What better way to spend a weekend in Santa Barbara than wining and dining at Hotel Californian?
The trendy hotel hosted an unique experience from January 25th to 27th, which consisted of a handful of fun interactive activities. The Constellation Pop-Up was in collaboration with Three Three Five’s Chef Chris Mangless, who is a private chef to the stars and known for memorable pop-up experiences. Together with Hotel Californian, the weekend provided a list of events from a mixology class to a guest chef and winemaker dinner, along with a VIP concert experience.
Hotel Californian was kind enough to extend an invite to the weekend’s festivities and I took the opportunity to soak up the Santa Barbara sun while catching up with my girlfriend, Phoenix. We were graciously provided accommodations at Hotel Californian and took every change to enjoy the Almeria guest room, which featured a king bed and small balcony. I adored the classic Spanish Colonial Revival architecture blended with Moroccan influences. By the way. room service was also something I took advantage of, however I do have to note that the service itself was a bit slow. 40 minutes for two lattes seemed a little longer than necessary. However, this could also be in result with the fact that the event was going on.
The event kicked off on Friday evening with an opening reception, which featured light bites, wine, cocktails and some live music. It was a subtle start to the weekend and we retreated back to our room after an hour or so.
The next afternoon featured a mixology class with Bittercube, showcasing 4-6 different types of cocktails and in all honesty, I came for the (food) spread of oysters, meats, and fruits. I did enjoy a couple of the drinks during the two-hour class and it seemed that everyone had a great time (overall).
My favorite part of the entire weekend was the guest chef and winemaker dinner, which also included appetizers and wine prior to the lavish dinner. The setup was beautiful, as it was hosted at Blackbird restaurant, which is on the hotel’s property. The dinner featured a 6-course tasting menu created by Chef Chris Mangless and Justin Carlisle, paired with limited production wines from Herman Story.
While I devoured and enjoyed every dish, my favorites would have to be the perfectly cooked piece of steak and the chocolate creation served for dessert.
After dinner, guests were escorted to a private concert area for a VIP experience to top off their night featuring Langhorne Slim, Chris Porterfield of Field Report, and Stelth Ulvang of The Lumineers. I personally headed straight to the room for some R&R, as I’m not a huge night owl anymore. Hello 31.
The next morning was quite hard to get up, as we took in our last sunrise at the property. A winemaker’s brunch was being hosted at Goat Tree, casual all-day dining cafe, just a few steps from the hotel. The brunch was offered between 9AM to 2PM, and you can imagine the amount of people who were there as it was bottomless wine. We arrived around 10:30AM only to find out that the wait was going to be over 30 minutes. We decided to forgo the wait and went to Handlebar Coffee for a quick bite. However, we did return later around 1PM, when things were a lot more calmer. The brunch menu options were pretty limited and I ended up just getting pancakes and coffee. I really wished they had more to choose from.
We had a great weekend overall, but the real question is if the experience was worth it? For $350 (for the entire weekend), I think it’s a fair price because the dinner was absolutely worth it. The opening reception fell flat (to me personally) and The mixology class was quite informative and a great experience for those who love cocktails. The brunch could’ve been a bit better (in regards to offerings and organization). They should’ve sectioned/split people into groups and provide selected timeframes for each group so the wait wouldn’t be as long. Just my opinion. It is a great weekend getaway for foodies and wine lovers for sure, and I can only imagine that it’ll be even better the next time.
Big thank you to the staff at Hotel Californian for the weekend escape.
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