Indulgent Santa BarbaraAmerican Riviera hideaway
Destination: California, USA
Vacation: Santa Barbara glamour
Seeking: Stylish nostalgia
Highlight: Sweeping views
If you’re searching for luxury California hotels with a little more style and character then iconic hideaway Belmond El Encanto, perched high in the Santa Barbara hills offering incredible views of the American Riviera, is exactly what you’re looking for.
Spread across seven acres of secluded gardens, El Encanto opened in 1918 and has been part of Santa Barbara’s social scene ever since. The resort is gleaming and glamorous, yet relaxed and low key and is the kind of place that invites you to recline poolside, breathe in the ocean air, and sip a glass of crisp local wine.
Popular with the Plein Air School of artists, El Encanto’s former 1920s glory has been lovingly restored to become one of the most celebrated resorts on the West Coast and is now a must-visit destination for those looking for rest, relaxation and indulgence in sophisticated and spectacular surroundings.
The restoration process helped to highlight the original Spanish-colonial and Californian craftsman styles, with modern additions including a zero-edge outdoor pool where you can gaze out across the Pacific while soaking up the sun, and a sumptuous boutique spa. Very few luxury California hotels can boast such elegant charm, or offer such a stylish escape.
Seven acres of gloriously landscaped gardens also offer sweeping views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean so you can drift through the rare flora and make the most of the balmy West Coast evenings, easily putting yourself in the footsteps of movie stars from a bygone era.
El Encanto’s theme of transporting you to another ultra-stylish time can be found throughout Belmond El Encanto resort, and nowhere more so than in the way it escorts guests around town in its striking Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, on hand to take you anywhere you want within a five-mile radius so you can visit Santa Barbara’s must-see spots, or head to the celebrated restaurants in Montecito.
You might, however, be inclined to simply stay put and admire your mesmerising surroundings, and no one would blame you. Infused with the textures and hues of the West Coast, each room or suite brings the best of the outdoors inside and from the locally carved furnishings of each luxury bungalow to the endless views from Belmond El Encanto’s horizon-edge pool, every detail makes this a remarkably unique place to stay and undoubtedly one of the best luxury California hotels.
Rooms boast king-size beds, marble bathrooms, garden seating and heated stone floors, and suites offer added levels of luxury, with charming open-hearth fireplaces or inviting patios.
The food available is beautifully prepared authentic, quality California fare, and worth visiting for alone.
Within Belmond El Encanto’s distinguished restaurants, each dish is created with locally-sourced, seasonal produce so expect herbs plucked from the chef’s garden and El Encanto artisan cheese. Each irresistible piece is made from the milk of Ellie, the resort’s cow.
Featuring fine seasonal gems from the Pacific, El Encanto’s menu lets seafood take center stage. Santa Barbara spotted prawns prove a signature highlight and Morro Bay oysters a freshly-shucked delectation to savor year-round.
Belmond El Encanto is a luxury California hotel like no other.
For more travel inspiration across America read our guide to the best luxury Tucson hotels and unique desert retreats and browse our full collection of USA luxury resorts.
- Sweeping views 100% 100%
- 1920s style 100% 100%
- Luxury 100% 100%
- Unique experience 100% 100%
“Beautiful setting and amazing staff. I chose to spend my birthday trip here with 3 girlfriends and we had the most amazing time! Staff was over the top and Daileah and the concierge team made sure we were always taken care of. They helped us coordinate private wine tasting, guided hikes, special dinners and bike rides. The rooms are wonderful and we upgraded to have the patio which was perfect for morning coffee. I highly recommend this resort that makes you feel special with everything they do!” Tripadvisor Review
Best food & drink
1. Braised black cod
Dine in Belmond El Encanto’s ambient dining room, or feast under the stars on the ocean-facing terrace and feel the warm California breeze. Either way, prepare yourself for superb gastronomy in one of the top restaurants in southern California.
All ingredients are locally sourced and dishes crafted with seasonality in mind. Innovative coastal-inspired fare is complemented by peerless service and views worth traveling for. Try the braised black cod with roasted baby fennel, Yukon gold mashed potato and saffron essence.
2. The Bellini Tea
The Lounge is an ideal retreat for light dining or an elegant afternoon tea with friends and a stunning location to watch the world pass by.
Delicately crafted breads and buns come filled with classic British combinations. Tempting scones, signature macaroons and buttery French pastries tempt any sweet tooth. Enjoy them outside with Pacific vistas.
Order Belmond El Encanto’s Bellini Tea, including a selection of teas, two scones with preserves, three savory sandwiches, five French pastries and of course Bellini, and make sure to try El Encanto’s signature macaroon Chocolate and coffee infused Opera cake.
3. El Camino Réal
Choose from Belmond El Encanto’s extensive hand-crafted cocktail list and relax with something strong and sophistacated while you take in the view. Try El Camino Réal made with nolet’s gin, green bell pepper syrup and lemon juice.
Simply swanning to and from your indulgent lodgings to breakfast, to the pool, to lunch and back to the pool before dressing up for a spectacular dinner will be enough to make you want to extend your stay, and there’s plenty to do within the grounds of the resort and nearby too.
After working up a sweat on a scenic hike, it’s only right to celebrate with a gourmet hilltop picnic. Choose one of the many stunning trails in Santa Barbara, Montecito or Goleta for a three-hour experience with a skilled guide. Your delicious lunch for two includes a bottle of local Californian wine or bubbles. Then wrap up your evening with a little movie magic…
Here’s looking at you, kid: watch your favorite stars under the stars with an alfresco movie screening. Relax on your private terrace and tuck in to popcorn, artisanal candies and mocktails. An absolute must during your stay.
As you’d expect at one of the best luxury hotels in California, wellness – and feeling and looking your absolute best – are never far from the heart of this exceptional resort.
Taking inspiration from coastal elements, The Spa at El Encanto promises a sublime escape and its expert treatments feature luxurious skincare lines, offering a wonderful route to wellness. After your treatment, recline with detoxifying teas or juices on the Dining Room terrace to enjoy the enchanting views of Santa Barbara.
Treat your workout routine to a fresh new scene at El Encanto’s state-of-the-art Fitness Studio.
Cardio enthusiasts can choose from an array of Technogym treadmills, exercise bikes and ellipticals. Or switch to strength-building exercises with Technogym’s exciting line of Kinesis Stations.
The Fitness Studio offers a wealth of classes, from heart-pumping cardio to classic sun salutations. Personal training is also available on request.
Boutique wineries, coastal sailing trips, polo matches: there’s a vast array of things to do in Santa Barbara. Whatever your dream Californian adventure, Belmond El Encanto is the perfect gateway into the golden state.
Discover new wine releases with a series of events in partnership with Chandon. Indulge with exclusive tastings, unique spa treatments and delectable meals, all paired with Chandon by the experts.
Then, fiesta in style with Volcan De Mi Tierra Tequila. Dance the night away with flamenco classes and craft your own cocktail creations. Sample local ceviche with Chef Bruno and stroll the historic streets of Santa Barbara to learn about its Spanish heritage or admire Santa Barbara’s sensational coastline from the glittering Pacific Ocean on a gourmet sail excursion.
Glide away from the shore for a gentle cruise with the Santa Barbara Sailing Center.
The only thing that could top the views is a heavenly four-course lunch or dinner, prepared by Belmond El Encanto’s executive chef. Take to the waves and tuck-in.
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