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“Not for everyone but great for us!” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Blue Sands Motel

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Blue Sands Motel
2.5 of 5 Motel   |   421 South Milpas Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103   |  
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #19 of 54 Hotels in Santa Barbara
Lake Villa, Illinois
17 reviews 17 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Not for everyone but great for us!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 31, 2007

We stayed two nights in #9 and enjoyed our stay. Our room was not one with a renovated bathroom, but it was very clean and the fixtures and mirror had been replaced with modern-looking ones. The towels were soft and plush...some of the nicest I’ve used at a motel. The room had two double beds, a huge closet, a cabinet with a small television and refrigerator, and a desk. I heard the train the first night, but it was more comforting than disturbing. All in all, the room was clean and comfortable with nice decorating touches to give it personality. My husband appreciated the wireless internet in the room and had not trouble using it. The beach could be seen from our window. At $85 a night, it suited us just fine and we over-looked the minor flaws listed below and would eagerly return again.If you are picky about little things, this probably isn’t the place for you. The pool is closed November through April. This was expected, except the pool had not been drained or covered and looked disgusting and wasn’t a pleasant thing to look at every time you stepped out of the room. Also, smoking is not allowed inside the rooms. Smoking is, however, allowed outside the rooms and you may have to walk by guests smoking to get to your room. In addition, the windows of the rooms are old, and we had one that we could not get closed all the way.In conclusion, the owners and staff are friendly, they are obviously making upgrades, the rooms are clean, and the location is convenient to the zoo, beach, and 25 cent shuttle. I would recommend Blue Sands to anyone wanting to enjoy Santa Barbara without spending a fortune.

  • Liked — Price and location
  • Disliked — Smoker outside our room
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BlueSandsMotel, Manager at Blue Sands Motel, responded to this review, January 1, 2008
We appreciate the review and would like thank the reviewer for their kind words, but would like to address the problem with the pool. Last summer, Santa Barbara experienced a very bad fire that lasted several weeks on the other side of the mountains. Although the fire is long gone, the ash is still present. Unfortunately for pool owners in Santa Barbara, every time we experience a Santa Ana wind condition, the wind covers the city with ash from the old fire. In December this happened on Christmas eve and on Christmas day. We have a professional pool maintenance company that cleans and maintains the pool twice a week all year round. They cleaned the pool on Christmas eve, but by the next morning the pool was filled again with ash. We then cleaned the pool again on Christmas morning, but by that night, the pool was again filled with ash. At this point we chose to wait a few days to allow the winds to die down before cleaning the pool again, plus, the pool maintenance service we use was heavily backed up because all the other pools in town experienced the same problem.

It is correct that the pool is not heated during the winter months, but it is maintained twice a week by a professional pool maintenance company. The pool is available for swimming all winter long for those brave enough to go into the cold water. In the spring, summer, and fall the pool is heated to between 82 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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202 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (42)
Date | Rating
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English first
San Jose, California
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
34 hotel reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
60 helpful votes 60 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 28, 2007

booked based on Tripadvisor reviews and was not dissapointed.
This looks like a 1950's era motel .... the rooms are being renovated though and done very nicely with modern looking tile etc ..
great location next to the beach, the price was a little high for my budget but OK, about $120.00 inc tax ..
my only complaint.... why not upgrade to modern bed covers ? those ugly on patterned designs from the 70's look awful!
Couldn't get the internet access to work .. apparently they have a super secure system that invloves changing settings on your lapatop ... way to much bother for me!
the pool and out door areas are still old and look rundown ... I suspect these will be upgraded soon ..?

  • Stayed December 2007
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco Bay Area
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 24, 2007

I spent two nights here while visiting my daughter at UCSB. I had been tipped off by my wife about the Blue Sands when she stayed here two months earlier. My wife happened to find this motel on TripAdvisor.

Other posters have stated that the exterior is non-descript. I will agree - it is indistinguishable from your average motel. The front office is small. But enter your renovated room, and you will be awestruck. This place is owned and run by people who obviously care about their property. My room, the furthest right on the first floor, was a renovated queen bed room with a fireplace and 32" LCD TV. Outstanding touches, but the bathroom was very nice. It was done the way I would like my own master bath to be: Earth-tone tiles on the floor and in the large shower. I also had a new kitchenette with a full size fridge and gas range/oven. (Because I took my daughter out to restaurants, I never used the kitchen.)

