by Lucas Raven
After nearly a year of scrolling through countless of Instagram-worthy resorts in Bali, one property lived inside my head for a while, after stumbling upon it once on a friend’s feed. So when I finally got to the “Island of Gods”, I made sure I wasn’t going to miss it. Enter, Hanging Gardens of Bali – featuring one of the world’s most spectacular pools, which juts over a lush ravine – is an Ubud hotel legend, popular with travelers who thrive on aesthetics.
It was like a blind date. After I had imagined being there for maybe a thousand times, the expectations were high. Truth be told, it blew me away. It’s like when you finally get to meet the man or woman of your dreams and they look way better in real life. That’s exactly what happed. As soon as you walk in, you’ll be greeted by a lush view of pure Balinese jungle and a small temple—akin to a painting, a wallpaper or a postcard—sitting atop of a hill that’s right in front you. The smell of fresh rain and jasmine fills the air, this is when I knew Hanging Gardens of Bali is attuned to the seasons.
The hotel is set in a truly remarkable location. Perched on a lush hillside growing with orchids, bamboo and coffee trees, the views stretch down to the Ayung River below and across the valley to the Indiana Jones-esque Dalem Segara temple. There are plenty of jungle walks nearby but the location is remote. Ubud town centre is nine miles away, though easily reached by the hotel’s free shuttle. Ngurah Rai International airport is more of a trek at 31 miles away, which can be up to a three-hour drive depending on traffic through Bali’s narrow roads, but I do think that the further away you are from an airport, the better your serenity gets, especially in Bali. The hotel is renowned for its inventive architecture, which is evident from the first glimpse. Traditional alang-alang thatched roof buildings are dotted amid luxuriant fairytale gardens, creating an Eden-like atmosphere that feels lost in time. Romantic pathways lead to the secluded villas, flanking the striking central structure which contains the restaurant and the famed pool.
A funicular is available from the lobby to shuttle guests down the hillside, or meander the 88 steps to the main building which contains the restaurant, a lounge and bar, library and open-air lounge areas, as well as the spectacular pool which is built on two levels and appears to float above the jungle below. Be prepared to wait in line for the perfect picture. At the bottom of the valley next to the river lies the spa, a wood-built haven that provides otherworldly massages and exceptionally tasty ginger tea post-treatment. Experiences such as guided walks, temple tours and Balinese cooking classes can be arranged with the pleasant staff, who are obviously well-trained in hospitality but also exude a warm vibe.
The 44 thatched roof villas feel a little old-school, however they are richly adorned with polished wood floors, carved headboards and filmy canopy beds. And let’s not forget the private infinity pools, which have choice views of the sacred valley spreading out below. The sundecks and poolside bales (gazebos with daybeds inside) are divine for sipping morning tea or local coffee, or evening libations from the minibars while watching the jungle darken. Suites have huge living rooms, and some provide spa-like bathrooms and massage tables.
Service was impeccable. It did not feel like a hotel at all. It was like walking right into a family. The staff anticipated my needs and requests, delivered them to me before I even got the chance to ask—now this is true five-star service!
Hands down, one of Bali’s best. I highly recommend for lovers, families and singles alike. You can thank me later.