Mar Monte Hotel in Santa Barbara – Detailed Review

Mar Monte Hotel Courtyard with Tables

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The Mar Monte Hotel, formerly known as the Hyatt Santa Barbara, is Hyatt’s upper-end hotel located along the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Barbara, California.

There are 2 Hyatt properties in Santa Barbara — the other being the Hyatt Place Santa Barbara — but the Mar Monte Hotel is the definite winner of the 2, with its prime location along the ocean, its Spanish charm, and walkability into the downtown area.

This property is part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, offering an upscale property with a local vibe. The Mar Monte Hotel doesn’t disappoint in this regard and is definitely one of my favorite Hyatt hotels for a stay in California.

Hotel Location

Mar Monte Sign
The Mar Monte Hotel is located on the eastern portion of East Cabrillo Avenue at the very end of the road before Montecito.

If you’re visiting Santa Barbara, you’re probably visiting for the coastal vibe of this town, and there’s no better place to be situated than along the Pacific Ocean. The Mar Monte Hotel is located at the far end of the strip of hotels on East Cabrillo Boulevard, almost at the end of town.

Mar Monte Exterior Pool
The Mar Monte Hotel is located on the east side of Santa Barbara, at the very end of the ocean strip before going into Montecito.

For some people, the hotel’s location can be a drawback. It’s an approximately 2-mile walk into the heart of Santa Barbara on State Street, where most of the restaurants and shops are located. While the walk along the water is beautiful (and flat), it can be quite tiresome to walk back and forth, especially if you’re looking to eat out multiple times a day. On the flip side, the hotel is situated right along the water, making for some fantastic views.

View from Mar Monte Suite
The ocean was clearly visible outside of my room’s windows, making for a great ocean breeze.

There are some nearby restaurants, though if you’re looking for the true downtown area, you’ll need to either walk, take a city bus, or, new to Santa Barbara, ride an electric bike, located at several charging stations throughout the city.

This hotel does not feature a beach belonging to the hotel itself, and the hotel is separated from the city-owned beach by East Cabrillo Boulevard, a somewhat busy road during the peak times of the day. While there’s not a lot of annoyance with traffic or vehicle noise, it’s something to keep in mind if you’re looking for a property that has unobstructed access to the water.

Road Seperating Mar Monte from Beach
A road separates the hotel from the beach, but it’s only a couple hundred feet to the sand.

Hot Tip: The hotel is an approximately 25-minute drive from Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) and an approximate 5-minute drive to the Amtrak station. If you’re headed to the airport, your best options for transit are rideshare, and for the train station, you could either rideshare or walk, depending on how much luggage you have with you.

A quick jaunt across East Cabrillo Boulevard brings you directly to East Beach.

Beach in front of Mar Monte
Just steps from the hotel was the Pacific Ocean, featuring miles of sandy beaches and paved walking trails.

From the property, you can take the 4.5-mile long Cabrillo Boulevard Bike Path east to Leadbetter Beach and Shoreline Park or west to Butterfly Beach in Montecito. View the City of Santa Barbara official bike map for a full detailing of area options.

Santa Barbara Beach Walk
A paved oceanfront path is perfect for jogging, rollerblading, scooting, or biking.

Booking

I booked this hotel with a Healthcare Heroes Friends & Family rate (that I am eligible to use) at $129 nightly. This hotel typically costs well over $200 a night, with most weekend nights averaging well north of $300 a night.

This hotel is currently a Category 5 hotel, requiring 20,000 World of Hyatt points nightly.

Mar Monte Front Entrance
The hotel has a large entrance that subsequently feeds into the hotel’s parking lot.

Hotels in Santa Barbara tend to be quite expensive, and rates really vary wildly depending on the day and the property.

There are basically 3 sets of hotels in the area:

  • Outside of the downtown area (such as the Hyatt Place Santa Barbara)
  • Within the downtown area, walkable to State Street (the main drag through town)
  • Oceanfront (such as the Mar Monte Hotel)

The most expensive properties actually are usually the ones located right in town since these are walkable to most of the entertainment options, restaurants, and shops.

Elite Benefits

This hotel provides a selection of elite benefits that I was able to take advantage of as a top-tier World of Hyatt Globalist member.

As I checked in, I was able to avail myself of the following:

  • Guaranteed late 4 p.m. checkout
  • Complimentary breakfast in Café Lido
  • Complimentary premium internet
  • Waived resort fee (for Globalists or those on award stays)
  • Complimentary upgrade
  • Complimentary in-room bottles of water
Mar Monte Lobby
The front desk had glass shields placed between the hotel staff and guests as they checked in.

