Belmond is synonymous with taking something from the majestic, golden-age of hospitality and injecting luxurious, modern vigour into it; and the Belmond El Encanto, just up the hill from the Santa Barbara Mission is exactly that. Set in an estate of old Spanish colonial bungalows (plus some new ones in the old style) amidst winding paths and beautifully landscaped gardens, we found it was the perfect oasis for a mid Pacific Highway One stopover. Its relaxed vibe is matched by the resort’s team, who were perhaps a little too much on the laid-back side. 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. When we could 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, the highlight being a lovely patio, the perfect place to rest and relax in the Californian heat. Plus, our room was personalised with his and his amenties and a range of luxury magazines (OutThere included); Belmond as a brand is a leader in LGBT luxury travel.

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