Life

Hotels We Love: Kylie Jenner’s Designer Turned Hotel Californian Into A Moroccan-Cali Paradise

There’s something particularly delicious about cultural fusion when it’s done right. Whether it’s a dish, a design, a drink, or a destination, fusions are an intermingling of moods, flavors, and feelings. As viewers (or diners), we get to study the details, identifying the ways in which each influence is represented. A color palette inspired by one infamous coastline paired with a menu merging textures and tastes from another — it’s great (and literally how culture builds and evolves).

A smell that takes you back to a spice market in Casablanca underscored by a soundtrack of entirely different energy — what does that remind me of? Where did I hear that music? Whatever FOMO is, fusions are its total opposite. They’re travel at its maximalist best.

And Santa Barbara’s Hotel Californian has nailed the art of fusion.

Hotel Californian
Hotel Californian

WHY IT’S AWESOME:

If you’re a design lover, you’re going to go nuts for the Spanish colonial meets Moroccan chic decor by Martyn Lawrence Bullard. But if you’re a pop culture junkie like I am, you will appreciate that Bullard has designed the homes of celebrities like Lady Gaga, Elton John, and our lord and savior, Kylie Jenner. If you’ve ever wanted to feel what it would be like to sleep in one of those pop star homes featured in Architectural Digest, a night at Hotel Californian is certainly worth the pretty penny.

From velvety, mustard yellow accent chairs, over 1 million (did I stutter?) hand-painted tiles imported from Morocco, and $3,000 oil bronzed showerheads, Bullard simply did not miss a detail. And with its prime location in Santa Barbara’s historic Funk Zone, just a block from the beach, Hotel Californian is serving oceanfront views with North African influence. Yep, we’re talking Cali-Spanish-Moroccan blend.

5-star hotels get their tokens by offering impeccable service and upscale amenities. But what sets Hotel Californian apart from her corporate counterparts can be summed up in one phrase: this place is vibey as all hell. I’m telling you, every nook and cranny of this boutique hotel is more immaculately ornate than the next (can we please talk about the snake scones? The crystal-infused water? The layered ceilings? Shit, I’m fangirling way too hard to be taken seriously as a hard-hitting journalist).

IN-HOUSE FOOD + DRINK

Goat Tree Restaurant
Goat Tree / Hotel Californian

Foodies, fear not. Hotel Californian has several options for dining that all imbue that same fusion experience.

For breakfast, head to the Goat Tree — the property’s casual all-day dining restaurant open from 7 AM to 8 PM. In keeping with the hotel’s Moroccan influence, Goat Tree is named for Southwest Morocco’s famous Argania trees, where the goats hang out in the branches and snack. As I always say: be like the Moroccan goats, and snack.

Goat Tree’s menu is also featured in the in-room dining service, as well as poolside at Tan Tan Pool.

Try their iconic macaroons and 95-layer croissants by their in-house pastry chef, Ron Viloria. But I implore you to try their spiced french fries, which I consumed three times a day, three days in a row. My version of body positivity includes an IV drip of fried potatoes.

For happy hour, check out The Society: State & Mason for wines from the Foley Family Wines portfolio, and enjoy some local nosh from Executive Chef Travis Watson. Apparently, Santa Barbara is a destination for Pinot Noir, but I was living for their Two Sisters Chardonnay – buttery soft, ooey-gooey down your tongue, with the right amount of crisp and a pleasantly light finish.

Apparently, their new owner, billionaire Bill Fowley, is a super nice guy (I asked). I’m not about to recommend a stay at a boutique hotel owned by an asshole. Everyone insisted that he and his children are the nicest people, even when I released them from my closed fist grip.

For dinner, head to Blackbird and try a selection of fresh fish and seafood options. I had their delicious halibut with gnocchi but also insisted on trying every single person’s dish with or without their permission. Sorry for having such a can-do attitude? I’ll do anything for our readers.

For a nightcap, head to their library bar Djinn for a truly spectacular display of mixology. I mean, one of the cocktails started smoking. And one was blue with a giant ice ball in the center — I guess it represented the moon, they said? Honestly, I wasn’t listening. I was too busy looking at all the hot bartenders.

William, call me. I have a girl for you.

