by Lissa Poirot
This isn’t your ordinary DoubleTree hotel. Instead, the Fess Parker is a 24-acre, beachfront resort located in the heart of Santa Barbara, formerly a resort opened by Fess Parker, the actor who played Daniel Boone on the 1960’s TV show.
The guestrooms in the resort’s Mission-style buildings overlook the Pacific and the marina. They are just steps from the harbor and Santa Barbara’s many restaurants and wine tasting shops. The resort is pet-friendly, too, with onsite dining, one of the largest outdoor, heated swimming pools in the area, and beautiful views.
Our Editor Loves
- Short walk from beach and harbor
- Suites accommodate up to five
- One of the largest outdoor pools in Santa Barbara
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The Fess Parker features 360 rooms in multiple buildings with views of the ocean, mountains or resort. All rooms are 450 square feet in size and renovated as of 2015. They feature flat-screen TVs, bathrooms with double vanities (one outside of the shower/tub for shared use), and a patio or balcony. Patio level rooms overlooking the pool are popular for families who want fast access to the pool; they can be requested at booking. Wi-Fi is available in all rooms, but for a daily fee of $12.95. Cribs and rollaway beds are available upon request.
Standard rooms feature either two queen beds or one king bed and a sofa bed. They are large enough to fit a rollaway bed in either configuration, allowing room for up to five guests. Select from mountain or oceanview rooms.
One-bedroom suites with kid beds and a queen sofa bed are available with separate living and bedroom spaces. Suites come with CD players and Bose Stereos. Connecting rooms can enlarge the suites to two-bedrooms with one king bed, two queen beds and one queen sofa bed to accommodate up to eight.
I've stayed here before back when it was a Doubletree (for my wedding, actually) and was excited to return. Now it's a Hilton proper, and the rooms have been renovated. The rooms are still great, and the grounds are still great. Service was fine.
They are now downright addicted to constant and unnecessary fees. The useless resort fee to start. While they do list what it pays for you still can't opt out. Even if, like me, you're not going to use any of it. Don't list what it covers if you can't opt out. I don't need the bottled water or a bike rental, so don't make me pay for it then. Free wine is nice, but I don't drink wine and well drinks weren't covered. A parking fee, even though there's a ludicrous amount of parking available and the lot sits empty. At a lot of hotels the parking is very visibly limited, so paying can make sense. Not here, so why pay $25 a day for it? The person at the desk meekly said "to keep your car safe," which is of course nonsense. It's not really a secure lot, anyone can come and go. Just another profit center for them on top of the $300+ a night I'm already paying.
To add insult to injury, the only way to get your "complimentary" water bottles is to bring a little card to the front desk every day. Even though there are bottles in your room that housekeeping will replace. My room was essentially as far as possible from the front desk, so this meant a 10 minute walk just to get them. On check-out I had to wait as a guest was rightfully upset they wouldn't waive the water bottle fee because she used the ones in her room (the same ones in the lobby). This is of course why they use the cards, to capture those extra few bucks from people who say "free water bottles" listed and assumed that means the ones in their room. I'm sure the staff is just as tired as enforcing these fees as customers are of complaining about them.
So yes, it's a nice resort with competitive rates compared to nearby properties. It's right on the beach and the facilities are all lovely. But the nickel and dime-ing is so egregious and greedy that I can't recommend it to anyone anymore. Unless you can expense it for work, just take your money elsewhere. I'll pay a premium because the location makes it still feel like a value. But the endless fees negate that feeling, and they should be ashamed.
Located right across the beach, it was a easy pick for our two day get-away. Plenty of parking, although there is a charge to park. We had picked a "park and stay" rate that included parking, but front desk staff didn't pay attention to that during check-in. We had to bring that up to avoid double charge. Apart from the initial hiccup, everything else went mostly well. Room was spacious and looked renovated. Air conditioner was dripping something brown (rust + water ?) - but that was a minor inconvenience. Pool was decent size, was expecting something big. Continental breakfast served was great with a good variety, and we enjoyed it. Hotel management can clarify on what they call "a complete breakfast" in the menu. Veggie-omelette that we got was dry without much taste. Pastries at cafe were good too. Also, this appears to be pet-friendly hotel. Saw plenty of guests walking their dogs. If these guests can keep their pets a short leash when approaching other guests, that would be make everyone feel comfortable during the stay. We will definitely consider this location as a option again, if we visit SB.
The hotel's heated, outdoor swimming pool is the second largest in Santa Barbara. It is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The resort offers three tennis courts, a half-court basketball court, a putting green and shuffleboard.
Located directly across from the resort is East Beach. Families can soak up the sun in the sand, enjoy the ocean, have picnics or play on the playground. Bathrooms and showers are available and lifeguards are on duty during the summer months.
During the summer months, the resort may show outdoor movies on occasion. Bike rentals are offered near the pool during summer months, as well, but the resort does not offer any children's activities.
The hotel's all-day restaurant, Roundhouse CafÃ©, is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. A hearty breakfast buffet is offered daily, with special pricing for children, as well as a la carte dining.
Open for dinner only, Rodney's Grill is an upscale restaurant that serves steak, seafood and pastas. A children's menu is available.
Java del Mar
For grab-and-go breakfast items and Starbucks coffee, visit the Java del Mar in the lobby from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
Terraza del Mar
During the summer months, the poolside Terraza del Mar grill provides lunch and snack options for guests lounging in the sun or water.
Enjoy lunch, dinner and snacks at the Set, a bistro-style spot that offers ocean views and two fire pits on the outdoor patio.
In-room dining is available daily for breakfast from 6:30 to 11 a.m. and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Late-night dining is available on weekdays from 10 p.m. to midnight and weekends from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport is provided.
Free Wi-Fi is offered in the hotel lobby. Wi-Fi is available in rooms for $12.95 per day.
Pets are welcome at the hotel with a $30 fee per night. The maximum weight is 75 pounds.
Self-parking is $19 per night and valet parking is $26 per night.
Onsite coin-operated laundry is available, as well as dry cleaning service.
The Art of Smart Timing
Santa Barbara is a year-round destination and the Fess Parker is mainly popular for conventions, meetings and weddings, which could bring crowds year-round. Inquire about business schedules when planning to visit.
The hotel is located along Cabrillo Boulevard, just across the street from East Beach and the Santa Barbara waterfront. The hotel provides complimentary shuttle service to the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, just 15 miles away. From Los Angeles International Airport, the drive is about two hours and shuttle service is not provided.
If staying at the resort, park the car and enjoy Santa Barbara on foot or by trolley, bike or surrey. Rentals are readily available along the waterfront.
For Mom and Dad
A small spa, the Spa del Mar, offers salon services and treatments, including haircuts, hair styling, massages and body treatments.