Inside luxury Montecito, Cali - home to Prince Harry and Gwyneth Paltrow

Inside luxury Montecito, Cali - home to Prince Harry and Gwyneth Paltrow

Inside luxury Montecito, Cali – home to Prince Harry and Gwyneth Paltrow

Where is Montecito? 

Montecito is in California – about 80 miles west of Los Angeles, between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez mountains in California’s Santa Barbara County

The hillside mansions are secluded and naturally a hidden gem for Hollywood stars, the super-rich and now even royalty. Montecito is for anyone who can afford it and want to have some privacy. 

Montecito is a chic but under the radar area with a mellow vibe. It’s filled with perfect beaches, a Mediterranean climate and a beautiful natural setting that’s not too different from the South of France. 

The area

Montecito is eight square miles. It’s split into two parts: the upper and lower villages. Hot Springs Road lies on the western edge, the Pacific Ocean to the south, Ortega Ridge to the east and just beyond East Valley Road to the north. The coastline starts from Fernald’s Point in the east and ends at Butterfly Beach in the west.

Inside luxury Montecito, Cali - home to Prince Harry and Gwyneth Paltrow
Inside luxuy Montecito, Cali

How expensive is Montecito? 

According to Montecito Sotheby’s International Realty, most properties in Santa Barbara cost between $2 million and $20 million.

“Occasionally a house will sell for over $20 million,” she said. “The most popular price bracket is $4 million to $10 million and buyers pay in excess of $5 million for a home with a sea view.”

The area with the most expensive properties is known as the Golden Quadrangle, the area is set into hillsides and many properties have incredible panoramic views of the ocean and acres of land. 

The market is quite buoyant but in specific price ranges, said Nigel Copley of Montecito Sotheby’s International Realty. “The most active market segment is under $5 million. Once you get over $10 million, the market is very soft,” he said, meaning that the market has more sellers than buyers.

Inside luxury Montecito, Cali - home to Gwyneth Paltrow
Inside luxury Montecito, California

Are the houses worth it? 

Montecito is full of charming white stucco homes in Spanish colonial/Mediterranean and Cape Dutch style. The former has red-tiled roofs and the latter is characterised by a central dormer gable. 

Montecito homes are located by the beach and nestled in the hills and are large and spacious, creating an open feel and usually sitting on large pieces of land. The area also has classic old estates, some older ranch-style homes, cottages and a few contemporary homes. 

The most famous estate is Constantia on the East Valley Road, it was designed in the 1930s in plantation style with a Cape Dutch-style house and a reflecting pool. 

The Montecito hills are home to some of the most beautiful homes above the coastline, according to the agents. The homes in the hills have panoramic views, acres of land, lots of living space, swimming pools, guest houses and more. 

Inside luxury Montecito, Cali - home to Prince Harry and Gwyneth Paltrow
Inside luxury Montecito, California

Location, location, location! 

Location, location, location! Montecito is about as idyllic as you can get but it’s the location that is the main reason it’s a hot spot for celebrities and the wealthy. 

Montecito is a five-minute drive from Santa Barbara’s main street, State Street and LA is only a 90-minute drive. 

Despite all the famous faces, the area has a low-key and understated ambience. The area is relaxing and picturesque, with a cosy, small-town feel, old-world charm and beautiful landscaping. 

The area is ideal for sporty and outdoorsy type people, as it has easy access to the sea and mountains. The Santa Ynez mountain range’s hiking trails, such as the Cold Spring trail, features creeks, forests and ocean views. 

Inside luxury Montecito, Cali - home to Prince Harry and Gwyneth Paltrow
Inside luxury Montecito, California

Montecito luxury amenities 

Montecito has two main shopping streets: Coast Village Road in the Lower Village and East Valley Road in the Upper Village – the Upper Village is a much bigger road and has a larger range of shops. 

East Village Road’s food shop Village Cheese & Wine Shop is a sandwich shop, and Pierre Lafond Market & Deli has a bakery/deli with a gift and gourmet food shop. It also has a wine bistro – which serves dishes made with organic and free-range products. 

San Ysidro Ranch (at the foot of the Santa Ynez Mountains) is one of America’s finest hotels. It has a 500-acre estate and has been the home of many celebrity weddings, it’s the hotel where Harry Styles was seen with rumoured girlfriend Olivia Wilde. 

Inside luxury Montecito, Cali - home to Prince Harry and Gwyneth Paltrow
Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde attend a wedding at San Ysidro Ranch

On Coast Village Road you’ll find yoga studios, bakeries, nail boutiques and coffee shops. It’s home to Lucky’s Steakhouse, an upscale steak house said to be a favourite restaurant of Oprah Winfrey. 

The 1930s-era Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club is a social club for the rich and famous. It’s located on Butterfly Beach – a private members club that has oceanfront dining and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The club is open to guests of the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. 

Top schools in Montecito include Laguna Blanca School, a private co-ed day school, and the Montecito Union School District, a public elementary school.

Montecito is jam-packed with highbrow culture, nearby Santa Barbara has art galleries, museums and the Granada Theatre. It also has the Santa Barbara Bowl – considered one of the best outdoor concert venues in California. 

San Ysidro Ranch
San Ysidro Ranch

Who lives in Montecito? 

“We have a lot of local clients either upsizing or downsizing locally, and in recent years we have seen an influx from the East Coast and Midwest as a result of harsh winters over the past couple of years,” Mr Copley said.


“There are a lot of buyers coming ahead of retirement making acquisitions now for four to five years from now to move here full time.”


Due to how close it is to LA and Hollywood, the area is popular with people from the film and TV industry as well as tech types based in California’s Silicon Valley. 

Mr Copley added: “Primary homes make up the majority of the market, but we do have owners who have second and third homes here. Usually, they buy as a second home and end up falling in love with the lifestyle here and move here permanently.”

Notable residents

Montecito has received a little more attention since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle set up home there. But the area is packed with famous faces such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Orlando Bloom, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ellen DeGeneres (formerly lived there) and perhaps the most famous resident – Oprah Winfrey, who lives on a 42-acre estate called the Promised Land. 

Inside luxury Montecito, Cali - home to Gwyneth Paltrow
Inside luxury Montecito, Cali – home to Gwyneth Paltrow

The future for Montecito 

If you’re thinking of moving to Montecito, the good news is the prices are holding steady. 


“Prices are moving sideways, with both median and average sales prices being almost identical to last year in Montecito, with Santa Barbara showing some slight gains,” Mr Copley said. “Buyer demand is quite strong but inventory is limited, so this helps support prices.”


Prices are holding steady, Ms Clarke confirmed. “Homes under $12 million are selling the best. We have noticed that people are spending money on their houses, presumably because they believe that the market is good.”

Mr Copley added that renovated homes are in particular demand, and predicts that the trend will continue. “More buyers are looking for properties where they can move in and not have to deal with remodelling,” he said.


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