In early October, my son was a featured speaker at a professional symposium held at the Four Season’s Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara. Since neither of us that ever visited that city, we decided to turn it into a father/son road trip commencing in San Francisco, down through Monterey/Carmel following the Pacific Coast Highway #1 through Big Sur, with a night in Cambria and stops in Harmony and Morro Bay. It was an ideal itinerary to follow to reach our destination in Santa Barbara. Being an invited speaker, my son was entitled to one complimentary night’s lodging at the Four Seasons. It was fabulous. (See review on TripAdvisor) Thank goodness for the Four Seasons or our lodging experience in Santa Barbara at the Oceana would be rated “highly dismal”.
Since we planned on spending a second night in Santa Barbara, my son researched alternative “less expensive lodging” on the internet. After considering several choices, he reserved a double room for us at Hotel Oceana, which faced the beach area of Santa Barbara Harbor. Although still pricey, the room had a was significantly lower rate than the Four Seasons, which would be expected. The Oceana sounded good on the net, but don’t they all? Granted, the entrance looked upscale and inviting, and the ocean view across the street was true. Certainly the desk clerk was pleasant enough, and offered a map with dining and sightseeing recommendations. However, from there, “things went south.”
The parking (additional charge) was just a catch-as-catch-can parking lot which seemed to converge with other adjacent motels and private residences. Although it was midday on a Saturday with many guests yet to arrive or out, it was readily obvious that Saturday night could present some real parking space shortage. In spite of the spotty parking, we secured a space, grabbed our luggage and went up the stairs to our second floor room. Unlocking the door, we started to enter the room, only to their shock and ours, two startled young ladies were inside glaring back at us. Luckily, they didn’t yell or scream at the invasive intrusion, because if they had, my son and I might have found ourselves reacting to the surprise, sounding out ourselves back at them. Ha! Apologizing profusely, we sheepishly and quickly backed out their door, high-tailing it to the office to lament our administratively bungled experience. The same desk clerk who had previously checked us in hardly blinked at the outrage of our embarrassing situation, (and the female guests also) simply issuing us another key. Except for muttering a few muffled words I didn’t really understand she made no particular comment or show of concern.
Exasperated, we finally made it to our second room, very cautiously peeking in before entering just in case were were again “double booked”. Fortunately we found it truly unoccupied on the second go round, at least for the moment. Now, how can best I describe that particular room? Crowded and small with an outdated layout and semi-sketchy furniture. It reminded me of some of the old Gulf of Mexico motels my buddies and I used to crash and party in during spring break when we were in high school. Amenities were few, with the second “bedroom” barely large enough for the bed, but most noticeable disconnect for me was the lack of air conditioning. Now, my son and I live in the heart of the South where air conditioning is mandatory, and I understand things are different in California. We enjoyed our rooms with no air conditioning in Monterey and Cambria because that suited the climate, but this was a warmish October day in Santa Barbara. What can I say? That room was cramped, hot and humid.
The price, over $400 for the night, was, well, just outlandish for the Spartan crash-pad! (It would still have been overpriced at half that rate)
After settling in the room, we went on a long walk to eat and take in the sights on State Street. Exhausted after that, I hopped on the trolley shuttle bus and went back to the room to take a short nap. It was so hot and so noisy from the opened windows facing the parking lot, I had a fitful bit of so-so sleep. Let me say that I am a seasoned traveler, and not usually picky when it comes to a room where I only plan to stay for one night. But, the Oceana Hotel is an exception. For the exorbitant room rate, the bland interior, the outmoded, old-fashioned rooms and the tacky “add-on” room charges, I view this one as a “real bummer”, to use some local and equally outdated beach vernacular.
Don’t waste your time or money on this over-rated dud
FInd a good room in another hotel.
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.