First impression Tented time-travel adventure to the spice-trade adventures of the 19th century.
Staff All locals.
Food & drinks Farm-to-table storytelling.
Bed & bath Flamboyant and fantastical.
The crowd True romantics and well-heeled adventurers.
In a nutshell Riverside tented luxury retreat.
Set the scene Deep in the higgledy-piggledy Keliki Valley, Capella Ubud is easily missed – only the eagle-eyed might spot the dark pitched roofs of tents beside a river in this steep patch of Balinese jungle. Brass monkey statues among the foliage are the first clue that imaginative designer Bill Bensley has been at play here. Step inside the front portico and the immersive, theatrical experience begins, transporting guests back to the early 19th century and the era of spice-trade explorers.
What’s the story? It’s the first hotel from Suwito Gunawan, a Jakarta steel magnate, who wisely asked Bensley (the designer behind Shinta Mani Wild, The Siam and the InterContinental Danang) to take over the creative reins – the two met while antique-hunting in the Netherlands. Bensley took inspiration from Marco Polo’s expedition from China to Indonesia, as well as 19th-century Danish explorer Mads Johansen Lange (the restaurant is named after him), who was nicknamed The White Rajah of Bali and became a successful trader in coffee, rice and spices.
What can we expect in our room? Each tent has an individual personality with curios that match; the Cartographer’s Tent has parchment, compasses and telescopes; the Carpenter’s Tent has all sorts of artisan tools; the Princess Tent has a dramatic four-poster bed, fabric cascading down from the roof. Balinese culture is in evidence in the handmade batiks and ikat textiles; and there are treasures from Dutch auctions and Balinese antique stores.
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How about the food and drink? There are two restaurants. Api Jiwa is a Japanese robatayaki restaurant with eight- to 10-course tasting menus, with cuts of seafood and meat seared on the grill then customized with spices. In the Mads Lange bistro, plates include crab tacos, Wagyu brisket, duck in coconut bark and red snapper. Aussie chef Matthew McCool’s methods are local and sustainable – and cocktails are often house brewed and barrel aged. Try The Cistern, made with vodka-infused yogurt, almond syrup, cardamom and rose water. The Sunday jazz brunch is pretty special.
Anything to say about the service? The friendly and well-trained staff seem genuinely delighted to work here – and around 60 per cent of them come from the immediate area.
Anything else we should know? There’s also a gym, a tented spa, and a pool – in what looks like a giant cistern.
Is it worth it – and why? It’s expensive but truly one of a kind – and a successful interpretation of colonial chic that’s rare for Bali.
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Address: Capella Ubud, Jl. RY Dalem, Keliki, Tegallalang, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
Telephone: +62 361 2091 888
Price: Doubles from £770
This hotel is one of our favourite new hotels in the world, and included in our Hot List 2019. Discover more of the best new hotels in the world 2019 now.
The best new hotels in the world: the Hot List 2019