The Marina Bay Sands wasn’t the only hotel that we visited on our trip that had an absolutely out of this world pool. After staying two nights at The Viceroy Bali we headed even further into the Balinese forest to the Hanging Gardens Hotel, located around half an hour away from Ubud town centre.
The Hanging Gardens has become famed for its visually stunning split level infinity pool that has been named ‘the most amazing pool in the world’ by Conde Nast Traveller and Trip Advisor. Just look at that beautiful design and clear blue water seeming to cascade out into the jungle beyond. The pool was actually designed with the intention that swimmers would feel immersed in the jungle and like they were swimming on top of the trees!
The wave-like curves of the pool give it a natural feeling so that it mimics the terrace rice paddy fields that are characteristic features in Ubud. The top-level of the pool is smaller and juts out from the hotel’s bar…
The lower level pool is larger with a sun deck for basking in the Balinese rays…
Like a waterfall, the upper pool cascades into the lower deck giving a beautiful effect. Sun beds actually lie in the water so guests can keep cool as they bake in the sun.
I must say the water was freezing, but good old Mr S is always game 😉
Now the pool isn’t the only thing that makes this hotel unique, it was once a forty-five degree barren hillside and the resort appears to defy gravity as it’s 38 thatched Villas are scattered across the incline.
The owners of the hotel briefed a local architect to design the hotel working with the natural habitat, following the lay of the land as much as possible and 700 local craftsman built the property using traditional materials and time-honoured ideas. A material that was particularly important in the construction of the hotel was bamboo as there is a traditional belief that being in a bamboo grove restores calm and helps to stimulate creativity.
So you’re probably thinking, if I’m going to a luxury hotel, I don’t want to be walking up and down steep hills and a million stairs. Of course, you’re not expected to…
These rather scary rollercoaster-like tracks actually carry funiculars or cable cars which convey the guests down to the different levels. The first funicular takes the guests to the bar…
Though you can stop along the way for villa access and to the shop and library… actually it’s really not that scary as the funicular runs along the tracks not like the cable car at Table Mountain where you’re just dangling in the sky!
You can then catch another funicular to take you down to the cafe and spa that overlooks the Ayung River…
There are actually eight levels all together and I really admired the architecture of the place and the skill of building it on an incline. Despite the convenience of the funicular, we were still pleased that our room was well located for the restaurant and for reception.
After our tour of the hotel we were taken to our panoramic villa which was huge!
This is the entrance way and on one side was the bedroom and the other a living room with a separate decking area and pool. I’ll show you the bedroom first…
The villa was designed in the Balinese style with a magnificent four poster bed decked out in handmade batik fabrics. Materials were very important to the construction of the hotel and precious woods are used throughout for the floors, furnishings and sculpted doors.
Behind the bedroom was the bathroom with the curved hand-moulded corner bath and a his and hers sink and bespoke toiletries.
Leading on from the bathroom we actually had our own treatment room for in-room spa therapy sessions! Sadly, as we only stayed one night we didn’t get to use this.
And here’s our living area which also had its own bathroom! Literally, you could just live here! But the best bit was the outdoor area…
Sun loungers for two, a separate dining area and our own infinity pool! Actually all the rooms in the hotel have their own infinity pool made out of java stone. Fortunately, we’d arrived at the hotel just in time for lunch and we headed to the restaurant…
There are 88 steps from the reception to the restaurant as the hotel was built using ideas of Feng Shui and these numbers are considered to mean infinity, abundance and stability of energy. The steps themselves are built out of volcanic ash sourced from the local Mount Batur, an active volcano. I loved the fact that every tiny detail was considered in the construction of this hotel and everything means something. Having said that, I thought it was a bit of a shame that the public areas, particularly the bar, looked a bit shabby and in need of a refurb.
We ordered some drinks and had a great view across the pool…
We watched as girls posed for their photos.
‘I reckon they’re bloggers’ I said to Mr S, ‘That’s such a fashion blogger Instagram pose….’ To be fair it was very Instagrammable but it was difficult for me to get pictures without half-naked people in them!
As well as our view of the bloggers we could also gaze out to the beautiful jungle and the Dalem Segara Temple opposite. The menu featured simple salads and sandwiches but we decided to go for the Balinese options. The ingredients are mostly local including fish from Jimbaran Bay and fruit, vegetables and spices from local farms as well as the hotel’s own garden.
We shared some satays and Mr S also had a spicy soup known as Soto Ayam, a yellow chicken soup with noodles and a hard-boiled egg.
For main course he chose the traditional Nasi Goreng, which we first tried at the Four Seasons, and I had Ikan Bakar, a grilled fish with Balinese spices both of which were excellent; I kept stealing from Mr S’s plate!
Now of course, there’s a huge draw to this hotel for the stunning pool and amazing architecture but there were several things about this hotel that meant it wasn’t as incredible an experience as The Four Seasons and the Viceroy. I just wanted to fill you in: first of all the service at the hotel was not up to the same level as our previous two hotels, I won’t go into to detail but it’s just something to bear in mind when you’re paying a lot of money for these hotels. Secondly, because I thought this hotel would be incredibly romantic, I decided to book us a candlelight dinner under the stars. I chose not to blog about it as it was very disappointing, I’m telling you this not to have a moan but because it was super expensive and not worth it. Note that you can also book dinner in the temple and I think that may have been more atmospheric.
The set up was quite cute with the candles and floral display but the draping was covered in holes and the seats were wet. In fact I hadn’t quite appreciated that further north it would be much colder at night and to be honest, sitting in the middle of a pool feeling cold and wet was definitely not romantic! To top all off, we didn’t receive the delicious Balinese food that we’d had at lunch but instead a European menu that was poorly executed. I must say though, our waiter was lovely, bringing me blankets and topping up our wine nicely. I was quite relieved when we went back up to the bar for dessert which was the best bit of the night.
It was at breakfast the next day when I finally managed to get pictures of the pool minus the semi-naked people! And we enjoyed a buffet of fruit, cereal, meats and cheeses as well as Balinese food and an egg station.
Minus the fiasco with dinner, Hanging Gardens Ubud is a very unique and interesting hotel with a stunning location and I was glad that I had the chance to experience it. Though if you’re splurging on a hotel for your honeymoon and looking for perfect service I would recommend The Viceroy as the hotel of choice in Ubud.
Hanging Gardens Ubud
+62 361 982700