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The Cheshire Cat

Cheshire Cat exterior

Santa Barbara, California, USA
Puur-fect ... Santa Barbara's oldest hotel is still very much alive and kicking, discovers Blue List's Matt Short.

first impressions
Tucked away in the quiet backstreets of Santa Barbara's historic Mission district, The Cheshire Cat inn is one of California's oldest – and most unique – buildings. It's also one of the most charming thanks to its 19th-Century fa‡ade. Built in 1894, the inn was named after the English county of Cheshire from where its original owner hailed.

Today, the olde English theme remains; rooms are decorated in Victorian style with antique furniture, floral wallpaper and glorious open fireplaces.

The inn is spread across four separate buildings: the main property, a neighbouring house, a coach house and two adjacent cottages – all set in a half acre of landscaped private gardens.

One thing's for sure about The Cheshire Cat – it's sure to raise a grin from ear to ear.

Cheshire Cat bedroom

bedrooms
The inn boasts lodgings for all tastes and budgets – from basic B&B to luxurious getaways with all the mod cons.

The Mock Turtle is a tastefully decorated room offering simple but practical amenities. It has a queen sized brass bed and beautiful bay windows, while its en-suite bathroom has complimentary robes and toiletries.

For a more decadent stay, you might consider the Cheshire Cat suite. This elegant, romantic room has a king sized bed, LCD TV and DVD player, and even a private jacuzzi and balcony.

If you are looking for a more secluded getaway, or have a family and want your own space, then you can enjoy one of the separate cottages which feature a private outdoor decking area with a hot tub, living area with an open fireplace, fully-equipped kitchen facilities and a separate dining area.

There is complimentary wireless throughout the complex, together with a PC and printer for guests' use.

Cheshire Cat bathroom

food and drink
Guests at The Cheshire Cat enjoy a mouth-watering Continental breakfast each morning. This lavish affair, served in the dining room, boasts an array of fresh fruit, cereals and fresh pastries. The innkeepers may also surprise you with a freshly-made 'treat' of the day ...

Local wines and hors d'oeuvres are served daily in the main reception room each afternoon – a perfect time to mingle in the elegant Victorian lounge and savour the local wines and specially prepared selection of appetisers.

The inn is able to arrange meals at acclaimed local restaurant Downy's at a discounted rate.

Elsewhere in Santa Barbara, you'll find hundreds of restaurants to suit any taste – from classic American to far Eastern. If fresh seafood takes your fancy, then the coastline of California won't disappoint.

service with a smile?
The three, full-time innkeepers do their very best to make you feel as if you are in your own home, and are always on hand to offer their assistance.

Planning activities in the area couldn't be easier; the inn is ideally located and is only a stones' throw from Santa Barbara's best attractions (see Local Attractions, below).

The inn also offers an extensive spa menu in the privacy of your own room, with special rates on accommodation deals. "The Cats Grin" includes one or two nights in a romantic room plus two 30-minute full body massages.

local attractions
Santa Barbara is sandwiched between the rugged and wild Californian coastal region of Big Sur and the bustling urban glitz of Los Angeles, giving it the perfect combination of culture, fashion and style while retaining that fishing village feel.

Its main high street is crammed with boutique shops, restaurants and cafes as well as some great theatres and museums, including the The Lobero Theatre, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

The Cheshire Cat is located in the heart of the historic Mission district and a walk around the area is not to missed. Several tour operators organise sightseeing trips around the city's incredible architecture.

Nature lovers should consider a trip to the Channel Islands. There are direct services every day, and activities include hiking, camping, kayaking and rock pooling. This is also a great chance to catch a glimpse of the area's endemic plant and animal species.

will it break the bank?
Santa Barbara is home to some of the world's most famous – and richest – people. But despite its wallet-busting reputation, the Inn remains an affordable treat for most.

Standard rooms start from as little as $119, while the two-bedroom cottage starts at $250 off peak.

The 'Elmer Dill Great Escape' deal costs $355, and includes two or three nights accommodation, breakfast, lunch, hors d'oeuvres, and dinner at a local four-star restaurant.

details
The Cheshire Cat
36 West Valerio St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Web: www.cheshirecat.com

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