The Cheshire Cat Inn: Charming Residential Stay In Santa Barbara

Review of Cheshire Cat Inn & Cottages | 36 West Valerio Street
  • Trip101 Review

The garden courtyard is so magical visitors to the Cheshire Cat Inn might expect to see a grinning feline perched in the massive oak tree. Two grand Victorian homes are the core of this fabulous inn near Santa Barbara’s downtown. This bed and breakfast inn has 18 guest rooms, suites, and cottages with various amenities to take you down the rabbit hole of luxury.

Which storybook room to choose

Mad Hatter room
Source: Kurt Jacobson

If you’re driving to the inn, parking behind the two main houses is ample and safe. Wheel your bags to the corner house to check in with the manager on duty then prepare for a relaxing stay. All the inn’s rooms are named after the characters in Lewis Caroll’s book, Alice in Wonderland. If you desire a balcony overlooking the courtyard garden, Alice’s Balcony Room is waiting for you. This split-level enclave has a king bed, a sitting area, a stained glass window featuring Alice, a private bathroom with a shower, and the balcony.

The Queen of Hearts room features a private patio with colorful flowers. This room has a king bed, shower, and bay window that lets in plenty of natural light. The Mad Hatter might be a bit small, but you’ll get a king bed, second-floor views of the neighborhood, and antique furniture.

A magical courtyard garden

Cheshire Cat Inn courtyard gazebo
Source: Kurt Jacobson

The Tweedledee and Tweedledum Suites are located in the Carriage House out back. These larger suites come with a wet bar/kitchen, fridge, microwave, electric kettle for your coffee and tea, plus an English oak farmhouse table and chairs. The Tweedledum suite is the larger of the two and comes with a jetted tub, a gas burning fireplace, a large shower, and a separate master bedroom with a king bed.

Cottages are located just across the street from the inn and come with private decks. All of the cottages have fireplaces to chase away the morning chill or set the mood for evenings. For those who desire privacy, the cottages are an excellent choice if you don’t mind appending a bit more.

Both the old Victorian homes have sitting areas with beverages, travel pamphlets, magazines, and tables. But with a gorgeous courtyard garden, the outdoors is the place to relax. During the evening social hour, guests can enjoy Santa Barbara Winery’s chardonnay or sauvignon blanc with d’ oeuvres in the courtyard garden. The complementary spread includes deviled eggs, stuffed artichoke hearts or mushroom caps, cheese, crackers, veggies, and dips. This social hour was one of the most delicious I’ve ever attended at a bed and breakfast and highly encourage you to try it.

Breakfast and bakeries

Scallops 3 ways at Bouchon
Source: Kurt Jacobson

Breakfast at the Cheshire Cat Inn is also an upscale affair. Each morning, weather permitting, the courtyard is the scene of a breakfast buffet to delight most guests. Enjoy toast, cheese, jam, fresh fruit, homemade granola, homemade scones, ham, hard-boiled eggs, and a rotating hot item like quiche, frittata, or Danish Ebelskivers.

The inn is close to the downtown area, just one block off of State Street. Several excellent restaurants are close by and make for a leisurely walk. Try Bouchon for one of Santa Barbara’s best known fine dining restaurants. The Public Market is nearby and has nine different eateries in this “food hall-type” market.

Entertainment and such

Granada Theater
Source: Kurt Jacobson

Several theaters for live performances or movies are close by the inn. If the distance is too far to walk, consider taking the Downtown Shuttle, aka electric bus, during the day to avoid excessive walking. The shuttle operates from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and costs just 1 USD for a day pass. The route covers Stearns Wharf up State Street to the intersection of Sola Street.

Cat owners whom might be missing their kitties back home can visit the Cat Therapy, a cat cafe, to get some purr-time with rescue kitties. These happy felines hang out playing, napping, and eating in a safe temporary place until adopted to their forever home. For a small fee you can play with the cats and feel good knowing you are contributing to a no-kill cat shelter. Be sure and reserve a space for your visit by using the link below.

By Taking the Downtown Shuttle to Stearns Wharf, you don’t have to worry about parking. Several restaurants and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center are highlights of this historic wharf. The shuttle also takes riders to the Funk Zone, where several wine tasting rooms are located on lower State Street.

Peace and quiet

A stay at the Cheshire Cat Inn will provide a quieter experience than most hotels in the area due to its location. Staying in this peaceful residential area offers a more authentic stay than a typical hotel. With so much to see and do, a visit of at least three days would be best. If you are lucky, you might even glimpse a grinning cat at the inn.

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