Hanging Gardens Ubud

Payangan, Ubud & Centre, Indonesia Book from US$587

Reviewed by Viv Monahan
Spectacular, gravity-defying hotel with private pool villas perched on the misted terraces of the Ayung River gorge
Within a half-hour’s drive of Bali’s cultural capital, Ubud, you can discover the Hanging Gardens, hidden away at the end of a small lane. As its name suggests, it clings precariously to forested slopes above a deep gorge leading down to the Ayung River. Its 38 villas, spa and restaurant are perched up and down this extremely steep valley. You needn't worry about exhausting climbs, its own ingenious funicular links low ground with high. Each villa has its own terrace for secluded sunning, dining and snoozing. All have their own heated infinity plunge pools but the star attraction is the main pool: its curves mimic surrounding rice terraces and its unique design will drop your jaw.

Arrive by day to capture views across to Penataran Dalem Segara temple. Arrive by night to see a glittering ravine with torches marking pathways to the hillside villas. Amidst the sounds of the river and rainforest, you’re in the heart of natural Bali here and in good comfort. A perfect spot for romance, for families and for chilling out.

Highs

  • The forest setting with ravine below brings you face to face with Bali's natural interior
  • Unrivalled split-level freshwater swimming pool with breath-taking views across to a gorgeous temple
  • Stylish, well-lit villas with individual, infinity-edged plunge pools and terraces make you feel in a world of your own
  • Attentive service, clubby atmosphere without being stuffy, friendly without being chummy
  • Individually planned excursions give you a glimpse of Bali that many tourists miss

Lows

  • Of Ubud's luxury hotels, this is the furthest away from the town centre - a 25 minute drive
  • The free shuttle-bus into town stops at 5pm after that you’ll need a taxi
  • The hotel’s pool terrace has limited space for lounging
  • At this altitude it’s not as warm as on the coast, but some welcome the cooler air. Plus it’s not for those who suffer from vertigo
  • Due to their design, some rooms may be a little noisy but they are very stylish!

Best time to go

April to October (the dry season) will be the best time to stay at this altitude. Although downpours in the wet season soon dry up in the calm that follows the storms.

Our top tips

While here, we'd recommend you attend a Hindu ceremony - the hotel has a list of local festivals - or join the mourners at a cremation. These aren’t sombre affairs or closed to visitors - they’re brash, noisy and supremely colourful. You’ll feel very welcome as long as you observe local customs.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 38
  • Restaurants + bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

Clinging to the river gorge are 38 contemporary Balinese-style suites and villas, approached through narrow terraces framed by trailing plants and creepers. All have similar décor and layout but for the best views request a villa higher up the valley nearer to the lobby. The bathrooms, which double as dressing rooms, have sunken terrazzo baths big enough for 2 and drench showers that give you a proper soaking.

Traditional Balinese stone door-guardians, sun hats, walking sticks and ornate sculpted doors welcome you in. Each alang-alang thatched villa has a large bedroom with floor-to-ceiling wooden-shuttered windows. Heave back the screens to see your own fully heated infinity-edged plunge pool in the foreground and forest canopy in the background. You'll find orchids, charming local carvings and Paras stone pots.

The flooring’s wood (Merbau inside, Benkirai on the terrace), and glass doors run along one side of the bathroom and bedroom. Open these to step onto your private decked terrace with open-air shower, outdoor dining area for lazy breakfasts and teak loungers for super-secluded sunning. Cool off in your own plunge pool or retreat to your traditional, sumptuously-cushioned balé (pavilion) for a shaded siesta.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Plunge pool
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Swimming pool
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

The Hanging Gardens has 2 on-site eateries: the smart poolside Béduur Restaurant for breakfast and dinner, and the riverside Diatas Pohon Café for snacks.

Breakfast is taken either in your room or on the restaurant terrace. Dishes are on the dainty side: home-made yoghurt is served in little glasses topped with a spring of mint, scrambled eggs are rich and creamy quenelles, fruit is arranged like a paint-by-numbers still life and miniature croissants are accompanied by petite pots of butter and jams.

The Asian and French-influenced dinner menu features an abundance of seafood and top quality cuts of beef and poultry. The chef created a fabulous vegetarian plate of aubergine caviar, sweet potato mash with garlic and rosemary, and a millefeuille of roasted vegetables for us with no advance warning whatsoever. We also enjoyed pan-fried king prawns in a coconut and peanut sauce served with roasted pineapple and jasmine rice. Dessert was a trio of chocolate goodies, one warm, one icy and one at room temperature, served with tamarillo sauce and fresh mangosteen.

The Diatas Pohon Café is open throughout the day for healthy snacks. Feel virtuous as you nibble on crab cakes served with mango salsa, grilled halloumi cheese with olive puree, salads and soups.

Ubud has a wealth of top-notch restaurants and cafes, but you will need to take a taxi (the drive takes about 25 minutes).

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Cooking classes
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Unwind at the Ytsara Spa with a traditional Balinese massage to the sounds of the Ayung River and gamelan music - then soak in a bougainvillea petal-filled bath
  • Learn the perfect sun salute with Jane Robinson at specially arranged yoga classes. Jane was a pupil of the master Swami Ventesananda
  • Take a botanical walk with a local specialist to learn about the tropical plants and their therapeutic uses
  • Drive the 40 minutes to Kintamani through the back roads, travelling through the dazzling, fragrant orange groves
  • Take the shuttle bus into Ubud to hunt out quality souvenirs amongst their markets.
  • Browse in the many local art galleries before stopping off for an ice cream at Mumbuls or a patisserie at Café Luna
  • Learn how to cook sate lillit, lawar and nasi goreng at one of the excellent local cookery schools
  • Explore the many local temples (remember to dress respectfully - the hotel staff will advise)
  • Brave the agonising hills on one of the 2 bikes the hotel has for hire to explore the villages of Buahan, Susut and Payangan
  • If a day is cloudy, cuddle up in the cosy bar, swamped with cushions

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Art classes
  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Rafting
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Yoga

Kids

Though children of all ages are welcome, it's not recommended for toddlers due to the plunge pools and precarious drops, and there is nothing specific to keep them occupied.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Older children are only accepted in the Duplex Family Pool Villas. But those with smaller kids and babies can stay in any of the suites of villas.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
8/
Food
8/
Service
6/
Value
8/
Overall

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