For this stay, I didn’t need the 4 p.m. late checkout so I advised the check-in clerk of this. Breakfast was provided each morning and will be touched on in the later Food & Beverage section. For internet, the hotel appears to only have 1 internet option that all devices connect to, and it was very fast throughout my stay so I didn’t have any issues connecting.

Mar Monte Lobby Seating
Throughout the entire hotel there is a Spanish theme and it really makes you feel like you’re on the California coast.

On this occasion, I wasn’t upgraded because I had already used a Globalist suite upgrade. These coupons are given to Globalists upon achieving status and allows them to secure a suite if a standard suite is available. At this hotel, the standard suite is the Santa Maria Suite.

Amenities

If you’re not a Globalist, you’ll have to pay the $30 resort fee that includes the following:

  • 2-hour bicycle rental
  • Saturday beach yoga
  • Lobby wine tastings
  • Bocce ball court
  • Resort games
  • In-room bottled water
  • In-room coffee and tea
  • Welcome gift (PPE kit, which have not received after multiple stays at this hotel)
  • Tesla and standard EV car chargers
  • Local/800 calls
Mar Monte Lobby Couches
The lobby features a fun library-type room close to where you check-in, featuring comfy sofas and a long reading table.

While Globalists don’t pay the resort fee, they’re still entitled to all of the amenities included, though it’s really worth noting that the yoga classes and wine tastings have been suspended due to COVID-19. I did not receive a welcome gift (in this case, a PPE kit).

Mar Monte Outside Courtyard
The hotel features a beautiful courtyard with a fountain — a perfect place to relax after a long day of walking. On cooler evenings, the hotel provides heat lamps for warmth.

Outside of this resort fee, there are a few amenities throughout the property.

Pool

Located directly next to Café Lido is a pool surrounded by deck chairs and tables. This pool enough is small enough to relax in but isn’t really large enough to exercise in or do any proper laps.

Mar Monte Pool
The pool is definitely one of the hits of this hotel. It is mainly a fun pool and not large enough for laps or exercises.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi throughout the property is completely free, and no matter where you are, you can simply connect to the network without any issue.

Hot Tip: There is no basic vs. premium internet package and all guests are simply given a premium package that I never had any issues using.

Complimentary Bike Rentals

The hotel offers complimentary bike rentals, which are first-come-first-served. They ask you only rent these for an hour at a time to allow other guests to use them, and from other online reviews, it does seem that you need to rent them early to be able to get one as a waitlist builds throughout the day.

Mar Monte Bike
Bike rentals are complimentary, though you’ll want to reserve them early since they tend to fill up fast.

Bocce Court

Near the Santa Maria building is a bocce court, and to use it you’ll need to see the front desk for your equipment. This area also is a nice lounging spot with couches and chairs where you can bask in the sun.

Mar Monte Bocci Court
Between each of the buildings on the property are sitting areas where you can relax in the sun.

Parking

If you’re looking to park your car, only self-parking is offered, and the spots are located right alongside all the rooms so it is a very short walk from your car to your room. There’s also an underground garage if things get busy, but I never saw anyone drive down below.

Parking is $20 a night, payable on your final folio. You’re given a parking pass to display in your dash to verify that your car is allowed in the lot.

Room — 1 King Ocean View Suite

For this review, I’m going to look at 2 different room types since I stayed in this hotel twice within a month, each with different room categories.

The 1 King Ocean View Suite was the entry-level suite at this hotel and is the suite one would receive as a complimentary upgrade as a Globalist, or when using a Globalist suite upgrade. For my stay, since it was 6 nights, I used a Globalist suite upgrade to ensure I was in this larger room.

This King Ocean View Suite was located in the Santa Maria building of the hotel. Interestingly, this hotel has 3 main buildings along the water, and then a separate building 2 blocks away called the Palmoro House. The Santa Maria building was the closest building to the downtown of Santa Barbara and was about a 1-minute walk across the small parking lot from the front desk.

Mar Monte Santa Maria Building
The base-level suite at this hotel is located in the furthest building from the lobby, which you may see as a pro or con.

If you like to be in the main building of the hotel, where most of the amenities are, this building won’t be for you, though the plus side is that it feels a bit more secluded and private since there are fewer rooms on each floor.

The suite was located on the top floor of the building. It’s located directly off of the elevator, though I didn’t notice any noise that was bothersome.

Once you entered the room, there were 3 distinct sections to the suite: the bathroom, a living room, and the bedroom.

Mar Monte Suite Room Overview
The base-level suite at this hotel is called the Santa Maria Suite.

