Ubud Bali; a destination I have dreamed about visiting for a few years now. After an extremely long flight we arrived in Denpasar Airport around 10pm. We pre-arranged an airport hotel transfer and were worried that the length of time it was taking us to get through immigration and baggage collection would result in our driver leaving without us – a worry that we didn’t need to have as low and behold, our driver was waiting patiently for us in the airport, with our names on a large sign, dressed in local Balinese uniform. Upon greeting us, he took our two large suitcases and led us to the car park. Before heading off to the hotel (approximately a 1.5 hour drive away) our driver handed us a cold towel and bottle of water which was packed in a cool box on the passenger seat – an extremely nice touch as the humidity of Bali really hits you once you leave the airport.
We arrived at the Kayon Resort Ubud just after midnight. This is a boutique hotel with a small lobby that was amply lit up. We were greeted by the general manager and two bellboys, who then proceeded to collect our baggage. As the hotel grounds are literally in the middle of the jungle, it was pitch black and I honestly have no idea how these two men carried our suitcases on their backs while making their way to our room, which was, unbeknown to our knowledge at this point, down three flights of stairs adorned with tiny cobbled twists and turns!
The check in process at the Kayon was fairly quick and the GM confirmed our 2am pick up for our Mount Batur Sunrise Hike. Yes, we arranged the pick up to arrive the same morning we checked in. Now my theory behind it was; we sleep on the 9hour flight from Dubai to Bali, check in to the hotel, freshen up, then get picked up an hour or two later to complete our three hour hike up Mount Batur – observe the sunrise, then make our way back to the hotel for 10am and spend the rest of the day chilling! I don’t know about you guys but I can never sleep straight away when I get to a travel destination so I figured that doing the hike straight away would be time well spent. I will do a separate post on the Mount Batur Sunrise hike!
So going back to our check in process… As the hotel grounds were pitch black with just the odd spotlight here and there we had to use our iPhones for light when walking to our villa. At this point we couldn’t really see anything apart from the steps we were walking down and the occasional gecko. All we could hear was the soothing sound of water trickling from the grounds river/waterfall in addition to typical jungle forest sounds – by this I mean the ambient sound of birds, geckos, creek and insects.
We had booked a river edge pool villa for our stay and it was amazing! All the villas at The Kayon have their own traditional Balinese style doors with a padlock which you open via a private key – no high tech key-cards here! As soon as we entered our villa we were in awe of the surroundings. The pool was lit up to reveal the turquoise tiling and the wooden balcony was so rustic and welcoming. The villas are made in traditional Balinese wood house style with thatched roofing and sliding glass doors. Being the artist that I am, I immediately noticed a wall length stone carving inside the villa taking up the stretch of one wall. The carving was set behind a glass panel as a natural piece of artwork. The décor itself of the villas is stunning and very contempory Balinese style.
The four-poster king-size bed and sofa was fitted with soft cotton linen and convenient mosquito netting, extremely comfy pillows, and the most perfect firmness level. To the corner of the room was a TV cabinet which had a good selection of channels, a corner chair, and benched seating overlooking the lush greenery. Dark wood flooring leads you to the bathroom suite, which is equally as stunning. From the marble floors, to the intertwined bamboo ceiling. The bathrooms feature a freestanding shower and bathtub overlooking the jungle with luxury toiletries. The entire villa was spotlessly clean. Our villa was right beside the waterfall so we had a constant soothing sound effect of trickling water throughout our stay.
One little thing I noticed that really meant a lot on the first night, was a plate left for us of toasted egg and tomatoe sandwiches with a spicy chili dip on the TV cabinet. The GM knew we were due to leave the hotel 1-2 hours after checking in to do the Mount Batur Sunrise Hike, so he had prepared the sandwiches for us to eat before leaving the hotel as the restaurant was closed at that time so we could not order room service. A very nice touch!
The next day when we returned from our hike we could truly appreciate the beauty of this resort. One word. WOW. The sun was shining; the sky was blue, feathered with sparse fluffy clouds, and the greenery was beautiful. Our villa had a lovely balcony and private pool overlooking the river and waterfall. The sound of the river and waterfall is so peaceful you cannot help but disconnect with the stresses of everyday life and just embrace where you are.
Moving onto the service/staff at the Kayon… they are remarkable. Each evening they turned down our bedding, closed the curtains and replenished the fruit bowl. The staff here all made us feel very welcome and always had smiles on their faces. I haven’t stayed in many boutique hotels but one thing I noticed here was that the staff always remembered our names and would greet us personally each time we saw someone to ask how our day was going and if we needed anything. Nothing was too much to ask. From general shuttle bus times, to day trip recommendations, even to having someone escort us to Ubud Monkey Forest because we were too scared to go alone (I mean, haven’t you YouTube’d Ubud monkey attacks?!?!). You really do feel a part of a big family at this resort and it’s a genuine sincere feeling too, not a front. We were really spoilt. The staff and their customer service skills really do put many other top 5* hotels around the world to shame.
FYI – The Kayon provides a complimentary shuttle service to Ubud central every hour. For a small fee you can actually hire one of the resorts branded air conditioned cars and driver, to take and pick you up from a site of your choice. You just specify the time that you want to be collected. We decided to use this facility a couple of times as we felt it was the safer option for two young ladies as a pose to getting a local taxi.The price is peanuts too.
Dining by the Jungle – Kepitu Restaurant at The Kayon Resort
Food and drinks at the resort are scrumptious. Kepitu Restaurant is only one restaurant in the resort but with the type of food they serve you really do not need anymore. We literally ate all our meals here – yep, breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
I have never experienced a breakfast quite like the one at the Kayon. Our breakfast was included with our room rate and you have the choice of eating it either on the balcony in your villa or in the restaurant with other guests. The breakfast menu is split up into various options – Kayon, Experience, Continental, Indonesian, Healthy, American etc. Within each option you basically have a five course meal and will not be able to eat anything after for a good couple of hours. Perfect to fill you up for a day of sight-seeing.
Don’t be put off by the non buffet style option as that can sometimes be wasteful. Most of the time you don’t even end up trying all the dishes because there’s just too many options, and you can’t always guarantee the freshness of buffet food. The à la carte breakfasts from the Kepitu Restaurant were always served hot and fresh because they are prepared upon request. Many of the ingredients used in the dishes are actually grown in the property itself which coincides with one of the reasons why the food at the Kepitu Restaurant always tastes so fresh.
Let me mention the complimentary bread baskets for a minute. What’s so special about a bread basket you say? Well, these aren’t just any bread baskets… First of all it’s FREE bread and butter. Second, it’s FREE-FLOWING bread and butter – they just keep refilling the bread basket if you ask for more. Third, their breads are buttery soft, fluffy and super tasty. The dips and spreads are dripping with goodness and the butter is a standout alone. I’m not quite sure what secret herbs they put in the butter but it’s so addictive! You really cannot go wrong with lunch or dinner options either. Dining here is a full sensory experince and the prices are very reasonable.
To add to the level of service, upon checkout we were gifted a traditional Balinese bracelet, which symbolises protection and safety for the duration of our stay in Bali – such a lovely gesture!
All the staff gathered around the lobby to wave us off too which was another personal touch we won’t forget.
The food was absolutely delicious, the views were amazing, and the staff were all wonderful. You will be relaxed as you dine amidst nature filled with the sound of Balinese musical instruments and chimes playing in the background. Dining here was one of the activities in Ubud that we always looked forward to. It’s no surprise now why we didn’t venture out of the hotel to eat. If anything, I think people visiting Ubud who are NOT staying in the Kayon should consider making a visit specifically for a really great dining experience. I promise, you’ll love it!