Ubud Revisited

by Anton D. Javier

A stay at Amandari is the perfect way to rediscover Ubud, Bali’s cultural heart and soul.

For most, visiting Bali means staying at Seminyak or Jimbaran for easy beach access, Kuta for the shopping and nightlife, and lately, Canggu, which is proving to be the holiday destination’s current hip hotspot. While there, visitors might fit in a visit to Uluwatu or Ubud for a quick dose of art, culture, and sightseeing, just to complete the “Bali experience”.

While Ubud is perfect for a daytrip, I’d like to make the case for it as the perfect base for those who are looking for a quieter and gentler experience, especially if rest and relaxation are priorities on your getaway.

Ubud’s lush, green surroundings dotted with the warm terra cotta tones of traditional Balinese homes, gentle sloping landscapes, cool morning weather, plenty of gourmet restaurants and authentic warungs, and pleasantly walkable streets all come together for a picture-perfect holiday.


For a truly unforgettable Ubud immersion, a stay at Amandari is a must. The resort, which is Aman’s second oldest property (it opened in 1989, while Amanpuri in Phuket opened in 1988), allows its guests to experience life within a traditional Balinese village since it is built within a local neighborhood, but given that inimitable luxurious Aman touch.

Upon arrival one rainy afternoon, I was warmly welcomed with a refreshing cold towel and drink, and was casually walked through a loose itinerary that could be easily shuffled around based on what I wanted to do in the next few days. Aman is known for its personalized, unobtrusive service, and this was proven as I was checking in. From the corner of my eye, I saw the staff cover my suitcase in plastic to protect it from the rain and was quietly wheeled to my villa – under an umbrella.

While not the most modern property in Bali, Amandari is the grand dame of luxury resorts here, and with good reason. In addition to exceptional service, the space is a cultural showcase that’s beautifully maintained after more than three decades. The organic shapes of old frangipani trees beautifully juxtapose with the manicured tropical garden, moss-covered stone walls, and the stunning infinity pool that overlooks an expanse of greenery. The lanes that lead to various locations around the property also invite you to casually stroll around, allowing the resort to be quietly discovered — from beautiful lily ponds, an elegant wooden structure that houses the gym and spa to the Amandari boutique that almost doubles as a gallery, thanks to the beautiful artifacts and handicrafts on display.

The all-suite resort (save for the grand three-bedroom villa perfect for larger groups) boasts a variety of spacious accommodations, ranging from two-bedroom suites, pool suites, and a unique valley suite, which is where I stayed on my visit. The first thing that captures your attention upon entering is the soaring thatched roof ceiling and polished marble floor. Let your eyes wander around the space, taking in the small private garden, elegant bathroom, and outdoor tub, before locking your gaze onto the veranda, which opens to breathtaking views of the Ayung River Gorge. If you listen closely, you can hear the river flowing down below.

In the evenings, the villa transforms into a restorative cocoon, with perfectly dim lighting and the intoxicating smell of tuberose (or “sedap malam” in Bahasa) wafting through the resort. Keep an eye out too for little handmade trinkets left on your bedside as part of the turndown service.


To help you experience the magic of Bali, Amandari offers a variety of activities for its guests to choose from — both physical and spiritual. For those who want something calming, choose between Balinese Temple Blessing or Spiritual Healing sessions, or get up close and personal with a variety of Cultural Ceremonies or perhaps join a Balinese dance class.

During my stay, I was recommended the “From the Morning Market” activity, which brings together my love of food and hiking. It combines an early morning walk through Blahkiuh Market, offering a peek at the fresh fruits, vegetables, and local produce available, followed by a leisurely trek through small villages and expansive rice fields. The driver and guide also indulged my request for a quick round of retail therapy and brought me to a basket weaving workshop and boutique (which is where the resort sources its various woven goods from). For those who want something a little more intense, opt for cycling tours like Sunset Cycling (25.4 km), Lakes to Lowlands (29 km), or Downhill Dream (48.5 km).

These activities, which are expertly curated by Amandari’s Guest Assistants, offer a unique glimpse into Bali’s beautiful landscape and culture, which is often overlooked in favor of modern distractions. At the end of the trip, you’re guaranteed priceless memories, as well as the desire for the next Aman experience.

Gourmet Traveller