Weekend Getaway // Enchanted at El Encanto Hotel, Santa Barbara

Time flies! My husband and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary last week and enjoyed a very much needed and pampering weekend at Santa Barbara. It is a beautiful town by the California coast, about two hours driving from Los Angeles and four hours from San Jose, filled with cute boutiques and endless shopping, countless wonderful eateries and great wineries, and very friendly people. With fair weather condition year round, one can enjoy scenic hikes up on the hill and water sports at the beautiful sandy beach, do a little wine tasting (most within walking distance from one another), major shopping spree on State street, and chow down some fresh lobster and uni all in one day.


{first time on a tiny plane that seats no more than 30, with some LOUD propellers}

Even though I also wanted to go to the nearby Santa Ynez Valley wine country as well as visiting the Danish-style town Solvang, we decided that relaxation is the goal because we both have been working so hard. Plus we can make another trip dedicated to wine tasting some other time. Thanks to a deal through Bloomspot, I was able to book the newly reopened luxury hotel El Encanto at a much affordable price. The Orient-Express group took over the property and gave it a complete overhaul, they were closed for remodeling for nearly 8 years! The hotel re-opened in March this year and is the Orient Express Hotel Group’s first luxury hotel on the West Coast.

We had a wonderful weekend, the hotel most definitely did not disappoint. Breath-taking panoramic view, friendly and very considerate staffs, gorgeous infinity pool, great in-room amenities (including a very comfortable bed and a nespresso machine for morning espresso), exceptional massages at the spa, and magnificent hotel grounds with Spanish colonial style bungalows and exotic flowers. I’d say our goal to relax was definitely achieved. A truly tranquil and restful weekend indeed.


{view from our Juliet balcony. The mornings are always foggy.}


{Our hotel package came with a bottle of pinot noir from Summerland, blended specially for El Encanto. The honor bar was stocked with miniature bottles of alcohol, ginger beer, and cold beer. Complimentary espressos with nespresso machine!}


{Cute ceramic piggies are hidden at various corners of the hotel ground. The infinity pool was a great place to hang out.}

SB_El_encanto_pool view

{The view from the pool. Yes we were higher up on the hills.}


{Sipping on blood orange margarita by the pool. These were quite lethal.}


{Our bungalow for 3 days. Each unique Spanish-style freestanding unit has 1-4 rooms, ours was on the 2nd floor.}


{Out on a stroll around the hotel. Gorgeous jacaranda trees everywhere.}


{How beautiful is this?}


{Afternoon tea at the hotel lounge, 3 options to choose from, this was the “traditional tea” for two. All the fine china at the hotel were hand painted by artists and designed specifically for El Encanto. Yes we were quite nervous handling these. Reservation is required.}


{Dinner at the hotel dining room, California coastal cuisine with French influence. We requested terrace seating and this was our view. The complimentary sourdough bread was served with pink peppercorn butter.}


{Amuse bouche of the day – Sesame flan with pickled cranberry. I think the sauce was miso-based but I can’t remember for sure.}


{Gnocchi with lobster, in a chive cream sauce. Probably the fluffiest gnocchis I’ve ever tasted, and there were so much lobster meat in this dish.}


{Abalone sauteed with wild mushrooms, fried shallots on top. Both of these dishes were from the “small plate” menu.}


{El Encanto’s signature dessert “the floating island”. It’s some whipped meringue in a pool of creme anglaise and caramel sauce, and a caramel cage on top. It may sound sweet but it was just the right amount of sweetness for me. We cleaned and almost licked the plate in 2 minutes. Perfect dessert to finish a wonderful meal!}


{On our second night, we enjoyed quick dinner at the lounge after a whole day under the sun. The lounge serves lots of American classics as well as Japanese fusion cuisine. On the left, shepherds pie with red wine braised short ribs, and garlic parsley mashed potato on top. On the right, fish and chips. Loved the seasoning of the fried goods.}


{Sunday morning we were feeling lazy so we requested late check out and ordered room service for breakfast. 3 options to choose from – this was the “Japanese” option.}


{a closer look at the bento box – grilled salmon, furikake rice, pickles, tamagoyaki with ginger shoot, and a refreshing tofu salad}

SB_Stearn Wharf

{We spent most of Saturday in downtown Santa Barbara. Beautiful weather for a nice stroll at the beach.}


{You can follow the Urban Wine Trail and enjoy a day of wine tasting. All the wineries are within walking distance so you don’t even need to drive!}


{We visited Santa Barbara Winery, very good and affordable wine here. Tasting is $10 for 6 wine. Bought a couple bottles of their current release of reserved Chardonnay and Sangiovese.}


{We walked all the way down Stearns Wharf and had lunch at the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company. The lobster tacos were to die for! }


{The seasonal bisque was lobster, really great flavor but too thick (too much roux) for my taste. Joe got the calamari steak sandwich which came with a few giant onion rings. The calamari steak was tender and well seasoned, great sandwich!}


{It’s a small place but we only waited 5 minutes for inside seating. It’s all counter and bar seating indoor, if you want individual tables you have to sit outside.}


{We also visited the beautiful Old Mission. There are 21 Spanish missions in California, Santa Barbara was #10 and built in 1786. It’s free to roam around the outside, and $5 to tour the grounds and garden inside the mission.}


{Awesome chalk art at the old mission.}


{We also walked by the historic courthouse.}


{the mural room at the courthouse}


{We climbed the tower to this stunning panoramic view of Santa Barbara. You can also take the elevator up and down. It’s free to visit the courthouse.}


{Quick breakfast to go at Andersen’s Danish Bakery and Restaurant. Lots of diners there when we visited and the breakfast looked delicious. We bought a couple pastries with coffee to go.}


{Look at all of that. I wanted to sample everything.}


{Apple strudel and a slice of marzipan butter ring. We enjoyed these while walking over to check out the famous farmers market, which by the way is definitely worth a visit. So many gorgeous looking produce and flowers (a lot I haven’t seen before), definitely put the ones at home to shame.}

Thanks, Santa Barbara, for an extraordinary weekend!


One thought on “Weekend Getaway // Enchanted at El Encanto Hotel, Santa Barbara

  1. Hi, I’m planning to visit Santa Barbara this month and I found your blog at Hopper. Thanks so much for all this information I will use it (many places you suggested especially wine tour and mission) I’m so happy you had a great time and shared this experience with us:)
    Happy summer! Lana

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