Bali for me is the most magical and mystical destination I’ve found to date. A truly unique island rich in culture, wildlife and ceremony. An intoxicating and therapeutic experience with a hypnotic mix of tradition, arts and celebration. In short it’s an island I’ll never tire of visiting. On every arrival to Bali my direction will always be north, away from the tourist littered beaches of the southern coasts, escaping to the diverse rural settings of Ubud. An area with unforgettable settings of rice fields, rain-forests, and deep mountain valleys. While the town of Ubud is, in itself, great to explore, it has also become increasingly touristy over the years, and the surrounding canopies now make for the better escape. To reach the town from outside resorts it takes a simple (and more than not complimentary) scheduled shuttle service to into town. Further travels in the region are also cheap and easy to organize through resorts. Anyway, I won’t pretend to have stayed at every of our Top 10 Ubud Resorts, but we are getting there (four to date). The rest of the picks top our to-do list in Bali (and probably the world). Bali is beautiful.
With one of the world’s most photogenic pools Ubud’s Hanging Gardens have been shared globally for a long time now winning recognition with many of travel’s elite. However, there is of course more to the Hanging Gardens than their stunning split-level infinity pool. Hanging Gardens is held above the treetops and valleys of the Ayung River with views of cascading waterfalls and the resort seamlessly threads ultimate luxury to the tropical settings which surround it. Accommodation consists of private pool villas and suites designed in contemporary Balinese style and are all set on stepped rice fields. Every villa comes with a private pool heated throughout the year with views over the valley canopies. Ubud Hanging Gardens is no doubt a haven of peace and tranquility. At one point we planned to marry at Ubud Hanging Gardens only pulling out last minute knowing the setting will steal from the bride and groom. It would certainly make perfect for the honeymoon.
This intimate retreat features just nine elegant villas all set in a lush and secluded walled garden in the Sayan Village area of Ubud. With views overlooking the Ayung River Valley jungle, each individually designed villa offers its own private, tropical pool, a sleeping pavilion and open views to the surrounding valleys. Villas at Kayumanis are all uniquely themed to share tradition through design with decors of Balinese, Javanese, Oriental, Palembang, Primitive, Ethnic and Modern. Of course all tastefully furnished with a blend of ethnic, modern, and traditional influences using indigenous hardwoods and volcanic stone.
Maya Ubud Resort & Spa is bordered by the Petanu River valley to the east and the rice fields of Peliatan on the west. The vast ten-hectare resort is a tranquil haven of tropical gardens and expertly designed, thatched pool villas offering ultimate luxury in guest facilities. More affordable deluxe rooms are also available at Maya Ubud which share views of the Petanu River Valley on one side, or on the opposite overlooking the rice terraces of Peliatan. An upgrade to pool villas brings open-air Jacuzzis and private swimming pools and unmatched views of Petanu River Valley.
This secluded Ubud resort offers luxury villas with private plunge pools overlooking the Oos River. Each villa comes with four-poster beds, open-air pavilions, hand-carved volcanic stone bathtubs and private infinity pool views over the river valleys. Komaneka is well known locally as the Balinese boutique brand and for it’s beautiful and authentic use of native hardwoods, paras stones, batiks and Balinese design. For similar luxury Komaneka also offer retreats in the centre of Ubud town (monkey forest) with Komaneka at Rasa Sayang
Held high on the edge of the Ayung River valley Alila Ubud is a tranquil and secluded hillside retreat which blends contemporary design with traditional Balinese architecture. Alila replicates a Balinese village with secluded courtyards, spacious terraces, private gardens and the perfect (award winning) infinity pool which overlooks the valleys below. The more affordable deluxe rooms each share panoramic views on the Ayung River, while the valley villas sit perched on the river valley above the lush rainforest canopy. We chose Alila Ubud, after long deliberation, as the resort for our wedding. Simple, intimate and all-in-all beautiful. It was the right choice.
Enclosed in three hectares of lush tropical gardens Kupu Kupu Barong Villas offer unforgettable views over the Ayung River Valleys. With 38 luxury villas and 8 guest rooms it is one of Ubud’s finest boutique resorts. This rooms at Kupu Barong each reflect the warmth of Java island with a collection of hand-carved furniture in Joglo style made from old recycled teak wood. The extensive use of indigenous timber and touches of local artistry add to the seemingly unmatched beauty of this resort. The Villas at Kupu Barong come with private terrace and a spa-inspired, en-suite bathroom and are located just footsteps away from the main pool area.
The Lokha Ubud Resort is found on the lower grounds in the traditional Balinese village of Keliki, not far from cultural capital of Ubud town. It comprises of a luxury collection of 16 villas and 52 guest rooms. Found in the lower climbs the Lokha is set in a tropical terrain which descends to the banks of the Wos River. The Lokha Ubud has been designed to celebrate local artistry and embraces the natural beauty of its surrounding environment with each guestroom suite and pool villa blending seamlessly to its gentle riverside setting.
For the budget traveller there are few better options than Graha Moding Villas which offer a simple rural Ubud experience not far from Ubud’s city centre (3km). Tucked within a small pocket of terrain the surrounding scenery of Graha Modian is authentic and local with working rice fields and simple rural life. The resort itself is small and centres round the unique infinity pool setting which drops to a deep valley below. The location ensures that guests can quickly and easily reach the local points of interest and Ubud town centre . One of Bali’s more affordable luxuries.
Found in a rural setting of rice fields, this budget Ubud retreat is ideal for a frugal pampering with not only traditional massage options but all sorts of ayurveda spa packages and body treatments. A simple and small resort Bliss Spa has only 20 rooms to chose from all overlooking ponds, rice fields or the resort’s infinity pool. With free transport available within the Ubud area Bliss Spa offers some of the best value you can find in Ubud. An atmosphere of total peace and harmony.
As always I’m adding a backpacker option, within a short distance of Ubud Town but far enough to escape it. Tungeh Inn centrally located in Ubud, close enough to walk to everything yet far enough to escape the constant tourist trails. Decorated in carvings and native hardwoods. A short distance from local attractions like Ubud Palace and Ubud Art Market. Rooms come with all the usual amenities and each offer terraces overlooking the garden. The hotel’s gardens are ideal places to relax and unwind after a busy day.