An elegant Santa Barbara hideaway
Santa Barbara is known as the American Riviera, but the newly redesigned Belmond El Encanto (Spanish for “charmed”) is actually located on the Riviera, a low mountain rising above the sparkling Pacific Ocean and overlooking the red-tile roofs of downtown. Run by the Orient-Express, this historic property has a long lineage. One can argue that if FDR stayed here, it’s probably good enough for everyone else. Serene and quiet, this gem of a boutique hotel offers a generous fitness room and spa, and it’s pet-friendly. There are no fences that line the property, giving it an unobstructed feel. Brick pathways lead you around the grounds, and mature cypress, palm and eucalyptus trees flank the numerous bungalows, which sit far from the madding crowd.
With verdant green landscaping, the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel looks like a quaint forested neighborhood. The outdoor pool is strategically situated so that the shallow end is closest to the views of another body of water, the ocean. From the original 1928 wishing well to the historic lily pond and its 100-year-old wisteria vines climbing up brick-columned arbor, it’s a throwback in style with modern amenities, such as the use of electric bikes and Wi-Fi. With tasting rooms two blocks from the beach and traditional wine country just over the hill 30 minutes away, the surrounding area just adds to the luxury hotel’s charm.