While budget is often my bottom line by necessity, my arts background and my ingrained appreciation for aesthetics means I have a deep appreciation for great design. Few things make me happier than finding a gem of a boutique hotel in which thought and style has been injected into every aspect.
That’s what I found at The Alaya in Ubud, Bali.
The Alaya very quickly joined the ranks of my favorite plush hotels around the world. It stands among The Witt in Istanbul, Blancanaux Lodge in Belize, and Centerhotel Thingholt in Iceland — all beautiful properties that I still reminisce about today.
The Alaya located in the heart of Ubud, a ten minutes’ walk from the Monkey Forest and just a stones’ throw from the Yoga Barn. Some traveler’s prefer to stay in Ubud’s more remote and serene countryside, but personally I dislike relying on cabs and shuttles and enjoyed being within walking distance of Ubud’s restaurants, spas and attractions.
A small working rice paddy sits aside the resort, and all rooms’ balconies face out to it, giving a countryside air to this central hotel.
I sighed deeply as soon as I walked up the steps of the Alaya’s reception — I knew it would be a special stay already. I took a seat and was handed a cool towel and a fresh juice concoction to enjoy as I signed into my room. I loved this personal touch. No standing in front of a big impersonal check-in desk. It felt like I just arrived at the home of a (very stylish) new friend.
The skinny Alaya faces out on it’s long side to a rice paddy and a lush pool, perfect for unwinding after a day of exploring. While the hotel has a large capacity, the pool never felt crowded.
I loved the open-air lobby, restaurant, and walkways that connected all the rooms. The hallways were designed using natural materials like bamboo, stone, and my favorite detail of all, the honeycomb wooden doors. I can’t tell you how many times I ran my hand over that pattern on my door during my three day stay.
Tip: Because of the long, skinny layout of the hotel, the rooms furthest from the reception provide the most peace and isolation from the road. However, they are also a decent walk from reception and the restaurant. Be sure to request a s specific location depending on your preference.
I mentioned yesterday that I barely left my hotel during my time in Ubud. Now you’ll understand why.
The rooms at the Alaya were enormous — larger than some New York City apartments I’ve been in! Upon entering, a chic open bathroom is on the left, while a spacious built-in closet is on the right. Ahead, a heavenly bed and a desk area sit in front of floor to ceiling glass doors leading out to a private terrace.
Obviously, the oversized stone tub is a standout feature of this room. I could have fit three people in there! I stayed in this room alone at first and then was later joined by Anders, and as a couple we were perfectly comfortable with the open layout of the room. However, for families and friends traveling together there is a privacy curtain that can be pulled all the way around the bathroom, making it into a separate space.
I can say this with confidence — The Alaya had the best hotel breakfast I’ve ever had in my life. Included in the room price, the a la carte breakfast menu was served in the ultra stylish open-air dining room every morning.
Each of the breakfast offerings was served with coffee or tea (and our specialty requests for peppermint tea and cappuccinos were happily accommodated), a fresh fruit plate with an individual jar of homemade yogurt, and a bread basket served with homemade jams. The cinnamon pineapple jam is something I will be dreaming about until the next time I manage to get to Alaya. Then, if you have any room left at all, the main course is brought out. I tried both the banana pancakes with vanilla butter and the scrambled eggs and toast — both were excellent.
The waitstaff was absolutely lovely. When I inquired what one of the fruits on my plate was, our server brought an unpeeled one out from the kitchen to show me, and then gave it to me as a gift.
Also included in the room price was afternoon tea. This lovely ritual provided me a daily time to slow down, enjoy the beautiful grounds, and taste small samplers of Balinese delicacies. I really enjoyed this little touch.
I also ordered room service one night when I couldn’t be bothered to go out, and I was really impressed by the (relatively) affordable indulgence. I paid less than $12US for a pasta dish and a fresh shake, including all taxes and service charges.
While I didn’t visit Dala Spa, I did take a moment to stop by and enjoy the luxurious setting and take a peek at their offerings. Rates are high by Balinese standards, but an absolute bargain compared to back home. Massages start at 450,000 rupiah (around $45) for an hour, while a thirty minute body scrub cost only 195,000 rupiah (around $20.)
One fun little extra is the spa offers a free sample of Jamu — a traditional Indonesian healing tonic — every day in their lobby. They also offer spa classes including one teaching the making of Jamu (395,000 rupiah for 60 minutes.)
