Santa Barbara, California
El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel
An enchanting hideaway in the hills
What it is
A classic, romantic hillside retreat brought thoughtfully into the present.
What it isn't
Smack in downtown Santa Barbara: The town's prime dining and shopping are a short drive downhill.
What we think
Belmond El Encanto embodies all the characteristics that make Southern California so lovely. The property sprawls over seven acres of sleepy hillside, in a mostly residential neighborhood overlooking Santa Barbara's red rooftops and out to the Pacific. The legendary hideaway first opened in 1918, becoming a playground for the likes of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, FDR and JFK. Belmond unveiled a major restoration in 2013, but it's still rooted firmly in the era of solidly crafted, handsome Americana. Now a grand central building holds the restaurant (it’s California, so expect the freshest local farm-to-table fare), an infinity pool and a sublime spa. From this main hub, winding paths lead to bungalows in both Craftsman and Spanish Revival style, some with fireplaces and terraces, all with understated dark wood furniture and large marble baths with soaking tubs. In all there are 92 rooms and suites, but the place feels like an intimate, secluded boutique resort—the picture of understated California elegance.
You're here because
You want a country-club casual throwback to the days of old California. It's ideal for couples, less so for rambunctious kids.
On the terrace, you raise a glass to toast the warm evening and the crashing Pacific. As the server sets down a plate of Morro Bay oysters, you reach for your partner’s hand. Santa Barbara’s lights begin to flicker to life below.
Restaurants & Bars
The Dining Room and Terrace - California coastal cuisine
The Lounge - Light dining or elegant Afternoon Tea
The Wine Room - Private dining room with California cuisine
The Bar - the bar serves American bar food and offers live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings
In the hills above Santa Barbara, less than 10 minutes from downtown. The local airport is 15 minutes by car, L.A. just under two hours.