Bambu Indah

Ubud & Centre, Indonesia Book from US$95

Extraordinary eco-chic retreat: a cluster of antique Javanese houses set in a rice field garden with magnificent views across the Sayan Valley
Thread your way from the "cocoon" style bamboo reception, past vegetable gardens to 13 houses made from hand carved teak and thick bamboo. Once belonging to Javanese noblemen, Canadian jewellery designer John Hardy and his wife Cynthia have rebuilt them to create a small magical hamlet, just outside the village of Ubud.

Enchanting pathways cut through small rice paddies to bridge over a natural pool-river where you'll share the freshest of swims with tiny fish. Views across the Ayung river gorge are lush lime green, and the horizon rises up to picture perfect volcanoes.

You will feel these antique houses creak underfoot, but things are far from basic. We smiled at some of the high-tech comforts (for best loo-with-a-view stay in "Afrika"), and many guests prolong their stay for weeks on end. Sit out on your deck and feast on their garden produce. Shoot the breeze then wait for the sound of frogs to fill the air as you drift off to sleep. Bambu Indah means beautiful bamboo in Indonesian. Unforgettable.

Highs

  • Beautifully restored wooden houses with muslin-draped four-posters and unique touches - a glass floor suspended over a fish-filled pond in Undang, a handmade copper bathtub in Afrika
  • Natural setting amidst organic gardens and rice paddies
  • Some of the most stunning views in Bali
  • Strong eco credentials (the owners founded the world-acclaimed Green School)
  • Authentic and atmospheric, with lovely welcoming staff

Lows

  • Main deck overhangs a ravine, so more adventurous youngsters should be kept on a lead
  • Narrow paths leading to the rooms can get slippery in the rain bring sensible footwear
  • The food is fairly simple, though the quality of the produce is excellent. For more adventurous eats head into Ubud

Best time to go

April to October is the dry season, although it can rain at any time in Ubud.

Our top tips

Don't miss a visit to the owners' Green School - the world's number one model of sustainability in education in the world.

Every aspect of the site and buildings are living examples of sustainability: the School's many buildings are cooled and powered by sustainable energy solutions including micro-hydro power, solar power, bio-diesel and predominantly natural air-conditioning. Indonesian bamboo, local alang alang grass, traditional mud walls and mud brick are used to construct classrooms, athletic facilities and other school buildings to minimize use of non-sustainable materials such as concretes and plastics. Their standard is to use 99 percent natural materials in any construction projects, to recycle as many materials as possible, and to manage their waste responsibly.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Makes the grade
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Eco retreat
  • 13
  • Restaurant + bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Kolam House

Rooms

The 13 houses are made from teak wood hand-carved by Javanese tribes over 100 years ago. Expect thatched alang alang roofs, verandas to sit out on, and daybeds. All are individual, charming and decked out with traditional Javanese furnishings and a smattering of collectables from the owners' travels - from Tibetan rugs to African wallhangings. The rustic décor masks more modern touches: comfortable mosquito-netted beds, WiFi, hand-beaten copper basins, open air rainshowers, even Japanese washer-drier-high-tech loos. This is not a place you'll need to rough it to enjoy.

At the top of the pecking order is Afrika. You're on the outer edge of the garden so it feels the most private, and you get superb far-reaching views of the valley from your veranda and bale. It's also the largest of the houses with a four-poster bed plus a large daybed, making it a good option for families or those wanting twin beds. There are no fussy curtains or glass windows, just the original wooden blocks to close you in. A constant reassuring sound from the natural pool lulled us to sleep. We loved the enormous handmade copper bath - a true and unusual work of art, filling from patterned holes at its base. Roll up the bathroom's junk-style blinds to get the best "view from a loo" across the paddy fields.

Elora and Orin House, a 2-storey iron and redwood house (an exterior spiral staircase leads to the upper floor) is popular for longer stays. Its higher ceilings and glass windows give a lighter, airy feel and there's a desk station on its second floor.

