Good Enough: A Review of the Kimpton Goodland Near Santa Barbara, California
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To The Point
Providing a low-key, beachy, pet-friendly stay just outside Santa Barbara, the Kimpton Goodland was great for a weekend getaway. Pros: Cool décor, super staff, convenient location. Cons: Silly resort fee, little privacy, loud pool area.
Living in Los Angeles, I love to drive up to Santa Barbara a few times a year for quick weekend getaways. I often have a small dog in tow, so the fact that there’s not one, but two pet-friendly Kimpton hotels in the area is an added bonus.
During my most recent trip there, I decided to check out the Kimpton Goodland in the town of Goleta, California, just to the northwest of Santa Barbara itself.
Starting room rates at the Kimpton Goodland tend to range between $170 and $440, so they can really vary a lot. That’s especially true in the summer high season, and Saturdays tend to be the most expensive.
Since Kimpton is part of IHG, you could also redeem 45,000 IHG Rewards Club points or use a combination of points and cash, like 40,000 points plus $45, or 30,000 points plus $104. Unfortunately, this award rate puts the hotel just out of reach for folks looking to redeem the anniversary free night from the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, which is only good at hotels costing up to 40,000 points.
For my stay, I was trying to decide between going up on a Friday night or a Saturday. Because of the way things worked out, it ended up that I could only go on Saturday. That was a little frustrating, because the room rates for Friday night started at $176, and the rates on Saturday started at $261.
Those were the prices I came up with looking on the IHG site. However, I decided to have a quick search on the IHG app and found a rate exclusive to mobile that was $15 cheaper — so only $246 for the night. This type of discount seems to be widely available, so if you plan to stay at this hotel, I’d highly recommend checking the app before booking.
My total came to $306. That included taxes, but also a $25 “Good Life Fee” for upgraded Wi-Fi on up to five devices, daily fitness classes, local phone calls, Monday night s’mores kits, Wednesday night trivia and weekend yoga on the pool deck, as well as self-parking, access to the hotel’s vinyl record library, live music and 50 pages of printing and copying services.
I love Kimpton hotels and their unique offerings, but honestly, this resort fee felt egregious. Not only was I not there on days when those activities took place, but who needs local phone calls and copying services? I’m surprised the hotel didn’t include morning coffee service and daily wine hour in this fee – at least that would have felt more reasonable. To add insult to injury, the $25 did not even earn points!
The Kimpton Goodland is a few exits northwest of the city of Santa Barbara along the 101 in the small town of Goleta. The hotel is a five-minute drive from the main campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. It took about 10 minutes to drive from the hotel to State Street, Santa Barbara’s main drag, for dinner the evening of my stay.
It was also about a 10-to-15-minute drive to the beach, and the wine country up around Solvang and Los Olivos was about a 40-minute drive north on the 101.
There was not a ton around the hotel except for a Best Western and a few shopping centers with grocery stores and pharmacies to the west. But the quiet neighborhood was a nice setting if you were not hoping to stay right in the heart of Santa Barbara.
I arrived at the hotel around 3pm and parked in the lot just in front of the hotel’s main entrance. The hotel was converted from a former surfer-style motel and had a very SoCal vibe, with an Airstream on the lawn out front.
You could even go inside and hang out.
There was also a classic Woody Wagon parked in the driveway.
Near the front door, there were a couple of free bikes that you could borrow for free if you wanted to bike around Goleta or down to the beach.
The lobby was cozy but cool with a few sitting areas and a curvy leather sofa fronting the fireplace. Though it was relatively empty when I arrived, it got crowded with guests and their pet dogs for the 5pm wine hour.
There were two agents at reception checking folks in, so I spent a couple minutes taking photos of the lobby. I especially liked the VNYL Record Shop, from which you could borrow records to play in your room, and the surfboards hanging overhead as décor.
There was a small art gallery in the hallway leading away from reception toward some of the event spaces.
When one of the agents was ready, I headed back to the front desk to check in. She pulled up my reservation and thanked me for my loyalty. Then she pointed to the board behind me to fill me in on the schedule of activities and offered me a welcome beer from Captain Fatty’s Brewery just up the road.
She came back with a small cup of flavorful lager, which was a nice way to kick off the stay.
She also said that I’d been upgraded from the standard deluxe king room that I had booked to a Courtyard Patio King. Deluxe rooms were on either the first or second floor on the side of the building that faced the parking lots, so they did not have balconies or patios. Courtyard Patio rooms were a few categories higher and on the first floor facing the pool area. They tend to cost about $35 more per night, though I might have preferred the original room, based on how loud the pool area got. But more on that later.
Although the desk clerk did not mention it at that time, my IHG Rewards Club elite amenity was a $10 bar credit, which was applied to a cocktail I ordered later in the evening.
After taking a look at the map, I got my bags and walked around the pool to my room, which was just about in the middle of the building to the west of lobby. I liked the large mural on one of its sides.
In the breezeway toward the back of the complex, there was an even brighter, more impressive mural.
As its name indicated, my room did indeed have a patio that it shared with the room next door. There was just a chair and wooden table out there, and the day was rainy, so I did not really take advantage of it.
The windows were large, but anyone could look right into the room despite a slatted, wooden partition. There were sheer shades and then blackout ones, which I mostly had to keep down, since I didn’t want other guests looking in.
The room was spare but chic, with white walls, wood beams and beach-inspired furnishings.
The king bed was dressed in white Italian Frette linens and had a wooden frame but a woven wall decoration behind it.
To either side was a nightstand with a lamp on it, one of which was not working.
The drawers had bottle openers for knobs.
