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“lovely room, a few problems.” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Belmond El Encanto

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Belmond El Encanto
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   800 Alvarado Place, Santa Barbara, CA 93103   |  
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Hotel amenities
Special Offer
20% Discount on Suites
Ranked #5 of 53 Hotels in Santa Barbara
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Denver, Colorado
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“lovely room, a few problems.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 8, 2013

My husband and I got engaged years ago here so I decided to bring him back for his birthday as a surprise since we both talked about wanting to see the renovations. While the rooms and the grounds were beautiful, there were several problems. The fireplace did not work in our room and we told the front desk 3 times over the weekend. It never got fixed and it was something we looked forward to, especially on a cold night.
I reserved 2 bikes a week ahead of time through the concierge to surprise my husband for his birthday and had an urban wine trail mapped and planned. I confirmed at check in that the info was there and was assured it was. The next day we went to get the bikes and were told "they were out", no time known when they would be returned. The girl at the front desk gave a weak apology and actually told me " I could give you the address to a bike rental place downtown and you could rent one there, that's where we get them anyway". What? What about my reservation and the whole point of using the bikes was so we didn't have to drive downtown? Isn't that what the reservation does, holds the bikes?
The in room coffee maker was a nice plus, it took a while to figure it out but it worked well. The second day I went to make more but we were never restocked. I guess one day of coffee is all you get.
Breakfast service is seriously lacking. The runner brought our order out after an excruciatingly long wait but had one plate wrong. He ,for some reason, tried to give it to the adjoining table that already had eaten and finally walked back to the kitchen. He returned after a few minutes with the correct plates but one plate was the same one he tried serving others that by this time was cold. Cold eggs, cold toast. Yuck. Our dinners there were very nice though, fantastic service.
At checkout we were asked how everything was. I gave a very brief description of our issues and was given a days parking removed. Thanks.
Sadly, not exactly the trip I had in mind. For the prices of the rooms and food, the level of service should match and it didn't. It continually fell short. Not sure if we'd do it again. I heard the Biltmore is consistent with their service.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Laura M, General Manager at Belmond El Encanto, responded to this review, November 9, 2013
Dear 6Minny,

Thank you for your very detailed review. Please accept my sincerest apologies that we missed our opportunity to truly wow you during this visit because of the various issues you mentioned.

I would certainly value an opportunity to discuss your experience in further detail. If you would contact my office directly I would be very pleased to speak with you.

Best wishes,

Laura M
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489 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (95)
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English first
durham, nh
Top Contributor
83 reviews 83 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 28, 2013

I booked a couple nights at the El Encanto for our 25th anniversary. Seemed a nice splurge for a special time. And it was nice as it certainly should be! We had the "misfortune" of spending the previous two nights at Ojai Valley Inn which unfortunately clouded my perception of this stay. The Inn is in the middle of an open valley with incredible views - bucolic and so peaceful, top notch service. The El Encanto is in a beautiful part of Santa Barbara, with some nice city views from the restaurant and pool. But otherwise the grounds, peaceful & immaculate as they are, feel very closed in and crowded to me. The bungalows are everywhere, and it's rather easy to check out what folks are doing in their rooms as you wander the paths if they have not drawn their shades. I'm sure there are extremely private areas of course, but we were in a bungalow on the ground floor with a neighbor's terrace on one side and pathway on the other two sides. I'd upgraded our room to a larger size with what I thought would be a view or patio, but we ended up with neither though it didn't really matter. The room was wonderful - large and loads of amenities. (I do think Tripadvisor should do a study regarding the environmentally UN-friendly aspects of luxury travel however. But that's a different review and much more involved!) The restaurant was nice, service good and food decent. Again - comparison to the outdoor dining at Ojai was just not fair. But I found myself relating back to that repeatedly. The prices are aggressive as expected - a very simple breakfast for two topped $60. The heated pool (85+degrees!) was fantastic, and fitness room extremely complete (though I did find the required elevator ride down one floor to be a rather dismal statement of our lethargic society). Our absolute favorite aspect of the resort was use of their battery-powered bicycles to ride all over Santa Barbara - we had them for much of the day and went everywhere. What a hoot! But that really shouldn't be the most memorable thing about a stay in a luxury hotel....

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Laura M, General Manager at Belmond El Encanto, responded to this review, October 31, 2013
Dear rgmDurham,

Thank you for your review on your recent stay at El Encanto. I am pleased you were able to experience the different parts of the California Central Coast, from the lovely inland valleys of Ojai to the stunning coast of Santa Barbara. Sounds like an amazing trip!

It seems that you have a very active lifestyle using our bikes to sight see and our beautiful fitness studio for a work out...next time you are here we will show you the stairs along the side entrance of the pool area - no guilt necessary!

We do hope to see you again in the future!

Best wishes,

Laura M
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scottsdale
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 26, 2013

Last minute trip for Labour Day we decided to drive to Santa Barbara. We used our american express card and were hoping for an upgrade ( which happened!). After 9 painful hours on the road ( we should have known better on a holiday weekend)...we arrived! Gorgeous grounds, great weather, super service and a gorgeous room with a patio overlooking the grounds. We had our dog with us and he got a bed, bowls and treats upon arrival ( big smile). The food was amazing and the ambience so relaxing, quiet and charming. We wished we had a longer stay to truly relax and unwind. The only negative was I forgot my flattening iron in the room and it was never turned it. We will be back!!