Room for Improvement
It’s hard for me to find things to critique about the Alaya. Their main area for improvement is the internet system, which required entering a complicated code every use. This is particularly irritating on a smartphone, when you are logged out every time the phone goes idle.
My personal petty complaint is that the bath products didn’t seem up to the same high quality as the rest of the details of the hotel — the bottles seemed flimsy and the products themselves were a bit watered down. Anders, when I pressed him, confessed that the cappuccino was a bit cold. Really though, you know things are pretty good when you’re complaining about the temperature of the beverages.
Overall, I think it’s clear that I adored the Alaya. While I was there I excitedly dreamed of returning with my family and friends from home, who I knew would love it too. The sincerely sweet service, the fantastic design details, the ideal setting and the amazing food combined to make this the top hotel of my trip.
At $100-$122 for rooms, I can’t imagine a better value. That price would barely get you a private room in a hostel in some parts of the world! Whether you’re a design maven looking for some inspiration, a luxury traveler looking for a retreat or a flashpacker looking for a splurge — The Alaya is the place for you.
What’s the most beautiful hotel you’ve ever been to?
Book your stay at Alaya here! Many thanks to AsiaRooms.com for their hospitality. As always, all opinions are my own.
Alaya really does look amazing, beautiful colours and nice local decorations. And the view is pretty good too! 😉 Your pictures and info will surely lead to increase of bookings at Alaya! Especially after reading how much it is a night, great deal.
I love the great deals that are available on hotels in Southeast Asia…. but yeah, I think this is a particularly great one!
Looks like a delightful indulgence without breaking the budget.
Agreed! They are still a new hotel so prices might increase at some point… I would definitely say get it while it’s hot 🙂
You know, it looks very beautiful there,but those are stock photo’s. You didn’t take them yourself. We would like to see what the place actually looks like, up close and personal.
Actually no, these are my own photos, taken and edited by me. I guess it’s a compliment that you think they are good enough to be stock! If you look through my site you will see that any time I use photos taken by anyone other than myself, I credit them properly.
I am one of Alex’s editors at a major national website. Alex almost always furnishes original photos for her travel stories, which are outstanding. We consider ourselves lucky to have someone so talented contributing both words and images to our site!
Agreed. these look like stock photos and why? there are no people in these pictures. A good hotel will have many guests and how many times you as tourists can take a out-of-the-blue picture with no other tourists in it.
Let’s get real. I’m not buying into this review.
Mihai, these are not stock photos. When I visited the hotel it was newly opened and I was strategic about timing my shots so there weren’t stray people in them. I would be happy to send you the files so you can see from the EXIF data that these were taken with my own camera, or you can feel free to contact the hotel directly to ask. I will choose to take your comment as a compliment to my photographic skills!
Looks like stock photos to me too. Unless Alaya payed for professonal photography work from alex i hardly doubt it she can take so many pictures with no people in it. Like pool without people :).
Lets get real people :). This casts a dark shadow over this review
Are you for real?
1. Someone with a website as successful as this would not use stock photography without crediting it. That’s business 101. The internet is a transparent place, lest you forget.
2. Alex is clearly is obsessive about her own photos, take a look around the website, she meticulously selects and edits them to fit the story.
3. Of course there’s no people in it, I don’t like photographing the places I stay with strangers in it, especially not to market it on my website.
Let’s get real, Mihai. You’re just jealous because you can’t take awesome photos like Alex. It’s okay, I’m totally jealous too.
The only “dark shadow” on this review is your false accusation 🙂
Looks amazing, nothing better than indulging in a little bit of luxury on the road from time to time!
Couldn’t agree more! After six weeks of brackish, cold water showers — this was pure heaven.
I agree, every design detail is exquisite! The stencil over the bed is especially evocative. My must-visit list is growing!
If you liked the Witt, you would definitely love this place! And at about 1/3rd the price. Amazing.
It’s rare to see such a tasteful design. Added to my favs. Thanks for sharing!
My pleasure. Thank you for reading!
Yep, that did it! Officially jealous and dreaming of Bali now! Thanks very much Alex… 😉
Sorry my dear! It’s a common hazard of travel blog reading, eh?
Jeez Alex, you and your bloody stock photos, it was only a matter of time before you got caught red handed.
PS this place is the dream. That bath.
At one point two Roctopus boys stopped by and we concluded that all three of us could comfortably fit in that tub. It was the size of some Manhattan apartments.
