Japanese chain Hoshino Resorts’ first Indonesian foray, Hoshinoya Bali seamlessly marries ryokan-hued design with Balinese culture and spirituality. Tokyo-based architects Rie Azuma and Hiroki Hasegawa have floated their masterpiece in a stunning dreamscape above a plunging river valley. Not for them a static infinity pool – way too last-century; instead, each of the hotel’s 30 chic villas directly accesses one of three long, deep-green, canal-style pools. A series of thatched-roof buildings step down the often-misted valley into the jungle – reception, dining and spa, plus private café spaces like suspended cages. With each step you’ll be accompanied by the sound of water running through a network of ancient irrigation canals, subak, and the sense that you’ve toppled into a magic kingdom.
The villa-only resort is a 30-minutes drive north-east of Ubud through villages and lush rice paddies. It sits on a rainforested hillside above the Pakerisan River. The hotel runs free regular shuttle buses into Ubud; Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport is 90 minutes away.
Hoshinoya’s three styles of villa – Bulan, Soka and Jalak – each incorporates elements of Japanese design, including futon-ish beds on raised timber platforms, and Balinese craftsmanship (soaring, thatched ceilings and remarkable hand-carved wall panels depicting Balinese legends). Each villa also has a semi-private pool area that connects to one of the main pools. For a view of the jungle, ask for one of the three Jalak single-floor villas. The Soka-style villas are spread over two levels with a lofty bedroom above the living area. The entry-level Bulan villas are stylish and spacious with huge tubs, a Japanese-style shower area and two terrace areas. Villa Bulan and Jalak accommodate up to three people. Villa Soka are for two adults.
Food and drink
One elegant open area perched over the jungle is the venue for breakfast, lunch and dinner and includes table seating as well as traditional Japanese-style dining on raised platforms with cushions and low tables. The menu is concise, running through a limited number of Western and Indonesian options. At dinner, choose from the à la carte menu or a prix fixe contemporary Balinese banquet including traditional dishes such as soto ayam (chicken noodle soup), a chawanmushi-esque egg custard with coconut, and a fine beef rendang. Order ahead if you want the ceremonial dish ayam betutu (pictured above), a whole chicken with Balinese spices steamed in banana leaves. The Japanese breakfasts, featuring a range of little dishes including rice, pickles, grilled fish and miso soup, are excellent.
For business traveller
Hoshinoya Bali is designed for pleasure, not business, but each room has a desk with a view that is conducive to deep concentration. A function room is available for meetings.
For wellness traveller
A funicular railway slides deeper into the valley to the spa. Who needs a meditation tape of a forest soundscape when you can take your treatment with the wafting noise of a real jungle just beyond the massage table. Settle in with the sounds of birds and running water for treatments that can include oils incorporating Balinese herbal essences and spices and an open-air flower bath. Try a "Royal Lulur" treatment, apparently a traditional pre-wedding ritual for royal Balinese women.
The fab factor
“Cafe Gazebo” – a series of extraordinary private open boxes hovering over the trees where you can take a picnic-style breakfast or simply relax in nature.
Best for: Luxury travellers; romantic couples
Number of villas: 30
Rates from: US$700 per night (about $969)
Wi-fi: Free for guests (download speed 3.8Mbps; unlimited devices)
Address: Br. Pengembungan, Desa Pejeng Kangin, Kecamatan Tampaksiring, Gianyar, 80552, Bali
Telephone: +81 50 3786 1144