Having stayed in some of the finest villas in Asia, our team is pretty tough to impress. When we were invited to stay at Villa Sungai Bali, our curiosity was piqued. The Daily Telegraph awarded this property the same score they’ve previously lavished on the Four Seasons in Tokyo and the Conrad resort in the Maldives. To say that we were intrigued would be an understatement.
Checking In… In Style
The Villa Sungai Bali experience starts before we even check in. Prior to arriving at the villa, guests are asked to fill out a detailed arrival form which will help the staff take care of you in an incredibly personal way. Imagine all of your dietary requirements and other personal preferences and quirks all sorted out before you even arrive.
And what an arrival it is! Nestled amidst the lush tropics and surrounded by tranquil village life, Villa Sungai Bali feels like the dictionary definition of a hidden gem. The smiling staff greets us with Villa Sungai Bali’s signature cocktails and canapes. This is just the first taste of the exceptional level of service which Villa Sungai Bali really and truly excels in.
Villa Sungai Bali is, in fact, two villas. Villa Sungai and Sungai Gold are set side by side and feature three bedrooms each. The setting is incredibly private and the two villas can be booked individually.
To get the full Sungai effect, you can book both villas to create a six-bedroom villa where the two villas interconnect seamlessly. This is exactly how our team did it and we loved the ease of flowing between the two properties. As an added perk, booking two villas also means having access to two swimming pools! The word “sungai” means river in Indonesian and true enough, these beautiful designer villas are built above a flowing tropical river – a heavenly setting if there ever was one.
On a superficial level, it’s obvious from the get go that Villa Sungai Bali is a real stunner. As the Sungai team puts it, the overall vibe is “white, bright and Armani.“ One of my favourite details? The custom designed scents which float through the air across the property. But what really makes Villa Sungai Bali stand out in a sea of pretty faces is the service.
The villa manager, Made, has been at the villa for years and as a result, his effervescent personality has been woven into the very soul of Villa Sungai Bali. It doesn’t take long for us to learn that Made will really do everything for you. He will meet guests on arrival, whether that’s at the airport or your previous accommodation, and take care of every little need throughout your stay.
Made is hospitality personified – this level of service is something you’d usually only get in a prestigious resort – and as the cherry on top, Made was born in the village which makes him a real fountain of knowledge when it comes to Balinese culture. The way Villa Sungai Bali weaves together authentic Balinese experiences and five-star luxury really is something quite special.
Families at Villa Sungai Bali
Staying in a villa is always a great option for families. Any parent who’s ever travelled with a toddler will understand just how valuable it is to have access to a full kitchen and plenty of room for the kids to play around in. True to the villa’s over achieving DNA, Villa Sungai Bali excels in its family friendly features.
Villa Sungai Bali was designed with families in mind – literally. The villa’s child friendly features start from the very layout, with two bedrooms in each of the three-bedroom villas sharing an interconnecting door, allowing parents to keep an eye on the kids. The rooms also come with special overnight locks, allowing kiddos and parents alike to sleep soundly through the night.
And then there are the bells and whistles. Besides the handy children’s equipment (baby cots, highchairs, car seats and more), Villa Sungai has a cupboard full of games and toys to keep the little ones entertained… and the not so little, as it turns out. Our team spent a fun night playing Monopoly, an important reminder of how you really don’t need a screen to keep you entertained. A simple board game and good company will more than do the trick.
The team at Villa Sungai Bali is also ready to take on your brood. At this villa, luxury is not just for the grownups and kids are pampered on an epic scale. Kids can take part in kite making or an afternoon tea party with local kids, or get their nails done with adorable mini mani-pedis. Then there’s the kids menu, which is almost more ambitious than the grownups’! Which brings us to the main event…
Dining at Villa Sungai Bali was definitely one of the highlights of our stay. From the beautiful table setting (Candles! Frangipanis! Tiny Balinese statuettes!) to the delicious dishes, dinner was a fabulous affair to say the least.
Villa Sungai Bali’s ambitious menu covers spicy Balinese dishes as well as international cuisine. It is a broad but refined menu where every dish feels like a carefully curated part of a whole, rather than a bland mish mash of inoffensive staples. Our dinner was an Indonesian feast of gado gado, chicken satay and nasi goreng. A special shout out for the a la carte breakfast which is included the rates – croissants and coconuts and coffee, oh my!
So how does it work, dining at the villa? At Villa Sungai Bali, guests only pay for the cost of groceries used to prepare the dishes with no additional markup. The staff shops for the ingredients at local markets and delicatessens and then presents the receipts for guests to check. This means that dining at the villa, with a skilled private chef preparing your meals, has the same price tag as dragging yourself to the supermarket, picking up the items and cooking the whole thing from scratch by yourself.
Experiencing the Real Bali
Villa Sungai Bali offers a unique blend of a boutique stay and an authentic Balinese experience. Located in the village of Cepaka in southwest Bali (the trendy Canggu neighbourhood is about 15 minutes away by car), the villa is far removed from the gentrified buzz of the main tourist hubs.
This peaceful rural locale offers the perfect setting for really dipping your toes into the Balinese way of life. On Sunday morning, Made guides us through a village walk through the surrounding countryside. We pass through rice paddies and visit the school where Made teaches English to local kids. The whole experience is something you really can’t put a price on. Needless to say, our check out from Villa Sungai Bali came all too soon.
Villa Sungai Bali exudes a sense of harmony. The service is exceptional and the design is flawless, with incredible attention to detail. At the same time, the villa is surrounded by the real Bali, with exclusive access to authentic local experiences. It is rare to find a property which strikes that fine balance between luxury and authenticity so gracefully. Talk to our villa specialists to book your own stay at Villa Sungai Bali.