On the seventh day the hotel gods created Desa Hay, though the devil took care of the details, all wickedly fine-tuned – a bespoke soundtrack on check-in, say, or a minibar personalised to your tastes, however quirky. A sanctuary for sybarites, the curvaceous pool is flanked by jungle greens and shaded daybeds, while the Joglo-style restaurant serves up international dishes and poetic cocktails containing everything from piduh leaves to dragon fruit. And, perched on the edge of Bali’s hottest ‘hood, this earthly Eden is a pioneer of the island’s sustainable living movement, too; light-on-the-land, biodiverse, socially-minded and substantially solar-powered, Desa Hay ensures you leave only the lightest of footprints behind.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £246.82 (IDR4,829,933), including tax at 21 per cent.
Rates include an á la carte breakfast including Indonesian, vegetarian and vegan options.
Local dignitaries, priests and religious figures have consecrated each room of the property. Feeling hashtag blessed? That’s probably why.
At the hotel
Public pool, Joglo style restaurant, green events space
In rooms: 55" TV with Netflix, private plunge pool, a soundbar, subwoofer with Spotify connected, Samsung tablet, plugs with USB ports, personalised minibar (refilled daily), Desa Hay reusable water bottle, Sensatia botanicals bath amenities.
Our favourite rooms
Dressed in cool stone and exposed timber finishes, Desa Hay’s six breezy Jabu villas bring the outside in with floor-to-ceiling windows and soaring North Sumatra roofs. Guests enter through their own hand-carved door, where a plunge pool and outdoor dining space await. Walled off and shrouded by jungle greens, all suites are perfectly suited to privacy-seeking honeymooners, but for a little extra space, opt for the Premium Jabu, with an extra large deck for lounging.
Flanked by canopied daybeds, the organic shaped pool is the centrepiece of this intimate retreat, surrounded by a panoply of tropical greens. Smaller, though just as scenic, are the private pools set on the terrace of each villa.
Not on site, but the hotel partners with contemporary beauty and wellness spa, Spring Spa, a 10-minute drive away. Designed by Saatchi and Saatchi, expect open-air walkways, trickling stone ponds and green creeper curtains. Their repertoire includes body scrubs and masks to yoga-inspired facials and full-body massages. Round it off with an Olaplex blowout, warm milk and sandalwood mani or a Pimms and pedicure as smooth island tunes are spun by the resident DJ. The hotel can also arrange gym sessions at Body Factory, a huge high-performance fitness centre with an extensive weights room, cardio equipment and a range of different classes each day from Hatha yoga and circuit training to boxing and booty-blasters.
Pack light and save space for sacred shopping finds. The hotel has you covered for just about everything else from Balinese sarongs, reusable water bottles and tablets.
Unfortunately, the hotel is not accessible.
Desa Hay is better suited to couples, so leave the kids at home. Children are only permitted when the hotel is booked for exclusive use.
Conscious and sustainable travel is at the core of Desa Hay. Socially, the hotel employs local staff and supports the education of local children through a scholarship fund. They host workshops, events and training to pass their knowledge forward and provide local developers with the skills to operate more sustainably. The hotel employs a circular infrastructure when it comes to food; all restaurant ingredients are sourced locally and any waste is managed through a composting scheme. All of this contributes to the maintenance of the hotel’s biodiversity, which includes 48 different kinds of plants and green space that totals up to 40 per cent of the resort. In rooms, you’ll find all kinds of recyclable and reusable amenities from the obvious (refillable water bottles) to the down right inventive (slippers made of mendong and coconut husks). What you won’t find are single-use plastics and what’s more, the majority of energy used is generated from the solar panels that line the entrance. The list goes on; LED light bulbs, recharge wells – the effects of which are measured and published annually to ensure continuous improvement.
Bag a table at the edge of the restaurant overlooking the pool.
The longer the hem, the better; think billowing boho maxis, floor-trailing kaftans and barely-there footwear.
The guests-only restaurant is set in an intimate, open-air Joglo-style build with rattan lampshades and green creeper plants hanging from its high ceiling. Chef Ari Widyanto, in collaboration with Jeremy Bleszynski, have created a versatile menu is full of international flavours from the Indonesian staples Nasi goreng and Nasi uduk to Mediterranean fare. Choose from Spanish-style grilled chicken with a creamy mushroom sauce, pangrattato speciality pasta or a ribeye steak sandwich with fries glazed in a red wine butter.
Sharing a space with the restaurant, mixologist Kadek Putra mans the bar, rolling out all the classics as well as an inventive list of signature blends infused with local fruits, herbs and spices. Try the garden-inspired Purple Haze, made from Clitorea flower gin, lemon juice, albumen, syrup and tonic or the medicinal Gotu Kola with chilli-infused Tequila, Piduh leaves, agave nectar and cucumber.
Breakfast is served from 7am onward while lunch and dinner can be ordered any time from 12pm to 9pm daily.
