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Belmond El Encanto

Belmond El Encanto

Nestled between lush, green mountains and a crystal-blue sea, Belmond El Encanto sits on top of a Santa Barbara hill, just minutes from the California coast. The hotel is set in a restored 1920s mansion and blends period style with Californian craftsmanship and a subtle Spanish colonial influence. Landscaped gardens surround the house and the dining terrace offers far-reaching views.  

The 92 guest rooms and suites are decorated in a classically elegant style but offer all modern amenities and come with spacious Italian marble bathrooms, under-floor heating and some have wood-burning stoves. Each of the rooms has a private terrace or balcony offering either garden or ocean views.

Fine dining is a given here with a broad range of Californian coastal cuisine on offer in the hotel's highly-regarded restaurant. Along with an intimate dining room, there's a large elevated terrace which offers superb sunset views. Light lunches and afternoon tea are served in the lounge.

The spa at Belmond El Encanto offers an array of treatments, while the gym offers complimentary pilates, yoga and strength training classes. There is also an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, complimentary use of electric bikes and a wide selection of restaurants, galleries and boutique wineries within a few minutes' drive.

Our rating: Deluxe

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Bright, airy and timelessly elegant, the suites and free-standing bungalows set around the gardens combine 1920s features with Spanish colonial elements, Californian crafts and contemporary art. Pale, neutral tones, natural oak flooring and wood-burning stoves offer a sense of indulgent comfort, while the private terrace or balcony offers garden or ocean views. All rooms have large-screen LCD TV, iHome iPod docking station, air conditioning and minibar, while the Italian marble bathrooms are fitted with separate shower and bath, twin sinks and under-floor heating. 


The hotel is located on the edge of a quiet residential area and accessed by a winding, narrow road which enhances its sense of seclusion. With a hilltop location offering views along the coast yet just a ten minute drive from the restaurants and galleries of downtown Santa Barbara and the dramatic California coast, it offers the best of both words. The boutique wineries of the region are also easily accessible. 

Food and drink

Finely crafted Californian coastal cuisine is on offer in the hotel's restaurant which offers intimate indoor dining as well as a large, ocean-facing terrace with dramatic views. Fresh seafood, herbs from the garden and seasonal dishes dominate the menu, the wine list is extensive and carefully chosen, and the prices are surprisingly reasonable. More casual meals, a range of snacks and afternoon tea are served in the lounge.

Facilities and activities

Along with a large infinity pool set in the gardens, Belmond El Encanto has a spa offering a wide range of treatments, and a gym. The hotel offers complimentary local transport and there are electric bikes you can borrow if you'd prefer to explore independently.  

Our opinion

Despite being located on the edge of a residential area, and accessed by a winding narrow road this is a wonderful property throughout. Guests can enjoy the social atmosphere of the hotel, or choose to relax and unwind in their private suites. The view of Santa Barbara from the terrace is sublime, and perfect to watch a sunset.

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