Just a mere mention of visiting the Indonesian island of Bali typically evokes very tempting thoughts of a tropical beach paradise, with throngs of perfectly tanned vacationers laying on the shore accompanied by cheap cocktails in hand alongside cool surfers fearlessly manoeuvring through ferocious waves.
In truth however, those who are fortunate enough to have stepped foot on the acclaimed holiday destination would have unearthed so much more – its fascinating culture, rich spirituality, out-of-this-world hospitality, and the myriad of offerings that stretch far beyond its pristine, sought-after beaches.
Think a wealth of ancient temples, a throbbing nightlife that never gets dull, wondrous natural spots like waterfalls, lakes, forestry, mountains, and volcanoes, beautiful paddy fields that transition with time, the best holistic therapy you can ask for, art markets, chic boutiques, extreme sports, vibrant wildlife and marine life all in one place.
Bali’s multifaceted versatility allows for heritage, art, relaxation and action to co-exist in all of its glory and it is incredible as a whole, but the real charmer for me, which coincidentally is where I first visited within this magical place and fell hopelessly in love, is Ubud – a town in central Bali that is also dubbed the cultural and holistic heart of Asia.
Needless to say, my recent birthday getaway to Bali with a couple of gal pals meant that a trip to Ubud was without question, and in our desperate cry for a much-needed break, we found ourselves settling for a temporary home 15 minutes away from the bustling central of Ubud at Sthala, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel by Marriott International.
As we were driven through the gravelled driveway, I was instantly enveloped in serenity upon setting eyes on the Balinese style property that is nestled in the quiet village of Lodtunduh, dislodged from the cares of the outside world. My spirit was immediately soothed by the joyful sounds of chirping birds and lapping water of the gentle stream from the Wos river.
Combine that with the lush mountain views alongside abundant greenery encompassing the property on top of its calming palette of timber fused with earthy tones and embellished with Balinese decor, it was evident that I was more than ready to embrace this riverside retreat that was, fortunately, at a low occupancy rate during my time of visit.
We were booked into a 36sqm Deluxe River View Room, one of the 143 rooms within the property, complete with perfect amenities for a short-term stay – Aigner Evolution toiletries, an LED TV, mini bar, standing shower, a French Cafes Richard coffee machine with coffee and creamer pods – and sweeping views of the river as well as magnificent foliage.
Albeit being injected with little hints of traditional Balinese elements such as sarong patterned bed runners, the comfortable room, which was kindly fitted with an additional bed to accommodate three, remains largely modern and simple while the marble bathroom, framed by floor-to-ceiling glass panels, is finished with a hefty frosted glass door for extra privacy.
Stepping away from our private sanctuary, we promptly patroned Naga Rooftop Bar and Lounge, partially due to the fact that the rattan swing chairs hanging off of its ceiling panels instantly drew the inner child inside us over. Along with our one-of-a-kind cocktails infused with local ingredients, we were lulled by the scenic views below.
With relaxation at its forefront, Sthala boasts not one but two swimming pools, Matahari Pool and Panorama Pool, a well-equipped gym, and the Creme de la Creme spa providing pampering traditional Balinese treatments. Should you be short on your time here, I suggest making the Panorama Pool your priority as it really accented our journey to rejuvenation here.
Fanciful food around the property is scarce if you take out of the equation the small warongs on the street extending local specialties, but we reckon that Sthala’s sole F&B outlet Sungai Restaurant that accentuates both international and Balinese delicacies in an al fresco setting, adequately gratifies the palate.
What really separates Sthala from any other properties nearby is its slew of in-house activities that are complimentary for all guests, which we thoroughly made full use of. Amongst those are the morning yoga, Balinese dance class, bicycle tour, rice field and village walk, traditional egg painting, and stone carving.
Our stay at Sthala was nothing short of sheer bliss, and its dreamy tranquility made it effortless for us to rediscover our harmony within while recharging our minds and bodies. It is the ideal Balinese escape with superior hospitality, and let’s just say it was one heck of a birthday to remember.
Jalan A.A Gede Rai, Mawang Kelod,
Bali, 80571, Indonesia
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