Historical Traveller Reviews of Four Seasons Resort Santa Barbara Hotel
A Santa Barbara Classic
The Santa Barbara Biltmore (now, in this graceless age of product branding, the "Four Seasons Resort") is a California classic - - a jewel of early 20th Century mission architecture and beautiful landscaping on one of the most exquisite and valuable pieces of ocean-front property in the state. The property has been superbly maintained, with tasteful upgrades that include an excellent fitness center and spa (some upgrades are still in progress). The rooms are very large and beautifully furnished. The staff is young, energetic and very helpful.
Yes, Amtrak's Coast Starlight and Pacific Surfliner still rumble past, a fact the desk staff prominently discloses at check-in, but I barely noticed, even though I'm a very light sleeper. If it worries you, ask for a room near the front of the hotel. You can also make a treat of it, by taking the train to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles' Union Station, the last great mission-style building and last great train station built in the U.S.
The restaurant is lovely, with beautiful views of the ocean and the Channel Islands, and at lunch you can expect to see the local dolphins surfacing just offshore. Nonetheless, I've always found the restaurant menu just a bit dull; Santa Barbara has too many excellent restaurants to justify staying on campus for dinner. The concierge has menus and recommendations.
The biggest question about the Biltmore is whether it is worth the Four Season's price-tag, which is mighty high. The Biltmore is indeed a lovely property, but there is plenty of local competition. Visitors sure they are in the mood for a high-end splurge in the Santa Barbara area might be happier at the San Ysidro Ranch, another California classic. But if you want a classic that's on the water, and don't mind paying for it, the Santa Barbara Biltmore is a pretty good bet.
newly updated rooms make it better than ever.....
I just love this property! It sits right on the pacific ocean. The views are breathtaking. My husband and I have been staying at alot of four seasons lately and I must say this is the best. We decided not to splurge and choose a basic superior room (#315). To our delight we were quite pleased because the rooms have changed so much since our last stay 2 years ago. We were told by the bellman that the superior rooms were the first to renovated a year and a half ago. All of the rooms in the hotel are being fixed up I guess it is just a slow process. The room had a 50 inch plasma TV, the bathroom is gorgeous with a rain waterfall shower and a fancy faucet in the bath that pours the water all over you. Same beds that you are used to, the color scheme is much better soft golds and whites. We had a corner room that overlooked the putting green and we felt like we were the only two people staying there. I have read other reviews with complaints about the train and I must say it is really no big deal. If you are sound sensitive then you should pay the extra money and get a ocean view room. The service was perfect all around. We never waited for our car, room service was good and prompt. The bar is fantastic....The drinks are expensive but worth it. My only complaint is of La Marina. It is way too expensive and pretentious for what it is. I had been to many fancy restaurants, I am not freaked out by price I just think you need to have the food to back it up. You are much better off going to Mollies (Oprah's favorite) or Lucky's. They are walking distance away and very very good. Enjoy your stay.
very attentive staff
from A TripAdvisor Member
the staff specializes in late night service - superb.
My daughter and I stayed at the Biltmore recently along with our dogs. Though the hotel is very expensive, it was well worth the price to us. The staff accounts for the excellent references this hotel receives. I have rarely stayed in a place where the staff is so courteous and helpful .Room service personel were very polite and prompt and the rooms. themselves, were very well taken care of. Our dogs were treated with love and affection and we both found the grounds to be very sooothing. (Despite the hourly train running through)We held a birthday party for my daughter in the main restaurant and had a wonderful time. We both would like to return next year and met many other guests while there who said the same thing. (They do warn you about the train in the reservation confirmation.)
t have been better
We have just returned from a two week holiday in California and we stayed in the Four Seasons Bilmore in Santa Barbara. Our stayed could not have been more perfect. Yes, there is a train that goes near the hotel but there is no escape, everyone, and I mean everyone, in Santa Barbara and Montecito included the Bacara Resort (the other luxury resort in SB) and the rich and famous whith their luxury houses on the hills including Oprah Winfried hears the train. If you are in the main hotel, unless you have the windows open, it cannot be really heard, the cabanas can hear it only faintly with the windows closed. The hotel is under renovations and we were warned of it when we booked and also when we checked in as well as the train going through, but we didn't hear a thing. Check in was efficient and very pleasant; the porter that showed us our room was incredibly nice and could not do enough for us; the rooms are beautiful decorated, the gardens are so peaceful and abundant, we had a mini canal going around outside our balcony which made the whole atmosphere so peaceful and serene. As I did our booking via our corporate account, we had a bottle of wine and some fruit waiting for us a no extra cost. The bedding is so luxurious that you feel truly pampered, our room had a huge flat tv screen. The bathrooms are amazing, with separate huge bath and an amazing shower, to the point that I took pictures so I can model our bathroom at home like theirs. We went to the Patio Restaurant for early dinner and it was perfect with all the candlelights, the Mahi-Mahi was cooked to perfection and the service was as outstanding as the rest of the hotel. We went swimming at 7:30 in the morning in their swimming pool with no one around. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this hotel to anyone, it truly made our holidays and we found it to be incredibly romantic & peaceful, truly nirvana. Santa Barbara as a whole was a really great place to visit, probably our favourite place with Napa Valley we were sad that we had to leave both SB and the Four Seasons Bilmore.
