A lovely little boutique hotel in a quiet residential neighborhood near the beach, the Franciscan Inn (109 Bath St., 805/963-8845, www.franciscaninn.com , $125–160) looks just like a Spanish Colonial Revival hacienda, with pale adobe-style walls and a traditional red-tiled roof. Guest rooms offer everything from cute, economical, double-bed rooms to luxurious multiple-room suites. The decor tends toward the flowery, with designer wallpaper and comforters. The largest suite sleeps six comfortably; smaller rooms can sleep four if they’re friendly.
The amenities add to the charm of the place; you can grab a complimentary fresh croissant and a cup of coffee for breakfast, or a warm cookie in the afternoon. Take a swim in the heated pool, check your email with the free Wi-Fi, or even throw in a load of laundry at the on-site coin-op machines. Stearns Wharf and downtown are a short walk away.
The Bath Street Inn (1720 Bath St., 805/682-9680, www.bathstreetinn.com , $140–315) specializes in small-town charm and hospitality. It’s large for a B&B, with eight rooms in the Queen Anne main house and another four in the more modern summer house. Each room has its own unique color scheme and style. Certainly you’ll find some traditional floral Victorian decor, but many of the rooms are done up with elegant stripes rather than cloying blooms. Some rooms have king beds, others queens, and several have two-person whirlpool tubs.
Despite the vintage trappings, the Bath Street Inn features modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Early each morning, a sumptuous home-cooked breakfast is served downstairs. Choose between sharing your meal with your fellow guests in the dining room, or escaping to the sunny garden patio for a bit of privacy.
If you’re in Santa Barbara  to soak up the sun on the sandy beaches, book a room at the Inn at East Beach (1029 Orilla Del Mar, 805/965-0546, www.innateastbeach.com , $140–400). Unsurprisingly, it’s just across the road from East Beach, and a nice walk along the waterfront boardwalk will take you to Stearns Wharf and to downtown. This smallish motor lodge gained notoriety when President Ronald Regan was in office, and his staff stayed at the inn while he spent time at his Santa Barbara ranch.
Today, guests find sizeable rooms done up in blue carpets and comforters with pine furniture and a strange plethora of telephones. The inn prides itself on its attractive swimming pool and courtyard area, and you can feel free to bring down a bottle of wine and enjoy the balmy evenings with fellow guests. If you’re planning a longer stay, get a kitchen suite so you can cook your own meals and take advantage of the inn’s guest laundry facilities.