When you wind your way up the hill, away from the bustle of downtown (adorable) Santa Barbara, it's hard to imagine the oasis that awaits. The views, the vibe, the charm.... oh and did I mention the views?
This property is the only hotel in Santa Barbara situated high above the town with sweeping views of the town below, the Channel Islands, the coastline, and the harbor/pier area. It was magical watching the fog settle in, seeing all of the stars at night and really embracing the seclusion you feel, when only a short distance from town.
When arriving, you are immediately welcomed into an inviting reception area which is artfully incorporated into the feel of the main building with seating areas scattered about, anchored by the bar on one end and the enclosed restaurant on the other. The terrace, which spills off the back, though is where the magic is. Heaters, fans and blankets all allow for guests comfort for outdoor dining year round.
You also quickly notice that there is no "main building, other than this main space, rather what you find is a collection of small structures originally built as dormitories and cottages to house students and faculty for a nearby school.
The rooms are almost all one-of-a kind, unique layouts, some with fireplaces, terraces and beautiful views. Some are large, some are smaller but all bearing unique touches that honor the history of the property.
The rooms feature hardwood floors, sumptuous beds and bedding, marble bathrooms with tubs, fluffy oversized towels, heated floors, separate showers and WCs. The decor is intimate and casual, reflecting the Southern California/Santa Barbara vibe in soft hues of cream, gray, plum and a pale blue.
One thing I found particularly delightful here were all the little nooks and crannies making wonderful spots for a quiet conversation, a business meeting or just different places to soak up the beauty of this property.
When walking around the grounds, you will find benches, ponds, a wishing well, a new organic garden just built that will eventually allow for an authentic farm-to-table experience. There are arbors, lovely native plants and you really feel like you're having a personal, private experience. It's no wonder this has long been a Hollywood getaway!
I would be remiss if I did not also mention the food! Artfully prepared, but not pretentious - this is a place both guests and locals love to come for the menu and the setting. I enjoyed many of the menu items breakfast, lunch and dinner. Great food, great service!
Overall, my experience here has been nothing short of magical. I would move in if I could. So as I put the finishing touches on this piece, I sit here on the terrace, taking in the beauty one last morning. I hope you will all get to experience the magic of El Encanto!