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By Chere Di Boscio
After having stayed in various five star hotels in Bali recently, I was a bit saddened to see the excessive, unnecessary features these hotels considered to be ‘luxurious’. Think: family-sized kitchens in villas for two, housing nothing but a kettle and bar fridge; thick slabs of marble adorning walls despite the beauty of Bali’s local stones, and up to 4 perpetually working air conditioners on in a single suite.
So I was delighted to discover a stylish and modern hotel tucked inside the thick jungles and rustic rice terraces of Ubud that greatly respects the natural beauty surrounding it.
Bisma Eight has a modest 38 suites, all of which are cleverly designed to include everything the over-the-top five stars offered, but in a much more intelligent way: desks for two divide the bedroom from the living area; balconies overlook stunning jungle or garden views; bathrooms offer excellent chemical-free amenities in reusable stone containers, for example.
The clean, modern design incorporates natural materials including bamboo, jute, and sustainable wood (as opposed to the endangered timbers like teak used by other luxury hotels) as often as possible, but the sustainability doesn’t stop there: lights and air conditioners switch off when you’re not in the room; sheets and towels are washed on request, and rather than having a huge breakfast buffet spread, there’s a menu featuring locally sourced and organic food that you can choose from.
Actually, let’s talk about the food here. The restaurant, the award winning Copper Kitchen, uses produce grown on the hotel’s own organic farm located down the road. Guests can even pick their own vegetables and base their meals on them. Typical dishes here include a breakfast of poached eggs on homemade sourdough bread; dragon bowls with chia seeds and tropical fruits; Asian bowls of brown rice or quinoa with tofu, tempeh, chicken or fish and vegetables in Teriyaki sauce, or spicy Thai salad. The choice of rustically elegant crockery the dishes were served in enhanced the restaurant experience, making it not only savoury, but stylish, too. My only complaint was that salmon, lamb, beef and yellowfin tuna featured so much on the menu: hardly sustainable! More vegan and vegetarian food would be welcome.
There’s plenty to do besides eat if you stay at Bisma Eight. There may not be a spa on site, but we really enjoyed Nick’s Spa across the street: just £7 for one of the best massages I’ve ever had! There’s also a wonderfully chilly gym, very welcome for those who like to work out but can’t stand doing so in the tropical heat, and a late afternoon dip in the infinity pool is not only relaxing, but offers sunset jungle views that will leave you speechless.
The hotel is also ideally located for Ubud’s many shops – including those on the famous Monkey Forest Road – a wealth of temples and sunrise rice paddy walks. Nothing is more than a ten minute walk away, and if you’d like to go further afield, informal, cheap taxis abound. If you prefer to stay in the hotel, there’s a wonderfully cool cafe serving local, organic java that’s to die for, and there’s also an abundance of gorgeous coffee table books and glossy magazines to pore over as you sip your brew or green juice.
Forget luxury chain hotels: with its minimalist, eco-chic design, proximity to the best of Ubud’s attractions and friendly, helpful staff, the Bisma Eight hotel is one of my new favourite places. So much so, I’m reluctant to let too many people know!
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