Set in the island’s central uplands, Ubud is just one hour’s drive north of Ngurah Rai International airport and the beach resorts of southern Bali. Known as the cultural heart of Bali, this traditional country town offers a treasure trove of cultural landmarks, ranging from ancient temples and Hindu shrines to majestic age-old royal palaces and moss-covered ruins. Inspired by the fresh mountain air and vibrant Balinese festivals, Ubud became an elite artistic colony in the 1930’s, attracting eminent European painters, writers and musicians, and has now grown into one of Indonesia’s most famous tourist sights (also because of its starring role in the movie ‘Eat, Pray, Love’). Ubud is also a luxury-minded traveler’s paradise since it boats an incredible number of high-end hotels. Here’s my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Ubud.
Alila Ubud is a tranquil and secluded hillside retreat that sits high up on the edge of the rich green Ayung River valley in Bali’s central foothills, 15 minutes from Ubud, the island’s cultural heart. The hotel has been laid out as a Balinese hillside village complete with its own community centre and pedestrian lanes. The resort’s rooms and villas stand above a ravine on stilts like tree houses and are set into the banks of the river valley. Here, smooth plaster walls and concrete meet thatched roofs; terrazzo tiles meet gravel or crushed rock; wood meets glass, making for one of the most uniquely designed boutique hotels Ubud has seen. The property features a world-class restaurant, and a holistic and intuitive spa facility.
- Hotel website: Alila Ubud
Overlooking the Ayung River and ancient Dalem Segara temple, this Balinese resort stands on the edge of a stunning valley, surrounded by lush rain forests and picturesque rice terraces. Each villa is designed with traditional Alang Alang thatched roofs in complete harmony with nature. At the geographical epicenter and spiritual core of the hotel, is a surreally beautiful pool, one of the most photographed pools in the world. The striking formation is suspended over the dense rainforest, giving swimmers the unique sensation of floating above the treetops. In the evenings, guests can enjoy a decadent dinner by the pool or – for more privacy – on a Balinese mini-boat in their villa’s own infinity pool. Not to be missed is the hotel’s spa, with its extensive menu of therapeutic treatments.
- Hotel website: Hanging Gardens of Bali
- Other accolades: Hanging Gardens of Bali also features in my top 10 list of hotel pools with the world’s most stunning views.
COMO Uma Ubud is an intimate resort, encircled by emerald forests, rice paddies and rivers. To this, the resort provides intelligent access to the local area, with mountain biking, rafting and guided walks. The 46 rooms and suites exude the charm of a traditional Indonesian village. Except the feel is quietly contemporary, with large windows and carved panels that open up to incorporate the view, letting light flood the interiors. The result is a fresh, original spirit that feels sleek even as it recognises Uma Ubud’s cultural context. The property’s restaurants, Kemiri and Uma Cucina, boast world-class cuisine while COMO Shambhala Retreat at Uma Ubud focuses on holistic wellness, with active pursuits including temple visits, biking and trekking.
- Hotel website: COMO Uma Ubud
- Tip: enjoy complimentary perks when booking via Classic Travel (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and one time lunch or dinner for two or one time 60 minutes massage for two when staying a minimum of 3 nights).
This family owned and operated Balinese gem brings ultra luxury to an area known as the “Valley of the Kings” and is sure to take the breath away from even the most seasoned traveler. Upon arrival guests are spoiled by the sight of pristine gardens while receiving a fresh floral lay and juice made from the sweetest oranges and tropical fruits. With just 25 private villas, attention to each guest is of the highest priority and impeccable service is the staple of this retreat. Privacy is greatly respected and pampering seems to occur without a second thought. From the exclusive infinity pool overlooking the spectacular jungle ravine to the fine dining restaurant, every detail of this tropical haven has been carefully assembled to give guests an extraordinary expression of world-class luxury.
Hidden among the lush undulating hills of Bali’s culture-rich highlands, this most private of resorts sits among thriving rice fields as far as the eye can see. Just outside the artists’ village of Ubud, the former estate of Hendra Hadiprana – one of Indonesia’s most respected art collectors – has been transformed into an intimate retreat with twenty individual villas, each one uniquely featuring original Balinese artworks from his collection. The rustic chic five-hectare property offers an authentic backdrop to one of Bali’s most dramatic performances, the Kecak dance – performed at the resort’s very own amphitheatre. Those seeking serenity and rejuvenation will find both in abundance at The Spa, nestled at one edge of the seemingly endless paddy fields.
