After Long Wait, New Hotel Californian Opens

The smaller Hotel Californian building on Mason and State Street opened Sept. 17 as the lobby. The four-story building across State Street has the original facade. 

The long-awaited Hotel Californian at 36 State St. in the opened its doors officially Sept. 17 after it seems two decades from when the original building shut down in what became perhaps the most derelict area in Santa Barbara. 

The original hotel opened in 1925, but was damaged by an earthquake shortly thereafter and fell into disrepair in the mid-1990s. The Sunday opening is a soft launch, which allows guests to check into their rooms, starting about  $550 a night. An exclusive ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Oct. 5, said Haley Dickman, a public relations official for the hotel. 

Custom-designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard, about everything in the hotel comes from somewhere else, such a more than a million hand-painted tiles used in the hotel’s recurring motif. The new lodging facility has 121 bedrooms and suites in its three buildings, which includes a Moroccan spa.  

The Funk Zone-situated Hotel Californian presidential suite is 1,700 square feet. Bullard designed the rooftop deck to feature panoramic views and a rooftop pool. He put together a heavily decorated ballroom, boutique by Maris Collective and a 70-seat American-Mediterranean-style restaurant. 

Los Angeles investor and developer Michael Rosenfeld bought the 2.37-acre property in 2011 for an undisclosed amount, but reportedly the previous owner had wanted to sell it for $8 million. From the looks of it, the developer spent much more on the design and features. 

After demolishing most of the building, the developer kept the four-story hotel’s façade on State Street. Rosenfeld owns the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Century City. 

Hotel Californian also has nine vacation units and a number of retail shops on some 20,000 square feet. Most of the retail spaces have been leased. 

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