Pondok Ayu gets many returning guests, which tells you a lot about this small boutique hotel.

Staff are very kind and helpful, and welcome you like family. They build a congenial atmosphere where guests chat and invite each other on excursions. This is aided by breakfast served family style around a large table (although depending on when you wake up, you may dine alone).

Though the hotel is almost 14 years old, you can’t tell as it is all immaculately cared for and maintained. There are four large rooms and one suite, all surrounding a pool, thoughtfully shaded with an umbrella in one corner. The neighbourhood is very quiet, so you’re assured a good sleep.

If you feel like hanging out at Sanur beach, it is about a 10 minute walk or a quick drive (included in your room rate). Pondok Ayu guests can use the sun beds and beachfront at Benno’s Corner Café, at a pretty spot on the beach.



From US80+ per night inclusive breakfast and local transportation

– Spa treatments (great massage!) available by the pool or in-room
– Lots of storage space so you can unpack and stretch out
– Bargain priced

– Just 3 English TV channels (BBC News, Austraila Network, Disney Junior), but there is a DVD player plus movies to borrow.


+85 361 284102



Johanna ReadJohanna Read
Contributing Editor

With Villa Kresna you have your choice of two properties. Just 150 meters from cocoa-coloured Seminyak beach, the original location features five deluxe rooms and eight suites surrounding a long free-form pool. Their second location, about 350 meters away, is all separate villas with kitchenettes and many with private pools.

Both locations are quiet, the villa particularly so as it is on a private lane with gated access. The Straw Hut restaurant is also here, and features live music Fridays and Wednesdays.

If you’re staying at the beach location, you’re welcome to come to the Straw Hut, and you also have a small pool-side restaurant just a few steps from your room. The pool here is a long curve (4 by 15 meters) with water benches along one side and the depth ranges from 50 to 210 centimeters.

All rooms, even the value deluxe rooms are very spacious and well-designed.

Several new villas will open later in 2014.



From US133+ per night inclusive breakfast

– Lots of room choices depending on your needs and budget
– Big outdoor couch beds for lounging near the balconies

– Deluxe rooms: shower isn’t small, but the door and temperature control design make it feel crowded.


+62 361 730317



Johanna ReadJohanna Read
Contributing Editor

I feel overwhelmed with kindness, hospitality and beauty. My stay at Sungai is simply exquisite. Everything is perfectly designed, planned and executed. There are not enough superlatives to describe staying at Sungai.

Sungai means river, and this exceptional resort is set on the bank of a small one in the tiny village of Cepaka. You’re in the real Bali here.

The resort is divided in two, and you can book the entire resort (sleeps 12 to 17) or just part. Regardless, bespoke service and exclusivity are paramount.

My stay is on the Sungai Gold side. It is just like staying in a private home, if your home is an incredible two-bedroom villa with an outdoor living room and dining room. And a pool overlooking a lazy jungle river. In Bali. With a dozen staff, half of whom are exceptional chefs.

These chefs will prepare incredible meals for you, you simply let them know what you’d like in enough time to do the daily shopping (or leave it to them to surprise you). Only the cost of ingredients is charged.

The decor is simple and elegant, bright whites and beachy taupes. Bathrooms are open to the air on one side (be aware if you’re super squeamish of insects, you’ll see a few). Tuberose and frangipani blossoms are everywhere perfuming the air.

While the setting, facilities and the (many) luxury inclusions are wonderful, it is the staff that make Sungai truly outstanding. The team is led by Made (pronounced Mah-day), who also acts as your personal concierge alleviating you of planning and logistics. The team has unaffected personal and professional service down to an art, and provide the perfect balance of friendliness, care, charm and grace.

Everyone should be so lucky as to enjoy a stay at Sungai.



Sungai Gold: 1 suite $585++, both suites $720++
Sungai:up to 6 guests in all 3 suites $995++ Inclusive of transfers, breakfast, and many many other luxury inclusions.

– Everything. But especially the team which looks after you.
– Airport butler service to magically whisk you through the queues.
– Lots of love and special attention given to babies and kids.

– You can’t stay here forever.


+61 410 324 535



Johanna ReadJohanna Read
Contributing Editor

Tucked away amongst the paddy fields and forests a few miles outside of Ubud this boutique villa hotel is breathtaking for two reasons. Actually, make that three- they do the most amazing fresh fruit cocktails- and bring them to you at intervals so regularly you don’t even need to ask.

The first reason has to be the view out over the infinity pool across the deep, lush valley as you enter the main ‘lobby’ and restaurant area. The second reason the place is stand-out fabulous is how well you are looked after. The chef buys market produce and prepares the menu for that day with the utmost care; they help you however they can with big smiles; and they seem to genuinely love having you there as their valued guest. It adds a lot to the atmosphere.

There are only 5 suites and a small staff so this hotel is certainly boutique. All the accommodation are separate villas with secluded balconies and vista -sucking floor to ceiling windows. The spacious open air bathrooms are complete with wall-hugging foliage, up-lighting and invisible night time creatures. Close your eyes, gaze at the stars and imagine you are taking a bath in the jungle- before sliding into your welcomingly plush 4 poster bed.



From US$275+ per night

– Fresh, local home cooked food
– Beautiful surroundings and pool area

– You need to decide what you want to eat that evening in the morning
– A 20 min drive into Ubud (the shuttle is free but someone needs to be around to take you!)


+62 (0) 361 8987799



Chris & HannahChris & Hannah