There are some holidays where a hotel is just a place to sleep, and then there are ones that are a destination in their own right, where you literally have to force yourself out of your room. Belmond El Encanto is definitely in the latter category. And this is taking nothing away from the impossibly pretty seaside city of Santa Barbara on the Californian Coast, which I also fell in love with at first sight.
Perched high in the Santa Barbara Hills, Belmond El Encanto is a luxurious retreat, perfect for a special occasion or romantic escape. Although it is in the medium size accommodation category, it has a feeling of space and comfort, full of white washed bungalows with terracotta roofs dotted amongst its luxurious gardens. And at only 10 minutes drive from the city, you will feel like a lifetime away.
The hotel has been a well known landmark since the 1920s, combining its original architectural features with modern elegance, all in a fairly laid back style. There are 62 bungalows and 30 suites on site amongst its seven secluded acres of lush, manicured gardens
Once we were checked in by the hotel’s friendly staff, we were guided to our spacious bungalow where our bell boy was kind enough to give us a quick tour. The bungalow has a Mediterranean feel, true to Santa Barbara heritage of white stucco buildings with red tiled roofs. We were particularly impressed with how spacious the bungalow was; the bedroom combining beautifully with a small living area, furnished with a coffee table, luxurious arm chairs and even a fireplace.
The bathroom was beautifully appointed with under-floor heated marble floors, free standing bath tub and even a walk-in rainfall shower. It was a great size and had the convenience of having a double sink so my partner and I could both get ready at once.
One of the highlights was the huge balcony outside, which boasted beautiful views over the city and the glistening ocean. And what better place to celebrate our arrival with a bottle of local wine on the deck.
The grounds of the property are also beautiful, full of flowers, Californian palms and lily ponds. They even have a historic wishing well on site.
In the afternoon, we went for a dip in the swimming pool and basked in the sunshine on our deck chairs, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The fitness facilities are perfect for working off that dreaded holiday belly (not that I went to the gym on this occasion!). Fitness enthusiasts can choose from a great range of Technogym treadmills, exercise bikes and ellipticals. There are even exercise bikes conveniently located just outside the Fitness Studio, so you can do a workout while overlooking the beautiful gardens.
Or if relaxation is more your thing, retreat to the Spa at El Encanto where you can enjoy an array of treatments across seven treatment rooms.
The restaurant is also a great spot for dinner, with its expansive indoor-outdoor terrace, boasting spectacular views over the Pacific. It’s perfect for a romantic date, dining underneath the stars as the sun sets. Here it’s all about contemporary “Californian Coastal” cuisine showcasing the quality of its local, seasonal produce. Or if you want to go out into the city, the hotel also offers shuttle transportation within a five mile radius and the use of motorised bicycles.
After the world’s best sleep on our luxurious king sized bed, we read the local newspapers and ordered room service on our balcony. For breakfast we had the French toast and the eggs benedict washed down with a couple of strong coffees. Bliss!
A late check out of 12pm is available at Belmond El Encanto so you can fully enjoy the experience, if only staying for the night. Our only regret was not staying longer.
Belmond El Encanto is the perfect escape for a romantic getaway or special occasion. Despite the recent renovation, it has remained true to its heritage and seamlessly blends modern and old in a luxurious setting which rivals the best of the best. It doesn’t come cheap, but it is worth it.
Belmond El Encanto
A 800 Alvarado Pl, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, United States
T +1 805-845-5800