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It List: The Best New Hotels 2013

It List - The Best New Hotels: El Encanto

Courtesy of El Encanto

Renovation: El Encanto, Santa Barbara, CA

Seven years and $134 million in the making, Orient Express Hotels’ takeover of the storied El Encanto (the brand’s first West Coast resort) is reinventing a genteel slice of California history. The once quaint hillside hotel (a favorite of A-listers such as Clark Gable in the 1960’s) has been reimagined to include 92 California Craftsman and Spanish-colonial-revival bungalows spread over seven lushly landscaped acres. In the guest rooms, century-old charms were preserved (we loved the plantation-style shutters and wide patios) while luxe updates were added (mohair loveseats; pillows monogrammed with guests’ initials). It’s tempting to hang up a Do Not Disturb sign and stay put. We suggest making time for the farm-to-fork restaurant: the bounty of vegetables and herbs from the on-site garden did not disappoint, nor did the aged white cheddar made with milk from its very own Holstein cow, Ellie. $$$$

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