My friend and I pulled into Santa Barbara in the evening on our way to Los Angeles from Portland, Oregon without lodging reservation and not knowing where to stay. Since all we needed was a clean room and two warm beds, Holiday Inn Express in downtown seemed like a good bet. But what a surprise, we found ourselves in a historical landmark that’s on the National Register.
The original, known as Virginia Hotel, was built in the early 1900’s. Ravaged by age, it was closed in 1997. Afterwards, the property was renovated and operated as Holiday Inn Express. While the new hotel has all the modern comforts, including flat screen TV, free Wi-Fi, and climate control, the building retains its historical charms. Elements of its former Colonial Revival style can still be seen both inside and outside of the building.
The location is superb too, just around the corner from State Street where shops and restaurants abound. We had dinner at Cadiz, a Mediterranean Tapas and seafood restaurant, where not only the food was excellent, the hostesses could not be more helpful and friendlier. I don’t usually remember names from chance encounters, but I still remember Paige and Michelle because of the extraordinary experience.
Last but not least, the complimentary breakfast at the hotel was a surprise too. It did not look like much initially because it was self-service and everything was packed into one corner of the small lobby. But upon closer examination, it has the full monty – pastries, toasts, pancakes, eggs, yogurts, juices, coffee, tea, and more. The machine-made pancakes could be fluffier, but should one complaint, when they are free? (Of course, nothing is really free in a hotel when you have to pay for the room.)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Just a half block from State Street in historic Old Town Santa Barbara, the Holiday Inn Express Hotel Virginia provides luxury and convenience for the sophisticated traveler. Enjoy a complimentary hot breakfast served daily from 6:30AM-9:30AM daily. Downtown shopping and restaurants are steps from your door, and the beach and Stearn's Wharf are four blocks away. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara Hotel Santa Barbara
- Holiday Inn Santa Barbara
- Santa Barbara Holiday Inn
- Santa Barbara Hotel