Paradise on a budget: A review of my stay at the Alila Ubud
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After visiting Bali for the first time in 2017, I had been itching to return. So, once COVID restrictions were dropped in the region, I booked a four-day trip to Bali as a part of a larger itinerary in Asia. I stayed in the Ubud area, toward the jungle-covered center of the island, as my partner and I were looking for a quiet sojourn away from parties on the beach.
There’s no shortage of points hotels in Bali, especially around Ubud. I ended up going with the Alila Ubud, a Hyatt property located 10 minutes north of the center of Ubud. Its secluded location is surrounded by a lush forest, so you may even see the occasional monkey when you’re lounging by the infinity pool.
However, the property is starting to look and feel old. It opened in the early 2000s and, from what I can tell, it hasn’t changed much since then. The price was very reasonable given its location. But if it’s your one and only time going to Bali, should you book here or head to a newer hotel?
Here’s what I would say based on my own recent, four-night visit.
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Whether you pay cash or redeem World of Hyatt points, the Alila Ubud can be booked relatively inexpensively. Cash rates for a standard room range between $125 and $200 per night at the moment. My stay was $140 per night in mid-June.
The property is a Category 2 hotel, meaning that free nights cost between 6,500 and 9,500 points per night, which feels like a small price to pay for paradise.
The Alila Ubud is located north of central Ubud, which can be both a blessing and a curse.
On the bright side, it’s very secluded. You approach the resort through a discreet entrance off the highway and drive through farmland to reach the hotel’s entrance. Once inside, you feel as if you’re in a different world. You’re surrounded by jungle, complete with monkeys and lush trees. When it’s rainy, the area is engulfed by clouds, which feels dreamy and surreal.
On the downside, you have to take a taxi to get anywhere off the property. Thankfully, the hotel has a partner taxi service and you can charge rides right to your room. We paid 200,000 IDR ($13.50) for a ride to central Ubud. This is a five-mile journey that took roughly 20 minutes in total, so it’s not close but it’s also not too far to go exploring for the day.
We arranged a taxi for our hotel transfer before arriving in Bali and paid roughly $40 for the hour-long ride from Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS) in Denpasar. We connected with the driver directly for the return trip and paid $30.
We arrived at the hotel late at night, so we were checked in quickly and headed right to our room.
Standard rooms at the Alila Ubud are located in buildings throughout the property. The one my room was located in had two levels. Our room was on the lower level and had its own private entrance, patio with outdoor furniture and garden area. This was a great place to hang out during the day and relax, complete with occasional monkeys visits.
Speaking of monkeys, the staff will caution you to lock the sliding doors whenever you’re not enjoying the outdoor space. Otherwise, you might end up with an unintended visitor — or a dozen.
Inside the room, the somewhat dim space was anchored by a large king-size bed at the center that was exceptionally comfortable. Next to it was a desk, closet, luggage rack and a TV that swung out from the wall. Perhaps best of all, however, were the sliding doors that faced the bed. We could lounge and look out at the natural beauty surrounding the resort at any time of day. When we needed some privacy, we just shut the blackout shades.
On the desk, there was a French press coffee maker, a bowl of fruit, face masks and plenty of outlets to charge our gadgets. I also received a note from the hotel staff thanking me for my loyalty as a World of Hyatt Discoverist elite, which was a nice touch. There was also a guide to the hotel’s many events, such as tours and special dining events. We kept this guide handy, as the list of events and meals on the hotel’s website wasn’t up to date during my stay.
Turndown service was provided every night, something that many hotels have yet to bring back.
The stone-tiled bathroom was small but contained a sink, toilet and bottles of fresh water that were replaced daily.
The shower and separate bathtub were located behind the bathroom in a private outdoor area. A large brick wall surrounded it, and there was a shade you could pull down for privacy. This was one of my favorite parts of the hotel room — there’s just something special about starting your day outside in Bali’s beautiful morning weather. The walls surrounding the shower area were high enough that I felt total privacy. There was also a small backyard area, but it was meant for aesthetic rather than functional value, given it was lined with rocks.
Overall, the room was spare but adequate, and totally acceptable for the price. However, something about the finishes in the room made it feel very outdated. The tiling and woodwork were worn and faded, the upholstery looked ragged and the power plugs were scratched. It would be nice to see the rooms get new floors, finishes and a fresh coat of paint to make them feel truly luxurious.
Luckily, the hotel’s on-site amenities and natural beauty made up for the room’s shortcomings. (And, as mentioned, the outdoor shower and private patio were a treat.)
Food and beverage
The Alila Ubud has two on-site restaurants: the Plantation Restaurant and the Cabana Lounge.
The Plantation Restaurant is the more formal of the two. It’s where breakfast is served every morning and dinner every night.
For breakfast, you can expect a rotating menu that changes daily and features a mixture of traditional Balinese and Western dishes, some of which are made with ingredients that are grown on-site. There’s also fresh bread, juices and pastries offered daily. Each breakfast I tried was absolutely delicious. I’m not a Globalist elite, so I paid for breakfast. It’s an a la carte menu, but we paid $25 to $30 a day for the two of us depending on what we ordered.
I was a big fan of the Balinese dishes, including the Nasi Merah and Nasi Goreng Mawut. We also ordered the bread basket, a juice every morning and iced coffee every morning. I’m a huge fan of a rotating menu that keeps things interesting, and the coffee was up there with some of the best hotel coffee I’ve ever had.
