Have you ever been sitting down to lunch and thought, You know what would make this better? If this sandwich was tinier and cut into triangles. And if it was joined by other tiny sandwiches. And tiny desserts. And scones. And if it was served on a three-tiered tray. With tea. And if it was later in the day. Like, say 4pm. And if I was eating with friends. And we were overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
I mean, we’ve all been there, right? Which is exactly why Afternoon Tea was invented (historical fact). Mealtime can be monotonous, so why not stir in a little adventure!
There are many, many Afternoon Tea venues across the country and around the world that are worth visiting (we have a bucket list just for tea spots), and each comes with its own charms. As we’ve found while conducting extensive research on the subject, sometimes you can even find afternoon tea served in a place you wouldn’t expect or a place that doesn’t exactly advertise the fact, giving it a hint of mystery and exclusivity.
One such spot is the Belmond El Encanto, a luxury hotel located in the Santa Barbara Hills. Let’s just say, Santa Barbara hasn’t earned the nickname “The American Riviera” for nothing. It will probably be a sunny 72 as you zip past the Santa Barbara Mission and wind your way up to the hotel. You’ll be surrounded by trees and sweet-smelling flora as birds chirp in the distance. Once you arrive, a handsome valet will whisk your car away while another holds open the lobby door and hopes you have a wonderful day. Feeling pampered yet?
The best moment of your tea experience at the Belmond will probably be when you’re brought out onto the patio. The swaying palm trees act as arms spread wide, revealing the sweeping ocean and city views just beyond the gorgeous hotel grounds. You will be struck by how peaceful it feels, how relaxed. Soft classical music will be playing in the background as you’re shown to your seats and you’ll realize you would be perfectly content just sitting there all day.
But tea is waiting! The Traditional Tea comes with one classic and one currant scone accompanied by dishes of clotted cream and marmalade as well as a selection of sandwiches and sweets. Any good Afternoon Tea worth its salt will transform their tea sandwiches into works of art, as the Belmond has done with its egg salad and snipped chive, French cornichons, smoked salmon and watermelon radish, and cucumber with minted cream cheese.
The desserts are equally beautiful and scrumptious (plus they have touches of edible gold). Macarons, chocolate and coffee infused Opera cake, an almond berry tart, chocolate and apricot Sacher torte, and citrus madeleines.
You will be so full you almost won’t have room for tea. Just kidding, there’s always room for tea! We recommend the house blend or the blooming jasmine (that one comes with a show).
Belmond El Encanto would be awarded five stars if there were such a rating system for Afternoon Teas. Amazing food, delicious teas, and stunning views. A+