Ubud Travel Guide
Private pool at Rumah Surga
Sometimes being a hotel fan feels like it’s all about what’s new and pricey, where has the best pillow menu or tanning butler. But as I realized this past couple of weeks, sometimes a cheaper experience can be a much more real experience.
I was in Bali and had 10 days scheduled in Ubud. Initially I had fantasies of trying out all these kinds of fancy new places. Then I remembered I couldn’t afford even one night in most of those hotels. So I booked a villa instead: Villa Rumah Surga. It was $58 a night instead of the $250+ most of the decent hotels were, and I wasn’t expecting great shakes. But great shakes is what I got.
Snapshot / Hotel Animals / Hotel Pets / Ubud Hotels / Alila Hotels / Bali Hotels / Hotel Monkeys / → All Tags
The pool at Alila Ubud in Bali is well known as one of the island’s best – an infinity pool overlooking the Ayung river and valley, it’s probably second only to Hanging Gardens in the jaw-dropping stakes.
But when we visited the hotel for a spa treatment last week, what we were far more excited about were the pool attendants. And we’re not talking men; we’re talking monkeys.
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Bali continues to be a hot destination not just for adventurous travelers, but also luxury hotels.
Last week we learned that Langham Hotels will be opening their first Langham Place resort on a clifftop in Ungasan-Uluwatu area. Today, Ritz-Carlton Hotels has announced that their equally impressive Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, the third in the brand's ultra-exclusive collection, will open in September of this year in Ubud.
Indeed, reservations are live on the hotel's website, starting at around $670 a night for a Reserve Suite, one of the largest entry-level suites in Ubud at around 1,000-sq.ft., with views of the rain forest and rice paddies. But this is just the starting room category for Mandapa. Accommodations also include one, two and three-bedroom villas, most with private pools. (There are 35 suites and 25 private pool villas in total.)
Here's what else is expected at the Mandapa:
Back in June we talked about the return of Ritz-Carlton Hotels to Bali, with a new 288-room resort scheduled to open next year. Apparently the thinking over at RC is that two resorts is much better than one, as the group is adding another resort – this time an even fancier Ritz-Carlton Reserve – the year after.
Opening in the summer of 2015, the Reserve is set along the Ayung River in Ubud. It will be much smaller than its “regular” Ritzy sibling, with just 60 suites and villas. Read on for an aerial view and another shot of a suite.
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COMO Shambhala Estate - Ubud
Traveling the world doesn't mean that your faith needs to have the out-of-office autoreply. Last year we showed you the hotel temples of Thailand. Now, we bring you the religious corners of the hotels we visited in Bali.
Bali, unlike other islands in Indonesia, is predominantly Hindu in faith and each hotel and resort in Bali has it's own temple to pay respect to gods. On our recent trip to the tropical island we took note of the prominently placed temples at our accomodation.
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We keep pretty good tabs on Viceroy Hotels but we were stunned today when we opened our weekly Tablet Hotels private sale newsletter to see The Viceroy Bali was on sale through December, starting at $292 a night for a garden view villa.
Just as we were getting all worked up about this (how could we not have known about Viceroy Bali? @*@!!), the Tablet description essentially handed us a brown paper bag to blow into:
No relation, apparently, to any other Viceroy, in Los Angeles or anywhere else — the Viceroy Bali is a one-off, a family-owned hotel, a rarity at the high end of the resort market. The location is increasingly familiar, as more travelers discover the charms of inland Bali — the Viceroy is minutes from Ubud, high on a hillside overlooking the lush (and steep) Lembah Valley.
Time to wish the luxurious Amandari resort on the tropical paradise of Bali a very happy 20th anniversary! There are a bunch of special events happening during October to celebrate the anniversary, including a photo exhibition, some joint events with the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, screenings of old films on Balinese culture and some special meals on the actual anniversary weekend, 21-23 October.
A recent visitor to Amandara asked a very sensible question: is it still luxurious twenty years on? The resort was closed for three months earlier this year, but the changes were not all that extensive – even the décor, after some discussion, remained the same, because they wanted to continue the links to the traditional culture there.
Today we pick a new site where we can feel at one with planet earth while safely surrounded by ceramic and covered in chlorinated water. Each of the 38 villas at Ubud Hanging Gardens in Bali has a heated private infinity plunge pool that overlooks the Ayung river. Rather than visually blending with the sea, these infinity pools offer bathers the serene feeling the water takes on before it plunges over a cliff -- without the threat of falling to one's death.
The pools are supported by wooden pillars and surrounded by terraced gardens. And the individual heaters ensure each pool's temperature never dips below 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Rooms start at $270 per night. Not a bad deal, since in Manhattan, that kind of price gets us a stay at a hotel with plastic covering the chairs. For a private infinity pool, king-size four-poster bed, marble bathtub, and all the spa and cuisine options we never even knew we craved, $270 seems like a steal.
[Photo: Feride peel]
When it's not enough to provide benefits for the holidaymaker's body like herbal wraps, ayurveda, fancy massage therapy and yoga galore, you have to start dealing with your guests' minds. That's the message we're getting from the Como Shambhala at Uma Ubud on Bali, which has just started offering the services of a counselling psychologist.
It'd be nice if being on holiday was mental therapy enough, but perhaps some people have trouble adjusting to the lack of tightly scheduled routine, the excess of time spent lying by the pool or the presence of delicious foods prepared by somebody else. It mightn't be long before psychological travel becomes the new catch phrase of hotel and spa stays.
· Como Shambhala [TripAdvisor]
This video is of Puri Wulandari, one of the newest boutique hotels and spas in Bali. The hotel has 36 thatched-roof villas each overlooking Ayung Rivera with a large king bed or twin beds, flat-screen TVs, private swimming pools and butler service.
It's the kind of place you go to get away from it all without seeing another soul, except your butler of course.