Where Should I Stay in Ubud?

At least once a month somebody asks me, “Where should I stay in Ubud?” To which my answer is, generally, “What’s your budget?”

As someone who both backpacks and writes about top-end food, booze and travel, I can confirm that Ubud offers the full spectrum of places to stay, from uber-luxury through to simple homestays, not to mention AirBNB.

To be honest, while I’m a big fan of AirBNB in city locations, I wouldn’t recommend it for Ubud. One of the great advantages of Ubud over the rest of Bali is its walkability, and villas in Ubud are often a proper schlep from anywhere.

So herewith, in answer to the timeless question, “Where should I stay in Ubud?” are eight great places to stay in Ubud. That means next time someone asks me, I’ll just send this link.

Please note, prices are in descending order. Also, if you book using Agoda after clicking through from my site I receive a small commission.

Serenity at Como Shambhala Estate, the best hotel in Ubud.

COMO Shambalha Estate

The flagship of Christina Ong’s COMO brand, COMO Shambhala is generally considered THE best hotel in Ubud and one of the best spa retreats in the world. Out in Payangan, 30 minutes or so north of Ubud, it’s a fair old whack from the centre, scattered among stunning gardens in splendid isolation.

Glorious natural hiking opportunities run all the way down the dazzling gorge to the river and encompass a jungle gym and tiered natural spring pools. The service is so unnervingly good that you can expect a helper to arrive with a cool towel and a glass of spring water the second you start to look puffed.

Whisper it, but I personally prefer the spa at Hanging Gardens. Still, as part of an integrated wellness programme – complete with diet, exercise, and relaxation – the treatments here take some beating. I’ve heard the yoga teaching is phenomenal, while the in-room products smell stealably lush.

The suites cluster in groups, each themed around an element and an Indonesian design style, with individual pools and dining-cum-sitting rooms shared among the units; you can build community if you would like, but opt out if you’d prefer not to. Even the entry-level suites feel wonderful, built out over the garden so that they float in thin air like treehouses, while the private pool villa is sybaritism writ large.

COMO Shambhala is a timeless place where the ordinary pace of life slows down, helped by the ban on both mobile phones and smoking (the second is honoured more in the breach than in the observance). The restaurant offers the full spectrum of dishes from spa-friendly to steak.
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The pool, the spa and the funicular make Hanging Gardens super-special.

Hanging Gardens

A honeymoon favourite for its eminently Instagrammable pool, Hanging Gardens also sits well north of Ubud in Payangan, and literally hangs down the gorge. So vertiginous is the descent, in fact, that you ride from entrance to the rooms and the glorious spa on a dinky little funicular railway.

Rooms here feature their own dinky little infinity pools – strictly for plunging, not swimming! – and many have outside tubs as well (some, bizarrely, in colours like pink or peach!). Dark wood dominates, and they feel quite blissfully airy and timelessly Balinese.

The spa at Hanging Gardens is probably the best in Ubud. It’s the location that does it – so close to the water’s edge that you can hear the river rushing past as you indulge in pampering treatments. Facials are phenomenal, while the signature massages fuse disparate elements into an integrated whole – request a hard massage if you want it.

You’re less splendidly isolated out here than you are at COMO – there are regular shuttles to and from town, while you’ll see plenty of other guests in a way you don’t at COMO – but it is still simply gorgeous (sorry!).
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Individual antique houses make this eco-boutique hotel very special.

Bambu Indah

The brainchild of jeweller and Green School founder John Hardy, Bambu Indah sits in Sayan, in the north of Ubud, amid an actual Balinese village. It’s a lovely and unique place, perched atop the gorge, with each villa individually designed and styled. While still set away from the action, it’s a much shorter ride from other food and cultural activities than some other high end venues.

Quirks from a bamboo lift down to the river below to a bamboo treehouse nestled high above the gardens, not to mention the freshwater pools, enliven it no matter which you pick. Hardy lives his values and the permaculture garden supplies much of the organic fare served in the restaurant, while the Balinese activities on offer here are unusually authentic.

You can choose between antique buildings sourced from across the archipelago or airy new constructions in bamboo or teak. The Udang house features a glass floor set over the freshwater swimming pond; the Pagoda is a magical, four-storey, bamboo structure with a child-like playfulness; the Padi house is the perfect place to play Marie Antoinette or work on that novel.
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Central, luxe and with a contemporary, fresh feel, Bisma Eight breaks the mould.

Bisma Eight

If you’ve got this far, you’ll have noticed that top-end accommodation in Ubud tends to cluster a fair way out of town. You may well also have found this irritating, since Ubud’s walkability is a major plus point.

This contemporary, hugely awarded boutique hotel is the answer to your prayers, sitting on leafy Jalan Bisma roughly halfway between Monkey Forest Temple and the Ubud Royal Palace: they’re 15 minutes walk in either direction. Yet Jalan Bisma is still at heart a ricefield road and come nightfall you’ll still hear the sounds of the sawah issuing from the greenery that surrounds you: Bisma Eight even has its very own 53-are farm just down the road.

