T+L's exclusive peek at the Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara.
Noah Webb One of 97 Michael Smith-designed guest rooms.
| Credit: Noah Webb

The sun is setting and you’ve got a front-row seat on the 1,800-square-foot terrace with a pool, two fireplaces, a quietly trickling fountain, and panoramic views of the Santa Ynez Mountains and Santa Cruz Island, 26 miles offshore. Seven floors below are the stylish galleries, shops, and restaurants of Old Town Santa Barbara. Welcome to the brand-new Canary Hotel, whose owners, the force behind Santa Monica’s Shutters on the Beach and Casa del Mar, know a little something about SoCal luxury.

Previously called the Andalucia, the Canary and its 97 rooms have been dressed up under the aegis of L.A. design virtuoso Michael Smith, who used his sense of easy glamour to bring an Alhambra-meets-Pacific look: the palette—an interplay of greens and blues, ranging from celery to indigo—takes its cue from the ocean (which sits three blocks to the west); dark oak floors are accented with rush mats or sorbet-hued dhurries (rather than wall-to-wall carpets); instead of bland wallpaper, hallways are now covered in a cheeky (but oh-so-chic) bright-turquoise burlap, set off by Moroccan lanterns. Even the lobby, with its terra-cotta floor and tapestries, positively radiates California warmth.

There are some kinks. In the restaurant, Coast, views of a neighboring gas station and Greyhound depot are almost—but not quite—offset by the top-notch cheese plate (with three varieties from California, including a cow’s milk brined in Cabernet) and excellent wine list of roughly a dozen local wines. And the dull hum of traffic encourages a closed-window policy for rooms on the second and third floors. But the Canary has something the other area properties simply can’t match: the feel of a discreet hideaway coupled with a hip city vibe.