by Lissa Poirot
Do not let the fact that the Wayfarer is technically a hostel deter you from considering a stay at this property in Santa Barbara. It may be a hostel, but it looks and feels like a boutique inn. Operated as the first of its kind by Pacifica Hotels, the Wayfarer opened in the summer of 2014 in Santa Barbara’s trendy Funk Zone, just steps from the harbor. Of the 31 rooms available, 27 of them are private rooms and all of them have en suite bathrooms — no shared bathroom down the hall here.
Enter the lobby of the Wayfarer and an oversized eat-in communal kitchen is opposite check-in, where families can use all the cooking and eating utensils and prepare full meals throughout the day. Or, if they’d rather treat this property like a traditional hotel, enjoy the complimentary continental breakfast offered daily, and then enjoy dining out at the Funk Zone and harbor’s many restaurants.
Families of five can comfortably share a room, and will surely like the playful dÃ©cor and flat-screen TVs. Games are available in the communal areas, and an outdoor, heated pool with traditional and inflatable lounge chairs beckon families for more fun. Tip: Choose the pool-facing, ground-floor rooms and walk right out to the pool! Twenty-five percent of the visitors to the Wayfarer are families, while 25 percent are 55 years or older — not your typical hostel.
We’ll admit we were skeptical at visiting a hostel (A hostel? For kids?), but we were pleasantly surprised by the quality and warmth of the Wayfarer. Let’s just call it a boutique property so no one gets the wrong impression!
Our Editor Loves
- Rooms with walk-out patios to the pool
- Complimentary breakfast daily
- Free tours in the summer
- Family Room 5+
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
As a hostel, rooms are sold by bed rental, but families can rent one of the 27 private rooms for themselves. A private king or queen room also has a fold down twin bed to fit a family of up to three, while some rooms offer two fold down beds to accommodate up to four.
Four shared rooms consist of four bunk beds and a fold-down bed. Families traveling with a large group can book each bunk bed separately and reserve the room for just kids.
Each of the 31 rooms has an en suite bathroom, free Wi-Fi and 42-inch flat-screen TVs.
I have stayed here on several occasions so the staff knows me. I am always cordial with them. And for the last week, they have been hassling me. Every time I go to eat my breakfast in the morning I have the same service guy sweeping my feet. When I addressed this problem I was told that I had to leave. They made up stories and incidents that didn't occur. David Romero is the general manager at this location and when I tried to talk to him and straighten things out, he was biased - he had already formed an opinion about me without first speaking to me. This is not a place where you should stay for longer than a couple of days. I was placed at this location and not by choice. Now I understand why I should have followed my gut feeling and left earlier. You're better off staying at Motel 6 - you have privacy and you're not harassed by staff. The staff at The Wayfarer is completely untrained and unprofessional.
I attended a pool party in July with some friends and we had a great time. Nate & Trisha were awesome. Not only because they served me Mojitos, but because of their friendly vibes. There was a mermaid swimming around! The DJ was awesome. I knew I had to come back and stay so I did. David, the GM assisted me with booking a room and I was beyond happy with his hospitality. Checking into the hotel, I was warmly greeted by a young woman named Deya. Super sweet, knowledgeable and attentive! They offer check in drinks! YES PLEASE!! I had a cold Figueroa Mountain beer as I was checking in. The room was elegantly decorated. Very chic. The bathroom was very clean and seemed like it had been recently renovated. They offer a continental breakfast which hit the spot after a long night of fiestas. Lilo, another sweet young woman was attending the desk at the time. I took a quick dip in the pool before checking out for a rejuvenating departure. 5 star service, very friendly staff, and a incredible property make the Wayfarer the special place it is. Hands down, I would definitely recommend anybody to stay at Wayfarer. Im already looking forward to my next stay!
The heated, outdoor pool is small, but so is the property, so it's a great size for the intimacy of the Wayfarer. Rooms on the ground floor that overlook the pool have walk-out patios, perfect for families who want to play in the pool.
Games and books are available for use in the Wayfarer's communal room, just off of the lobby.
Free Seasonal Activities
During the summer, the Wayfarer features free seasonal activities, such as a sunset bike tour at the beach. Additionally, the hostel rents out bicycles year-round.
The hostel does not feature a restaurant but does provide a complimentary breakfast buffet in the morning and coffee and tea throughout the day.
All guests are welcome to use the Wayfarer's communal kitchen, which features an oversized refrigerator, stove and oven, microwave and cooking utensils.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The hostel provides free breakfast, free Wi-Fi and free parking.
Coin-operated laundry facilities are located on the property.
Parking is available onsite for $10 per night.
The Art of Smart Timing
Santa Barbara is a year-round destination but families most often visit during the summer, and the hostel offers more free activities from Memorial Day to Labor Day. If hoping to connect with more families, visit during the summer months.
The nearest airport is the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, just 15 miles from the hostel. Guests can also fly into Los Angeles International Airport, which is about two hours from the hostel, without traffic. You'll need a car to get from the airports to the Wayfarer, as transportation is not available.
The Wayfarer is located in the heart of Santa Barbara's hip Fun Zone and is minutes from the harbor. Enjoy the inexpensive parking at the hotel ($10 per day) and walk or rent a bike to explore the area nearby. Families can also rent surreys at the harbor, as well as enjoy trolley tours to area attractions, including the Santa Barbara Zoo.