It was interesting to read the reviews in Trip Advisor, and the results were not really surprising. Over 50% of 76 reviews rated it average to terrible (with most on the poor to terrible scale), horrible results if you really think about it. BUT nearly 50% also thought that it was great. That's how it is at Cliff House, you either hate it or love it, there seems to be no middle ground. My wife and I have been coming here yearly for about 12 years, sometimes a few times per year. We love it despite the obvious downfalls. The bottom line is this. It is situated in a perfect location. It is small ~26 rooms and very private even though the PCH is 100 yards away. There is just something about the Karma that makes it soothing and peaceful, we can't quite explain it, you really have to see for yourself. But before you do that, be aware. It appears that the owners do not wish to invest any money in this property. My guess is that they are trying as hard as they can to simply draw from it rather than invest in it---- what a shame. There has been very little done to this property in terms of renovations (at least those that are obvious to the guests) over the past 12 years and while the staff is extremely nice, they seem not to be trained very well. The hotel needs a desperate refresh, but expect rates to go from approx. $125-$150 per night on average to $200-$300 per night if that were to happen given the location. Normally my wife and I stay at much better appointed properties but we love coming here and are ok with all of the neglect given how much we like the place. The one area we have no tolerance for is cleanliness . The rooms are clean but this past visit the breakfast area was a mess, the "clean coffee" mugs were difficult to distinguish from the dirty ones nearby---- tables were not cleaned, etc. This is not acceptable, we hope that this is not a start of a trend.
Sleep quality----- contrary to what some reviews said, we have never slept better at any hotel. I don't know how anyone can hear other guests with the sound of the waves constantly crashing into the shoal....make certain that you leave your window wide open and you will benefit from the wonderful sound of the ocean.
Anyway, all that to say that everyone should try the Cliff House if you are in the Santa Barbara area and judge for yourself. If you don't mind accomodations that look like they need some love and attention (but are generally clean), you just may experience the same great karma that it seems about 50% of visitors do. My wife and I certainly do. We have said many times....."if we could just buy or manage this property....wow". It really is a 2 star hotel with 5 star potential
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.