Amenities: 42 nonsmoking rooms, two suites with kitchens. Free wireless access and Internet access in the lobby. Pool, whirlpool, laundry and exercise room. Pros: Comfortable beds and pleasing country décor. DVD player (and HBO) and movies available from sister property, Las Brisas, next door. Microwave and refrigerator. Walkable to downtown on quiet residential streets, harbor and State Street. Good variety of continental breakfast choices (included in rate): cereal, fresh fruit, boiled eggs, toast, bagels and muffins. Wine and cheese in the evening, and milk and cookies at night.
THE INN AT EAST BEACH 1029 Orilla del Mar; (800) 575-5667 or (805) 965-0546; www.innateastbeach.com.
The Inn at East Beach is neatly laid out on multiple levels around a small swimming pool. It's one block back from beautiful East Beach and a trolley stop and across a public ball field from the Santa Barbara Zoo. Thirty-four rooms and suites are strikingly large with high ceilings, louvered windows and a collection of cheerful, original Haitian art; some have partial ocean views and electric fireplaces. During the Reagan years, when the president was often in residence at his Santa Barbara ranch, the inn was home to Secret Service and White House staff.
Price: $99.68, including tax; rates $89 to $365, depending on the season; cancellation until 48 hours before arrival.
Parking: Free, off-street.
Amenities: All rooms are nonsmoking and have free wireless Internet access, microwaves, refrigerators, coffee makers and ceiling fans.
Pros: The price is right, given the inn's tidiness and close-to-the-beach location. Furnishing is motel basic, but the care that goes into maintenance shines through. Complimentary continental breakfasts are lavish, and it would be hard to find friendlier or more thoughtful Santa Barbara hosts than managers Frank and Linda Santana.
Cons: The inn is upgrading to capitalize on the Midcentury modern architecture, resulting in higher prices. Too bad. Right now, it's perfect; you leave feeling as if you got at least as much as you paid for. --Susan Spano
MASON BEACH INN 324 W. Mason St.; (805) 962-3203, www.masonbeachinn.com
Work is a pain in the neck. The kids are bored, and your spouse is giving you that look. What you need is a relaxed weekend vacation that is not going to bust your budget. Try the Mason Beach Inn in Santa Barbara. This is a no-frills hotel, perfect for a quick, inexpensive getaway, only a block from the beach and a short walk from the clubs and restaurants of State Street.
OK, so the free continental breakfast at this Mission-style hotel is skimpy -- a couple of cold bagels, coffee and orange juice -- but the heated pool and hot tub in the back more than make up for it.
Plus, you can't beat the location, sandwiched between a community park and a quiet residential neighborhood. From here, you can walk to the harbor or ride a bike along the sand for miles. Free HBO and cable are included in every room, plus wireless Internet throughout the hotel.
One caveat: The furniture is dated, looking as though it came from a 1970s garage sale, and what's that smell on the second floor hallway? Try to get a room on the first floor. Still, for the price, Mason Beach Inn is a good deal.
Price: $149 for weekend, double.
Amenities: Free wireless Internet service, HBO, cable and heated swimming pool and hot tub.
Pros: Reasonable rates and great location in a quiet neighborhood near the beach, next to a community park.
Cons: Outdated furniture and a small breakfast.-- Hugo Martín