If you’re willing to pay a premium rate for your room, the Cheshire Cat Inn (36 W. Valerio St., 805/569-1610, www.cheshirecat.com) can provide you with true luxury B&B accommodations. Each room has an Alice in Wonderland name, but the decor doesn’t really match the theme—instead of whimsical and childish, you’ll find Victorian floral elegance.
Guest rooms are spread out through two Victorian homes ($199–299), the coach house ($279–379), and two private cottages ($369–399). Some rooms have suite-level space and amenities, including spa tubs and private balconies. Relax in the evening in the spacious octagonal outdoor spa, or order a massage in the privacy of your own room. Each morning, come downstairs and enjoy a light breakfast.
It’s a chain now, but the Holiday Inn Express at the Hotel Virginia (17 W. Haley St., 805/963-9757, www.hotelvirginia.com, $170–275) has lots of history in Santa Barbara. Sitting right on the corner of the main drag, the Hotel Virginia welcomed guests come to take the waters and enjoy the scenery of Santa Barbara starting in 1925. Ten years ago it was renovated to bring it up to code and to spiff up the older guest rooms. Today it is run by the folks at Holiday Inn Express, but they elected not to eradicate the historic charm and atmosphere of the Virginia.
When you walk into the lobby, you’ll step onto a red-tiled floor and gaze upon a bright, multihued blue fountain. Upstairs, your room will feature antique-looking furnishings, exuberant floral bedspreads and curtains, and swirly green carpets. The smallish bathrooms feature prized showerheads, and the beds have both cotton and feather pillows to choose from.
If you choose to stay in your room for a while, you can make yourself coffee to sip while watching your LCD flat-screen. The restaurants and shops of State Street are steps from the lobby, and the beach isn’t too much farther.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition