by Lissa Poirot
With views of Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf and West Beach, the Harbor View Inn is surprising in that we’re not sure how much we truly liked it or not. On one hand, the inn is directly across the street from the harbor, beach, sailing and boat charters, and the wharf with its aquarium. On the other, the train that runs through town in the evenings made us think of “My Cousin Vinny” and not getting enough sleep. (It stops in the dead of night, but starts up early.)
Pulling in, there is a sign that a bellhop is available, but all five times we pulled into the property, we never saw anyone there. We did see someone there when we were walking about the property — he was greeting cars and assisting with check-in and luggage. Perhaps because they only have one person this is a hit or miss, depending on your luck.
The inn and its rooms are a juxtaposition of old and new. While some things looked luxurious, others looked dated. We couldn’t quite get a sense of place at this property. While we are unable to rave about it, we are also unable to find fault. It’s a comfortable inn with a nice waterfront location within walking distance of the wharfs, parks, beaches and Funk Zone, along with dozens of restaurants. The accommodations were good for a weekend stay, and its probably best suited for families wanting a place to rest after touring the area; it just needs a little help deciding what type of hotel it wants to be.
Our Editor Loves
- Walking distance from beaches and wharf
- Heated outdoor swimming pool
- Suites for extra space
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The Harbor View Inn offers 102 guestrooms and 13 suites, each with a private patio or balcony. In-room amenities include coffeemakers, mini-fridges, private balconies or patios, free Wi-Fi, DVD players and flat-screen TVs.
The rooms are an interesting mix between modern and luxurious, and old and outdated -- some of the artwork seems like faded pieces from the 1980's, and sofa prints feature palm trees and suns. The flat-screen TVs are large, but wall mounted, which mean you cannot turn them toward the bed or living area. Patio and balcony lights cannot be turned off at night and illuminate the room enough that your children won't need nightlights to get to the bathroom.
Rooms on the ground floor overlooking the pool are best for families who can walk right out and play in the heated pool. A few rooms at the end of the property on the top floor have seemingly private entrances, with doors outside of the hallways requiring keycard access to get back into the hallways and leaving one to feel a little vulnerable to the outdoor access.
Beds are down-covered and luxurious, and the oversized bathrooms feature large soaking tubs and separate showers with tile and marble combinations. Standard guestrooms have one king bed and sofa bed or two queen beds and range in size from 425 to 500 square feet. Guestrooms have ocean, city and resort views, though a few do not have any views at all.
Suites range in size from 750 to 1,000 square feet and offer all the same amenities (and styles) as standard guestrooms. One king bed and one sofa bed are offered in suites. Guests staying in suites can choose from ocean, city or resort views.
by Emily Y
Location is good, very convenient with many shops, restaurants and wine tastings shops. It is also right across the pier. The hotel rooms are spread out in different buildings. We were at North Wing (only city view rooms) so it's a bit of a walk from front desk including crossing a public street, but not too bad. Please be aware though the parking is $25 for hotel guests. They also charge for bottle water ($7) eventhough they offer free coffee with a nice coffee machine. I think the hotel is nice but a bit pricey for a non-ocean view room. There are a few nice hotels around the area with city view only as well. If I'm not looking for an ocean view room I may check out other hotels next time just to compare the rates.
The room was in the newest wing and was spacious and clean. We would have liked an ocean view, but the mountain and street view was also nice. It had easy access to State street, but was a bit of a walk to get to valet parking and front desk. Would consider staying here again.
The inn's only family amenity is the outdoor, heated pool, which overlooks the wharf and ocean, and is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. It features a seasonal pool bar with snacks.
Eladio's Restaurant & Bar
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, guests of the Harbor View Inn receive 10 percent off of rates at its restaurant, Eladio's, located on West Cabrillo Street. Traditional breakfast foods and lunch and dinners consisting of pizza, salads, sandwiches, burgers and pastas are available Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and until 9:30 p.m. on weekends. Kids' menus are available for all meals.
Eladio's also provides in-room dining throughout the day.
State Street Coffee
For Seattle's Best Coffee and quick breakfast pastries and snacks on the go, State Street Coffee is located on State Street, just around the corner from the restaurant. Guests of the hotel receive 10 percent off, and items can be delivered via room service. The coffee shop opens at 6:30 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m. daily.
Open seasonally and only during lunch hours, a poolside bar with a limited food menu is available.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Extra In-Room Amenities
Guests can request an in-room microwave for $10 per night. Bottle warmers are also available at no extra charge. If a family does not want to have an in-room microwave, but finds they need something warmed or heated during their stay, the room service staff will surely assist you with your request.
Wi-Fi is available to all guests at no charge.
A business center with three computers provides Internet access and can print boarding passes, also at no charge.
A small fitness center is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, although it would be better to enjoy the weather on the miles-long walking and biking path that runs alongside the beaches.
The Art of Smart Timing
Santa Barbara is a year-round vacation destination. Summers are busiest for family travel, and the Harbor View Inn is often booked quickly on weekends. Look to travel in the off-peak seasons for more room options and to have the pool to yourselves.
Visitors can arrive to the area by plane through the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, which is 8 minutes from the hotel. Los Angeles International Airport is within two hours of the hotel.
Santa Barbara is a bike-friendly town and families can rent bikes along the beach. There are ample bike and walking areas to enjoy, as well as a trolley system that only costs .50 per ride, which takes families along the beach, State Street and to local attractions.
For Mom and Dad
Take time to visit the Inn's spa, Spa Beaumontia, open daily between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. A hidden treat within the hotel, the spa is serene and offers an array of traditional treatments.