The other houses are slightly smaller, but are equally charming, and we'd be happy to stay in any. That said, Udang offers the rather unusual experience of not only walking, but sleeping on water. The bedroom floor is made up of glass panels allowing guests to gaze down at the shrimp pond beneath the house.

There are 2 houses designed specifically with the solo traveller in mind; Manis has a veranda with a table and a colourful seating area, while the slightly smaller Kuda is tucked in amongst the surrounding foliage.

We’re yet to see the 2 newest additions, both of which are very unique: bamboo Sumba House resembles an Aboriginal Indonesian tribal house, while glass-walled The Pagoda is spread over 4 floors and was originally created for John and Cynthia’s 2 daughters. Both look incredibly inviting and have 2 double bedrooms. The Pagoda can also be booked with a third double bedroom.

Most rooms have views across the valley or food garden, with the exception of Kolam, which you reach via a giant pebble pathway. Set in its own small walled garden with a pond and a stylish bale, it provides a more enclosed feel.

Features include:

  • Terrace
  • Wifi internet
  • Phone
  • Wifi internet
  • Safe box
  • Air conditioning
  • Fan
  • Mosquito net
  • Cots Available
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Minibar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Hairdryer
  • Torch

Eating

Meals can be taken in the on-site restaurant, or alternatively in the Minang House, on your veranda or on the small deck area overhanging the ravine (request in advance of your meal).

Breakfast is served between 7am and 11am, and includes fruit (pineapple, watermelon and papaya), fresh juice, local coffee and homemade bread, as well as something hot - perhaps Balinese rice porridge or boiled eggs and toast. The restaurant remains open throughout the day, serving light lunches - mixed vegetables with prawns and rice, nasi campur chicken - as well as cocktails and other drinks.

In the evening dinner is simple but delicious. The daily fixed menus use organic ingredients fresh from the garden: we enjoyed a tasty Balinese chicken stew with just-harvested rice and vegetables, washed down with some cool beer. Last orders for dinner are taken at 9.00pm.

With Ubud being just a 15-minute drive away, there are plenty of options for eating out from chic contemporary restaurants to traditional warungs (staff can advise and arrange taxis). A favourite lunchtime spot for fresh organic salads and juices is Bali Buddha, which also doubles as a healthfood store.

Features include:

  • Organic produce
  • Vegetarian menu
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Minibar
  • Coffee tea making
Eating: Afternoon tea
Activity: Natural Swimming

Activities

  • Chill on your veranda, read a book, soak up those views and watch the swallows and butterflies fill their day
  • Take a dip in the freshwater, unchlorinated river-pool that winds through the villas
  • Visit the remarkable and truly inspirational Green School (a 20-minute drive)
  • Enjoy a massage in super peaceful surroundings
  • Lap up Ubud's culture by visiting some of the many temples, galleries and museums (a 15-minute drive)
  • Enjoy traditional music and local dancing at one of the many colourful and impromptu temple ceremonies
  • Shop till you drop in Ubud, renowned for its antiques and homewares.
  • Go hiking in the surrounding hills
  • If coming from the coast, stop off at the Burung Bali Bird Park, with its winding paths, lake and impressive array of tropical birds

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • History religious
  • Plantlife
  • Rafting
  • Traditional cultures
  • Mountain biking
  • Shopping

Kids

Children are welcome. Baby cots can be provided and daybeds can be made up for older children. The proximity of the Sayan gorge and the old wooden balconies, plus the meandering pool, makes it unsuitable for toddlers. However, older children will love the adventure of staying in a wooden house with nature all around.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Afrika villa has an extra double bed suitable for 1 older child or 2 younger ones. Elora and Orin House house is a great option, as it has a double room downstairs with a private garden bathroom, and one upstairs also with its own bathroom; both bedrooms can fit an extra bed or baby cot, too. Sumba has 2 double bedrooms, and The Pagoda can be booked with either 2 or 3 double bedrooms so is a good option for a family of 4 with older kids. A chest of board games is provided for family time together.

Families Should Know:

Watch out for the steep gorge which is unguarded in parts and the bottom of the rock pool can be very slippery.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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