Bali hotel review: Time-Out at Alila Ubud
Whenever I am in Bali, I love the Seminyak scene, but sometimes you need an antidote to the hustle and bustle of being a scene-ster and here at LML, we like to get around.
So I ditched the partying FOMO, embraced YOLO and booked into Alila Ubud for a night of JOCO (Joy Of Chilling Out – totally just made that up). Of course I wasn’t going to bask in this JOCO all by myself, so I had my BFF Lucy in tow to share an ultimate night of relaxation. Get ready mind, body and soul because we’re ready to take a serious time out.
Alila has cemented itself as one of the premier luxury hotel chains in Bali, and you’ll soon understand why. LML Nicole has already proven Alila Uluwatu delivers the goods in the indulgence arena, but now it’s time for me to delve into the relaxation department at Alila Ubud. Located 15 minutes from the centre of town, Alila Ubud hangs over the magical Agung River among a palm-tree jungle. Fusing into the natural surroundings, the hotel combines traditional Balinese design with modern accents, all while maintaining an environmentally sustainable presence. The resort is Green Globe certified, recycles extensively and is closely involved with green initiative and community support programs.
From the moment we leave the main roads of Ubud and enter the drive to Alila Ubud I can feel the tranquillity. Even the excited butterflies in my stomach slow their fluttering. All I can think about is what excuse I can devise to never leave this heaven-on-earth. Once my driver pulls up, an attentive staff member opens the car door, takes charge of the luggage and invites Lucy and I up to the vast alfresco lobby where we sip away at fresh guava juice and refresh from the sticky heat with icy cool towels. Sublime.
We’re escorted to our Deluxe Room which is fitted out with cloud-like twin beds and floor-to-ceiling windows which reveal a panoramic view of the valley below and the lush Ubud jungle. I feel so outdoorsy yet I am indoors – brilliant! My mind is blown even further when I open the doors to the open-air bathroom complemented with a sizeable stone bathtub, pebbled garden and Alila’s locally made organic volcanic soap.
This cosy hideaway seamlessly retains privacy while also managing to incorporate nature outside. I’d like to stay here all day but once our bags are down, there’s no time to waste, it’s straight to the main attraction, the highlight, the piece-de-resistance … the famous Alila Ubud infinity pool.
After chucking on our bikinis, we skip off to the other side of this secluded haven and discover if you need any reason to visit Alila Ubud then this is it. Alila Ubud hands down has one of the best pools in the world. The glassy emerald-coloured pool pans out to infinity and beyond with the illusion of spilling over into the jungle. Sun lounges line its length and, with a butler service at hand, you don’t even need to physically hop into the refreshing crisp water to appreciate it.
All this JOCO has made us hungry so we hold out from diving in and order lunch from the mouth-watering menu. I choose a delicious Angus Beef burger and simply bask in the atmosphere for the first hour. Usually quite active, I don’t feel one ounce of guilt about my slothfulness. I don’t even care if I fuse to this sun lounge; I literally ‘can’t even right now’.
Naturally, I Instagram a photo of this sublime situation and within minutes I have hounds of ‘gram friends oo-ing, ah-ing and envying my Alila Ubud experience… #sorrynotsorry. Even my Instagram account is invigorated from all the insta-love – #potd? If you can manage to peel yourself away from the magnificent poolside – which, trust me, is an incredibly difficult task – Alila Ubud has plenty of other options for guests to explore.
You can go all zen-like with yoga in the Scuplture Garden, be a culture vulture in the Alila Art Gallery, peek into the Alila Living Boutique for a spot of retail therapy, cycle around with a mountain bike to discover Ubud or make like me and treat yourself to a signature massage.
Massages are a favourite pastime for most travellers in Bali, particularly because they don’t cost an arm and a leg. However, it can often mean you’re on the end of some karate-chopping-style hand movement from a random local and you’re left feeling no better than if one of the monkeys from the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary was poking you in the back with a selfie-stick they’d nicked from a tourist. So do yourself a favour and lock in a massage at Alila Ubud. No one has ever regretted a phenomenal massage, and phenomenal is exactly what this is.
The massage therapists at Alila Ubud have mastered this to a fine art. Once welcomed into Spa Alila, Lucy and I each choose the oil relevant to what we want to achieve: stimulate, rejuvenate, balance or relax. They take this all very seriously… our relaxation is paramount. Then it’s down to this real JOCO business.
We walk into a partially glass-panelled room with soothing music and the background hush of wildlife outside. As soon as the spa therapist’s hands touch my noggin and give my hair a gentle tousle, any stress I’ve ever had seems to dissipate into oblivion. For the next hour, my body and mind is paralysed from surrendering to the super soothing massage. Honestly, how am I even meant to function for the rest of the day when I am this chilled out?
When it comes time for dinner, we don’t even contemplate leaving Alila Ubud. Instead, we make our way to Plantation, the open-air restaurant overlooking the infinity pool and surrounding jungle. With a health-conscious menu offering both Balinese and International cuisine using locally sourced ingredients, you can’t go wrong. Plantation’s dishes and cocktails are fit for us two queens and send our tastebuds into sensory utopia.
I don’t think this dining delightfulness can be outdone but, of course, I speak too soon. Breakfast the next day serves up a just as delectable experience. It seems like an odd choice, but Alila Ubud’s oats are without a doubt the most delicious I have ever tasted. Forget bircher muesli, forget eggs benedict, these oats are where it’s at.
I wonder how I can organise to ship a lifetime’s worth home (not even kidding).
The rest of our time spent at Alila Ubud involves a lot of lazing about. Even after checking out, the staff encourage us to stay longer to enjoy the blissful pool – I secretly hope this is an invitation to stay forever. When our driver arrives and after much mental convincing, it’s time to be whisked back to Seminyak. I’m revitalised, refreshed and reenergised and as we exit the drive from Alila Ubud, I shed pure tears of JOCO.
Next time you’re in Bali, considering injecting some JOCO into your holiday with a stay at Alila Ubud.