Our last activity in pre-pandemic California was a quick weekend trip to Santa Barbara. It was a beautiful escape from San Francisco that made us long for Europe, but turned out to be the next best thing. It was so lovely to spend time overlooking the beautiful blue waters of the American Rivera with a cocktail in hand, surrounded by bountiful flowers, palm trees, and agave – as well as to introduce visiting family to one of the most beautiful towns in California.
We decided to stay at the Belmond El Encanto, one of the most historic and luxurious hotels in Santa Barbara. Perched high above the ocean, its hidden among the beautiful homes and manicured gardens looking down on the sea.
We loved the quiet, secluded location and magnificent views that Belmond El Encanto offers, as well as the privacy afforded by the hotel’s sprawling layout, comprised of a collection of cottages and small buildings on seven gorgeous acres. The beach is just minutes away by car (the hotel offers complimentary transportation), or you can choose to lay by the pool all day overlooking the Channel Islands with a drink in your hand.
To get to your room, you’ll wander through pathways with elegant gardens and water fountains around every corner. Stop at the reflecting pool outside the main lobby to admire the groups of turtles that seem to find just the right spot in the sun each morning. We loved the little additional Belmond touches, like the monogrammed pillows in our bedroom, the local candy delivered each evening, and custom postcards set on the desk.
The Belmond El Encanto is also located close enough for a day trip to Santa Barbara’s gorgeous wine country. It’s just a short drive to Los Olivos, our favorite town in the area, with several lovely wine tasting rooms and restaurants. Have a car drop you in town and it’s easily walkable to all of the places once you’re there.
We did not have a chance to dine at the property as we had a long list of dining experiences to squeeze into a short period of time, but one of the highlights of our stay was watching the sun set over the Pacific over cocktail hour in the Belmond El Encanto bar. Dinner on the terrace would be magical with the lights of Santa Barbara twinkling below, especially followed by a glass of local Pinot Noir back in the room with the cool evening ocean breeze wafting through the shutters.
Belmond El Encanto, 800 Alvarado Pl, Santa Barbara, CA 93103 Note: Belmond provided support for the reporting of this story.