The rooftop houses a very solid restaurant and cocktail bar, with spectacular views. Rooms, which are all suites, feature Japanese bathing tubs in the bathrooms, cool dividing screens, and contemporary design that wouldn’t, but for the greenery, feel out of place in Ginza. The pool is pretty, too.
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In serene Penestenan, the sleek Bali chic of Sri Ratih Cottages appeals.

Sri Ratih Cottages

While downtown Ubud feels traffic-choked and tourist-heavy – especially over peak season – Penestenan, known as an “artists’ village”, is much less hectic. That’s not to say it’s immune from construction or development – far from it – but if you’re looking for a quieter location in Ubud, Penestenan’s rambling web of narrow ricefield roads may hit the sweet spot for you.

And, if you don’t mind braving steps and hills, Penestenan is still walkable from downtown Ubud, and an easy hop from the classic walk along Campuhan Ridge. Sri Ratih Cottages enjoy a great location: far enough into Penestenan to feel rural, but not so far that walking into town means hiring a scooter or a car, and also a feasible walk from the high-end eateries of Sanggingan. (See my “Where to Eat in Ubud” piece for more on this.)

Rooms are fresh and modern, with outdoor showers and a contemporary take on Balinese style that’s very attractive for the price point. There’s a pool and expansive gardens, with ricefield walks just seconds from your doorstep. And, at least on Agoda, the rates are right.
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Great-value flashpacker cottages in a central location.

Sri Bungalows

Right in the heart of the action, yet pleasingly set back from it, this complex of bungalows sits amid gardens and ricefields just at the top of Monkey Forest Road, which is about as central as it gets in Ubud. But it doesn’t feel either noisy or central, thanks to the quiet gang you need to stroll down to discover them.

The deluxe rooms feature everything the flashpacker could desire: fresh, modern bathrooms, airy four-poster beds, and terraces with views across the ricefields. There are no fewer than two pools in the pretty gardens. Food, booze, and spa are on the basic side of flashpacker, but with foodie magic from Locavore to Spice by Chris Salans pretty much on your doorstep, it really doesn’t matter.

As with much mid-priced Indonesian accommodation, unless your haggling skills are solid you are likely best off booking through an online platform like Agoda.
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The pool has glorious views across the gorge.

Taman Indrakila

The Sanggingan location puts these great-value bungalows a little way north of the action, except for during Ubud Food Festival and Ubud Writers Festival when it’s right at the heart of it all. Yet when you look across the pool into the gorge and turn to admire the sacred mountain Gunung Agung from your verandah, it’s hard to care.

Air-conditioned classic Balinese bungalows feature details like hand-carved doors and sculpted brickwork, as well as airy four-posters with drapes, and terraces with tables, chairs and staggering views. (Laptop luggers please note: there’s no desk.)

The simple bathrooms let the side down but explain the sensible price, while the included breakfast is on the dainty side. The adjoining Elephant Cafe serves up good-quality vegan fare as well as booze and coffee, while you’re well positioned for fine dining at Mozaic, Room 4 Dessert, and more.
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A bit more character than your average homestay.

Tu Eka Homestay

On a budget? One of a raft of cheapies at the south end of Jalan Hanoman, Tu Eka offers good value accommodation in comfortable walking distance from all the main attractions – generally around US $10-15 on Agoda. The air-con rooms, in a classic Balinese garden setting with flowers, statues and birdsong, feature details like four-posters and hand-carved doors for an authentically Balinese feel that’s a bit more interesting than yer average homestay.
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And, whew, I think that’s it! Let me know if you’ve got any faves you’d like to share…

8 Responses

  1. Valen Dawson says:

    I would be happy staying in any one of these. Ubud is still one of my favorite spots!

    • Theodora says:

      I have a very soft spot for it. Couldn’t live there – much happier down south – but it’s a lovely place to visit.

  2. Lillie says:

    Ahhh, the “Hanging Gardens” looks like paradise! Actually, they all do. I’m also realizing that I should give Agoda a try, since I usually use other booking sites, but have heard good things about it.

    • Theodora says:

      They’re very good for Asia, which is where we live and do most of our travel: I use them in addition to being an affiliate. I’m not sure how well they perform in the Americas, however – there are probably better engines for the US with a strong focus. What do you actually use?

  3. Becky says:

    The bungalows. Nice.

  4. Cat Gaa says:

    Geez, now I know why people spend so much time in Indonesia! Look lovely, and Agoda has such great prices. One day…

  5. Lisa Coughlan says:

    Love Sri Ratih, have stayed a couple of times. They have an amazing breakfast choice included in the price, enought to take you through to dinner.. I also like Private Ubud Villas, https://www.privateubudvillas.com, very reasonably priced and lovely villas in Penestanan, managed by an Aussie expat out of Bayu’s Kitchen.

  1. March 26, 2017

    […] If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, meanwhile, please do visit my post on where to stay in Ubud. […]

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