Renowned interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard transforms a historic hotel into a glamorous getaway in the coastal city of Santa Barbara. 

On the American Riviera, the Hotel Californian—a member of the LVX collection of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, the world’s biggest group of independent hotels—immediately catches the attention of passers-by, with its Spanish Colonial architecture dating back to 1925. 

The facade of Hotel Californian

In May 2018, the hotel started a new chapter of its history after an important makeover led by developer Michael Rosenfeld and interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, who counts many celebrities among his clientele (including Tommy Hilfiger, Eva Mendes and Edward Norton). 

Located in the heart of Santa Barbara, in Southern California, the hotel, which is a few steps from shops, restaurants and the beach, comprises three buildings. 

The pool area is the perfect place for guests to take in the beautiful view of the beach.

The first, Mason, has two structures with three floors and is home to the lobby, library, 58 rooms, five meeting rooms and a signature Mediterranean and American restaurant, Blackbird. 

The second, State, is mostly dedicated to social events (with a capacity of 300 people) thanks to its 4,200 sq ft plaza lawn, 2,800 sq ft ballroom and 3,600 sq ft rooftop event space; it also hosts Goat Tree—a gourmet cafe and market—and the 1,700 sq ft presidential Alcazar suite. 

The Goat Tree Restaurant

The third building, Californiana, consists of 62 rooms situated on four floors, and a pool and Jacuzzi on the rooftop with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez Mountains; it is also home to a fitness centre and the serene Majorelle spa, a space adorned with beautiful chandeliers and whose name is an ode to the blue colour of traditional Moroccan tiles. 

The Moroccan tiles at the Spa Majorelle pay tribute to the region’s Spanish Colonial past.

Blending glamour and nostalgia with a mix of references from different countries, this coastal refuge respects the past and is rooted in the present thanks to Bullard’s vision. 

The Moorish inspiration is given an update with monochromatic colour in this guest room

“The property’s design is Moorish-inspired with a modern twist.” he says. “I wanted to preserve the history of the Hotel Californian and pay tribute to Santa Barbara while also making it relatable to the Funk Zone crowd—young, hip and fresh.

The architecture of the hotel was carefully preserved but jazzed up with a new colour palette. As apparent in this library.

He adds, “Guests will find Moroccan and Spanish Colonial influences throughout the property with indigenous tiles, terracotta and pops of colour.”