Two nights at the Alila Ubud
There is no shortage of great accommodation in Bali.
The standard of homestays and hostels is high, and we were impressed with the quality of the rooms and service we received for around £20 a night.
But, having just spent just under a month living in a campervan in Western Australia, we wanted to laze by a luxurious pool, sleep in a soft, comfortable bed and fully relax.
We decided to treat ourselves to two nights at the Alila Ubud, with its stunning location overlooking the Ayung River valley and beautiful infinity pool (as featured in Forbes World's 20 Coolest Hotels Pools in 2011).
Here is our review of the hotel, including some photographs, to give you an idea of whether the Alila is for you.
Only a twenty-minutes drive from Ubud centre, along winding lanes amongst rice fields, the Alila is tucked away in its own little bit of paradise. The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service in the daytime to and from Ubud (the van stops in the car park at Museum Puri Lukisan, near to the Ubud Palace) so you needn't worry about getting a taxi if you're arriving before the evening.
Our Superior room (30m squared) was clean, comfortable and close to the pool. It came with what you would expect (bath robe, slippers, toiletries etc) and the rain shower and balcony (including sun bed) were fantastic. The view of the trees (above) was stunning, and we frequently saw monkey swinging from the branches.
The Alila boasts a small library with a computer, a calm place to escape the sun. It can be used to greet new arrivals, however, so at times you may be joined by other guests.
Otherwise, there is a gallery and shop to explore and we frequented the laid-back Cabana Lounge nearby the pool often. You can order light snacks as well as full meals here, or just relax on the sofas with a book. Afternoon tea is also served here (more on this below) so you can sometimes come face-to-face with hungry monkeys!
Every morning around 7.00am, we'd slip into our bathing suits and enjoy a peaceful swim in the infinity pool. It really is as beautiful as it looks in the pictures. We were there in high season, but there were always sun beds available and the area was constantly peaceful: no blaring music or drunken chatter! The staff attend to the area well, to rearrange the sun beds and towels, offer complimentary juices and shoo away the monkeys.
A LA CARTE BREAKFAST AT PLANTATION RESTAURANT
Never will we be fully satisfied with a buffet breakfast again, thanks to Alila's delicious morning offering.
A changing menu of small plates allows you to try as many delicately presented dishes as you like. There's daily bread, croissants, raisin scrolls, pumpkin muffins and whole-wheat baguettes. Seasonal fruit salads include jackfruit, dragonfruit, pineapple and more. Take the 'healthy' option and expect something like a toasted ciabatta with tomatoes, basil oil and homemade feta cheese.
You can have a small bowl of Bircher muesli, poached apple, strawberry, vanilla yoghurt and berry compote. for something more substantial, why not have a frittata with bacon, onion, parsley, red pepper and tomato ragu, or how about an omelette with caramelised onion, green peas and a hashbrown?
We tried local food at every chance we got, and did not hesitate to order the Mie Bihun, a fried noodle dish served with chicken, fried eggs, pickles and crackers. The Bubur Ayam, a rice porridge with yellow spiced broth, fried peanut, shredded chicken and celery leaf was very nice too.
But that's not all. For those with a sweet tooth, red velvet pancakes and Sunkyaya (steamed coconut custard with palm sugar syrup) were on offer.
You can wash it down with Meglio coffee, green or black tea, hot spiced chocolate, Jamu, or seasonal fruit juice and smoothies.
LUNCH & DINNER
As expected at a luxury hotel (though uncharacteristic for Bali) the prices for food and drink were relatively high. Still, we ate lunch and dinner twice at the Alila and our bill came to £94. Not bad by Western standards.
All of the food served at Cabana Lounge and Plantation Restaurant was exquisite, well presented and tasty.
Nº 1 - YOGA & TAI CHI
Early morning guided exercise is offered at the poolside, although it still didn't justify the huge amount we ate at breakfast...
Nº 2 - AFTERNOON TEA
At around 4.00pm every day, staff prepare hot drinks and sweet treats such as pisang goreng (banana fritter) and cassava cake.
Nº 3 - BICYCLES
There are a couple of bicycles located near the main reception for those who want to explore the local villages. We intended to use these one afternoon, but the humid weather and the inviting pool swiftly changed our minds.
Nº 4 - ENTERTAINMENT
Traditional Balinese dances, screenings of films like 'Eat Pray Love' (of course), jazz nights and other forms of entertainment are on offer a few times a week.
We paid £170 per night for two people in a Superior Room with breakfast, including government taxes and service charge, mid-August. Prices vary depending on season, and will be considerably more if you choose a higher spec room. View their website here.