Designer to the stars revives landmark Californian hotel

by Jane Kitchen | 21 Apr 2017

A landmark 1925 California hotel with a storied history will be reborn this summer, with new interiors created by celebrity designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard – who has dreamed up glamorous homes for the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Eva Mendes and Cher.

When it first opened in 1925, the Hotel Californian was one of the first of a new wave of Spanish Colonial Revival style structures, but was open for little more than a week before a massive earthquake jolted the city, forcing it to close for repairs.

The rebuilt hotel was subsequently restored and sold several times, flourishing into the 1950s, until business in downtown Santa Barbara began to decline. Today, it occupies a site adjacent to the city’s vibrant Funk Zone and steps from the Pacific Ocean.

The latest revamp has seen Bullard use Moroccan and Spanish Colonial influences like indigenous tiles and terra cotta throughout the property.

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

The new hotel is being developed by Michael Rosenfeld, and will include three buildings; the four-storey Californian building – which preserves the facade of the original 1925 Hotel Californian – is where the spa is housed, along with a fitness centre, ground-level relaxation courtyard, 62 bedrooms, and a rooftop swimming pool with views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez mountains.

The Mason building includes two three-storey structures, the hotel’s lobby and library, 58 bedrooms, a restaurant and retail shop. The State building houses the hotel’s 1,700sq ft (158sq m) presidential suite along with a ballroom, plaza lawn, rooftop event deck, cafe and market.

The new-look Hotel Californian comes complete with a Moroccan-inspired spa created by Amy McDonald, CEO of Under A Tree Health and Wellness Consulting.

The blue-and-white spa is part of a new build at Santa Barbara’s Hotel Californian, and McDonald describes the spa as “Moorish and edgy in its design.”

It will include four treatment rooms, as well as a vitality bar with teas and a ‘wellness gallery’ that showcases artwork, designed as a space to create community events and host speakers centred around wellness.

“We want to expand this to a bigger story,” said McDonald. “We’re lifting it into a place where people will come to gather.”

hotel californian  santa barbara  amy mcdonald  under a tree consulting  martyn bullard 
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A landmark 1925 California hotel with a storied history will be reborn this summer, with new interiors created by celebrity designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard – who has dreamed up glamorous homes for the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Eva Mendes and Cher. When it first opened in 1925, the Hotel Californian was one of the first of a new wave of Spanish Colonial Revival style structures, but was open for little
McDonald describes the blue-and-white spa as 'Moorish and edgy in its design'
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Company profile: SPARCSTUDIO
Sparcstudio offers a bespoke and comprehensive design service with real attention to detail. Logical and inspiring space planning forms the bedrock of all Sparcstudio projects.
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