Santa Barbara inn offers welcome respite

Every inch of my being oozed exhaustion as I pulled into the Simpson House Inn's long driveway. I had been on the road for hours after closing a deal in the Silicon Valley.

Oh, for a nice soft bed.

The Simpson House in Santa Barbara is much more than a typical inn. This Victorian showplace is a retreat from the ordinary, a respite from the world at large, a place where you have the chance to recharge and to re-evaluate.

I didn't learn this at first because all I could do was think about sleep. The house concierge obliged, guiding me through the main house where a bunch of travelers were mingling over hors d'oeuvres and a board game in front of an open fire. He took me down a little path in the back to what had been dubbed the Greenwich Cottage.

An odd name choice for room at an inn in California, but once inside I understood as I was immediately transported to the outskirts of London. I was in my country house where, instead of a simple window seat, a big Jacuzzi tub sat ready to fill just inches from an even bigger featherbed.

I relished in the first without even unpacking. Once surrounded by whirling water, I became so comfortable I almost fell asleep there. In fact, I don't even remember climbing into that sumptuous bed, but I do remember waking up, taking a stretch and feeling as if I had slept soundly for 20 years just like Rip Van Winkle.

Taking in my environs, I noticed much more than I had the night before. My compact cottage offered everything a weary road warrior could want for, from a wood-burning stone fireplace to teak floors warmed by beautiful oriental carpets to that memorable canopied featherbed, all set under commanding vaulted ceilings. Extras, like Victorian beaded lamps and ornate art nouveau mirrors gave more credence to the Old World ambience.

A private terrace overlooking a lush English garden served as the perfect place to dine on the Simpson House Inn's famous vegetarian breakfast. A gourmet affair, the spread included such exotic treats as lemon souffle pancakes with fresh berries and Earl Grey infused truffles, all courtesy of celebrated chef Nissa Anderson.

For more information on Santa Barbara's Simpson House Inn, go to

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