Other big pluses: They allowed me to bring my dog, for $10 extra a night. The location? How about one door down from the beach. Free wi-fi. (One tip - I couldn't connect the first night because I getting the wi-fi of the Santa Barbara Inn, the big hotel next door. You've got to select the Blue Sands signal.) The price - $105 a night, a bargain in Santa Barbara. There's no "continental breakfast", but at that price and with the kitchenette, I don't see that as a problem.

Yes, there is a railroad crossing two blocks away. I did hear the train horn twice during waking hours, but it wasn't that loud. If a train came while I was asleep, I never heard it. Will I come back? Absolutely.

  • Liked — Beautifully renovated rooms, great price, nice location
  • Stayed November 2007, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brooklyn, NY
20 reviews 20 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2007

You pull up to the Blue Sands and expect a cheap motel. For the exterior screams just that. Vending machine, little pool, two-story blue building with a small office attached. Our rate was too good to be true ($117, total) and the location was perfect (half a block to the beach, a mile to the main strip of shops, restaurants, and the pier). When we got to our room, we opened the door and our eyes popped open in amazement. It was REALLY, REALLY nice! The bed was big and comfortable. There was a flat screen tv mounted to the wall and a fireplace beneath that. The bathroom was tiled and had beautiful fixtures and a very large two-person shower. The room was non-smoking, so I had no issues with the way it smelled. We had the corner room (#10, I think) so there were lots of windows. The accents matched and made it look like a much more expensive hotel room. Definitely stay here!

  • Liked — The price and the room
  • Disliked — The exterior
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 31, 2007

We stayed here for 4 days whilst visiting Santa Barbara for a family wedding. Management superb, could not have done more to make our stay better. Room was actually a suite, bright clean with every facility for the visitor. Nice swimming pool area. Thanks for a great stay. Paul & Monica B. Cote D'or. France.

Stayed October 2007
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 24, 2007

I cannot tell you what an amazing experience I had and it all started at the Blue Sands. The management took the time to find out what I needed (WIFI, wake-up call, etc) to make my stay as comfortable as possible. The pool was heated and the rooms looked beautiful. Not to mention that the location cannot be beat. Minutes from downtown and across the street from the beach. This is the first hotel I will contact the next time I go down to paradise and I will be telling everyone I know about this place. Thanks so much for making my trip so memorable.

  • Liked — The rooms. The remodeling is fantastic. Lots of love went into these rooms.
  • Disliked — Could not stay longer.
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
los angeles
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 20, 2007

took a random mid-week trip from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara for 3 days 2 nights! we were so pleased by our stay here at blue sands. we were traveling with our 2 1/2 yr old...and our bikes! we were so happy we brought the bikes, we were less then a block from bike paths going up or down the coast. the weather was beautiful! the first evening we took a bike ride passed the wharf to the marina where we hung out on the docks and watched fishermen unload their catch (sea urchins) and then we had an early dinner at Brophy Brothers. it was very busy and loud (which is also great when eating with kids...you don't feel to self conscious that everyone can hear your little one talking about boats and birds and fish in very happy and excited tones)! the food there was fine...we had chowder, fish and chips, oysters on the half shell...the swordfish was perfectly cooked (not over done)...the bartender kept forgetting to send us half our drinks--and ended up comping us a great glass of wine--which was a nice thing to do for us. in regard to having children there...they DO NOT have a "kids menu" nor do they have any crayons/paper for them either (Either bring your own...or good luck) also they DO NOT serve any desserts. often when we go out to dinner...we let our kids order dessert to eat while we are all still enjoying our dinner/drinks/company. BEWARE: no desserts are served so we had to quickly wrap things up b/c there weren't any diversions to offer the kids. No crayons, paper or dessert=time to go! (we don't even normally let our daughter eat sweets...but at special dinners we do--we were shocked we cld not offer her that to prolong OUR evening out with friends) !!??

