Belmond El Encanto
What We Love
- Jetsetter 2014 Best of the Best Finalist: Best Comeback
- The spectacular views from the Channel Islands Terrace
- Free bicycles for guests are motorized to assist in getting back up the hill to the property
- Zero-edge pool with views of the Pacific (and poolside service), and a fitness center built under the pool
- Vegetables and herbs for the restaurant’s California cuisine are grown in the hotel gardens
What To Know
- The hotel reopened on March 18, 2013
- Although bike rentals are free, you’ll want to rent a car to really explore the area
- A $35 resort fee per night will be collected upon check-in at the hotel (and includes WiFi, bottled water, daily newspaper, coffee/tea, access to spa/gym facilities and shoe shining)
- READ MORE: 72 hours on Highway 1
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
Nestled amid seven acres of beautifully landscaped gardens in Santa Barbara’s exclusive American Riviera neighborhood, this hideaway’s 92 suites and bungalows mix Craftsman and Mission styles, providing a secluded retreat for couples, solo travelers looking for tranquility, and (well-behaved) families. The meticulously restored gardens—plants and trees were stored and saved while the renovations took place and put back from whence they came—include camellias, tulip trees, begonias, roses and more amidst a lily pond canopied by a 100-year-old wisteria vine.
Bed & Bath
Belmond El Encanto’s California bungalow-style buildings feature two main interior styles — Craftsman or Spanish Revival Mission. All are light and airy with wood floors, and many feature fireplaces and patios or porches with space for dining al fresco. Mission-style furnishings are a mix of wood and leather couches, glass and iron tables, marble-topped minibars and wooden desks. Craftsman-style rooms are fitted with linen and wicker furnishings and wooden headboards hand-painted with cherry blossoms. The marble bathrooms are a treat, with separate rainfall showers, deep tubs, double sinks and organic amenities.
The chefs blend artisanal ingredients with rich flavors at Belmond El Encanto’s signature restaurant, incorporating locally-sourced seasonal produce of the Santa Barbara region into his inventive California Coastal cuisine. Expect herbs directly from the chef’s garden and Belmond El Encanto cheese, each block made from the milk of Ellie, the resort’s cow. No matter what you order, the Santa Barbara–specific wine list will wow any oenophile. Also on offer? A zero-edge pool, spa, fitness room, sundry shop and a book-filled library with a fireplace.
In the Area
Jazz crooner Luca Ellis entertains guests in the cozy, modern Lobby Bar several nights a week. Grab a cocktail and take a trip down memory lane with tunes from the Great American Songbook. Catch up on your West Coast history at the “Queen of the California Missions,” the historic Old Mission Santa Barbara. Be sure to listen for the ringing of the church bells. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and the lovely Santa Barbara Botanic Garden are great places to take the kids. The Riviera Movie Theater, which shows first-run art films, is within walking distance.
How to Get There
Initially pool was cold: now completely shut for two days. We are only here for three. Pool was a big reason to come. At $600+ a night this place is really a bit of a joke. We’ve stayed at other Belmond hotels in Peru and they were outstanding. But this place is way below par.
I recommend the brand new Rosewood Miramar in Montecito - we ate there this evening. Wish we had booked to stay there.
My compliments to the hosts for this excursion. A stay at this gem could never be long enough. Privacy at its finest, with staff assistance never more than a few moments away. From arrival, the Valet and Bell staff were on the job. They met us as we arrived and took care of everything. In the short time it took for us to be escorted to our room, our luggage was already present and our hanging items were in the closet. After a brief, yet impressive explanation of the room’s amenities, my wife and I were left to enjoy the cozy surroundings and test the comfy furnishings. A bottle of wine was provided in our complimentary mini-bar, and we took a minute to unpack our luggage into the ample drawers and closet. We didn’t book the “best” room, but it sure seemed like we did. My wife and I were celebrating our 14th Anniversary, and we chose Belmond El Encanto as our destination. Couldn’t have chosen better. But back to the experience. We dined at The Restaurant and Terrace, and it was raining and cold outside, so we dined inside. We had a great window seat, looking over Santa Barbara to the offshore oil platforms (they look really cool at night). After honoring our anniversary with a glass of Rosé Champagne, my wife ordered the spicy crab leg. It was more than she could finish. I had the filet mignon with smoked mashed potatoes. Had to wonder if they could possibly prepare everybody’s food as perfectly as the did ours. Unlikely, but somehow probably true. Returned to the room to find it freshened by the turndown service and we were gifted with bottles of water on our nightstands, mints on our pillows, and a very good night’s sleep. (The robe and slippers were heavenly.) After awakening, we revitalized in the spacious rain shower and deep tub (wouldn’t be fair to tell who chose which) and went to breakfast. Eggs Benedict overlooking the Pacific. Doesn’t get much better. Our server moved the umbrella to provide us a better experience. Eggs oozed perfectly. My wife’s steak and eggs (scrambled, I know, who would scramble an egg? But, as we always share, I tried them and they were perfectly prepared as well). The steak was a perfect medium (as she likes) and I again had to wonder. Coffee was the best.
