Monday, September 26, 2011


Boutique hotel - [boo-teek * hoh-tel] noun - A small stylish hotel, typically one situated in a fashionable urban location, which is usually independent of other hotel chains, and is initmate, usually luxurious and/or quirky. Number 155 on my Bucket List.

In one of our many stops road-tripping up the California coast, we got all of the intimate luxury and none of the quirkiness at a little boutique hotel in Santa Barbara called The Canary. The Canary caters to your every whim, and we -- that is to say the Diva and I -- love to be catered to. The rooms have hardwood floors and four-poster beds, which our husbands (the Doc and Sarge, respectively) sorely needed after riding in the car with the two of us on a three-hour trip that should have taken one hour. But I get ahead of myself, and that's usually when I trip and fall over my own feet.

Speaking of feet, as soon as we pull up in the covered driveway, the Diva -- with one foot on Santa Barbara soil and the other not yet out of the car -- asks the valet, "Where's the bar?" Well, it was 3:30 in the afternoon, but it was 5 o'clock somewhere, and that is the witching hour for cocktails at the Canary. The Diva even persuaded Jeff-the-Bartender (and new best friend) to give us the happy hour rate thirty minutes early. He also served us gourmet chicken nachos topped with a chipotle sauce made of butter and cream, my two favorite ingredients. I started humming I'm in Heaven, partly because of the appetizer, but mostly because Santa Barbara has an old timey feel to it with its Spanish style architecture of smooth stucco walls and red tile roofs, with a touch of blue Mediterranean accents here and there.

We saw a sea of red rooftops from our room as we freshened up for dinner. If you stay in downtown S.B. proper (that's anything off of State Street), everything is within walking distance: restaurants, shops, theaters.

Did I mention how friendly this town is? Everyone gives you a sincere greeting as you pass. Maybe Disneyland isn't the happiest place on earth; maybe it's Santa Barbara. Why wouldn't you be happy living so near the beach? I'm guessing that's why celebrities like Rob Low, Jackson Browne and my BFF Oprah have homes here. Although, why she won't give me her address, I don't know.

If you ever get to Santa Barbara, you must eat at The Palace Grill. I won't be able to stand it if you miss out on this experience. Their Cajun cuisine is exquisite. Some people drive up from L.A. on a turnaround just for dinner. Yes, it's that good. And the wait staff bursts into song at different times of the night, either a Billie Holiday tune or a Louis Armstrong song. What a way to top off your evening. That, and the desert, that is.

After dinner, we spend time soaking in the rooftop hot tub where we meet a lovely couple from Northern California by way of Manchester, England who tell us we simply must dine at the Moss Beach Distillery when we get to Half Moon Bay. "It's haunted by a blue ghost," they say. They had me at "haunted." Hello! Look for the blue ghost in an upcoming post.

No comments: