Belmond is synonymous with taking something from the history of hospitality and injecting luxurious, modern vigour into it without ever affecting its charm; and the El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel, just up the hill from the Santa Barbara Mission, is a luxurious, getaway property that is exactly that.
Set in an estate of old Spanish bungalows (plus some new ones designed and developed in the old style) amidst winding paths and beautifully landscaped gardens, we found the perfect oasis for our Pacific Highway One stopover. In fact, we loved it so much, we stayed longer than anticipated; after all, the El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel is as much a destination in itself as Santa Barbara itself.
The chilled-out Californian vibe is alive and well here. The thing to do here at El Encanto is to rest and relax, whether in-villa or by the gorgeous pool. The resort’s friendly staff were on hand to help top up your glass of chilled Californian wine, but during our visit, we often found the El Encanto team a little too much on the laid-back side than what we’re used to. But as we were in no hurry, we soon got used to it.
Its terrace overlooking the city is a gorgeous place to dine – breakfast could have easily merged into lunch and then into drinks and dinner, as far as we were concerned. There is a clear passion for artisanal, local ingredients cooked up with flair in the resort’s kitchen. Our go-to was always fresh seafood, caught daily from the Pacific, off the Santa Barbara shoreline below.
When we could muster the energy to tear ourselves away, we borrowed the hotel’s electric bikes for a jaunt down to the Mission and the city’s sights – remembering to save the battery for the climb back uphill.
Our suite was gorgeous, designed in bungalow style with Californian craft being the theme behind the design and styling. The highlight was a lovely patio, the perfect place to soak in the Californian heat. Plus, our room was truly personalised with his and his amenities (Belmond being a pioneer in inclusive, luxury hospitality) and a range of high-end magazines (OutThere included) for us publishing junkies to dive into. What more could we ask for?
Right on time
SBA / LAX
While you’re Out There
To recharge your California soul, make sure to join the hotel’s own sound practitioner and meditation guru for a rejuvenating sound bath meditation session, with the surf and wind as your soundtrack. You don’t get more Cali than this. Well, perhaps that Kale smoothie you ordered at breakfast might come close!