. The design was based on layered geometrics in black and white, punctuated with pops of color like golden saffron and emerald green. Moroccan patterns were employed in tile work, while mid-century furniture styles give a different layer, making it both hip and timeless. I wanted to add a younger spirit to the Santa Barbara style [with] original, edgy art and Italian Gio Ponti inspired furnishings.”
The spirit of community and locality that embodies the Hotel Californian’s design and mission is unique. Unlike most properties, the Hotel Californian is not hidden behind walls or a formidable facade, but is a one-of-a-kind presence that anchors three of the four corners at Mason & State Streets and allows guests to engage with the beauty and vitality of Santa Barbara. Conversely, open air corridors, peaceful courtyards with bubbling fountains and a palm shaded public square invite Santa Barbara residents and passers-by to experience the property’s serene atmosphere, as well as patronize Majorelle, a world-class spa, and the hotel’s two distinctive restaurants.
Executive Chef, Alexander La Motte, who brought his masterful culinary skills to the Hotel Californian from the Four Seasons in San Francisco and Per Se and The French Laundry in Napa, created noteworthy menus for Goat Tree, a casual, all-day cafe and bakery and Blackbird, the hotel’s signature restaurant for dinner and late night dining. Both offer the best of seasonal and locally sourced ingredients that are prepared with a Mediterranean twist. “As with the property’s architecture and design, we want the food at the Hotel Californian to be unmistakably Santa Barbara,” Lopes adds. “This is a special place that should be experienced with all five senses.” Hotel Californian, 36 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, 805-882-0100, thehotelcalifornian.com