Home to Eat Pray Love (2010), Ubud is a hub of yoga studios, vegan cafes and arty boutique shops. Hike the Campuhan Ridge Walk, visit the Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) or stroll the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, while staying at these villas in Ubud.
Among the steep ravines of Gianyar’s foothills, surrounded by rainforest, find Bali’s pulsing cultural heart, Ubud. If it’s awakening you seek, this is where you should go. Sprinkled with holy shrines and neat rice terraces, Bali’s uplands are populated with craftspeople, coffee makers and cheeky macaque monkeys who want to say hello – and see what’s in your bag…
Courting Balinese couples used to seek out Campuhan Ridge to enjoy some alone time, which inspired the build of Amora’s romantic retreat. These 15 pretty pool villas are blessed with sweeping views of the valley. For the ultimate treat, book the Royal Pool Villa with its private pool, outdoor bathtub and king-sized bed. Reserve afternoon tea on your terrace for a post-swim reward.
Candlelit dinners on the verandah, ultra-modern surrounds and white linen cascading from canopy beds make for a romantic milieu at Villa Kayu Lama, perhaps only bested by a trip out to Mount Batur. Brace yourself for an early start, encircle the volcanic crater at sunrise with your beau or BFF and take in the 360-degree panorama. Bali’s largest lake is found inside Batur’s caldera – the cauldron-like hollow that forms after the emptying of a magma chamber.
Time-out here is something to covet. Expect elegant minimalist interiors, reflecting Ubud’s artisanship, and beautifully constructed platefuls of Indo cuisine at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Get some quality rest in one of 10 villas, each with their own private pool and butler service. Choose from valley or river views from your bed.
Bellies full of paddy eels, fish and frogs, thousands of white herons fill sunset skies as they fly to Petulu to roost in quiet tree-lined roads. If you find the will to drag yourself from Sativa, this is a lovely sight to behold. If you can’t, grab a beanbag and remain horizontal – there’s no judgement here. With just five secluded villas, the service is super personalised. Sativa chefs will even take the time to teach you to cook green papaya soup and grilled fish in banana leaf, if you like.
You’d be buzzing if you booked a stay in a bamboo-built giant beehive with a minibar, right? This one-of-a-kind getaway with views of Mount Agung has a swimmable lagoon stretching the length of its three hives, to mirror the Balinese practice of having a water source surrounding houses. The cafe was built with the local farmers’ irrigation in mind – join them for chef Made Siharta’s steamed buns as they gather to rest and eat after work.
An al fresco bath in the morning, soaking up views of a majestic mountain massif in the distance, is tough to top; here the orchestra of tropical singing birds never miss their cue.Vying for attention amid vibrant rice tiers, Anusara’s eight tidy, thatched villas provide poolside massage for those in pursuit of something sedentary, while a local rafting session is recommended for the more active.
Breakfast by the pool in a cute outdoor kitchenette, then dive into a jam-packed day. Adiwana Arkara, on the outskirts of Ubud, has a raft of activities to select, from mandala making, forest bathing and cooking demos, to rock climbing the canyon of Beji Guwang and yoga with Dr Suresh – lessons in life harmony that stay with you. You can even learn to twist a towel into a meditating man or kissing swan, the way fancy hotels do.
The Zen factor is real at Pantulan’s five-bed villa, where the soft murmuring of fountains in the lotus pond, and quiet plop of koi gently splashing about, can be heard from the spa house. With eco-friendly aims, Pantulan pumps its water from an underground well, uses biodegradable soaps, and is a keen composter and recycler. During your stay, try your hand at Indonesian dyeing technique batik or check out a coffee plantation.
The fact a moped ride is required for the last part of the journey to Satori (cars are banned) is reassurance for those looking for pristine, unhurried rurality. On the Sweet Orange rice field plateauoff Artists Street, these villas – all bright pops of colour and Balinese antiques – come with western amenities and a soundscape including ducks, crickets, even gamelan music. Grab a ginger tea and absorb yourself in jewellery or incense making, mask carving, sound healing or firefly spotting.
The ethos here encompasses privacy, luxury and a strong connection to land and local Balinese traditions. Beside a deep river ravine lined with coconut trees, on the western edge of Ubud, you’ll find Temuku – it has 11 villas, each with a bale bengong gazebo ideal for afternoon napping, plus dreamy green tea spa scrubs and culinary picks of avocado shrimp timbale, Javanese sushi, silky pumpkin soup and avocado gazpacho.