Blissful Sanctuary: Mandapa Ritz Carlton Reserve, Ubud, Bali – Hotel Review

By Nicola Venning

11 months ago

Nicola Venning journeys to Bali


The Mandapa Ritz Carlton Reserve, Ubud, about a 60 minute drive from Bali’s International airport, is one of the most verdant hotels you could visit. Hugging the majestic Ayung river and overlooked by a rainforest, the resort is hidden within a large and leafy estate. Add the hotel’s polished service, and you have an exceptionally relaxing stay with Jungle Book charm.

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Hotel Review: Mandapa Ritz Carlton Reserve – Ubud, Bali

Mandapa Ritz Carlton Reserve

STAY

The 35 suites and 25 pool villas (including two and a three-bedroom pool villas) are hidden down fern-shadowed stone paths, behind sturdy garden doors, all reminiscent of a Balinese country cottage. My pool villa was a sleek mix of local culture and contemporary design. Ceiling-high artwork of rural Balinese life hang on dark, wood-panelled walls. Traditional teak is used in contemporary styled sofas and armchairs, while the king size bed has enticing views through large French windows to the garden pool (big enough to swim in) and distant jungle.

The bathroom, the size of a double bedroom, has two glazed wooden sinks, one on either side of the room, and a tub big enough for two. The natural toiletries are the hotel’s own, which is proudly plastic free). Although there is a spacious wet room shower, it is quite fun to use the outdoor one, where discretion is assured by a jungle foliage. Besides a well-stocked mini bar, there’s complimentary tea and coffee and a generous supply of bottled water (again, the hotel’s own).

Mandapa Three Bedroom Pool Villa

Three Bedroom Pool Villa

The small garden included a patio area with table and daybed, as well as a summer house with an alang-alang (traditional thatched roof), emphasising the cottage ambiance. The flop-into wicker sofa and a handy tea table ensured it was inviting. The sound of running water is lullingly present throughout the estate – even in the centre, where the ancient temple and rice terraces enhance the back-to-nature vibe. It all reinforces the impression that you are staying in a wonderfully comfortable jungle village.

DO

The communal pool is so large, with such an entrancing view of the rainforest on the opposite side of the Ayung River, you could be forgiven for just flopping and staying by the water all day – but that would mean missing a great deal. A must is The Mandapa Spa, which has eight treatment rooms (three for couples) as well as a studio for classes such as sound healing, meditation and local craft skills. Complimentary yoga is offered at sunrise and sunset, and you can zone out to the hum of the river or whoops of white-water rafters careering downstream.  Mandapa also supports Sungai Watch, a charity that removes rubbish from Indonesian rivers and invites guests to donate.

Mandapa Suite - Bedroom King

Mandapa Suite – Bedroom King

Every guest is given a butler or Patih (King’s Assistant) who buggies you around the estate and arranges any excursions. Mandapa offers a variety of the latter, such as rafting, cycling through paddy fields, or visiting a local village to experience traditional weaving and cookery. I visited the impressive Goa Raja Waterfall, and then enjoyed a scenic walk through the caterpillar green tiers of the Tegalalang Rice Terrace. Equally captivating was the short journey there, past Hindu villages and their highly ornate temples (every home has a temple in Bali, which is known as the Island of the Gods).

The hotel offers a regular shuttle service into neighbouring Ubud, which is a centre for Western and Balinese artists, as well as some great shopping. But be discerning: it is quite touristy and, these days, rather commercial. Nevertheless, Ubud Palace (which stages regular performances of traditional Balinese dancing), the temples and some galleries are worth seeing. The Neka Art Museum displays indigenous works as well as contemporary art, and is set in a beautiful peaceful garden – the perfect antidote to bustling Ubud.

Mandapa Camp

Mandapa Camp

EAT

The Mandapa Ritz Carlton Reserve has three restaurants, as well as a private dining room and two bars, offering a range of Japanese, Indonesian and Mediterranean cuisine. Sawah Terrace, on the valley ridge, is open for all-day-dining and leans toward Asian flavours. The restaurant has breathtaking views over the tree canopy to the valley below, river and jungle. Needless to say, breakfast, which includes everything from croissants and granola to Balinese rice porridge and shredded chicken, demands lingering and several cups of coffee.

The Pool Bar offers classics, such as pizza and poke bowls, and is a relaxing place for lunch and drinks. In the evening, it’s great to chill out with a cocktail at The Ambar Bar (‘sky’ in Sanskrit) with some great sushi while listening to the nightly jazz band (and tree frogs), and enjoying the night sky.

Sawah Terrace Exterior

Sawah Terrace Exterior

Not to be missed is the resort’s signature restaurant, Kubu (‘shelter’ in Bahasa Indonesian). Set by the river, in a nod to the hotel’s sustainable ethos, it is made entirely of bamboo. This can make for fun dining, as you can eat in private little cocoons which are modelled on farmers’ shelters. Run by award-winning Executive Chef Bayu Retno Timur, the menu is predominantly modern British-Mediterranean, and the food is outstanding. I tucked into his signature dish of mouth-watering Beef Wellington. No surprises – it is prize-winning.

THE FINAL WORD

If you wish to recharge and zone out, then Mandapa is the perfect place. The soothing greenery and pampering environment transport you to another world. Sanctuaries don’t come more blissful.

BOOK IT

Rooms at the Mandapa Ritz Carlton Reserve start from £810 per night. ritzcarlton.com