Room Tip: We wanted a patio to hang out on with our dog so we requested this in advance
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 23, 2013 credit card Amex Card Member Review

We recently spent 2 days at El Encanto. We stayed in a bungalow (spanish style). The service and accommodations were lovely. Breakfast was amazing - try the smoked salmon. Recommend highly if you want peace and quiet.

Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 21, 2013

This is a seriously classy place. From the moment you arrive outside what appears to be a posh country club and several staff descend on your car, you know you are somewhere rather good. El Encanto is perched high up in the hills in a very tranquil area of lovely Santa Barbara, and the pool area is fantastic with an infinity pool beyond which are incredible views of the town and the Pacific Ocean. There is also a great pool hut where a chap makes great cocktails like blood orange margaritas etc. We were in a villa and it was probably the nicest room I have ever stayed in - ever. It was extremely classy décor, luxury bedding, electric fireplace, great lounge area with top of the range tv etc, a well-stocked bar with complimentary espresso machine. The bathroom was really a thing of beauty, an incredibly deep bath with marble surround and the shower was immense, as were the masses of toiletry products provided each day. The room also had 2 private patios with table and chairs etc out the back as well as sun loungers on the front courtyard. We sampled breakfast lunch and dinner on the dining patio which has same amazing views as the pool area and thought all the food was terrific (eggs benedict for breakfast, lobster and pork burger served in toasted brioche bun for lunch, veal chop with sweetbreads for dinner etc. The service in the place, from the valets, to the reception, to the cleaning staff was exceptional. Make no mistake, this place is not cheap (at all), but if you are either very minted or want a very special experience (honeymoon etc) then El Encanto is the place for you.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 20, 2013

This was a hotel recommended to us and my boyfriend booked it for us on our drive up Pacific Highway from Vegas, after staying at the Wynn. I was so sure that any hotel after the Wynn would feel like a step-down. NOT AT ALL. It is a small hotel (I think they said 95 rooms) but it felt a lot more intimate than that when you pull up. It is absolutely gorgeous - the restaurant and the pool faces the Pacific Palisades which just took our breaths away as the sun set in the background. The walk to our bungalow revealed the most romantic grounds - little fountain wells, monarch butterflies nursing on the flower beds, turtles in a large garden wading pool... Absolutely made my heart melt (and bonus points for my BF!!)

We got Bungalow 2703 - which apparently was one of the best rooms there. the balcony also had views of the Pacific Ocean. The room itself has a fireplace (which was perfect as it reached about 60F at night that night), an amazingly lofty bed, and a bathtub so huge that I kept sliding down in. Also loved the his-and-hers bathroom counter and the Acqua di Parma (!!!!) toiletries!

The food was excellent as well - after the decadence of Vegas, it was so nice to have some healthy organic Californian cuisine for a change.

The service, from the bell boys to valet to concierge were absolutely amazing. Eg we randomly asked a waiter for a San Fran hotel recommendation and he quickly gave us a few names, and then asked the concierge to do a search for us. The concierge not only did that, but also booked our hotel for us for the following night. The friendly, helpful service made us feel like we were amongst friends.

We only stayed there for one night so I was really sad to leave, especially since we hadn't even tried the heated pool and the spa, but am so glad we got to experience it. Obviously we only did this as a romantic getaway but I can imagine this place being perfect for a wedding.

PS also loved the free wifi! So refreshing!

Room Tip: We loved our Room 2703!
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Laura M, General Manager at Belmond El Encanto, responded to this review, October 21, 2013
Dear Carriekl,

Thank you so much for your wonderful review of El Encanto!

We have been so fortunate to have many visitors from the UK making a stop on their road trips this summer and fall and glad to see you and your boyfriend found us! We really do feel that we are a great escape from the road and a lovely oasis between the bigger cities. We do hope to see you again on future adventures!

Best wishes,

Laura M
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Stockholm, Sweden
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 18, 2013

It will not be in everyone's budget, but this is a find for eating, drinking and sleeping . A little rustic, a lot of history and just one of those real finds. Eloquent, sophisticated and a little out of the way just to keep it simple. Go or consider it for a splurge.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Belmond El Encanto

Address: 800 Alvarado Place, Santa Barbara, CA 93103
Phone Number:
Location: United States > California > Santa Barbara
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Business Hotel in Santa Barbara
#3 Spa Hotel in Santa Barbara
#4 Family Hotel in Santa Barbara
#4 Luxury Hotel in Santa Barbara
#4 Romantic Hotel in Santa Barbara
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Belmond El Encanto 5*
Number of rooms: 92
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Belmond El Encanto, a Forbes Five-Star luxury hotel, has been meticulously restored to capture all the romance and glamour that endeared it to both the local Santa Barbara community and visitors alike. As part of Belmond, this is the company's first excursion to the American west coast.

Ninety-two quintessential, California-styled suites and bungalows dot the lush, terraced grounds featuring seven-acres of gloriously landscaped gardens with sweeping views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean.

Original architectural features have been lovingly restored, including the historic, trellis-lined Arbor and Lily Pond. Modern additions to the expansive outdoor zero-edge pool and a new beautifully appointed boutique spa enhance the journey for today's luxury-seeking guest.
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Also Known As:
El Encanto Hotel And Garden Villas

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