Ubud is revered as the cultural heart of Bali. Though the area is still home to some of the most stunning temples, beautiful rice paddies and colourful Hindu ceremonies on the island, Ubud is far from a monolith. The area is seeing a real renaissance of world-class restaurants, cute boutiques and holistic yoga studios opening up on the daily. Our team spent a weekend exploring all that is hip and happening in Ubud. We couldn’t have asked for a better home-from-home than Villa San.
Welcome to Villa San
Following the layout of an authentic Balinese compound, Villa San is divided into multiple pavilions spread out across generous gardens. The villa is centred around a huge 25-metre swimming pool which is quite simply irresistible in the tropical heat.
The owner’s love for world travel and the arts is visible throughout Villa San. There are petrified wood sculptures in the garden, a telescope in the first floor studio and you can see art sourced from Indonesia, China and Africa artfully scattered throughout the rooms.
Up on the first floor, above the living and dining areas, Villa San houses an air-conditioned function room that’s perfect for practicing yoga (matts are also available) or enjoying an in-villa massage in luxurious privacy. Exploring the gardens, we also discover a Buddhist stupa, a combination that makes Villa San ideal for hosting spiritual retreats – and just maybe living out your own version of Eat Pray Love while you’re at it.
At this point, it’s already clear that Villa San will be perfect for our weekend getaway. If, however, you’re planning to catch up on some work, it’s good to remember that the internet throughout Ubud can be unreliable. You might want to consider closing your laptop and enjoying a break from the online world instead. A chance to disconnect to reconnect, if you will.
Villa San with Kids
Staying in a villa is always a great option for families, as you simply can’t go wrong with having that extra space and access to a full kitchen when travelling with little ones. We were particularly eager to test drive the child-friendly facilities of Villa San, as we were travelling with an adorable three-month-old in tow.
Villa San has a fun playroom for the kids and little Akira loved all the colours and fun toys, though the DVDs and books might have still gone a little over his little head. A baby cot and high chair were also provided free of charge. For older kids, there are vast stretches of lawn to run around on and the pool includes wide steps which create a shallow section for young swimmers.
Bedrooms at Villa San
Villa San has six bedrooms, four with king-sized beds and two which can be set up either as two singles or kings. This set up was perfect for our mixed group of 10.
Again, the layout of the rooms resembles that of a Balinese compound, as the bedrooms are spread out across the gardens, housed in beautiful standalone pavilions. We liked the fact that there are two bedrooms in each pavilion, so no one had to stay all by their lonesome. We also loved the fact that all six bedrooms have bathtubs, meaning there was no need to fight over the master suite!
Staff & Services
As beautiful as Villa San is, a grand villa without a stellar staff is just a house and the thing that makes Villa San really and truly special is the staff and services. Most of Villa San’s staff were born and raised in the Ubud area. At all times, there are at least two staff members on site at the villa, so there is a great sense of security and always someone to turn to if you need to figure out how to work the air-conditioning or want to order a taxi to take you out and about. There are also two security guards working between 3pm – 7am daily.
One of the highlights of our stay at Villa San was of course the food – because nothing says decadence quite like a personal chef, right? Villa San’s chef has previously worked at the Puri Santrian Hotel and Peninsula Hotel and we were not disappointed. We had a daily breakfast at the villa and a great family style dinner of gado-gado, sate and curry gathered around the huge dining table which can easily seat up to 14 guests.
Staying in the Heart of Ubud
The streets of central Ubud are lined with guest houses and rustic bungalows, but fining a large villa for a big group such as ours can be a real mission. Most of Ubud’s bigger villas are located further off from the town centre and offer a fabulous sense of tropical tranquillity… but sometimes you just want to be close to the action.
Villa San offers exactly that. The villa is located just 300 metres from Ubud Palace and there are great restaurants even closer by, including Kangen Ubud for tacos, Rio Helmi Gallery and Café for a caffeine and art fix and 9 Angels for vegetarian food.
Villa San’s central location offers a wonderful chance to explore Ubud and its surroundings – and that’s just what we did. Our weekend in Ubud was jam-packed with fun activities, but there was still time to relax at the villa because we didn’t have to waste precious time sitting in a car getting from point A to B.
Our weekend was a kind of greatest hits of Ubud. We visited the beautiful Bali Pulina coffee plantation, which is located about 30 minutes north of Ubud. We got to see how how coffee is made, sample the finished product and of course, take photos with Bali Pulina’s epic rainforest views as the backdrop. We stopped for lunch at Café Pomegranate, a quaint little eatery surrounded by rice fields. We also experienced our own version of Eat Pray Love, biking our way through Ubud.
Finally, you really shouldn’t leave Ubud without visiting the gorgeous Campuhan Ridge Walk which is easily one of the most beautiful spots in Bali. This easy trek takes you through quintessentially Balinese rice paddies and offers lush views of the surrounding tropics. It’s an easy walk, but to beat the tropical heat it’s best experienced around sunrise or just before sunset when the weather is cooler. We headed there just before sundown and had this gorgeous place practically to ourselves. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day spent in the heart of Bali.