Bathroom

Starting off to the left was the bathroom, which was really generously sized.

Inside was a double vanity sink, soaking tub, stand-up shower, and toilet. There’s a lot of room to move around, and it’s certainly nice to be able to spread out in such a large bathroom.

Mar Monte Suite Bathroom
The bathroom was nicely sized, with enough space to spread out your clothes, toiletry kits, and towels.

That said, there were a few noticeable complaints.

Firstly, the shower door, when swung out, hit the floor (it appears either the floor wasn’t level or the shower door wasn’t cut properly). It’s a big annoyance when entering the shower.

Secondly, the wooden blinds above the tub didn’t close properly, no matter how carefully you tried to close them. It’s hard to get privacy in a bathroom when it’s possible for folks on the outside to peer in and see.

Lastly, the toilet didn’t seem to flush properly throughout the stay — another annoyance.

Mar Monte Suite Shower
The shower was very warm, but also had an annoying door that wouldn’t fully open all the way.

Living Room

In the living room, there was a desk with a refrigerator built-in, 2 armchairs, a couch, coffee table, and television. It was a comfortable area to sit and relax, and admittedly I did take a few naps on the couch.

While the area was certainly usable throughout the stay, I couldn’t help but think that the look and feel of the suite was a tad dated. The hotel had undergone a renovation several years prior and it just seemed like the renovations in this room were done on the cheap side.

Mar Monte Suite Sitting Area
I really enjoyed the sitting area in this suite. During the day, you could open the windows for fresh air and you really felt like you were almost outside.

Bedroom

In the bedroom, there was a large king bed, 2 nightstands, a television, and a sitting chair. The bed was quite comfortable for me, and it was nice to close off the living room with a sliding door. My 1 complaint about the bedroom is that there were 4 window shades that needed to be closed before going to bed in order to blackout the light.

Mar Monte Suite Bedroom
I found the bed very comfortable, and it was nice to be able to close off the bedroom from the rest of the suite for privacy.

There were several cords for each shade, and 2 of the windows were behind the television, making them difficult to close. It was a nightly ritual having to figure out which cord to pull to close which shade, and I wish the hotel could have simplified things a bit.

Mar Monte Suite Bedroom View
You could see the awesome sunset from the bedroom, which was really a great feature!

Room — 1 King Corner Premium View

On a stay a month earlier, I was upgraded to the King Corner Premium View room complimentary as a Globalist member. I enjoyed this room so much that I actually requested it to be added to my Hyatt profile as my favorite requested room in this hotel.

The room was located on the second floor of the main building of the hotel, directly on top of Café Lido, and a short walk down the hall from the lobby. Being within the main building is nice since you can have access to all of the amenities all in 1 place.

Bathroom

Walking into the room, there was a small foyer with the bathroom off to the left. The bathroom was enormous, disproportionately sized to this room, but well-appreciated. There was a sink with a vanity, a toilet, and a stand-up shower. In the shower, one of the nicest features of this bathroom, the controls were located toward the entrance, allowing you to turn on the shower without getting wet, a feature that most hotels don’t have.

Mar Monte King Corner Premium Room Foyer
I liked how the bathroom and bedroom were in completely separate parts of the room.

One issue I did notice in the bathroom was a lack of ventilation. With the shower being so hot, there wasn’t an adequate system in place to get rid of the steam, so I found myself often opening the window above the toilet to try and not make the bathroom a sauna.

Mar Monte King Corner Premium Bathroom
The bathroom in this corner room was enormous and had both a tub and shower.

This bathroom had a stand-up shower and a soaking tub.

Mar Monte King Corner Premium View Tub
Having an option of both a bathtub and a shower in a non-suite room is really a great feature.

Bedroom

In the main area of the room was a sofa, desk with a built-in refrigerator, and television. There was plenty of space to walk around between each of the pieces of furniture and I didn’t find it tight at all. On the bed stands were built-in outlets for charging your devices, which was nice.

Mar Monte King Corner Premium Room Overview
This corner room featured a large king bed, a sofa, and plenty of space to move around, perfect for those who don’t like small bedrooms.

Balcony

By far the greatest part of this room was the walk-out balcony, which was almost as big as the bedroom itself. There were 2 chairs and a table on this balcony, yet plenty of room leftover to walk around and look down on the pool below and the ocean just across the road.

The balcony was a great place to be in the evening to watch a gorgeous Santa Barbara sunset, and throughout the day I left the doors open for a nice breeze. It was my favorite part of this room.

