An established hub for free thinkers and lovers of Balinese culture, the town of Ubud is now attracting a more affluent set
Long the home of old school island settlers and bohemian types lured by its rich creative traditions, Ubud is witnessing something of a luxury awakening. The formerly sleepy town in south central Bali is now arguably the hippest zip code on the island, playing host to some of the island’s most innovative chefs, happening fashion designers and achingly beautiful boutique properties and residencies. In fact, those looking to catch a snapshot of where Bali is at right now would be well advised to head into the hills to discover one of Asia’s most vibrant destinations.
The jewel in Ubud’s boutique hotel crown, this collection of eleven Javanese joglo (traditional structures) is set in a stunning organic garden on the crest of the Sayan Ridge adjacent to the private dwellings of celebrated jeweller John Hardy. Guests at Bambu Indah are instantly transported into the past by the rich Indonesian creativity and history on display. Almost everything (and everyone) at Bambu Indah has a story to tell and it’s well worth putting aside a few days just to soak up the tranquillity of this incredibly special place. Notable mentions go to the incredible breakfasts, the healthy organic lunches and the incredible slow-dining dinner experience at the recently launched Dapoer restaurant. Don’t be surprised if you never quite muster the energy to wander into town such is the allure of this place.
Mandapa Ritz Carlton Reserve
The newest addition to the five-star set in Ubud is this spectacular resort residence, which marks the return of the Ritz Carlton brand to Bali after a near decade hiatus. Mandapa (Sanskrit for ‘temple’) is set amidst the rolling rice fields that spill down to the Agung River and is nestled in one of Ubud’s most revered artisan communities. Understated elegance shines through at Mandapa with personalised butler service in an intimate setting with just 60 suites and villas while flagship restaurant Kubu and Asian-inspired Sawah Terrace round out the dining options. Mandapa has partnered with John and Cynthia Hardy’s Green School project to give younger guests an eco-conscious educational experience with their Mandapa Green Camp program. It all adds up to a welcome return to the island for one of the most respected hospitality brands in the world.
Those who love to travel on their stomach will find much to love about the newly unveiled Spice. The brainchild of globetrotting celebrity chef Chris Salans, Spice is a gourmet café affair that offers a less formal taste of the flavours that can be experienced at the legendary Mozaic, another Salans venue. The marriage of Indonesian ingredients to Western methods is witnessed throughout the menu at Spice and even spills over into the delectable cocktails. Pull up at the bar counter and partake in a culinary journey of taste, touch, smell, sound and sight. Open 12pm-11pm daily.
Laid out over seven acres of gorgeous jungle and rice paddy terrain, the Artasawa Residences north of Ubud is one of the most unique developments on the island and one of only a handful of private residences in the Ubud locale. Each of the 18 stylish homes is designed to take full advantage of Bali’s tropical environment. Units come with plantation, lake, riverbank or courtyard views. The single and double storey options are spacious and private with the majority of homes incorporating three large bedrooms, two or three bathrooms, designer kitchens and living areas that extend to a private pool. Clock-round security and ground-keeping staff are on site as well as a host of other amenities to ensure tenants are well catered for in this very special residence.
Taman Petanu Eco Neighbourhood
With its strong environmentally friendly credentials, the Taman Petanu Eco Neighbourhood in southern Ubud is a model for community empowerment and sustainable living. Upholding the Balinese philosophy of Tri Hita Karana (the balance of harmony with man, nature and God) this collection of 20 self-contained plots is complemented with a common facilities including permaculture landscaping, pool, playground, barbecue area, amphitheatre and pavilion for workshops and events. Already popular amongst families and retirees this development is unlike anything else on offer on the island with a heavy nod towards nurturing a creative space for exploring Asian art in a community-minded environment.
This ultra cool digital collective workspace, Hubud, has almost single-handedly put Bali on the map as a remote working destination and plays home to a wonderfully diverse mix of digi-entrepeneurs from across the globe. Set up your virtual office in the breezy open café area or inside the adjacent workspace and get down to business in a setting far removed from the rat race of the world’s big hubs. With regular business and tech seminars, a healthy menu and a positive vibe, it is little wonder that this little treasure has fast become a social hub for a community of freethinkers and future business minds alike. Open 24 hours.