At night, you can visit the Plantation Restaurant for a sit-down dinner. There’s a standard menu of Balinese dishes or you can reserve various special set dinners. My partner and I tried the three-course, candle-lit tasting dinner our last night at the property and loved it. It started with appetizers and ended with dessert, of which the deconstructed Snickers was a total hit with both of us. For entrees, you’re served a choice of Western and Balinese dishes. I really enjoyed the Ayam Betutu, which is slow-roasted chicken wrapped in banana leaves. The ambiance, food, excellent service and perfect weather made it a meal to remember.
The Cabana Lounge overlooks the pool and has a much more relaxed vibe. It’s both a pool-side bar and restaurant where you can order more casual meals like burgers, wings and sandwiches. I really enjoyed the fish burger for lunch on our first day; it was perfectly cooked and the fresh buns were to die for. Likewise, the sweet potato fries were delicious. Expect to pay $10 to $20 per person, depending on your order.
The bar serves beer, wine, cocktails and a variety of juices and other non-alcoholic beverages. The gin and tonic was a hit with my partner, and the selection of beers was my go-to. The fresh juice blends were a treat too, especially next to the pool on a hot afternoon. Drinks were reasonably priced for a resort at under $10 per cocktail and $4 to $6 for a beer.
Overall, the dining experience at Alila Ubud was excellent. At each restaurant the food quality was top-notch and the staff gave us amazing service. The prices were reasonable too, with each breakfast for two running between $25 and $30 depending on what we ordered. And even if you don’t plan on leaving the resort, you can experience amazing, authentic Balinese food just steps from your hotel room. While two restaurants might seem limiting during a long stay, the rotating menus kept things interesting.
Another place the Alila Ubud shines is in the amenities. It has everything you’d expect from a resort, including a well-equipped spa, infinity pool and a gym. There’s also a shuttle bus that runs from the hotel to the town of Ubud regularly, though we opted for a taxi to keep our schedules flexible for the day.
I’m not usually a spa person, but we visited the spa on our second day at the property for a couples’ massage and hair treatment. You reserve spa treatments at the spa check-in area, located right across from the check-in counter. Prices are reasonable, and you can view the menu on the hotel’s website (PDF link). The hotel also offers a “spa junkie” package with unlimited treatments for 48 hours for roughly $168.
If you decide to go a la carte for spa treatments, you’ll pay between $25 and $90 a treatment. The hair treatment we tried was roughly $45 per person. To me, that’s a very reasonable price to pay for the quality of the experience. Other treatments include a Balinese beauty ritual, facials and warm stone massages.
The spa rooms were clean and outfitted with private outdoor showers, which came in handy after the hair treatment. The spa attendants were friendly and, as inexperienced spa-goers, we both thought the treatment was great. I left feeling relaxed and with super soft hair.
The real star of the show, however, is the infinity pool. It’s located right across from the Cabana restaurant and overlooks the surrounding forest. Surrounding the pool are an assortment of lounge chairs with umbrellas where you can order drinks from the bar and relax to your heart’s content. The seats were never full during my stay, so it was easy to pop over to read a book or enjoy a drink in the sun.
The pool is picture-perfect too, with the illusion of edge-to-edge water surrounded by rock pavement. There’s an island toward the front of the pool that’s outfitted with a plant, adding to the nature-centric feeling of the resort. On a sunny day, the pool reflects the blue skies and clouds.
Behind the pool is a lookout area where you can take in views of the Balinese forest and ask yourself if you ever want to leave this slice of paradise. I know I sure didn’t.
The gym and other facilities
Underneath the spa is a full gym with weights, stationary bikes and everything else you’d expect from a resort fitness center. I found it to be a little dark and uninspiring, but it does the job if you’re looking for a quick workout.
If you prefer working out outside, you can borrow one of the resort’s free mountain bikes and check out the property on your own.
Next to the gym is a small gift shop that sells Balinese gifts. It was closed when I tried to visit, but the window displayed a healthy stock of fabric, clothing and other knick knacks.
Service at the Alila Ubud was nothing short of excellent. At check-in, we were escorted to our room through a rainstorm by staff members holding umbrellas. At all of the restaurants, the servers were friendly and happy to provide recommendations and give a background on the different dishes. Likewise, the front desk staff was very helpful, offering to help us find transportation and things to do in the city. At the spa, we were told about different treatments and whether it was a good idea to buy a spa pass or just a single treatment.
In every aspect of the stay, it seemed like the folks working at the hotel wanted to help us have the best time possible on the property and in Bali as a whole. It was a very pleasant experience, and we left feeling like truly valued guests.
The Alila Ubud was, overall, an excellent experience — especially for the price.
Sure, the rooms need a bit of an update. The finishes show their age with an outdated, early 2000’s feeling. At the same time, the rooms’ outdoor showers and private patios overlooking the forest make it feel like you’re in paradise, even if the rooms themselves look like they haven’t been updated in over a decade.
Chances are you won’t be spending too much time in your room anyway. With two good dining options, an excellent spa and a beautiful pool, you’ll likely spend your days relaxing and indulging. And you’re just a quick taxi ride from Ubud with its bustling markets, Monkey Forest and numerous bars and restaurants.
At well under $200 per night — or as few as 6,500 World of Hyatt points — you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal in Bali. I can’t recommend the property highly enough for the traveler who wants some quiet time in one of the most beautiful places in the world, away from the crowded beaches and partying in Denpasar.
But please, just make sure to lock your patio door. Otherwise, you might make a new monkey friend … or three.
Featured photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy.
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