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Walnut Creek Magazine

Santa Barbara Inn and Convivo Illuminate the American Riviera

Sep 27, 2017 02:36PM ● By Fran Miller


Visitors to Santa Barbara have an array of accommodation options from which to choose, ranging from quaint bed and breakfast inns to luxurious hillside resorts. But in this beautiful coastal town, it’s all about the beach, and thus, any overnight stay should ideally be paired with an ocean view. You’ll get that view, and so much more, at Santa Barbara Inn. This recently remodeled boutique hotel overlooks a pristine stretch of coastline and is framed by swaying palms. On a clear day, the Channel Islands can be seen in the distance. This is Santa Barbara as it is meant to be enjoyed.

Nestled between the spectacular Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara Inn is directly across from premiere East Beach, and within striking distance of State Street boutiques, Stearns Wharf, the Ty Warner Sea Center, Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Mission, the Botanical Gardens, and the wine tasting rooms of the popular Funk ZoneBut the hotel’s private, ocean facing patios might entice even the most adventurous to stay put and simply enjoy the view.

Opened just one year ago after a nearly two-year total renovation, the Spanish Mediterranean gem perfectly represents the spirit and architecture of its host town known as the American Riviera. Framed by deep red terra cotta roofs, luminous white stucco, gracefully arched windows, and a duo of handcrafted, skyline-defining tile domes, the Inn merges classic elegance with casual coastal luxury. Its 70 well appointed rooms (nine of which are suites) feature McGuire-esque furnishings, unique artworks, luxe linens, and dramatic views of the sea or mountains. A central outdoor pool and hot tub take full advantage of the ocean views, as does the modern fitness center, and adjacent onsite restaurant Convivo, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Convivo dining room

Originated by the team that created Il Fornaio and Sausalito’s Poggio Trattoria restaurants, Convivo provides the same convivial atmosphere, and the same rustic, seasonal Meditteranean fare as its forebears. In a town that has upped its restaurant game in the past few years, Convivo is a great addition and is already a local favorite; its popular ‘805’ Happy Hour (3 – 6pm daily) has achieved cult status: $8 pizzas, $0 ocean views, and $5 small bites, craft cocktails, wines, and beers.

Convivo patio

Convivo barrel-aged old fashioned

Executive Chef Peter McNee describes his style of food as ‘Nomad Italian.’ His menu (printed daily just before the restaurant opens) is broken into Cicchetti (earth and sea), Agricola (from the farm), Forno (wood-fired pizza), Grano (house made pasta), and Convivo (main course and family style offerings) – all to be enjoyed in the high-ceilinged dining room, or al fresco on the charming outdoor brick patio. Favorite items include the chicken liver mousse with pickled shallots, pistachio, and huckleberries, the heirloom tomato salad with local melons, baba ganoush, and olive, rainbow carrots with roasted shishito peppers, lemon ricotta, and muhammara, Guinzaglio, a 7-hour veal Bolognese, and the bistecca, a massive 40 oz. Porterhouse. An extensive wine list, including tap wines, is comprised primarily of Santa Barbara County AVAs. And a spirited menu of hand crafted cocktails includes one of the best barrel aged old-fashioneds one will find anywhere.

Included in each Santa Barbara Inn stay is a continental breakfast at Convivo. This luxurious amenity includes Italian roast coffees, juices, yogurt, granola, and a selection of breads and pastries, and of course, that view – a view that begs the question, “Why stay anywhere else while visiting Santa Barbara?”

Santa Barbara Inn and Convivo: 901 E. Cabrillo Blvd. : Santa Barbara, CA

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