For those of you who weren’t aware, I spent the past month abroad working with clients and prospects at my real job (I work in finance). I was in Singapore for three weeks and Australia for an absolutely wonderful week and overall had a really good time. There were some bookend-type moments, which I’ll be sharing with you over the next few weeks, and one of those moments was what I did when I first got to Singapore: I left for a quick weekend trip to Bali!
(note: I cover a lot of the below in the following YouTube video, so please check it out and subscribe to the channel!)
Bali has an incredible amount of nice hotels, but my attention was drawn to the #1 ranked hotel on TripAdvisor, a place called LUXE Villas Bali. The reviews were astonishing and it seemed like every single one of them was five stars (normally you’d see some 3-4 star reviews as well). It piqued my curiosity, so I went over to their website to see what their pricing looked like. Ummm…it was actually very reasonable! They had a SkyLoft Suite available for $260 USD per night even! Sure their top-end suites run way more than that but compared to some of the other super luxury resorts on the island I thought this was a slam dunk. I went ahead and made a 2-night reservation and went ahead and paid for the transfer service to/from the airport (well worth the money).
I arrived late at night from Singapore on a long-delayed KLM Business Class flight (I’ll explain more about the flight later), very jetlagged from the long journey from the USA to Singapore to Bali. The driver was waiting for me and we made our way to a parking garage where I waited for him to get his van, then we set off on a 90-minute drive to the town of Ubud, famous for its Water Temple and its Monkey Forest. Oh, also famous for random westerners crashing scooters. But I’ll get to that later 🙂
After a long drive to Ubud we stopped next to a random side street off the main road. It turns out that LUXE Villas Bali is situated in a green/eco zone and can only be accessed by scooter, so a scooter (with driver) promptly appeared to take me the rest of the way to my hotel, with another scooter following for my luggage. A 5-minute scooter ride later I arrived at the hotel, completely exhausted. No need for checking in, the driver said as he carried my (heavy, sorry) luggage to my room, I could take care of it in the morning. From what I could see the room looked nice but honestly I was so tired at that point I collapsed on the bed and went right to sleep. The next morning is when I started to realize just how incredible of an experience I would have…
Morning came rather quickly and I awoke just before sunrise. As I wiped the sleep from my eyes I grabbed my camera gear and made my way upstairs to the SkyLoft for my first look at the lush, verdant surroundings.
You see, even though it’s a 5-minute scooter ride from the middle of Ubud you would never know it by staying here. It’s rice paddies almost as far as the eye can see, the only noise coming from an occasional scooter and the much-more-frequent rooster yelling at the world that they’ve woken up.
The sun was taking its time revealing itself to the world, which made for some wonderful pictures with soft light and great silhouettes, and the odd travel blogger sneaking into the picture.
As the sun began to light up the sky, I decided to take a closer look around the SkyLoft, which was absolutely enormous and an incredibly unique touch to an already amazing room. Aside from a statue (which scared the crap out of me because I couldn’t see it that well in the darkness of the morning) there were numerous places to sit so I grabbed a seat and just relaxed for a minute.
And then, because my mom likes it when I send her pics of me (even though I hate taking pictures of myself), I grabbed the following picture, which honestly made for a pretty solid Facebook profile pic (the real reason anyone travels, natch)
As the sun finally breached the horizon, golden rays shot across the landscape, the trees casting incredible shadows over the rice paddies in front of me. I was blown away by the light and this picture immediately became a favorite.
The town began to wake up some more so I made my way to the restaurant for breakfast, which was included in my rate. While I was an idiot and didn’t bring along my huge camera I did have my new iPhone X and was impressed by the pictures of the gourmet-quality breakfast.
The latte was expertly crafted and the pancakes were amazing. I’m not sure that they were the healthiest thing in the world (what with the honey and the scoop of vanilla ice cream) but it was an excellent breakfast!
With a full belly it was time to actually check-in to the hotel and get my quick vacation going!
A quick note about the incredible service
As I was checking in with the friendly front desk agent I had the sincere privilege of meeting Paul, one of the owners. Paul is a friendly Canadian who runs the hotel with his wife Grace. Over and over in the TripAdvisor reviews (now including mine) I read over and over just how much of a treasure Paul and Grace were, and they were that and more for me. Paul welcomed me with a hearty handshake and a warm spirit. The branding of the hotel constantly refers to the LUXE Villas being “your home in Bali” and Paul’s attitude was the same, I truly felt like I was home!
