Ubud Hanging Gardens, Bali

Posted by on Jun 3, 2013 in Asia, Indonesia, Orient Express, Products & Places, Reviews | 4 comments

The Villas

The small river rushes 10 feet below me as I traverse a very narrow bamboo bridge at the bottom of the canyon floor. Looking up, both of the steep mountain hillsides are thick with overgrown vines and ancient banyan trees. In the distance down the valley I can just make out a single monkey as he moves along the canopy, reminding me that I really am in the jungle. Ahead, a small path leads away from the water and begins ascending rapidly to the Hindu temple far above me. Along the way I pass ancient stone sculptures of monks and warriors. I can’t help but laugh that what might as well be a scene from the next Indiana Jones movie, is in reality just a 5 minute walk from my hotel in Ubud, Bali.

The cable cars that take guests around the property

The Ubud Hanging Gardens really is one of those places you’ve got to see to believe. Like many of the other Orient Express properties, the Hanging Gardens was designed to blend in perfectly with its natural surroundings. The hotel is built into the landscape of a steep canyon, affording it breathtaking views from any point on the property. Guests check in at the top, and then are transported downward via two cable cars that make stops at the main pools, spa, restaurant, or the six different levels of guest villas that are terraced into the earth. Although I’ve see my fellow guests each morning at the over-the-top buffet breakfast (more on that later), during the day I love how secluded I feel whenever I explore the property. With only 36 villas, there’s plenty of room to spread out.

Two layers of infinity pools

The hotel has two large infinity pools, one set high above the other so the overflow rains down like a waterfall. With my chin placed atop my folded arms I float at the lower pool’s edge and lazily look out over the lush green valley. My spouse is lounging on the nearby deck, cocktail in hand. I’m suddenly enveloped with equal parts relaxation as any concerns from home fade away and serenity in my personal tropical paradise.

The deck of our villa

Even though the pools are spectacular some guests may never visit them. That’s because each of the hotel villas have their own private infinity pool. The villas are classically Balinese, with flowing open-air designs and floor to ceiling windows.

The villa bedroom

Welcome drinks

Slide open the double doors from the bedroom and step out onto a large wooden deck that has comfy lounge chairs and a cushion filled pagoda perfect for reading or an afternoon nap. The most incredible feature of the patio is a luxurious heated pool that’s so inviting it threatens any afternoon plans you may have scheduled.

View from our villa pool

If you can pull yourself away from the pool, the hotel offers great activities that can keep you as engaged as you’d like while enjoying your vacation. There’s a village scavenger hunt that has guests interact with the local community to complete their quest. We joined the morning nature walk that took us through a giant bamboo forest and across fields of rice paddies, which have been farmed for the past 1200 years.

A farmer we met on our morning nature walk

Beautiful rice farmer

Along the way we passed many of the people that use the bamboo for their homes, and grow the rice for their families and to sell at the local market. With the help of our guide we were able to chat with these people about their lives. They seemed just as interested in us as we did with them. Compared to some of the Balinese ‘dinner and dance’ shows that are advertised on every street corner in Ubud, I couldn’t help but feel like this was a much more genuine experience.

School children who wanted their photo taken in the village

Ubud jungle

One of the highlights were the incredible culinary options available at the resort. The morning buffet has a vast variety for your breakfast in addition to a soup cart featuring traditional Asian specialties. There is also a delicious crepe station where you can custom create your own sweet or savory treat.

Soup cart at the morning breakfast buffet

The resort really shines in its dinner options, both in what’s available for you to enjoy and also where you’re able to experience it. Remember those two large infinity pools with the amazing views of the valley and the temple? You can arrange a romantic dinner while floating on the pool on a custom built stage.

This photo is courtesy of Ubud Hanging Gardens

Or perhaps you’d like to enjoy your meal across the valley in the temple itself, surrounded by hundreds of candles warmly lighting your surroundings of ancient stone relics.

We were fortunate enough to sample some of the highlights of the Hanging Gardens dinner menu, which were absolutely incredible. My favorite appetizer was the scallop trio, which included an incredibly creamy but very light seared scallop with mushroom sauce, an Asian inspired grilled scallop with lemongrass, and a scallop ceviche that had just the right amount of spicy bite up front, but then cooled down with its cucumber finish.

Scallop trio

For the main course, we enjoyed the oven baked Sea Bass which was moist and delicious. It featured a crispy olive tapenade crust that provided a wonderful texture balance to the fish. The papaya sauerkraut gave it just the right amount of bite, while the hint of truffle produced creaminess that tied everything together. This was hands down my favorite dish of the night. We learned that all of the hotel’s seafood is locally sourced from the island.

Sea bass

Coming in a very close second was the coconut lamb skewers, which arrived to the table still sizzling. Its up to you to decide between the dipping sauces that are included with the plate. I loved the tangy peanut sauce but the spicy chili sauce was hands down the best.

Steaming lamb

There is a savory Tom Yam soup which fuses typical Thai style soup with Balinese seafood.  The bowl is delivered showcasing the salmon, calamari and prawns. The guest then drizzles the desired amount of the savory broth over the seafood creating a deep crimson mixture of  lemongrass, mushroom, Pino Bali, Kaffir lime leaf, coriander, chili oil and curry aioli.

Tom yam soup

Adding the broth

And we can’t forget the chocolate. OH THE CHOCOLATE. We aren’t talking about just any chocolate. We indulged in 70% dark chocolate lava mousse, warm valrhona chocolate fondant and chocolate ice cream.

Chocolate three ways

Ubud Hanging Gardens has a great Facebook page you can become a fan of here. More of a visual person? Check out their Instagram profile here or follow them on Twitter here.

Our accommodations at Ubud Hanging Garderns were provided in order to do this review, but the opinions expressed above are, as always, our own. 

4 Comments

  1. Again, amazing as usual. I feel like I am right there with you. Your pictures are beautiful.

    • Thank you @Sally. I’ve had so much fun with editing the photos. :) Thanks for reading.

  2. Wow, this looks heavenly. The more I see of Asia, the more I want to visit!

    • @Andrea yes! It’s hands down one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever seen. Thanks for reading!

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