Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Santa Barbara Getaway - The Upham Hotel and Louie's Bistro

Upham Hotel, Santa Barbara, California

We all have friends with opinions and recommendations for hotels, restaurants, etc, and of those friends we know the ones we can trust, the ones with classy, impeccable taste.  For me, that friend is Marsha.  My muse when it comes to anything travel or food related, I trust implicity what she recommends, and when she suggested the quaint Upham Hotel in lieu of a run of the mill resort for our stay in Santa Barbara I simply picked up the phone and made a reservation.  Dropping my son at UCSB for Freshman Orientation, I'm happy to say I've found my home away from home for the next four years.

Upham Hotel, Santa Barbara, California
Breakfast or wine on the patio anyone??
Built in 1871, the Upham Hotel claims the title of the oldest continuously operating hotel in Southern California.  Offering some 50 rooms and suites located in one of several single and two story buildings, the hotel embraces its heritage, yet brings a completely modern facility.

Featuring a generous continental breakfast, an afternoon wine and cheese and evening milk and cookies, the hotel brings more of a bed and breakfast feel than a hotel.  From check-in to check-out, the staff did everything possible to make our stay even more comfortable, all with a personal touch.

Arriving after a four hour drive from San Diego with my 18-year old son at the wheel, I don't think I've ever looked forward to a glass of wine more than I did that night.  However, we arrived just after the evening wine and cheese event had been put away.  Describing the last four hours to the front desk, the man simply walked to the kitchen, brought me a glass of white, smiled and said, "I understand..."  I think he did.

Upham Hotel, Santa Barbara, California
With three of us in the room, our only option at the Upham was one of the Santa Barbara Double Queen Rooms located in the Hibiscus building.  A lovely two story structure surrounded by lush greenery and trees, Liv loved that our key was just that, an actual key.

With ample room for our party of three, we unloaded our bags into the spacious walk in closet and once again, Liv loved the "old fashioned" (her words... not mine!) touches.  Using a pull chain for the light in the closet, I had to smile realizing that in her 14 years she had never seen one.  Might I mention that the crystal door handles also brought a smile to her face.

Living in Southern California, we love to open our windows, and the shuttered windows in our room opened to provided a lovely evening breeze enhanced by our spinning ceiling fan.  No need for air conditioning on our early August stay - temps at night fell to the low 60's, days were high 70's.  While we did hear occasional guest walking to and from their cars, everyone hushed their children and we had no issues with noise.

Upham Hotel, Santa Barbara, California

Breakfast, while described as continental, was a delight.  Including steel cut oats with a choice of toppings (my choice included raisins and cinnamon), bagels, bread, muffins, pastries, cereal and milk, hard boiled eggs, fruit (bananas, apples and grapefruit), assorted juices, and coffee and tea, one has a wonderful start to the day, and the choice of patio dining becomes even more of a bonus.

Upham Hotel, Santa Barbara, California
Continental breakfast served 7am -11am
Tucked away on the bottom floor of the main part of the hotel, Liv and I found Louie's Bistro to be our choice for dinner.  Again, we chose patio dining and enjoyed the cool evening Southern California breeze as the sun set behind us.

Louie's Bistro, Santa Barbara, California
In business for over 30 years, Louie's also came highly recommended and after a day of tourist walking adventures we eagerly anticipated our dinner.

While the wine list features wonderful Santa Barbara and Central Coast wines, I asked our server, Patrick, for a hearty IPA.  His suggestion of the SLO (San Luis Obispo) Brewing Company perfectly hit the spot, and our relaxing evening began.

Sharing the Pepper Shrimp with avocado and a fresh tomato salsa, Liv and I chatted about our day and proclaimed our dinner most likely far better than what her brother was getting at his first meal at the UCSB dining commons.

Patrick happily adjusted the pasta dish to my "I like it my way" requests and suggested the Chicken and Spinach Ravioli for Liv.  Again, both fabulous choices and we polished off both plates along with a basket of warm bread.  Inquiring about dessert Patrick just smiled and said "The Banana a la Louie, of course" (custard filled puffed pastry with caramelized bananas).  As the front desk had also gushed about the Banana dessert it seemed a done deal, and again a fabulous choice.

Louie's Bistro, Santa Barbara, California
Pepper Shrimp with Avocado and Tomato Salsa
Louie's Bistro, Santa Barbara, California
Banana a la Louie... custard filled puffed pastry with caramelized bananas and vanilla gelato
Satiated, tired and happy, my girl and I wandered through the quiet grounds and back to our room.  Texting my muse, Marsha, our thanks for her hotel suggestion, we know we've found our home away from home when when visiting Santa Barbara.

Liv Life Note:  Neither the Upham or Louie's knew we planned to write reviews... all thoughts and opinions are completely our own.

The Upham Hotel, Santa Barbara, CA


  1. That is such a quaint little hotel. I may have to make a mini road trip down there. Looks like the perfect weekend getaway!

  2. I'll have to keep this place in mind the next time we head up to Santa Barbara.

  3. I need to get back to Santa Barabara


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