The Hanging Gardens of Bali: A Hotel Review
If you're an avid social media user, you have surely stumbled upon images of this one of a kind jungle property. The Hanging Gardens of Bali, completed in 2005, is a resort nestled 25 minutes outside of Ubud downtown in the Balinese jungle. Built at a 45-degree angle, the luxury hotel was built with both feng shui principles and traditional Balinese methods to offer a most immersive experience. As soon as you're dropped off in the lobby you can already feel the quiet and peaceful energy from the lush jungle around the grounds.
The opportunity to stay at The Hanging Gardens of Bali was made possible for me because I was offered a bigger discount in exchange for providing the hotel with both images to use for their marketing and posting photos on my Instagram account. However, I was not required to write a review and these are my candid thoughts about the experience. I was extremely excited to get to know what this property was all about.
Upon arrival at check-in, I was immediately provided a cool towel, a refreshing fruit juice and a chocolate covered starfruit, which was also tasty. As my bags were taken away to be brought down to my room, a gentleman gave me a brief tour of the property and showed me where everything important was located. There are 44 villas nestled throughout the mountain's side and you can get to them by stairs (and there are a lot of them) or by taking a funicular car. An unexpected surprise and more fun than a regular elevator.
After checking out the gift shop, the restaurant and bar, (my stay included complimentary breakfast and tea time), the state of the art pool, and the spa I was brought to my room which offered panoramic views of the temple across the way and the jungle's foliage. I was told monkeys lived in the jungle, but I didn't see any during my time. Only one very large spider and a dead bird.
My villa also came with a small private pool and patio with plenty of comfy seating for lounging and relaxation. I particularly liked the wooden shutters that kept any light out for a night of deep sleep and the very comfortable mattress and bedding. But with the giant gorgeous pool upstairs, it was hard to choose where I wanted to lounge most of the time.
During my first night's stay, I opted for a facial and massage in their spa located further down into the jungle and closer to the river. The best part of the treatment was listening to the rush of the river's water passing by and drowning out the sound of my own thoughts. Because I got the massage and facial in the evening I did find myself cold during the treatment and for the price, I was disappointed with the service. I had received much better treatments for the half the price throughout Ubud and can't say I recommend having one at the hotel. In addition, when the treatment was over I was brought back to the spa lobby and offered some hot tea. Unfortunately, there was a bug floating in mine when I was served the cup. After I fished it out, I did find the tea tasty.
The next morning I got myself some complimentary breakfast while overlooking the grounds and it was both a yummy and peaceful experience. There were a variety of breakfast options to meet all food requirements and I even enjoyed the gluten-free bread I was given with my eggs. Again, having a view of their one of a kind pool will help with any meal.
After breakfast, I had to head into town. The hotel offers complimentary shuttle service in between the hotel and Ubud's downtown area on the half hour. Unfortunately, I needed to be in Ubud by 9 am and the first shuttle didn't start until 9 am, so I needed to pay a $16 dollar taxi to get back into town. The last shuttle ends at 5 pm so you're either paying more to get back or you have to leave town early. For the cost of the stay, I thought this was a disappointing service.
In addition, the food and cocktails at the hotel restaurant were sub-par. There wasn't anything state of the art or one of a kind about the food or its service. The cocktails were inconsistent from one night to the next. I think you'll find better food and as good as service in many of the restaurants in Ubud. But because it's far away from town, they have a captive audience and so it's easy to end up eating dinner there. Unfortunately, I also can't recommend eating dinner at the hotel unless you have to. Although, the little tea lights set up all over the pool area during sunset are gorgeous. It was a nice touch.
I didn't opt for any of the special meal services like breakfast in my villa pool or dinner in the temple. It felt both a little contrived and over-priced. I'm not sure that eating food while wading in the water is the most enjoyable way to eat. But someone is buying it, so maybe it's for you.
I did decide the next day to venture down to the river and check out the riverside spa set-up and stumbled upon a mini temple with lots of Hindu and Buddhist statues. This rare find one of my favorite things about the hotel and since it didn't seem like most guests were taking the time to get down there and explore I had this little piece of paradise to myself. This was a win.
Because there was so much I wanted to see and do in Ubud and the surrounding areas, I didn't spend a lot of time during the day at the hotel, mostly morning and evenings and didn't take advantage of the complimentary village tour that is also offered to guests. Staying at this hotel towards the end of a stay in Ubud and after getting your favorite activities in, to just veg by the pool and grounds all day might be the right thing way to approach a stay here.
In summary, I loved the concept of this hotel, and most especially the pools, but I never got the sense of top-notch service and attention. It felt more like I was paying for the architecture and investment of the building than the service and quality of the hotel itself. If you're used to staying at 5-star hotels and larger category properties you will likely find yourself impressed with the landscape and some of the comforts of your room (the rooms are a bit outdated), but disappointed with the service and quality of the amenities. If I were to rank this hotel out of 5 stars I would give it a 3.5 as compared to other 5-star luxury hotels. It was 100% worth having the chance to experience it and see what it was all about, but not only will I likely not return to this hotel, I wouldn't recommend staying here for more than 2 nights. I could almost suggest one night, but the traveling back and forth from town and packing and unpacking is a nuisance.
If you have any specific questions about the property, I am happy to answer them for you! If you do experience the hotel, enjoy! And hopefully, your experience is better than mine!