Bali is an island known for it’s beautiful beaches, great surf and rich culture, and is fast gaining a reputation as one of the most photogenic destinations in the world. Although its miles of golden, sandy beaches have an obvious appeal, what truly makes Bali an unmissable destination is something else entirely – you don’t come here for the sunbathing and swimming as much as you do to soak up the friendly atmosphere, spectacular countryside and incredible cultural diversity.
Known as the cultural heartland of the island, Ubud is nestled amongst rainforests and rice paddies in Bali’s uplands, and is dotted with the beautiful Hindu temples and shrines at every turn. Popular amongst the spiritual set, who flock to the town for its impressive yoga and meditation scene, it has become vastly popular amongst international tourists from all over the world in recent years.
It attracts plenty of luxury seekers thanks to its selection of opulent, up-market hotels, and although a laid-back destination that is famous for its chilled-out vibe and numerous health food cafes, it has a lot to offer those in search of the finer things in life, too. Here, you’ll find a range of fine-dining eateries and lavish spas, as well as private VIP tours available for anyone who is keen to see the sights. And see the sights you must, for in Ubud, there are many of them – but of course in order to do that, you’ll have to first tear yourself away from your incredible hotel.
Nestled on the edge of Bali’s lush, green tropical rainforest and bordered by rice paddies on both sides, is the luxurious, five-star, Chapung Sebali. Effortlessly fusing traditional Indonesian architecture with contemporary Scandinavian styling, it is set in a unique and picturesque location quite unlike any other. It’s hard not to find yourself immediately blown away by the natural beauty this eclectic boutique resort is surrounded with – and that’s before even setting foot inside and discovering what else it has to offer.
The perfect place to base yourself for a stint in this culturally rich part of the island, upon first approach, the hotel seems a little secluded – but that is all part of its charm. It’s set far away from the main town to afford its guests the luxury of peace and privacy, but close enough that it’s easily accessible on foot or by car.
Tired after a long drive from Denpasar airport, we’re relieved to find that check-in is a swift and smooth process, and are grateful to be greeted warmly by the staff and brought a cold and refreshing welcome drink, which is much needed in the heat. Our bags are taken care of swiftly, leaving us free to go and explore our surroundings – and we waste no time in heading down to the pool area to take a well-earned dip. What lies in store is perhaps one of the most magical poolside experiences we have ever had the pleasure of enjoying, and as we make our way down the steps and are shown to a private cubby hole laid out with colourful cushions galore, it’s hard not to stop and stare open-mouthed at the beautiful scene before us.
An infinity pool stretches lazily out in front of the hotel’s popular Junglefish pool bar, which serves up a range of local and international fare including tasty Balinese nasi goreng, zingy fresh juices and smoothies and impeccably presented, Instagram-worthy superfood salads. But what is beyond the pristine pool itself is what really makes this place special, as it overlooks the luscious green vegetation of the hillside forest below. It’s little wonder that guests are often seen sidling up to the far side of the pool to have their photos taken as they gaze blissfully at the view – it’s an Instagrammer’s dream after all, which is something we have since come to realise is arguably one of Bali’s biggest draws.
In particular, this applies to Ubud, where everywhere you look, you’ll see photogenic rice paddies and waterfalls. You’ll spot plenty of woven nests to pose for photos in in these sorts of places, too – and of course, there’s the famous Giant Swing over the jungle. Many of these have become hotspots for the social media set though, so if you’re looking to get some nice shots of your own, it pays to arrive early.
Back to the matter at hand, and after a refreshing round or two of green juices and iced coffees, we head up to find out what our room has to offer. Suffice it to say that this is where things get even better, as we open the door to find a sprawling double bed with panoramic views out over the jungle. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a huge balcony and daybed stretching out in front and running the full length of the room, with an enormous bathroom featuring a spacious walk-in shower and a sumptuous free-standing bathtub. The real piece-de-resistance, though, is through the sliding glass doors, where our very own private infinity pool awaits. It would be rude not to change into some fresh swimwear, crack open the bottle of Moet we find chilling in the fridge and take the plunge – the perfect place to relax, unwind and watch the sunset over the surrounding jungle in complete and utter privacy.
If Moet isn’t your thing then worry not, as the rooms are well equipped with alternative refreshments. Choose from an array of sweet and salty snacks presented in cute mason jars, or try your hand at making your own sumptuous cocktails with the trendy copper shaker kit and recipes provided. It’s the little touches like this that make a stay extra special, and the Chapung Sebali has them by the bucket-load.
Later on, as evening draws in, it’s times to take a shower and get dressed up for the evening. Tonight, we’re dining at Junglefish once again, but this time on the more sophisticated upper deck. Not before sampling a few of funk speakeasy bar, the Blind Pig’s signature cocktails though. The bar is surprisingly quiet, so much so that we’ve got the place to ourselves, but the gentle jazz music playing in the background, combined with its sophisticated velvet furnishings, make it a relaxed and atmpospheric spot for a few pre-dinner drinks.
Up on the Upper Deck, we settle down at a candlelit table offering stunning views over the Wos River Valley below. The ambience is sophisticated yet understated – the perfect balance for an enjoyable evening.
We’re excited to sample a mouth-watering menu of creative dishes, fusing traditional Indonesian and international cuisine and comprising organic, locally sourced ingredients and a range of unique flavours – all washed down with some champagne, of course. Paricular highlights include the mouth-watering Barrimundi Ceviche and Seared Scallops, followed by the pan seared lobster tail and crunchy chocolate tart. With views over the pool below and the jungle backdrop behind it, it’s peaceful up on the top deck. The lights are low, and there’s a decideldly romantic atmosphere, with gentle music playing somewhere in the background throughout. We even get to see a dramatic proposal happening right next to us – and who can blame them, in a location and setting as perfect as this?
After a magical meal, we decide to head out for the evening and see what Ubud has to offer by night. But, for those looking for something a little quieter, the Junglefish pool bar continues to serve up drinks until late.
One of the highlights of our stay, it has to be said, is the blissful couples’ treatment we are invited to experience in the Chapung Wellness spa the following day. After a busy morning out seeing the sights of Ubud, we’re ready for some R&R – and what comes next certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Comprising an hour-long Balinese massage combined with an additional hour’s reflexology, it’s almost impossible not to drift into a blissed-out trance as the expert therapists work their magic. When it’s eventually time to leave, we both make our way back up to our room in something of a daze, and collapse onto the daybed on our balcony for an indulgent afternoon nap. Later, when we’re both back in the land of the living, we can’t help but agree that it is officially the most incredible spa treatment we’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. And, with its beautiful, tropical surroundings and tranquil feel, the spa is an unmissable stop for anyone staying at the hotel.
In a nutshell
In addition to the incredibly beautiful setting of the Chapung Sebali, there are a few other things that will make your stay here one to remember. The attention to detail is second to none, and from the rooms to the restaurant, everything has been carefully and tastefully coordinated to make for a truly special stay. The staff are friendly and professional from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave, and will go out of their way to provide you with the most luxurious experience possible.
It might seem like a bold statement, but this hotel is one that has earned itself a place in our hearts for life. Would we come back again if we ever find ourselves in Bali? Yes – in a flash.
Deluxe pool suites at the Chapung Sebali start from £250 per room per night.
Address: Jl. Raya Sebali, Keliki 80561 Ubud
Phone: +62 361 8989102