This Magical Southern California City Just Got a New Hotel — in an Old Scientology Building

Drift Santa Barbara just opened on State Street, the city's lovely main drag, with a chic cocktail bar and 45 rooms.

Bedroom with terrace in the Penthouse at Drift Hotel Santa Barbara


Santa Barbara’s State Street promenade is now home to a new hotel. It's the first California outpost of the Drift hospitality brand. Drift Santa Barbara officially opened its doors on Feb. 1 in a restored 1920s building with 45 stylish rooms, a coffee shop, and a bar, all within walking distance from the coastal city’s many artisan shops, breweries, beaches, and parks.

The hotel’s beautiful Mediterranean-inspired façade seamlessly blends with the modern coastal décor dreamed up by architecture firm Anacapa (also behind AutoCamp’s luxury glamping camp in Yosemite National Park). And the building was formerly used as a church of Scientology.

Guests of the property will find references to Drift’s first hotel, in Cabo, with organic materials and a soothing earthy palette that enliven the common areas. Other highlights of the minimalist aesthetic include oversized arched windows, suspended floor joists, local artwork by photographer Will Adler, and handcrafted ceramics.

Exterior view of the Drift Hotel Santa Barbara with a blurred figure on a bike and an interior details view of a chair and side table by a window.


Rooms offer views of historic State Street and the Santa Ynez Mountains, with some also featuring private balconies. A patio, a fire pit, and sweeping vistas over the Santa Barbara coast await guests in the hotel’s signature penthouse.

“We’re proud to introduce the Drift Hotels brand to our home state of California,” Philip Bates, co-founder and CEO of TMC Hospitality, which owns and operates Drift, said in a press release. “Drift is a unique hotel experience geared toward bringing travelers and the community together, and the Santa Barbara locale will be a harmonious addition to the energetic State Street.”

View of shower and bed in a Standard room at Drift Hotel Santa Barbara


Vanity space in bathroom of a Standard Premium room at Drift Hotel Santa Barbara


Taking full advantage of its central location, the hotel has two dining concepts with outdoor seating on the ground floor. Drawing on Southern California’s surf culture, Dawn is a casual café serving local coffee and pastries. Enjoy craft cocktails and fresh seafood tostadas at Dusk, an agave and raw bar clad in dramatic dark steel and wood.

The kitchen area with lots of natural light in the Penthouse at Drift Hotel Santa Barbara


Encouraging guests to fully immerse in Santa Barbara’s coastal lifestyle, the hotel also offers complimentary surfboards, bikes, and yoga gear.

Nightly rates at Drift Santa Barbara start at $309.  

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