Traveling Beyond the Canyon
Orchid Inn: Half a World Away in Your Own Backyard
By Marion Kerr
Mar 13, 2005 - 10:31:00 AM

SANTA BARBARA"Take Rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop." In this bustling city of cars, cell phones and endless noise, perhaps the Roman poet Ovid's advice should be taken a bit more to heart. However, it is hard to imagine finding such peace within our hectic metropolis. Thoughts immediately turn to Tahiti, Bora Bora or anywhere far, far away. However, if you take a drive about an hour-and-a-half outside the city, just north on the 101 freeway, you’ll find peace, relaxation and the feeling of being wonderfully far away, in a little B&B known as The Orchid Inn. This charming bed and breakfast in Santa Barbara offers calm and sophisticated hospitality from the moment you enter its magnolia covered driveway until you sign the leather bound guestbook on your way out. 


Paulownia Cottage; Room available for stay at the Inn.
The Orchid Inn was built in the 1920s and turned into a bed and breakfast in the 1980s. It is set in two primary dual-story houses, the Main House and the Carriage House. The Main House holds the lobby area, the dining room and the first three rooms. The Carriage House holds six additional rooms. Some rooms elegantly offer a fireplace or a Jacuzzi, but all have the noble touch of an interior designer. They are spacious and airy with beautiful oak beds and a personal finesse; a guardian angel pin framed on the wall; a Vivien Leigh biography resting on a bureau.


As you pull into the driveway, you first notice the white Christmas lights hanging over the trees that cover the long driveway. As you walk up to the front door to check in, you can’t help but feel like you are entering someones private home rather than the reception area of a public hotel. Upon entrance, you are greeted by Philippe Berret DuCray, the head of hospitality at the inn. With a warm smile and an easy manner, he makes you feel immediately at home and informs you that you are just in time for the nightly wine and cheese. He welcomes you into a nouveau Victorian lobby area with a small couch and two adjoining chairs, pours you a glass from a local winery and asks how your trip was. Noting that most of the inn’s clientele comes from Los Angeles, Philippe’s experience in hospitality is obvious as he easily converses with the guests, mostly couples, in the lobby. The Dining Room is by far the most impressive room at the Inn with its spectacular glass windows stretching from the floors to the high vaulted ceilings, creating a clean, airy environment perfect for enjoying the "breakfast" of your bed & breakfast experience.

The Inn was purchased about a year ago, according to Innkeeper Glenn Nichols, by Susan Brown Spieler, a local interior designer with a background in hospitality. Ms. Spieler, whose family has been living in Santa Barbara since the 1930s, “re-colored, re-carpeted, re-upholstered [and] re-named” the Inn in just 10 days, changing its name to the Orchid Inn (formally the Blue Dolphin Inn).


“I love orchids,” confessed Ms. Spieler, noting that she always used to finish her designs off with an orchid “because it gave it such romance and elegance.”  She emphasized that the Orchid Inn “can offer a perfect weekend getaway and a really relaxing time.”


The Inn can also accommodate wedding parties, honeymooners and corporate events. For more information on the Inn, please visit or call (877) 722-3657.

John T. Woods contributed to this article.

Wedding at the Inn.

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