ANYWAY, our room at blue sands motel was room #5 on the 2nd floor (the 2 bikes fit in the room w/ us)...it was great! there was a king sized bed...a little table with chairs...a small cube fridge and coffee maker. some rooms had microwaves, too (not sure why ours didn't), but we didn't need one so we didn't ask. i bet you anything if you had asked for one---you could have gotten one. the bathroom was totally redone...clean simple lines....no tub just a great shower with great water pressure. our room had a big flat screen TV and a gas fireplace that was wonderful to enjoy in the evenings! the only small glitch was that the windows were very old...once you cranked the windows open...you could not really close them all the way again?! there is definitely train noises that you hear when it's quiet (ie: at night). i would suspect everyone throughout Santa Barbara hears the trains (though having better/newer windows that seal would make a difference i'm sure)--but i actually live in a very nice area in los angeles (atwater village) and i can hear the trains at night, too. i have to say that we were so busy during the day riding bikes, playing at the beach, etc i wasn't really affected by the train noises...b/c we slept well b/c we were tired! i definitely heard them at night--but it never woke me up and kept me up. our daughter and my husband definitely did not hear it at all!

the second day:
we walked to the zoo from the blue sands hotel. a great short walk along the ocean bike path...to a very small but well kept and fun zoo. it's actually quite wonderful b/c you can do the whole zoo...and it's not overwhelming and it's laid out very nicely.
if you have young chlidren i would highly recommend going to the zoo. we went to lunch at sharkee's (on state street)...what wld i expect to be a crazy, drunken madhouse on the weekends or evenings! but for lunch it was fabulous! once again i have to say that traveling with kids...i like going to places that already have ambient noise built it! : ) there are tons of TV's on the walls with various sporting and surfing and snowboarding programs and videos playing! there are beach memorabilia hanging on the walls--great for kids to check out. to order you go to the bar (they'll bring your order to you when it's done)...you serve yourself the chips and salsa...we had a lobster taco that was great and i got the steak quesadilla...the steak was flavorable and delicious as was the homemade guacamole! the margaritas were huge and delicious as well! as far as mexican food goes...i have many personal favorites...from authentic, gourmet...to your basic mexican rice and beans and cheesy cheese madness. this was definitely not gourmet mexican fare...but it's really good (way better than chains: acapulco, el torito).

That evening we went to dinner at Enterprise Fish Co. right on state street...THEY ARE AWESWOME WITH KIDS!!! HIGHLY RECOMMEND GOING THERE FOR A NICE ADULT MEAL WITH PLENTY OF STUFF FOR KIDS TO DO there are lots of fishing memorabilia and tv's (for all you sports nuts to keep tabs on the games...in this case it's was baseball and football playing. though you can EASILY ignore the tv's they are way up high and if your not watching--they don't distract--the volume is off) the restaurant is huge...the tv's are concerntrated in and near the bar area) and maritime things on their walls for the kids to look at, fish tanks and the lobster tank...as well as the restaurant provides crayons and pictures to color on (and a kids menu that has many healthy choices! grilled chicken and brocolli was a refreshing option...or the usual chicken strips, fries, burger, etc)...the kids meal comes in a paper boat that also adds many minutes of fun (so the adults can continue to eat and enjoy the meal)...i was still full from the lunch so i had an apple and pecan salad which was fine...the pommegranate martini was wonderful and the local wines to chose by the glass were fabulous. their special was king crab legs (half their usual price)...we didn't order any but everyone around us did and looked like they were in heaven eating it! we order small plates of the ahi tuna poki and the manilla clams (nothing special) and the mussels were really good.

next time we go we will DEFINITELY stay at the Blue Sands motel, revisit Enterprise Fish Co. (and come staving--(since we were still a little full from our lunch that day)...and Sharkees...we also want to go on longer bike rides and also go sailling for a few hours! the 3 days and 2 nights flew by...and there were still so much to see and do...we can't wait to plan the next trip.

  • Liked — convenience to the beach, bike paths...NOT being on state street...but nearby! didn't use the pool--but others did and they seemed happy with it!
  • Disliked — had to leave the cat at home--they take dogs but not cats!
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Blue Sands Motel

Address: 421 South Milpas Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103
Phone Number:
Location: United States > California > Santa Barbara
Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#6 On the Beach Hotel in Santa Barbara
#12 Family Hotel in Santa Barbara
#23 Romantic Hotel in Santa Barbara
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Blue Sands Motel 2.5*
Number of rooms: 11
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Blue Sands Motel is a small property only a quarter of a block from some of the best beaches in Santa Barbara. Close to shopping and restaurants, we strive to provide you a clean comfortable room at an affordable price. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Blue Sands Hotel Santa Barbara
Blue Sands Santa Barbara

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