AMENITIES:

Hotel Californian
Hotel Californian
  • Fitness Center
  • Majorelle Spa
  • Tan Tan Pool (located on the rooftop, with ocean views)
  • Tesla & standard EV car chargers
  • Custom Hotel Californian bicycles
  • WiFi
  • Tech & Game Library
  • Access to the hotel’s Special Events

ROOM TYPES:

There are 121 rooms offered at Hotel Californian. The guest rooms range in size from around 450 sq ft to 670 sq ft, with the smaller rooms offering two queen beds or one king-sized bed. Most rooms offer a private balcony, and all the rooms dazzle with Martyn Lawrence Bullard’s attention to detail.

  • There are two suite selections: the Magellan Suite and the Alcazar Suite, the hotel’s “presidential suite” and the only guestroom in the State Building. The suite amenities include:
  • 65” high-definition televisions
  • Nespresso coffee makers
  • Custom formulated Hotel Californian bath products (they’re silicone, paraben, and gluten-free! We love that touch).

Don’t worry, no matter which room you choose, you will certainly get to bathe under one of those $3,000 showerheads. (My curls shall never be the same).

THE BEST THING TO DO WITHIN A 10-MINUTE WALK:

Hotel Californian
Hotel Californian
  • Since Hotel Californian spans across three buildings, they really take up an entire block of the historic Funk Zone. It’s absolutely imperative you try a free walking tour to get to know the neighborhood’s interesting come up from the “wrong side of the tracks” to one of the coolest neighborhoods in SoCal.
  • Get a coffee at super Instagrammable Dart Coffee. I wish I had a better adjective, but it’s truly just the cutest place. Sorry, but still… it’s good.
  • Grab a Spanish tapas dinner at Loquita, and try one of their amazing gin cocktails. Must tries: the duck paella, Patatas Bravas, Repollitos, and Champiñones. Sip a Valle de Ordesa cocktail (monkey 47 gin with elderflower tonic) to wash it all down.
  • You’ll want to try the delicious ice cream at the first-ever McConnell’s, which started right there on State St.
  • Go to the beach. Duh.

THE BEST THING TO DO WITHIN A 10-MINUTE DRIVE:

  • If you’ve never been to Santa Barbara, it’s worth checking out the famous State St on the northern side. There are tons of shops and restaurants to explore, and you’ll find both Santa Barbara-style mom-and-pop shops and national brands.
  • The Old Mission of Santa Barbara dates back to 1786 and is exactly 10 minutes away from the hotel. It’s a Parish, museum, gift shop, cemetery, and mausoleum with historic gardens and major Christian vibes.
  • Charter a sail with Santa Barbara Sailing Center, and don’t forget to load up the boat with plenty of SB wines and a dope charcuterie board. Yacht rock classics only.

BED GAME:

Hotel Californian
Hotel Californian

This is absolutely one of the biggest selling points at Hotel Californian. The buttery handfeel of the bedding, the perfect bouncy pillows, the soft yet firm, ultra-luxurious mattress, the fluffy everything.

And one of the most unique features: the turndown service often includes a special offering left on your pillowcase. These are usually short poems or notes from ex-pats, inspiring quotes, or some original thought. I told you – vibes!

Rating: 10/10.

SEXINESS RATING:

Hotel Californian
Hotel Californian

The coastal views from the rooftop pools, the delicious cocktails, the sultry Moroccan details, the iconic display of interior decorating artistry, and the hot spa crystals add up to one seriously sexy atmosphere. The only reason I’m taking a point off is because nobody tried to have sex with me the entire time. Rude.

Rating: 9.0/10

THE VIEWS AND PHOTO SPOTS:

Nothing beats the views from the rooftop pool. Fun fact: during the construction phase, Martyn Lawrence Bullard came in, stood in the waterless pool, looked out at the view of a wall instead of an ocean, and made everyone start over. It cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars, but he was right. If you’re paying top dollar to stay by the water, you better be able to see those blue waves while you sip your Pinot poolside. Iconic.

8/10

BEST SEASON TO VISIT:

Hotel Californian
Hotel Californian

Luckily, Santa Barbara has pretty great weather nine or ten months out of the year. If you live in a cold part of the country, escape a chilly season by enjoying the mellow Cali weather. But obvi, if you’re trying to soak up those summer rays, this is your place all summer long!

IF I HAD TO COMPLAIN ABOUT ONE THING:

Okay listen — I’m not trying to be a diva but their Caesar salad was yucky. I appreciated the crispy chickpeas on top, but the dressing lacked any flavor. This is California, honey! If you can’t make the perfect Caesar, take it off your menu.

BOOK HERE:

Wanna feel like Kylie? Book your stay at Hotel Californian here.

INSTAGRAM IMAGES TAKEN AT HOTEL CALIFORNIAN:

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