As we were talking about what I wanted to do while I was there, he told me it was a Hindu holiday that weekend so many places would probably be closed but he would help me find whatever I was looking for. I asked about a scooter rental and the front desk agent informed me their typical scooter rental agency was closed for the holiday but she would find one for me and said I could go back to my room to get ready for the day and they would take care of it. Unbeknownst to me they didn’t just make phone calls, rather they sent a member of the hotel service staff into town until they came back with a gentleman who had a scooter to rent!
Paul asked what kind of sites I wanted to see and drew me a custom map which would be a nice blend of a country drive and some cultural sites to see (temples and whatnot).
My buddy Jeff (of Jeffsetter.com fame) happened to be in Bali at the same time so we met up and went on some adventures, which I’ll share in a later post.
I made it back to the hotel for afternoon tea, which was delicious (and also included in the rate) and was served with canapes and little desserts. (check out the detail on these iPhone X shots!)
(note: I’m not much of a tea drinker so I had something called a ginger mint spritzer, which was about heaven after the humidity we experienced all day)
My SkyLoft Suite
The hotel itself is a main compound with a variety of villa types. As I mentioned before, it’s located in the middle of rice paddies, which adds to the charm.
(my SkyLoft is visible on the top right part of the above)
I was in the Coral SkyLoft Suite, although I never really needed to remember this, as all of the staff knew who I was and where I was staying (which made charging things to the room convenient).
The room was smartly decorated with fresh flowers and local decor. All of the chairs seemed to point directly towards the windows so I could drink in the amazing view, which I spent a lot of time doing! All of the water faucets were filtered as well, so I didn’t need to worry about bottles and bottles of water.
The bathroom had a large shower area and a great soaking tub, the perfect cure for severe jetlag.
The staircase to the SkyLoft is outside the room but you can still lock the gate that leads to both entryways.
The SkyLoft itself is nicely decorated and offers much needed shade to get away from the intense sunlight of Bali while still allowing the breeze to flow through. There’s also an outdoor shower on the SkyLoft, but I didn’t use it (and forgot to get a picture of it :/ )
The Immaculately Decorated Hotel Grounds
To be really clear: this isn’t any sort of mega-resort. The footprint of the hotel is relatively small compared to the typical touristy resorts I tend to stay at, but man it was laid out incredibly well and decorated in such an elegant way without being showy. From an architectural standpoint there were beautiful leading lines all around the property and incredible symmetry, which I tried to capture below.
Lunch at LUXE Villas
Based only on how good the breakfast was I decided to have lunch at the LUXE Cafe the next afternoon before heading to the airport. First off, the dining room is small and quaint but was never too crowded.
To start they offered an amuse bouche of breadsticks with a homemade sauce, which was very nice.
There were windows everywhere and I constantly got lost in the views while my waiter patiently awaited my order. I decided to go with the burger, some mashed potatoes, and mac and cheese. I mean it had been an entire three days since I had been home, had to go for the burger!
The plating was excellent and the mashed potatoes specifically were unique, almost like a puree, but with wonderful flavor.
I was hungry like bull so I motored through the burger and potatoes in no time and turned my attention to the mac, which I think was excellent.
It was at this point that Paul happened to walk by and noticed I was a bit sunburned from my scooter adventure the day before. Without hesitation he told me to enjoy the rest of my lunch and he’d be right back. Sure enough, moments later, he came by with aloe he had just gone out to cut for me. He rubbed the aloe on my sunburnt arms (while I social media’d it, natch) and instantly the sting of the burn was gone. Without me even asking he said he had prepared a tray of aloe and had it placed in the refrigerator in my room. It’s probably no surprise to you, but cold aloe directly after a warm shower is about the best feeling ever! That’s just another example of the genuine and sincere service at this incredible place.
To finish up lunch, I had a latte and they said they made a wonderful tiramisu, so I had to try it, right?
They were right, the tiramisu was succulent without being too rich and packed full of flavor!
My stay at the LUXE was over, after one final shower (and cold aloe application…ahhhhhh so relaxing). I gathered my luggage together and eventually hopped on one of their scooters to meet the airport transfer back in Denpasar to head back to Singapore.
My stay at LUXE Villas in Bali was too short. For one thing, I loved Bali, the people were kind and friendly, the scenery was incredible, and I know there’s so much more than I saw during a two-day stay. I cannot wait to go back to Bali and there is only one place I will stay: the incredible, warm, and friendly LUXE Villas Bali!
(just a note: they didn’t pay me for this review, I paid the full rate on their website for the room and they were never aware I was a travel blogger during my stay)
Have you been to Bali? Where did you stay? Tell me in the comments below!