As for the hotel itself. It’s on a hill above Santa Barbara spread over several acres. Many great views of the ocean and quite a few rooms. Seems none of them face each other, though, which seemed to enhance our sense of privacy. The walkways were expertly landscaped, and although we were at maximum distance from the restaurant, the walk was roughly a city block (I think we took the long way) down beautiful paths. All in all, the hotel was a great getaway, well managed and expertly staffed. So, A+ for the food, A+ for the room, and A+ for the service and A+ for the hotel grounds/ambience.
— I’ll be back (in Arnold voice).
My husband and I visit Santa Barbara frequently and we have stayed at many of the nice resorts there. This one is my new favorite. There were a few quirks, but overall, the staff and service was impeccable. The room was very homey, clean and quiet. We stayed in room 2302, and we really enjoyed the deck, the fireplace, and the heated floors. The bed was comfortable enough, although the motion transfer is noticeable, if you happen to sleep with a tosser and turner, like I do. The new trend, I've noticed, is to not have a top sheet on the bed, and just have the covered duvet. This is the second or third hotel we've experienced this in lately and I'm not sure I'm a fan of it. Just a head's up, in case you like a top sheet. I'm sure they would bring you one if you request it. They seemed to go to lengths here to meet all requests!
They do not pre-stock the minibar, which was fine with us. They do provide a complimentary half-bottle of wine, which was great! While being a five star resort, it certainly doesn't feel stuffy. They are incredibly dog friendly here, which we loved! We travel with our dog whenever we can and most hotels charge between $100 and $200 for a pet fee. $35 at the Belmond El Canto was a nice surprise.
Everywhere we went, people knew our names. We felt like celebrities. The pool was freezing cold, but we enjoyed laying in the sun and sipping on bubbles while taking in the beautiful view. The property is well maintained, with gorgeous flowers, gardens, a wishing well, waterfall, and many places to sit and enjoy the surroundings. Plenty of places to walk your dog. It was quite nice to just meander around the property. The food in the restaurant was excellent and the cocktails at the bar were the best - try the Jalisco Flower! We will be making those at home this summer.
The valet service was super fast and they even have a free shuttle to take you downtown or anywhere closeby. We used this to get a ride to dinner and then took a Lyft home. It worked out perfectly!
The price is the only real set back. It is a very expensive hotel. On checkout we saw a few transient tax fee entries totalling about $125, tourisim fees, etc. Lots of fees. I'm not sure if this is common practice for hotels in Santa Barbara, I haven't noticed it in the past. We are California residents, so to pay a tourism fee in a California hotel sort of bugs me. That being said, we did save on the pet fee.
Firstly, the Belmond El Encanto has wonderful staff, and all worked hard to please and pamper their guests. The bungalows are very spacious and wonderfully furnished.
The property overlooks the city below with distant views to the ocean and is certainly pleasant enough.
It's located about a 7 minute drive from downtown, in a lovely neighbourhood. Riding a bike downhill would be fine, however I'm not sure the electric bikes offered by the hotel would make it back up the steepish hill to the hotel. Still, a nice touch.
For me, the let down from what I would expect to be a 5 star review was the food, and the gardens, both of which were nice ... but for us did not live up to the hype in the promotional material or what we would have expected given the cost of accommodation.
I will upload a map of the hotels grounds to help you understand. As you can see, the "seven acres of gloriously landscaped gardens with sweeping views" are filled with buildings, and while you can certainly wander through the gardens, you are wandering amongst the rooms across the estate. From the pictures on their website, I had expected more spacious and private areas to relax, photograph and enjoy, but the reality is not quite as it is painted.
Still beautiful yes ... but unexpectedly limited in my view.
The food was adequate, but unexciting.
I am being quite hard in my review, but if you're going to charge me $800 per night you had better live up to your marketing hype, and for me they were a few hundred dollars a night short.
I booked this hotel over another hotel solely based on the promise of a nice heated pool with a beautiful view. Well the views certainly didn't disappoint, but the pool heater was broken and the water was freezing. We were disappointed with the swimming experience but the hotel grounds were absolutely stunning with the nice landscaping and stunning views of the ocean and city. We were upgraded to a larger bungalow with a nice large patio and huge interior. Rooms had great amenities like Etro toiletries, large bathtub and separate shower, fireplace, etc. Very comfortable bedding and very quiet atmosphere made for a peaceful nights rest. We had dinner and breakfast in the restaurant. Food was delicious but service was very slow. It took 20 minutes for the waiter to come and take our drink order. Also service was slow to get pool towels first thing in the morning and when we asked for a USB charger to be brought to our room, which they said they had and would deliver, it never came. I called ahead to also tell the hotel we were celebrating my husband's birthday because they wanted to leave something nice in the room for a special occasion. Got to the room and nothing was there. Not until we were leaving for dinner did they deliver a plate of chocolate strawberries. Overall, service was friendly but very slow, like the place was understaffed or uncommunicative. I took away one star for service and one for the pool, because the pool thing was the biggest disappointment for me based on my expectations.