Anything from the restaurant can be ordered to your room between 7am and 10pm each day.
Strategically placed between buzzy Canggu and the serene rice fields of Tumbak Bayu, Desa Hay occupies that sought-after sweet spot; just far enough to escape the noise, but close enough to experience the gastronomic delights of neighbouring Pererenan.
Ngurah Rai International Airport is one hour away by car. Flights arrive here from the UK and Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia. The hotel can arrange transfers for up to four people (complete with cool towels, chilled water, soft drinks and beer, that is) for IDR600,000, which is around £32.
Traffic is notoriously bad on the southern part of the island, so opt for a moped instead. Better still, hire a driver so you can sit back and enjoy the views stress-free. There’s free 24-hour parking adjacent to the hotel, too.
Worth getting out of bed for
Surf’s up on the neighbouring Pererenan beach, where break-happy boarders take on serious waves and couples shack-up on the black sands to watch the sunset. The area has been forging quite the reputation over recent years, especially among foodies, with some of the island’s most exciting warungs setting up shop here. Canggu’s well-trodden Batu Bolong is more frisky and fun-loving. Expect street art, coffee-shops and a shed-load of hot-desking hipsters. See the week out with a bang at La Laguna’s Gypsy Market, where over 150 stalls, live music and fairy lights draped over Kapok trees make for a magical atmosphere. Similarly, the neighbourhoods of Seminyak and Kuta are fine spots to pick up a bargain, chock-full with artisan homeware stores, silky frocks and hand-loomed textiles. And they don’t call it the Island of the Gods for nothing – you’ll find a hearty helping of temples on your doorstep too; Pura Tanah Lot, meaning ‘land in the sea’ is exactly what it sounds like, a washed-up temple where locals gather to worship sea deities. On the east coast, don’t miss Lempuyang temple and its gates of heaven that split as they frame the Mount Agung volcano. While you’re out that way, catch a ferry to Nusa Lembongan, a tropical island where you’ll be greeted by shipwrecks, snorkelling and golden seaweed farms. No trip is complete without a visit to Ubud, a concentrated forested area where you’ll find the Ubud Monkey Forest, a sanctuary for over a thousand Balinese Macaque. You might want to leave your sunnies at home for this one, though, lest these long-tailed kleptomaniacs fancy themselves a new pair of Ray-Bans.
Laid-back bar-cum-restaurant Woods is, you guessed it, made entirely out of wood, with trees planted inside and out to create a space harmonious with its surroundings. The food is easy on the eye too; salmon gravadlax sprinkled with flowers or a creamy pumpkin veloute that looks like a Kandinsky. Be sure to book a table, though, as it tends to fill up quickly. By contrast, Mirai Sushi remains somewhat unknown. Unpretentious and intimate, watch chef Wayan roll-up a menu of Nigiri, Maki and Temaki bites – there’s a vegetarian menu, too. Beach bound, the dolce vita pizza specialists at Arte pair wood-fired pies with contemporary art; they’ve even got a multilingual library in the back.
Switch up the smoothie bowls for a cup of Kopi Luwak coffee. Consisting of partially digested coffee cherries eaten and ejected by wild civets, it may not sound very enticing, but bear with us; thanks to the gastric acids, Luwak coffee swaps bitterness for a smoother, caramel sweet flavour. However, as many plantations become increasingly industrialised, it’s important to choose ethical producers. Satu Satu in Canggu sources its coffee from a six-acre family farm in Plaga, who pride themselves on cage-free production that prioritises the wellbeing of its civets.
Self-described as a clandestine cocktail parlour, The Shady Pig’s Peaky Blinders-esque speakeasy is, like all good secrets, password protected. You’ll have to Whatsapp those hard-to-get concoctionists for a shot at entry, but if you like barrel-aged Negroni as much as we do, it's a price worth paying.
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 sustainable hotel in Tumbak Bayu and unpacked their Balinese sarongs and sun-bleached polaroids, a full account of their blissful break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Desa Hay in Bali…
Stepping through Desa Hay’s hand-carved gate, you may start to believe you’ve passed through to Narnia. And while you’ll be hard pressed to find any talking dragons, the setting is as magical as a fantasy novel. Greeted by the concierge, you’ll be led down winding stone paths scattered with sculptures and tropical assortments to one of six private Jabu villas, where your favourite tune will score your arrival. In need of a quick pick-me-up after the flight? You’ll find your preferred refreshments in the personalised minibar. Forgot your travel adapter? All sockets are fitted with USB ports. Need to cool off? Take a dip in your outdoor bath tub hand-carved from a boulder. Here at Desa Hay, it’s all about the details. Roll out your yoga mat in the peaceful gardens or head to the salt-water pool lined with cushioned daybeds, whose edges curve around plentiful palms. And, do it all with a clean conscience (and a Bintang beer in hand) too, the hotel’s sustainability-centred approach ensures the protection of the local environment and its communities.