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Reviewed January 27, 2014

Think of the glamourous palm tree lined, mountain backed, Santa Barbara. Brimming with character, charm and history. Now... take a (reluctant) step into the Santa Barbara Tourist Hostel... and experience the exact opposite.

Considering the wealth and beauty of Santa Barbara, the constant flow of tourists and students, there is little, or should I say, no choice, when it comes to hostels.

As a passer-through in 2004, i felt the same; I stayed in a hostel, which no longer exists as a hostel, by the train tracks, this was also a pretty dismal attempt at budget accommodation. In 10 years it seems, there has been no improvement. The Santa Barbara Tourist Hostel is a dump, and an overpriced one at that. Unprofessional staff, dosshouse style reception area, dirty, grimy, dusty box of a place, with no character other than that of a person you wouldn't really want to acquaint yourself with.

Our room was around $120 for 3 people, and we have to use some strong negotiation skills to win this price. A room with a double bed (complete with romantic plastic under-sheet, which reminded you of it's existence every time you moved an inch). To get to the communal bathroom, you have to take a longer than required bolt into the car park, around the building, through the main entrance and reception (greeting new victims checking in as you saunter past avec towel), and down a corridor.

The only positive about this place... it was the only room left in Santa Barbara under $200 on Fiesta weekend...

Case closed.

Room Tip: Stay somewhere else
  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with friends
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2  Thank havemonkeywilltravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed December 27, 2013

So this wasn't the nicest hostel I've ever stayed in but it was far from the worst and not as bad as the reviews led me to believe. We booked this hostel out of desperation as we simply could not find anything else in Santa Barbara we could afford and arrived fairly apprehensive.

It was so convenient- literally across the road from the Amtrak. We checked in pretty quickly and easily. Yes the rooms are very cramped and they definitely have squeezed in too many beds and yes the bathrooms are not very private. However both the bedrooms and bathrooms were clean enough by hostel standards. Breakfast was basic- toast- but enough to get you going in the morning. The kitchen was very basic and we didn't try cooking there but we found plenty of cheap places to eat in Santa Barbara. Close to the beach and the main town. The trains were noisy (felt as though it was coming through the room!) but that's the price you pay for being so close to the tracks. The last one seemed to come by just after midnight so it's not that late. Some people did mention about the safety- people breaking in to the dorms in the days before we arrived. I actually felt perfectly safe but did take extra precautions with my property.

It really depends on your priorities whether you decide to stay here or not. For us if it was reasonably clean and cheap we could manage pretty much anything else- that's what this was.

  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank snipey_123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed October 16, 2013

I stayed two nights in this hostel and was very sad that I didn't stay longer in Hollywood and make the drive straight through the next morning in order to avoid an extra night in this place. First off, office hours are ridiculous considering the nature of the business. 8:30 AM to 10 PM is not very conducive to people coming in from all over to check in/check out. The staff were nonchalant at best and they made their job seem like a chore and that you were only interrupting them from something.
I stayed in a 12-bed female only dorm. The room, bathrooms and showers were clean and I was given fresh sheets when I arrived. The people sharing my room did not speak to me at all (though not for trying to approach people) and I actually felt like some were trying to avoid meeting new people. There were two women in particular who were living in this hostel and were not approachable at all. They didn't seem too open to new people (why are you living in a HOSTEL then??). The beds were very squeaky (old metal frames) and the mattresses were completely worn out (I could feel each and every single spring). The location is central to walking around Santa Barbara and there are several fantastic shops and restaurants to visit, not to mention the beautiful beach and whale watching tour (Condor Express). I visited the Old Mission and was blown away by the scenery and architecture
There was only one electrical outlet that we could use in the entire room to charge our devices and you have to pay to use your locker ($0.25 every time you open it and want to relock it). The worst part about this place was that when I reached my next destination, I realize that someone had stolen a pair of pants out of my bag while I was gone touring for the afternoon. I am thankful that I chose to put the more important things (my money, passport, etc) in the locker and that the pants are replaceable. The sort of people staying in this hostel did not appeal to anyone wanting to meet new people or make friends. The wifi was ok and I was able to do what I needed to on my smartphone, so not complaints about that.
I would NOT recommend this place for the security reason alone, but also the unfriendly atmosphere and price for the experience (over $40 a night USD)

Room Tip: I stayed in a 12-bed female only dorm. I felt uncomfortable and wished I had the room to lock up EVERYTHING I had in the locker since I had clothing stolen. I don't think it matters what room you stay in, as people weren't that friendly and the beds were terrible
  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled solo
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1  Thank Jenna041986
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed October 10, 2013 via mobile

-$95 were more than named in the reservation request
- although the room with bath was confirmed, it was occupied when we checked in. The price was the same
-the wifi was only working in the lobby, which closed at 10 pm
- the price was too high for this small room with an uncomfortable bed
Supreme location for the beach, the main road and travellers with amtrak.

  • Stayed: October 2013
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3  Thank 222Timmey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed September 2, 2013

I will start with the positive.... they have free wifi and its in a great location (that's is why they charge such high prices)

We had booked 3 beds in a dorm through hostel world. When we arrived we were greeted by a rude blonde women on reception, who acted like she couldn't wait to clock off for the evening. We were told that hostel world state a different price to what the beds actually are. We paid $164 when we had paid $130 for a private room for 2 nights in Santa Cruz. They also take $20 key deposit which is strange as all doors and windows are propped open? When later asking if they provide bath towels, the lady at reception looked embarrassed and said they charge. When putting some food in the communal fridge I though I was going to be sick, it looked like it had not been cleared out ages and there was rotting food everywhere. We were in a 12 bed dorm. The room was boiling hot and so noisy with trains going pass all through the night and the sound of the vending machines echoing through the air vents. The bathroom was filthy, with black foot prints on the floor. Out of the 3 toilets, 1 was broken and the other there was a hole in the door. Reception is meant to open at 8.30am but no one turned up till 8.45am and we needed to get our key deposit back to be able to leave.

What a shame to have such a horrible hostel in such a lovely town! Pay up and stay somewhere decent.

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank christina c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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