Having spent the morning doing a sunrise trek up Mt. Butar Volcano, I’m excited about the chance to spend a few days where the most strenuous activity I do is wander around the art galleries in Ubud.
So I’m excited when I discover that the Viceroy Bali Hotel is only five minutes from Bali’s cultural hub. I’m thrilled to discover that despite the helipad and the large, open foyer with it’s massive staircase, the Viceroy itself is bespoke and boutique. With only 25 pool villas built into the side of the hill overlooking the Petanu River Gorge below, it’s a true retreat. Still, I can’t help but smile a little smugly when I see there is also a view of the volcano I conquered only hours earlier.
Don’t be fooled by the partially rustic appearance, thatched roofs and moss on the exterior walls: the lived-in look is what the designers were after. Inside my villa it’s pure luxury—spacious, but intimate with a king-size carved wood bed with Italian linen, a massive plasma TV, an espresso machine and air con so chilled that I soon forget how humid it is outside.
While my villa doesn’t have a bale or a garden, it does have an indoor/outdoor area, which is a clever extension of the marble bathroom and only adds to the decadence of my accommodation.
The 24-hour service includes a buggy to get you back up the hill. Although the walk isn’t long, I’ve done my share of hiking for the day.
Topside, the infinity pool allows for getting lost in some serious cloud gazing. A wander around the lush ground and reveals more and more intimate places to rest and, well, snooze. If only I had a week here, I could nap in more than a dozen secret spots.
During the day most of the guests seem to be getting their share of Eat, Pray, Love down the road in Ubud, so I pretty much have the place (and the attentive staff who appear as if by magic when I need them) to myself.
By nighttime, I need some people watching, and besides I’ve been hankering for some of the word famous suckling pig at Ibu Oka, a shanty café opposite the former Royal Palace. For those who don’t eat Babi gulin, the area offers an enormous array of organic cafes as well as restaurants catering to less exotic tastes. But my pick would have to be Mosaic, a must-indulgence for any discerning foodie.
The next day, I take advantage of the free shuttle service the hotel offers into Ubud and spend the day wishing I’d worn yoga pants and a tie-dye shirt as I feel a little out of place. The markets are bustling, but after a while everything looks the same, so I head for the galleries.
I get lost in a back street, but discover a strip of galleries and craft stores where real artists are working and only too happy to talk about why they live here.
Ubud, they say is where the history of Bali really began. The former royal family encouraged artists to move here in the 1950s. The king is respected, loved and still involved in the community today, especially in helping Ubud become more sustainable and eco-friendly while still a place for tourists.
My last night at the Viceroy I’m invited to dinner at Cascade where—as sweet as this is—there appears to have been some confusion and I arrive to find a table surrounded by a heart of flower petals. The Viceroy it seems is a favorite for couples on honeymoon or romantic escapes. I move away from the love struck side of the room to the bar that serves an awesome selection of food where the staff makes you feel loved… even if you are traveling alone.