by Evelyn Chen
Just five kilometers north of Bali’s Ubud village, the Alila Ubud is hidden away in the Ayung Valley. With the lush landscape as its backdrop, a postcard-perfect infinity pool that seems suspended in midair symbolizes the retreat’s paradisiacal ambience, and the property thrives on its reputation as a place for communing with nature. This harmony begins with the hotel’s own construction. The bamboo-pillared lobby overlooks verdant fields from which alang-alang is harvested for the thatched roofs, while the banks of the Ayung River supply the river stones that stud the walls and pavements.
Built on stilts above a ravine, the 56 guest rooms are laid out in two-story thatched-roof blocks connected by meandering pathways — complete with a lobby doubling as the nucleus, much like in a Balinese village. The remaining twelve villas (including four Terrace Tree Villas) fan out toward the forest. Each of Alila’s Balinese properties offers its own enticements, and at Alila Ubud, the draw is inarguably the picturesque views. The Valley Villas capitalize on this with their generously sized terraces, while the Terrace Tree Villas offer a tree house-like experience overlooking the alang-alang plantations. Villas come with TV and a basic coffee machine; guest rooms do not. All accommodations include breakfast, daily afternoon tea and Wi-Fi.
Service at Alila Ubud is genuine and hospitable, beginning with the welcome drink of beetroot juice that greets guests upon arrival. Complimentary afternoon tea is served daily from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Cabana, with a menu that might include pandan cakes and banana dumplings washed down with black tea infused with local herbs. And every Wednesday and Sunday, the hotel hosts a Balinese dance class for the children of the Ubud community, which kids-in-residence are welcome to join.
At breakfast, the airy Plantation Restaurant dishes up an excellent daily-changing à la carte buffet breakfast of local and Western specialties, including bubur ayam (Indonesian rice porridge), ketupat sayur (compressed rice cakes with vegetables) and eggs Benedict. These dishes are augmented by an extensive beverage menu of jamu (herbal drinks), smoothies, coffee and tea. In the evening, guests can choose from Balinese classics and an inspiring seven-course seasonal tasting menu by talented Dutch chef Eelke Plasmeijer, who cooks with first-rate local ingredients such as mackerel, white snapper and pork neck. Those with a sweet tooth will love Plasmeijer’s platter of gelato in seven different varieties.
Many come to Alila Ubud to unwind in a natural setting and do absolutely nothing. But for guests who want a more active stay, there are complimentary morning tai chi and yoga classes and bikes for expeditions through the rice paddies. Secluded as it may be, the hotel offers access to Ubud’s cultural center with a courtesy 30-minute shuttle ride. And after a day spent biking or exploring art galleries and cafés, guests can return to Spa Alila for a therapeutic massage … the perfect way to end another day in paradise.
Jalan Raya Tegalalang
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