- Hotel website: The Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah
Nestled between Ubud’s rainforest, rice paddy fields and the sacred Wos River, Capella Ubud brings the wonders and myths of Bali’s exotic past to life. Inspired by the early European settlers from the 1800s, celebrated architect Bill Bensley conceptualized this ultra-luxurious tented camp as a tribute to their spirit of adventure. Each one of the 22 unique tents as well as an extravagant two-bedroom lodge are crafted with an individual inspirational theme, allowing guests to enjoy the essence of Bali’s untouched natural surroundings in personalized comfort. All retreats boast a private salt water Jacuzzi pool lavish indoor and outdoor bathrooms, a spacious lounge and bedroom whilst two outdoor decks offer the perfect setting for an intimate candlelit dinner.
- Hotel website: Capella Ubud
Located in the breathtaking rainforest surrounding Ubud, COMO Shambhala Estate immerses its guests in a positive, holistic and healing experience from the moment of arrival. It isn’t just a luxury resort. Nor is it just a top-notch health retreat. It’s a sumptuous combination of the two, staggered up the steep slopes of the sacred Ayung river gorge. Five multi-suite residences are themed after nature’s elements, with a variety of private villas for a sense of oneness with the pristine setting. Each features butler service and an infinity swimming pool. Guests enjoy healthful and energizing COMO Shambhala cuisine and the aid of professional nutritionists; de-stress in the springs and the holistic spa; and renew with renowned healers, yoga masters and life coaches.
- Hotel website: COMO Shambhala Estate
- Other accolades: COMO Shambhala Estate also features in my top 10 lists of the best spas in the world, the world’s most luxurious rainforest retreats, and the most beautiful hotel pools in the world.
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD resort credit).
- Review: read my review of COMO Shambhala Estate here.
Inspired by a traditional village, Amandari is framed by jungle and rice terraces in Bali’s cultural heartland. Alang-alang-thatched houses – some with pools, all with private tropical gardens – cosset guests under bamboo ceilings, their suites elegantly decorated with teak and coconut-wood. The grounds of Aman’s Ubud outpost are both sacred and essential to local families: children attend dance classes here, and religious processions pass through regularly, leading down the steps that spill below Amandari to a 7th-century stone tiger – a motif repeated throughout the property. Guests can follow the road out of the village to hike or bike the emerald-green landscape; or head further afield for artisan villages, hidden temples, and the palaces and boutiques of Ubud.
- Hotel website: Amandari
- Other accolades: Amandari also features in my top 10 lists of the best hotels in Bali.
- Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and one lunch or dinner for 2).
- Review: read my review of Amandari here.
Voted #1 hotel in the world by Travel + Leisure in 2018, Four Seasons Resort Sayan encapsulates Bali at its philosophical and soulful best: a sublime hillside haven where man, humanity and nature unite with purest intent. Only a ten-minute drive from the stylish boutiques, artist ateliers and atmospheric eateries of boho-chic Ubud, Four Seasons Sayan is an inspiring base from which to explore Bali’s cultural heart or to retreat into nature’s meditative embrace. Guests arrive via a dramatic bridge, beneath which the Ayung River valley spreads its tropical arms. From the gravity-defying rooftop lotus pond, the property cascades down the hill to the two-tiered swimming pool, cantilevered over the river, through an enchanting forest that cocoons just 60 suites and villas.
- Hotel website: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
- Other accolades: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan also features in my top 10 lists of the best hotels in Bali.
- Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD spa credit).
- Review: read my review of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan here.
Deriving its name from the Sanskrit word for “temple,” Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, stands as a tropical shrine dedicated to the self. Fronting the Ayung River near the Ubud jungle, the hotel replicates a traditional Balinese village, complete with working rice paddies. Showcasing the architecture and craftsmanship of the area, each of the 60 luxury suites and villas features a private outdoor space (some of them with pools) with views of the river or surrounding scenery. Four restaurants serve health-conscious cuisine sourced from the organic garden, although you can also arrange a romantic dinner overlooking the river or rice terrace. The spa offers a variety of programs focused on physical and spiritual well-being.
- Hotel website: Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
- Other accolades: Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, also features in my top 10 lists of the best hotels in Bali, the best hotels in Indonesia, and the world’s best Ritz-Carlton hotels.
- Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD resort credit).
- Review: read my review of Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, here.
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