Mar Monte King Corner Premium View Terrace
There’s no question that the greatest part of this corner room was the oversized terrace. It was absolutely massive.

Food & Beverage

During my stay, only Café Lido was open for breakfast and lunch dining (it is typically open to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 p.m. on weekends). Café Lido was located directly poolside, and there were a number of tables under an awning or scattered beside the pool to sit at.

Mar Monte Cafe Lido Seating
Café Lido is the Mar Monte Hotel’s outdoor café, with poolside seating and a small inside area with tables.

I always found the service here to be great, and there was never a time where I was without a drink refill. For breakfast, there were all of the basic entrees — eggs, bacon, French toast, breakfast sandwiches, and more. The portions were generous, and everything tasted fresh.

Cafe Lido Breakfast
The breakfast selections here are quite varied and include everything from eggs to avocado toast to patties.

For Globalists, there does appear to be confusion over what was included in the breakfast here, which is supposed to be complimentary. While the Hyatt terms and conditions provide for an entrée, coffee, and juice, this hotel has initiated an arbitrary $24 limit, which in many cases is not enough for these same items combined. I have reached out to Hyatt to inform them of this discrepancy, but you’ll want to keep this in mind when visiting.

Hot Tip: Check out Café Lido’s all-day dining menu featuring items like a California cheese board, salmon niçoise salad, and braised short rib ragu. A kid’s menu and drinks menu are also available online.

Cafe Lido Yogurt
For those trying to start their day off healthy, I highly recommend yogurt and granola.

Costa Kitchen and Bar is the other restaurant on-site and will offer a combination of Italian food mixed with California flare. The restaurant is reopening in Spring 2021 after a lengthy closure. This is the type of full-service restaurant you’ll want to go to for a nice meal, whereas Café Lido offers more casual options in a poolside atmosphere.

Service

The service at this hotel was very friendly and certainly welcoming. One of the great features I enjoyed about this hotel is a text request service where you can message the front desk with any requests. I used this a few times throughout my stay to request housekeeping services, and they responded fairly quickly.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 precautions, housekeeping was not automatically provided daily, but I requested service a few times and it was provided without any issue.

I found the staff at Café Lido to be incredibly friendly, and I’ve found that always to be the case on every previous visit I’ve had as well. They’re just so attentive and really want to provide a great breakfast experience.

COVID-19 Precautions

The hotel was doing a number of things to help slow the spread:

  • Plexiglass shields at the front desk to separate guests from staff
  • Reduced housekeeping services
  • Some breakfast items are provided in disposable containers, where possible.
  • Signs encouraging social distancing and mask usage throughout the property
Mar Monte Social Distancing Marker
Social distancing markers lined the floor to encourage guests to remain apart.

I didn’t really notice any hand sanitizer pumps throughout the hotel, so I think there definitely could have been more stations offered. Mask usage seemed to be compliant throughout my stay, both from a staff and fellow guest perspective — I didn’t notice any issues.

One of the things that I think encouraged mask-wearing on-site is the fact that the hotel is located in a very temperate climate, allowing the hotels to keep doors and windows open throughout the hotel. With the great climate, it seemed like folks were more compliant.

Mar Monte Mask Sign
Posted throughout the property are signs encouraging mask usage.

Final Thoughts

The Mar Monte Hotel is definitely one of my go-to hotels in the Santa Barbara area. It’s really well-located, especially for beach lovers, and provides relatively large rooms for guests to stay in. Breakfast is hearty and filling, and the staff is friendly and accommodating of any requests.

Be warned that this property can get expensive depending on the season; Santa Barbara is in high demand with tourists, so you’ll want to book your room early to ensure you have a place to stay! If you’re looking for a hotel with a beach vibe, this is definitely the hotel for you!


Frequently asked questions

Is parking available at Mar Monte Hotel?

Self-parking is available onsite for $20 a day. The parking lot is located right beside the hotel rooms so it is very easy to access.

Which room amenities are available at Mar Monte Hotel?

All rooms have televisions, refrigerators, and air conditioning, and some rooms feature the most prized amenity of all, a balcony with direct ocean views. Most rooms at the hotel feature a similar décor and include the same fixtures.

Which popular attractions are close to Mar Monte Hotel?

The hotel is located approximately 2 miles from downtown Santa Barbara (where the majority of restaurants are), a little over 1 mile to Stearn’s Wharf, and a 30-minute walk to the main shopping and dining district at Montecito.

What food and drink options are available at Mar Monte Hotel?

The only dining establishment currently open is Café Lido, a breakfast and lunch restaurant that is poolside at the hotel.

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