El Encanto Santa Barbara is a local treasure not to be missed.

This historic hotel is The Most Romantic Destination in Santa Barbara, California.

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El Encanto Santa Barbara
The Place of Enchantment

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El Encanto Santa Barbara re-opened after a 7-year restoration on March 22, 2013. I got a sneak peek at the "new" El Encanto a few days before its first guests arrived.

WOW! This property is spectacular in every way!

The 6.7-acre property is hilly, situated on Santa Barbara's acclaimed Riviera. From here, the sweeping views of the city, ocean and islands are breathtaking.

Ocean view from El Encanto

Much like Montecito's San Ysidro Ranch, El Encanto is a collection of bungalows.

There are 92 luxurious rooms available, ranging from cozy suites to cottages to self-contained villas. You'll have lots of privacy up here.

Cottage at El Encanto

The grounds are AMAZING! Trees and wisteria vines planted in the 1870s have been preserved and are integrated with fresh new plantings.

Wheelchair-friendly red brick pathways lead past several historic landscape features. These include the tranquil Arbor & Lilly Pond, a Waterfall and the Wishing Well, among others.

This is truly a beautiful place to be, especially in the springtime!

Arbor & Lilly Pond at El Encanto

The staff is energetic, friendly and eager to help in any way. Very sharp, crisp and professional.

There is a Fitness Studio beneath the infinity-edge pool and a Spa in the main building. El Encanto is pet friendly, too!

El Encanto bar, lounge, restaurants and spa are open to the public. This is a perfect Local's day trip for

  • a quick meal of Japanese and American bar food at the Bar & Lounge. Taste El Encanto's signature micro-brewed beer.
  • a variety of different massage therapy, organic facials & body treatments. Get your next mani-pedi or massage at El Encanto.
  • the most romantic dinner in Santa Barbara. The Dining Room and Terrace features California coastal cuisine with a French and Japanese flair. Be sure to taste El Encanto's fresh cheese. It's made with milk from Ellie, the hotel's private cow.
  • Afternoon Tea in the Lounge, featuring tasty English and French pastries.

It's valet parking only at El Encanto. Underground parking costs $35 per night in addition to your room rate. The parking fee is pro-rated for day users.

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El Encanto History

El Encanto has been at this site for more than 100 years. It began as a cluster of rental cottages for Santa Barbara State College students in 1913. (The former college campus is now Riviera Business Park, across Alvarado Place from El Encanto.)

In 1917, El Encanto's owner decided to convert his rental property into Santa Barbara County's first hotel. El Encanto opened to its first guests in 1918.

The original main hotel building has been completely refurbished and relocated. It's now called Bungalow 19.

In 1928, El Encanto property owners adopted a timeshare concept. Individual owners added 8 new cottages over those years, and the compound grew.

In the early 1930s, El Encanto began operating as a luxury retreat. It became quite popular with the Hollywood crowd and the wealthy elite.

Over the years, the resort has changed hands several times. Its current owner is Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. They purchased El Encanto in 2004 and closed it in 2006 for a complete refurbishment and restoration.

Seven years later, El Encanto reopens as Santa Barbara's newest 5-star resort.

Restoring El Encanto

El Encanto is an excellent example of a California bungalow resort from the first half of the twentieth century.

It was extremely important to Santa Barbara Planning Commission that the renovation of this property remain historically correct. Great care was taken to preserve the timeless elegance of this resort, circa 1938.

The clusters of cottages and villas at El Encanto represent two styles of early Santa Barbara architecture.

Craftsman Bungalow

California Craftsman Bungalow

California Craftsman Bungalows were the first ones to be built at El Encanto between 1913-1925.

Characteristics of this style include shingled exterior siding, multi-paned windows, brick chimneys, and front porches with wood or stone supports.

The original El Encanto Craftsman Bungalows are #1, 2, 14, 16, 20, 21, 24, 31 & 32.

Spanish Colonial Revival

Spanish Colonial Revival Villa

The Spanish Colonial Revival style became popular in Santa Barbara after the 1925 earthquake.

Naturally, construction at El Encanto after 1925 reflected Santa Barbara's signature style.

Characteristics of this architecture include red tile roofs, thick stucco-covered walls and decorative window grilles of wood or wrought iron.

The original Spanish Colonial Revival Bungalows are #4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12 & 19.

During the renovation, some structures needed to be completely demolished. Those that were reconstructed were designed to meet modern seismic regulations.

Refurbished cottages look the same from the outside and have upgraded luxury amenities inside.

Orient-Express also added 13 brand new Spanish Colonial Revival-style cottages to the resort.

I can't speak highly enough about this beautiful resort. Come experience El Encanto for yourself!

Located at the intersection of Lasuen Road and Alvarado Place, the mailing address has changed from 1900 Lasuen Road to 800 Alvarado Place. For more information, contact El Encanto at 805-687-5000.

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