That places looks great–beautiful photos. As I mentioned, I’m hoping to go to Bali this winter, so I’ll keep this in mind.
At these prices, it’s almost crazy not to stay here. I know how much you love a deal 🙂
As much as a cold cappuccino is outrageous, this looks like THE perfect place for a romantic gateway. The surroundings look beautiful as well!
Ha, I don’t drink coffee so maybe I wasn’t sympathetic enough… I guess I would be displeased if someone handed me a warm diet coke though 🙂
This place looks so beautiful!
I spent a few weeks in Ubud and found that I just couldn’t leave. Unfortunately I was on a backpacker budget so couldn’t stay anywhere this gorgeous but hopefully next time I’ll be able to!
I think it’s quite fun to be able to see a place from both perspectives — first the backpacker route and then later the flashpacker one! I’ve gotten to do that a few times… mainly when my parents visit me 🙂
The hotel looks fabulous! That internet thing would drive me nuts though.
I love when bloggers ask each other for hotel recommendations the real true underlying question is always, “BUT HOW IS THE WIFI?!”
Greg and I stayed at the Bandara Resort and Spa on Koh Samui for a weekend of luxury for our 1 year wedding anniversary. It was amazing. The staff was sweet, the food was delish and reasonably priced, the pool and cabanas were the perfect place to relax everyday, and the daily breakfast was the best. They had all types of cheese so I was sold!
Alaya looks gorgeous! And it’s in my favorite city!
I’ve been to Koh Samui a few times and have never heard of that place! I need to look it up, sounds amazing. You basically sold me at cheese.
I’m sold…. on us going back here for family vaca! 🙂
Loving that pool!
The only problem was my room was so wonderful that I barely was able to tear myself away to sit poolside! Ah, those big life problems. *Snort*
This is so the kind of place I want to splash out on when I start travelling long term. And $100 dollars is actually pretty reasonable for how gorgeous it looks.
I feel like I need a whole book to fill with travel ideas I have got from your blog!
I agree! The value of luxury in Asia is unbelievable. This hotel would cost 4-5x more in other parts of the world.
omgah this place looks painfully posh! as in it’d be painful for me to have to leave. love how you captured all the details. it’s funny, in your first picture of the tub, i decided that it was a sink and not a bathtub.. only to find out it’s almost big as a jacuzzi! haha. i just want the designers to come makeover my house for me!
No kidding! When I finally do settle down someday, I’m going to have a LOT of design inspiration to draw from!
First of all let me introduce myself. My name is Jimmy Gunawan and I am the Managing Director of Alaya Resort Ubud.
Thank you for your recent stay and how delighted I was when I discovered your blog about Alaya by accident while surfing the web late last night.
The review was great and confirmed what a thrill it is to have been the managing team for something that gave such pleasure to you and hopefully to all other guests as well.
Hope to see you back in Alaya in not too far distance future and once again, thank you very much for your great review.
Alaya Resort Ubud
Hi Jimmy, I’m so glad you stumbled upon my review here! I would love to return to Ubud and the Alaya. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later! And thank you for creating such a beautiful property for guests!
jeez alex, would you stop using stock photos!? c’mon no one is that good of a photographer 😉 muaha, people have too much time on their hands!
Such a wonderful article and review. My family and I stayed @ Alaya for 5 days in June this year. You have pretty much sum up the experience and hospitality we had during our stay.
I can assure to everybody that the pictures represents the real atmosphere of the hotel…up close and personal. My sister is a professional photographer based in UK, so I know any good photographer like Alex definitely can capture a priceless pic in perfect moment.
After Alaya we moved to Nusa Dua and stayed at Sofitel. Unfortunately, despite being an upscale hotel it’s less accommodating in term of hospitality and personal touch as we had @ Alaya.
So glad you had a great experience as well, and that Alaya is still keeping up the good work! I’ve stayed in Nusa Dua as well and while the beaches and properties are gorgeous they don’t quite have that same personal touch. Alaya (and Ubud in general!) are just super special. The more I travel the more I appreciate places like this!
Thanks so much for this excellent post. My wife and I had a hectic but fun trip through Java and wanted to end our Indonesian trip with a little more comfort. This post helped us discover Alaya and end our trip on a high note. Between this post and your writings on the Inca Trail, your site has helped a lot. Keep up the great work!
I can’t think of a better place to end a magical trip. I LOVED The Alaya and even years later it still stands out as special. Enjoy!