Each nightstand also had a panel with plugs so you could charge your phone or other devices from bed.
On the window side of the room, there was a chair and a metallic table. The air conditioner seemed like a holdover from the motel days, and was fitted into the wall under the window.
The wall opposite the bed held a full-length mirror, a pouf to sit on and the credenza with the television, a safe and the minibar.
The minibar included candy and snacks like artisanal popcorn, as well as his and hers “Love Kits.”
There was also a small Crosley record player.
The shelf above the credenza held three records to choose from, though you could borrow more from the lobby store.
The bathroom was small and odd in a number of ways. Obviously, there’s only so much you can do if you’re converting a motel room, but this was where the hotel’s lower-budget past was clearest. There was just a sliding frosted-glass door that provided only the barest amount of privacy.
The bathroom had a single sink, and the closet was right next to it (though the Frette robes were a nice touch, and, of course, there was a yoga mat).
The shower and toilet were in a separate alcove.
Although the shower had cute tiling, it was clear that all the designers did was take out the bathtub. The control knob for the water was low to the ground, where it would have been for a tub, and the shower head was also quite low — it definitely would not have passed TPG’s shower test.
On the plus side, I did like the Atelier Bloem bath products, including shampoo with oolong tea, ylang ylang, chamomile and orange blossom.
As I mentioned, the room was right across from the pool, theoretically a plus. Unless that pool happens to be full of screaming children. For three straight hours.
We were there in the middle of the afternoon, so it didn’t matter too much, but if you want peace and quiet, ask for a room in the back building or facing the parking lot instead.
In general, the room was rather loud. That was partly because it was an old building with thin walls, so you could hear your neighbors, especially if they were testing out their own record player, but also just about everyone who walked by and happened to be chatting. Other guests were generally very considerate, though.
Finally, the Wi-Fi was among the fastest I’ve had in a hotel.
Food and Beverage
The hotel had two main food and beverage outlets: Outpost and Good Bar, and both were in the same building as reception.
Good Bar had a very laid-back surfer vibe, with surfboards on the ceiling, textile wall hangings over the windows and lots of board games to choose from. There was also a separate, smaller room with a billiard table.
Good Bar was on the side of the lobby closest to the street, and you could enter directly from the driveway or through a door in the lobby. It opened at 5pm, with food service till 10pm the night I was there.
The menu included bar snacks like chips and guacamole, fish tacos and a burger, with items ranging from $8 to $17. The cocktail menu, meanwhile, had prices from $11 up and included specialties like a What’s the Dill? with The Botanist gin, chartreuse, Suze liqueur and dill-infused Dolin Blanc. There were also special flights of different spirits including mezcal, gin, rye whiskey and various amaros, plus local beers on tap and about a dozen California wines.
The hotel’s main restaurant, Outpost, was across from reception. The indoor dining room was spare but quaint with wooden chairs and tables. One side of the bar faced inward.
The other side anchored the outdoor dining room. There were more tables out here, and then also two fire pits that were quite popular for drinks and snacks. In fact, I never got to sit at one because other guests were always on hand, but that was a good sign of how cozy the hotel was.
The menu here was coastal California cuisine and included items like a kale salad, tuna crudo, pork belly bao, salmon with romanesco puree and roasted heirloom carrots, a pork chop with caramelized Fuji apples and mustard aioli, and a lamb burger with date chutney and harissa yogurt. Prices ranged from $8 to $27.
The cocktail menu was slightly different than at Good Bar. I ended up getting a drink called the Cross Your T’s with chamomile-infused Old Forester whiskey, amaretto, plum and angostura bitters for $14. It was like a fruity Old Fashioned and was delicious.
Otherwise, Outpost was open for a simple grab-and-go breakfast on weekday mornings, brunch on weekends, and for dinner from 5pm onward every night of the week.
The hotel also had a help-yourself coffee cart out in the morning, which was convenient. Staff served Trinity Oaks pinot grigio and pinot noir ($9 per bottle each at retail) for happy hour, which was quite well-attended by humans and canines alike.
The hotel’s main amenity was its retro-cool pool. It was rather cold and rainy the day I was there, so the only people using it were kids in town for a soccer tournament. But it looked like a great place to spend a sunny afternoon, thanks to comfy loungers and daybeds.
The staff offered yoga class out there at 9:30am on weekend mornings, and three guests attended on the Sunday morning of my stay.
Out on the back lawn, there were picnic tables guests could hang out at, and even a game of cornhole that the kids seemed to love.
The hotel also had a small gym. And I mean small.
It basically took up the space of two guest rooms, but it only had a couple treadmills, an elliptical and some dumbbells. Guests could also ask for passes to a nearby Gold’s Gym, but that seemed inconvenient.
Finally, back in the lobby, there was a small “record shop” called VNYL, from which you could borrow albums to play back in your room and purchase to take home with you as a souvenir.
For a quick weekend getaway to Santa Barbara, the Kimpton Goodland fit the bill. It was beachy and cute. Touches like the vast murals and the driveway Airstream lent the buildings a classic California feel without being too precious. The rooms felt chic and comfortable, and if it had been sunny, that pool would have been a great place to hang out. The public spaces were also attractive enough to keep guests at the hotel to just hang out over snacks and drinks, and it was fun to see how many had brought along pets.
That said, some of the original building’s elements cut down on peace and privacy, and the guest-room bathrooms could use some major work. I wouldn’t stay here again for a rate as high as the one I paid. However, if they drop over weekdays and after the summer high season, I would come back. Especially if I have a pet with me, since Kimpton makes stays with furry friends so easy and fun.
All photos by the author.
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