Holiday Inn & Suites Santa Maria Review

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I am back in the area for another rocket launch. This time I decided to stay in Santa Maria rather than Lompoc. The drive from here to Vandenberg Space Force Base is less than 30 minutes. Which beats a 3-hour trip early in the morning coming up from Los Angeles. For this stay, I used two of my IHG free night certificates. One of them was about to expire soon, and the second one had a few months still left. Even after that, I still have three free night certificates left, thanks to the IHG credit cards.

I booked my stay by calling the IHG hotline and having them apply my free night certificates. I haven’t found a way to use these certificates through the IHG app. The only other way, besides calling in, is going on the IHG website. 

Location

The Holiday Inn & Suites Santa Maria is conveniently located just off the US-101 Freeway. Take exit 173 Broadway and make a left at the next intersection. The entrance to the hotel will be on your left as well. It’s a great place if you just need a place to sleep for a night on your road trip going south or north. It’s also a great place to explore Santa Maria and nearby areas and attractions. The Holiday Inn & Suites Santa Maria has a large parking lot which is complimentary with your stay here. In the same area you also find hotels from other major hotel chains.

Holiday Inn Santa Maria

Check-In

Check-in was quick and easy as at most hotels. I got asked on which floor I wanted my room and I could actually choose every floor I wanted to. I went of course with the top floor – 4th floor. High rollers stay only at the top. 😉 

Front Desk and Lobby

I got told that my room was on the other end of the building, which was actually a benefit. Why? The elevator near the lobby broke down and was not available when I checked in. After swiping my credit card, I received a small map with the layout of the property and where my room is located and, of course, my room keys. I went back outside and drove my car close to the entrance at the other end of the building. To access the building you will need your keys. The elevator is right there when you enter the building and my room was just a few units away from the elevator. This made it easy to get in and out as the hotel has some long hallways to walk, depending on your room’s location.

King Bed (Room 465)

There is one thing which you can say about the rooms here. They all seem to be “gigantic”. I mean the room was way bigger than what I expected. It even felt like there is a lot of dead space in the room. There is just a wide-open area between the bed and the wall with the small kitchenette. Tons of space for whatever you might bring along the way. 

As you walk into the room, the bathroom is on your right. It is a very spacious bathroom that features a bathtub/shower combination. The Vanity is on the opposing wall of the bathtub with the toilet in the corner. The bathroom is separated by a regular door from the rest of the room. Right outside of the bathroom is a dressing mirror.

Bathroom

The rest of the room is even more spacious. You find a big kitchenette area with a medium-sized refrigerator, coffee maker and a microwave. The kitchenette comes with lots of closets and bins but all of them are empty. There are no dishes or utensils in any of the drawers. Which makes no sense to me. Might be good if you really plan on a very extended stay to bring your own. Other than that I can’t think of any reason why you would bring your own dishware along with you on vacation. The floor area around the kitchenette is tiled while the rest of the room has a carpeted floor. Of course, the bathroom has a tiled floor as well.

King Room

Following the kitchenette is a sofar chair with an ottoman and next to it the King-sized bed. On either side of the bed is a nightstand with a lamp on top of it. The lamps have additional power outlets for example for your phone charger. However, the way the base is designed with the power outlets, you need a slim charger otherwise you have issues fitting your charger in the power outlet.

King Bed

Opposite the bed is a nice big work desk with a lamp on top of it as well as an office chair. Next to the desk and opposite of the sofa chair is a closet with drawers. It has the TV on top of it. To watch TV from the bed, you need to angle it a bit.

King Bed Room

Believe it or not, but the room comes with a small balcony. A big glass sliding door and a fly net give you access to the balcony. There are no chairs or tables on the balcony. It’s a bit of a narrow balcony anyway. You might be able to get the office chair out on the balcony to sit there, but that’s the only piece you can use from the room. The balcony is also considered a non-smoking area. You will notice the outcrop for the A/C unit. This is finally a room where the A/C doesn’t blow in your neck when you sit at the desk. 

Public Areas & Amenities

Lobby

The lobby itself is nicely decorated and gives you somewhat of a “cabin feeling”. This is due to the high ceiling and the wooden beams. There are a few seats to sit down and they also store the luggage carts across from the front desk. To break the wide-open area down and separate it a little bit, there are a few large shelves. One of them doubles as the on-site market. Which I think is pretty cool. More about it later.

Business Center

Next to the front desk is a small area which is the on-site business center. It is a workstation PC with a printer. It’s right out in the open and not in a separate room or area.

Fitness Center

From the lobby, it’s a short walk to the fitness center. It is located in the center section of the hotel. There is a sign near the ceiling indicating which room the fitness center is. Inside you find a good selection of workout equipment. It’s nothing fancy but I am sure most of you guys can manage to get a workout in with the available gear there. What surprised me, is that the room is lit rather dim than bright and I didn’t find any other light switches to turn on more lights.

Swimming Pool

The outdoor swimming pool and jacuzzi is located between the two wings of the building. On the pool deck, you find plenty of space. There are a few pool loungers and tables spread out around the pool. The area is fenced in and you need your room key to get inside the pool area. Towels are provided right at the pool itself.

Guest Laundry

This one is located in the hallway going from the lobby out towards the swimming pool. There are signs on the walls pointing you there. The hallway also houses the restrooms for the restaurant. There are a few washers and dryers in the room. What surprised me most, was that you actually can use an app to pay to use the machines. I wasn’t expecting that at all. Most hotels, no matter how old or new, are still only allowing coins to be used to pay for the laundry machines.

Guest Laundry

 

Dining

On-Site Market

Opposite the front desk are two shelves. One of them is the on-site market. It’s neat how they packed everything on the shelves to make it part of the layout. You can get the usual snacks and beverages here. Just as you would expect. I bought a couple of beef jerky the next morning, as I had to head out way before breakfast would start on a weekend.

On-Site Market

Portabella Bar & Grill

This is the on-site restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is part of the great lobby area. It also has a bar, which is great to hang out and mingle at night. I only had breakfast here once and had their Santa Maria-style burrito. It was good but nothing special. The service was great and my waiter was very attentive. As this is a Holiday Inn, breakfast is not included in your regular room rate and you have to pay extra for it. Make sure to charge it to your room, to get the points for this expense as well. The prices are ok and the bar even has a happy hour at night from 5 p.mp until 7 p.m. but only during the week.

Off-site Dining

The first night of my visit, I decided to eat at a local steakhouse, called “Shaws Steakhouse“. If you are in for a steak or some good fish, this is the place to go in town. I loved it. Everything from the service all the way to the food.  This place is so great, people wait in line for it to open in the afternoon. This place should be on your list when visiting the area.

Throughout the city of Santa Maria, you will find your usual fast-food chains as well as a few other restaurants. It also seems that taco trucks are a thing here in town. You can find them scattered all over the city and I passed quite a few on my way to the steakhouse.

Conclusion

Overall it was a good stay at the Holiday Inn & Suites Santa Maria. For me, I would use the Holiday Inn & Suites Santa Maria more as a basecamp for exploring the local areas and not so much as a destination by itself. There is a lot to see and to do in the area besides rocket launches. There are a few museums, state parks, old missions and many hiking trails along the coast and in the mountains. I was very pleased with my stay and the staff was super friendly throughout the stay and every interaction. The building itself is dated and you can see this throughout the property. On the other side, this gives the place a certain flair and charm. 
Because of Covid, the housekeeping service is limited and they will only replenish in-room guest supplies. Extra supplies and services can be requested through the front desk. It’s a similar policy as many hotels have right now. 

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