The Goodland's on-site Outpost Restaurant attracts guests and locals with snacks inspired by both Santa Barbara and international cuisine. // © 2015 Silas Fallstich
Feature image (above): Arrive on a Tuesday to partake in a margarita party in and around The Goodland’s pair of Airstream trailers. // © 2015 John Ellis
The lobby of The Goodland, a Kimpton Hotel, in Goleta, Calif., leaves a strong impression, like a winning smile or a firm handshake. It could be the curlicue leather sofa parked in front of the glowing hearth, the hexagonal tiles beneath your feet or the killer photography collection that dots the walls. Whatever catches your eye, the good news is this: The fun continues far beyond check-in.
It was my first date with the Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants brand, and I don’t mind admitting that I’m hoping for a second. Situated around a courtyard pool with lounge chairs and a gaggle of palm trees, The Goodland, which was a Holiday Inn property not so long ago, is easy on the eyes. It also embodies all things Kimpton — that is, it reflects the brand’s commitment to creating one-of-a-kind settings inspired by location.
The hotel’s red-tile roof, for example, is a nod to the defining architectural style of its southerly neighbor, Santa Barbara. Cozy fire pits and cherry-red bicycles available for loan encourage guests to take advantage of the California coast’s near-perfect weather. And like a beach barbecue or pick-up volleyball match, it’s a noticeably amicable place, perhaps in part because of the daily hosted social hour — a Kimpton standard.
Tuesdays call for margaritas in and around beloved Carol and Rita, two sleek and sisterly Airstream trailers parked in front of the hotel. Other days might bring spiked teas or punches to the lobby. Lucky for me, I arrived on a Tuesday. As the sun set, I watched a continuous stream of newfound friends hop onboard Rita, chatting with the crew as they mixed drinks.
Room key and salted margarita in hand, I made my way to my courtyard room with a pool view. A lovely marriage of mid-century modern and bohemian style, the space felt instantly comfortable and oh-so California. A slick surfboard leaned against a wall and a photo of a blue-skied, umbrella-lined beach, among numerous other details.
I rarely unpack my bag fully when traveling, but the long wooden dresser with mismatched front panels spoke to me. So did the portable neon-green Crosley record player and selection of vinyl — the requisite sundress, swim suit and flip flops were tossed into drawers to the tune of folk-rock group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Carry On.” Should you require additional album options, The Goodland’s Record Concierge is just a phone call away.
After chilling out with a little music, I took a self-guided tour through The Goodland’s mural-clad breezeways, spotting a clearing for lawn games; the full-service Good Spa; and the lobby-side Good Bar, where one might indulge in libations, backgammon or billiards amongst more surfboards, a vintage typewriter and macrame curtains. Every morning, you’ll find complimentary coffee and tea service in the bar as well, plus pastries, fruit and breakfast sandwiches for purchase.
A swim in the heated and gloriously quiet pool was in order next. I knew sharing the waves with no one else was a happy accident — the calm before the storm. A short Instagram search showed me that it’s an entirely different scene come weekend. Daytime “Cool Off” parties bring DJs, themed bottle service and a whole lot of revelers to the pool. Once the sun goes down, a DJ’s mix is swapped for tunes played by a live band. On Fridays, guests might opt to grab a spot on the lawn for a movie under the stars.
Tuesday be damned, the on-site Outpost Restaurant showed no signs of a mid-week lull. From the pool, I could see happy hour cocktails and eats flowing freely long before sunset. Helmed by chef Derek Simcik, Outpost offers a range of international-meets-Santa-Barbara street food, including kimchi fries with lime curry aioli and Chinese-style bao, or buns, stuffed with brisket. I can personally recommend the fried-chicken sandwich adorned with thyme-infused honey and pickles. The DIY guacamole is a fun turn of events, too.
As if the menu isn’t attractive enough, Outpost’s patio and inside dining room are visual feasts, from a potted succulent wall and jelly-jar pendant lights to the stunning wooden high-bar table. The only thing one could do wrong is to not visit the restaurant at all. A short menu of daytime snacks is available starting at 11 a.m., while happy hour begins at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The full dinner menu is available at 5 p.m. daily, and brunch takes over Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
You could easily fill a day sampling Simcik’s fare, but the average guest will likely want to explore off property. There isn’t much within walking distance, but easy drives connect the hotel to Goleta Beach County Park and University of California at Santa Barbara (less than 5 miles away). Refugio and El Capitan state beaches require slightly longer treks.
To do some serious shopping damage or to go barhopping, cruise about 8 miles south on Highway 101 to downtown Santa Barbara. There’s also the Santa Ynez Valley. Tucked about 30 miles inland, the growing wine region makes for a great day trip for sommeliers-in-training.
Given so many on- and off-site charms, the words of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young ring clear: “Where are you going now, my love? Where will you be tomorrow?”