Belmond El Encanto is a beautiful wedding venue.

Belmond El Encanto Santa Barbara, Hotel Review


Belmond El Encanto is a luxury hotel with 92 suites or rooms located in the hills below the Santa Ynez mountains. Most importantly, the Belmond offers spectacular views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean.

Though the hotel opened in 1918, in 2004,  Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. purchased the hotel and spent seven years on renovations. When I visited recently, I based my hotel review on our four-night stay.

The gardens at Belmond El Encanto are filled with palm trees and succulents.
The Belmond El Encanto gardens are rich with greenery.


Belmond El Encanto hotel rates start at $600 per night, but they also offer hotel packages online. Generally, when selecting a room, guests can choose between one with a fireplace, patio, or balcony.

In addition to the room rate, taxes and a resort fee are added. The fee covers amenities like Wi-Fi, motorized bikes, the El Encanto spa and gym, the daily local paper, an in-room Nespresso coffee machine, shuttle transportation and more. We used most of the amenities, and our adult children used the espresso machine to make coffee in our luxury hotel room.

Belmond El Encanto is a luxury hotel in Santa Barbara.
Belmond El Encanto in Santa Barbara, California, offers luxury and serenity.


Unfortunately, I had booked late for a Memorial Day weekend wedding, and I wasn’t able to reserve a room in town within walking distance of bars and restaurants. We arrived at the hotel and walked through a flower-covered entranceway to the lobby. The receptionist welcomed us with a smile and said that the staff was available to assist us. The atmosphere seemed professional yet relaxed.

As a result of the beautiful setting and the receptionist’s kind welcome, we knew that we had made the right decision selecting Belmond.

Belmond El Encanto is a luxury resort.
Flower-filled gardens line the walkway at Belmond El Encanto.


We followed the bellman along brick walkways lined with gardens filled with purple lilies, ferns, and palms. Brick columns enclosed a courtyard with a pond.

In the pond, orange fish swam among water lilies, and turtles sunned themselves on rocks. To me, this natural setting seemed like the perfect venue for a Belmond El Encanto wedding.

An arbor surrounds the pond at Belmond El Encanto
The Arbor and Lily Pond pond at Belmond El Encanto is a beautiful venue for an outdoor wedding.


Our bungalow had a red tiled roof and a small patio with two chairs and a table. The garden along with the patio made it feel like someone’s home.

We entered the living room that was furnished with a sofa, tables, chairs, a widescreen TV, and a desk. The living room led to a short hallway with closets on the left and a marble bathroom with a heated floor on the right. The hallway ended in our bedroom that was outfitted with a king-size bed and a few tables.

With the addition of a cot for our daughter who joined us for a night, the suite accommodated our family of four, and it felt cozy but elegant.

The infinity pool at Belmond El Encanto is the perfect place to relax.
Belmond El Encanto infinity pool overlooks Santa Barbara, California.


We unpacked and donned light-weight jackets and strolled down the hill to the El Encanto restaurant for lunch. The host seated us outside where the waiter handed us their extensive wine list.

While dining on crisp Caesar salad hearts topped with moist Scottish salmon, we overlooked Santa Barbara. We lingered and sipped wine. The scenery and delicious food tempted us to stay longer, but we left planning to return to sample other menu items.

In addition to terrace dining, The Dining Room, inside, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and also provides a children’s menu. On Sunday, brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and another dining option is light fare that is available in their lounge.

Belmond El Encanto Restaurant
View of Santa Barbara, California and the Pacific Ocean is spectacular from the Belmond El Encanto Restaurant.


The small fitness studio includes exercise bikes, treadmills, ellipticals, and weight training machines. Furthermore, the studio provides personal training and fitness classes.


Most of all, the hotel’s gardens combined with the spectacular view places Belmond El Encanto in a unique category. Finally, the restaurants served excellent food including fresh seafood and perfectly spiced and prepared steaks along with freshly-picked herb-seasoned heirloom tomatoes.

In conclusion, the dining experience combined with the staff’s attention to detail, and the backdrop, put Belmond El Encanto at the top of my luxury hotel list.

Hence, we left reluctantly, and as we headed to the airport, we felt restored and refreshed. I suspect that was their plan, and it worked.

Have you ever been impressed with a hotel? Please let me know.


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