- What: Alila Ubud, Bali
- Location: eco-conscious village in a hilltop rainforest near Bali’s art cultural centre Ubud
- How: Fly to Ngurah Rai Airport, near Denpasar, and travel 45 minutes by car. Visas can be brought on arrival
- Why go: Jaw-dropping valley scenery, one of world’s finest infinity pools, expert Balinese massage
- When: British summer is the best time, Oct-Mar is off-season with some rain, avoid Dec-Feb, the rainy season
The Alila hotel chain offers some of the best and most unique hotels in the world and its rainforest hotel, close to Bali’s thriving art centre Ubud, is no exception.
Overlooking the river Ayung surrounded by a ring of volcanoes, the Alila Ubud perches on the side of a beautiful hilltop above a rich jungle canopy. Offering uncompromising luxury, the hotel mixes rich architectural details with traditional Balinese buildings; terracotta tiles blend into crushed rock and straw roofs sit atop smooth plaster walls.
The award-winning emerald green pool literally sweeps across the hillside and disappears into the terraced jungle below; no wonder it is featured on every list of the world’s best infinity pools. Lying on a sunbed enjoying a coconut cocktail overlooking the valley below is simply out of this world.
Staying at the Alila Ubud you’re a guest of a secret world. My welcome party included a family of monkeys, who curiously eyed my Western attire as I unloaded my bags.
I stayed in a Terrace Tree Villa, built on stilts 120sqm high, overlooking the jungle below. Housing a rainforest shower, a supersize bath, a king-size bed and a large terrace with lounge chairs, the villas offer pure escapism and absolute indulgence.
Some of my favourite moments were relaxing on the villa’s terrace listening to the sounds of the cicada, while a tropical monsoon pummelled the Alang Alang plantations below… it’s not every day you shelter from a storm with a monkey for company.
When I wasn’t interacting with the wildlife I was in the spa. Balinese massages are well known for their healing properties, offering a contemporary expression of centuries-old therapies – they are worth every penny.
The pursuit of indulgence builds up an appetite; the Alila Ubud’s restaurant Plantation offers exquisite cuisine. Set beneath a thatched, coconut-palm-pillared canopy, executive chef Erwan Adri Wijaya blends old culinary traditions with modern cooking techniques, sourcing local ingredients from the fertile lands around the hotel.
The Alila chain has been part of Slow Food Bali revolution for a number of years, invigorating local industry with their use of local produce.
The tasting menus give a real taste of Bali and offer one of the best culinary experiences I’ve ever had. The food has a real theatricality to it, on one occasion we had to pour sweetcorn soup from a teapot over a stream of dressed crab decorated with flowers.
Dishes of note were the sous vide local pork ribs with chilli glaze – without a doubt the best ribs I’ve ever tasted – and the pan-fried barramundi.
For the adventurous, the Alila Ubud offers destination dining, where you can have a bespoke meal on top of a volcano next to a hotspring or in a rice field under the stars.
A highlight of the trip was a cooking class with one of the hotel’s chefs, Yuliashih, who has worked there for 20 years. She masterfully taught me how to create many dishes, including the famous Balinese dish Nasi Goreng Ayam (fried rice with Balinese meat and vegetables).
Dragging yourself away from the hotel is hard, for those that manage it, there are an abundance of activities and cultural offerings, from elephant safaris, to private yoga lessons and sunrise treks to white water rafting.
The Alila Ubud is exquisite and exclusive set in the most unique jungle paradise. What’s stopping you?
Need to know
Visit Alilahotels and choose from 64 rooms or 8 luxury villas, prices start from £142 per night for a double room with breakfast. Quote Maiden Voyage at the time of booking and receive a complimentary Alila Fresh cocktail per person at the Cabana Lounge and Bar.