Summer Getaway at Saint Remy

By Rebecca Horrigan

When I was thinking about how to approach my piece on the lovely new Courtyard Santa Barbara Downtown, a Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, I realized it would be the perfect reasonably-priced hotel for family and friends looking for a Santa Barbara getaway. So I invited up the people who most enjoy a weekend away in SB – my parents.

I knew seeing this Hotel through their eyes would provide the perfect visitors’ perspective, so we packed our bags and met up at the Hotel’s State Street location where all the action begins.

Originally a classic 1959 motor inn, the Courtyard Santa Barbara holds historic landmark status for its mid-century modern architecture. Although the property has undergone deep renovations and updates, including a lobby so clean it seems to sparkle, the building still retains SB’s distinctive Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.


“The property’s architecture speaks for itself — its clean lines, modern contemporary look, and historic star brick walls are second to none,” said General Manager Antonio Morales.

Morales kicked off our visit with a warm and professional welcome. He’s the type of GM who has a real authenticity when it comes to taking care of his guests. Whether he’s coordinating a reservation or switching a hotel room, Morales moves with ease and joy. I enjoyed his enthusiastic recommendations for dishes at their restaurant, Saint Remy, as well and later recapping the hits.

The Hotel features 122 large and meticulously-kept rooms which circle their pool complete with comfortable couches and firepits, perfect for lounging with a cocktail or snack.

Espresso Martini at Saint Remy (courtesy)

Speaking of snacks, I could write an entire longform review primarily on the food at Saint Remy, which was outstanding in quality and unbelievable for the price point. Start with one of their playful cocktails, such as the Stevie Nicks, a vibrant combination of gin, grapefruit, aperol, and lime, and pair your meal with one of their fabulous wines. Andrew Firestone, the mastermind behind the Hotel, which he opened in December with co-founder Jess Park, has wine in his family, and you can tell from their stellar list.

Glasses and bottle options include tasty local favorites such as the Chardonnay from Presquile, while leaving plenty of room for rare-to-SB offerings from Paso Robles’ exciting wine scene, including a delightful rose from Epoch and a delicious GSM from Booker. I was also pleased to see a new fave local brewery, Validation, on tap.

Visitors can bring their drinks and food up to the rooftop for jaw-dropping 360-degree views of SB mountaintops and downtown.

“The views from the terraces give you an experience of Santa Barbara that you cannot find at any hotel,” said Morales.


The night was a little chilly so we enjoyed a relaxing dinner in their spacious dining room. When it comes to approaching their diverse and bountiful menu, I suggest ordering as many dishes as possible, so you can try a bite of everything Chef Luis Gonzalez has created. The portions are large, perfect for sharing, and boast a whimsical creativity.

“Our menus are inspired by the fresh flavors of the Mediterranean, using the finest produce of California,” said Morales.

Two of our favorite dishes were dips that came with sides of crispy lavash. The sherry braised short rib hummus, layered with caramelized onion, beef jus, and pine nuts, made me question why hummus isn’t always layered with meat, and the whipped feta with olive oil lemon zest, crushed pistachio, pomegranate seed was inviting to the eyes and the tastebuds.


For mains, we were all dazzled by the gambas, featuring succulent shrimp, sweet pepper, white wine, sofrito, lemon, cherry tomato, garlic, and capellini. Even if you’re stuffed after dinner, I guarantee you’ll find the extra room for an order of profiteroles – these cream puffs dipped in chocolate and served with McConnell’s Ice Cream are simply irresistible.

After all of that deliciousness, tuck into their large and cloud-like beds, so you can rest, digest, and be ready for a great breakfast. My favorite item on their breakfast menu was their avocado toast; that’s saying a lot given that this dish is omnipresent in SB. However, the Courtyard gave it their own distinctive flair with fresh sourdough, a soft-boiled egg, herb cream cheese, radish, decorative flowers, and the most important part, heaping hunks of creamy avocado.

Avocado Toast at Saint Remy (courtesy)

The Courtyard’s central location is a perfect distance from all the art museums, hikes, beaches, restaurants, and entertainment SB has to offer, and we took full advantage. However, after busy days exploring, we were always thrilled to return to the cozy and charming Courtyard. We were also surprised to find that with all the other food options we sampled over the two days, our favorite meal of the weekend was from the Hotel’s restaurant. The Courtyard truly brings the best of SB right to you, and it will be top of the list for my folks’ next trip up.

“Our mission is to provide exceptional service and create memorable experiences for all our guests, so they tell stories about it,” said Morales.

This is certain to be the first of many family stories about the Courtyard Santa Barbara.

Rebecca is a teacher, writer, and lover of food & wine. She enjoys sharing her travel experiences with the Santa Barbara community.




Rebecca Horrigan

Written by Rebecca Horrigan

Rebecca is a teacher, writer, and lover of food & wine. She enjoys sharing her travel experiences with the Santa Barbara community.

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  1. Believe it or not, Dari Pini is creating an architectural “masterpiece” on the 1800 block of State Street. Years (and y-e-a-r-s) in the making, The Mission Inn is looking like it is nearing completion, and all I can say is….Wow! Not a huge place, but the amount of craftsmanship going into the stonework, tile, and roofing is top-shelf work. There is a third-floor patio area, but I’m not sure if there are any plans to serve food/drink to the general public. Dario sure has had a lot of bad press over the years, but I think his new hotel makes up for any of that negativity. The Mission Inn is a welcome addition to that part of town (1.5 blocks to the IHOP, 1.5 blocks to Garrett’s, and 3.5 blocks to Derf’s/Farmacy…win, win, and win/win).

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