Even if the campground symbol usually makes you want to keep on driving, you’ll want to make a U-turn for Capella Ubud, the Bill Bensley-designed glampsite in Bali. The weird-but-wonderful design nods to the European settlers of the early 1800s, with hanging animal heads, heavy wooden trunks, hand-hammered copper tubs and canopied four-poster beds. The restaurant pays homage to Mads Johansen Lange, a Danish spice trader whose piquant legacy just keeps on giving (these days mostly in the form of fiery Indonesian fare). There’s also Api Jiwa, a robata restaurant where there’s not a s’more in sight.
Get this when you book through us:
One 40-minute foot reflexology session each (for up to two guests)
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm, also flexible on request.
Double rooms from $770.59 (IDR10,844,800), excluding tax at 21 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast and activities.
The wacky-but-wonderful design was the vision of Bill Bensley, who is also behind some of Asia’s greatest hotel hits, including the Siam in Bangkok and Maia in the Seychelles.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, free valet parking, gym, bicycles to borrow, laundry. In rooms: air-conditioning, minibar, free bottled water, tea and a kettle, Illy coffee machine and custom-made organic bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Each room has a vocational theme, whether it’s inspired by the baker, toy maker or photographer, with the design quirks to match; we love the minibars hiding in wooden trunks, the selection of soaps and the hammered-by-hand copper tubs. For amazing views of Keliki Valley and the largest of the resort’s private pool (19-24sq m), book a Keliki Valley Tent.
The Cistern is a 20-metre saltwater pool flanked by rainforest.
Auriga Wellness has three spa tents where you can be soothed by traditional Balinese and Hindu-inspired treatments, including chakra balancing, pranic healing and nocturnal meditation. You can keep fit with jungle-based workouts, rice-paddy treks and suspension yoga.
Bring your jungle-ready finest: no camo necessary, but you’ll be grateful for your long, mosquito-shunning sleeves.
Due to the rainforest-y, campsite setting, the hotel isn’t suitable for wheelchair users.
All ages are welcome, but the camp is better suited to slightly older kids (six and up) and it’s not easy terrain for pushchairs, either. Babysitting is available with a day’s notice for 150,000 rupiahs an hour (two-hour minimum).
The hotel uses locally sourced, organic produce and grows what it can on site.
Enjoy the explorer vibes on the lower deck or head up to the second storey for the breeze and views. At Api Jiwa, you’ve done well if you’ve snagged one of the 16 seats (be sure to book), but try to get up close to the grill to watch the chefs in action.
Spice up your life.
Breakfast – a choice of Indonesian, Chinese and Continental classics, along with some superfood bowls – is served in the split-level, tented Mads Lange. Don’t forget to look up: there are some pretty elaborate wood-carvings and murals waiting to be noticed. Api Jiwa, AKA ‘fire to the soul’ in Sanskrit, is open for robata-grilled, tasting-menu dinners; and this Asian barbecue comes with a wall of washing boards, woks and irons (you have to see it to believe it).
Mortar & Pestle is a pool bar next to the Cistern, where cocktails are muddled using the namesake ancient implement. Even the ice is crushed manually.
Breakfast hours are 6am to 10.30am. Lunch is available between from noon until 3pm. Dinner service is 6pm to 11pm. Bar hours are 10am to 8pm.
Steaks, soups and salads can be served in room, as can your breakfast.
Jl. Raya Dalem, Banjar Triwangsa Desa Keliki, Kecamatan Tegallalang
You’ll find Capella Ubud in (no prizes) Ubud, the rice-paddy-filled, rainforested centre of Bali.
The island’s Ngurah Rai airport is an hour and a half away by car. If you’ve booked a two-night stay or more, return airport transfers are included.
It’s a 20-minute drive to the centre of Ubud and the hotel has valet parking – but you have been warned: driving on Bali is not for the faint-hearted. It’s easier to hire a private driver than your own wagon.
Worth getting out of bed for
This is not your average campsite (though you can make s’mores around the campfire and watch movies out under the stars). For starters, you can indulge in spa treatments at Auriga Wellness, get bigger guns at the Armory gym and enjoy board games and books in the comfort of the Officers Tent lounge. The hotel can help to arrange rainforest expeditions, 4x4 trips to the Penulisan Hills with picnic pit stops at Lake Batur, visits to a local farm, art classes, chocolate tastings and coffee workshops. For a day trip, head out to the rice terraces at Tegalalang and admire the artful irrigation, or visit the Kanto Lampo waterfall. For a smug sense of achievement, complete the Campuhan Ridge Walk, which comes with plenty of handsome hilly views. Take the waters at Pura Tirta Empul, a sacred temple complex with added hot springs, thought to have curative powers (hence the pilgrims).
Vegans, clean-eaters and anyone who cares about the planet will love the local, plant-based food being served up at Zest; there’s even a counterpart to a full English, with taro hash browns, red-bean salsa and curry-flavoured fake mayo. For more sustainable sustenance and an admirable selection of salads, head to The Elephant, which overlooks Campuhan Ridge. At Manisan in Ubud, the setting is as traditional as the delicious Indonesian food, which looks (almost) too good to eat. Scrub up for supper at Mozaic, a French-influenced, fine-dining restaurant where the chefs have some serious food-styling skills. And for when only something sweet will do, skip the savoury course and hit up Room 4 Dessert, where sugar hounds can get more than their fix and puddings are elevated into an entire experience.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this riverside hotel in Indonesia and unpacked their durian fruit and civet coffee, a full account of their rainforest break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Capella Ubud in Bali…
Bali may have a whole lot of hotels, but we’d bet that you haven’t seen one like Capella Ubud yet. Welcome to the wild, wacky-but-it-works world of Bill Bensley, who has created this gorgeous glampsite in a rainforest near Ubud. The playful design incorporates traditional patterned doors hand-carved with religious motifs, loos that wouldn’t look out of place in Westeros, brass monkeys frolicking on roofs and a babi guling (suckling pig) atop a tent. This contemporary campsite looked to the early 1800s for its inspiration, with the tents paying tribute to Bali’s European settlers. The Officer’s Tent, the camp’s communal lounge, has hanging animal heads, historic photographs documenting the island’s past and vintage speakers. Even the Cistern, the retreat’s 30-metre pool, is modelled on a classic camp reservoir. Rangers will take you roving through the rainforest by day; by night, there’s much more than marshmallows being served up at Mads Lange. Altogether now: ‘Kumbaya…’
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