A wonderful place to stay!
from A TripAdvisor Member
I recently booked a vacation to the Caribbean and decided to read the reviews which were appalling! I was so scared about this non-refundable trip and I decided to put it in perspective by reading reviews on other places I have stayed that were beautiful. I now am COMPLETELY relieved and you should ignore the negative reviews about the Four Seasons! I stayed here last summer and the rooms were beautiful and spotless! The food was terrific and the staff could not have been friendlier! In fact, when I filled out my survey upon checking out I rated one restaurant as just below outstanding whereas everything else I rated at the top.When I arrived home I received a phone call inquiring about what they could do differently to have that rating be outstanding as well! I was a bit embarrassed because I only rated that restaurant lower because it was very hot one day and I was thirsty and a bit cranky and I had to wait for the waiter longer than I had hoped to get a drink! If you book this trip I am certain you will not be disappointed unless you are simply a person who is never satisfied!
Best Family Holiday so far!!
Shocked to find some of these negative comments. Without detracting from them I had to comment. We stayed for 6 nights in late August, on our route from San Francisco to San Diego. We styed in a $900 per night suite and had the most perfect time. We loved eating together as a family in the open air restaurant, th epool was great and our room was something else. Cookies and Milk each night for the kids and all round pure luxury. We are from the UK and perhaps the weather had a lot to do withour view but the hotel was supereb and we have recommended several times
from A TripAdvisor Member
This hotel is the MOST elegant and has the best service in Santa Barbara. We travel A LOT, all over the country and I'm a big snob when it comes to this kind of stuff. The staff is very receptive and friendly. The hotel property is beautiful, with many more amenites then most -- the plasma screen TV's, the waterfall shower/soaking tubs, the Frette linens and down beds, the fireplaces -- it's our home away from home. The spa is very elegant, and you cannot compare a wonderful massage overlooking the ocean with a lovely fire blazing the background. The pool area is wonderful with a smaller, warmer soaking area that children will enjoy. We have stayed at the Four Seasons and the Ritz Carltons all over the world....this one is one of our favorites. Plus, they are very accommodating with children. Kid's bathrobes, treats, coloring books & cuisine. After their rennovation this year I feel that this hotel will be even more popular, bigger and better. We were very well taken care of...from the manager all the way back to the valet staff. You cannot compare this staff to anyone anywhere! They are the best!!!!
Nice, but robbed of cuff links...
from A TripAdvisor Member
We decided to celebrate my boyfriend's 50th birthday at the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara. We booked one of two "spa rooms" in the hotel. These rooms are more like junior suites with separate rain/steam shower, heated tiles and fire place with plasma screen in the room. Service, including the room service cuisine, was excellent. There were some technical problems with the DVD player so we had to get it exchanged. At one point, some ungodly noise came from some electrical closet next to our otherwise very private room, but maintenance managed to fix it. The spa was sensational, we had the couples' massage with aromatherapy soak. Rose petals were strewn all over the massage suite, there was a view toward the ocean and in general the hotel should receive very high marks for services, food and beverage. What wasn't so wonderful was that my boyfriend's Bulgari cuff links were stolen from the room by some long-fingered hotel staff member..or possibly a guest, as the hotel tried to intimate! Security was worse than inspector Clouseau, management took absolutely no responsibility for the theft and didn't even attempt to rectify the loss by offering any discount certificate or a letter of regret. This is after we spent close to $4,000 on two nights. Maybe a complaint directly to Mr. Isadore Sharpe would get things going? We'll not stay again, thank you.
A serious disappointment; poor value
from A TripAdvisor Member
We are seasoned travelers and were sorely disappointed during a 3-night stay in July, 2004, for a very special birthday. Our room was on the first floor of the 700-block of the main buidling and had an ocean view. We expected the quality associated with the Four Seasons and Biltmore names but got 1940s quality of construction and general disrepair: walls like cardboard so you could hear every intimate detail of the lovers and partiers upstairs not to mention the screaming toddlers across the hall; broken plantation shutters; cracked windows; clanky air conditioner of motel quality; and, general dampness of an improperly sealed building near the shore. We called the front desk twice during the night (after 11 pm) to complain about the unreasonable noise level from above -- all to no avail.
Our best experience was outside of the hotel facility, across the road at the beach. Avoid the pool and sports/spa complex as it is (no surprise) also run down with an ugly hurricane wire fencing adjacent to the beach -- how aesthetically un-pleasing!
We complained to the front desk (again) upon check out about the lack of soundproofing and sleepless night. A free breakfast (of coffee and granola for $20) did not make us feel any better. At $425/night, this is highway robbery. We have resolved NEVER to return NOR to recommend it to anyone!
Top Local Tips for Santa Barbara
Get the GPS unit offered by the Rental Car Company
We were first timers and the GPS unit was quite useful as many of the streets were not clearly marked.
go to some of the great italian resturants off the main st..such as oil and lemon - fab!
Our new favorite restaurant in SB, great, varied menu in Montecito