Embraced by vividly green forests, Hoshinoya Bali is a sanctuary of serenity. It’s designed after a traditional Balinese village, featuring villas with thatched roofs and canal-like swimming pools that mimics the subak system. Yet the modern ryokan also reflects the Japanese aesthetic via the use of space and extraordinary hospitality.
Based on the lip of the verdant Pukurisan River valley in eastern Ubud, Hoshinoya Bali is the brand’s first property outside of Japan. Here, luxe minimalism is at its best, with only thirty villas dotting three hectares of land. Each represents the meticulous balance between Balinese culture and Japanese spatial design.
Winding through the leafy premise are canals and swimming pools that take a page from the sacred subak system. These water bodies not only provide cooling for the resort. It also contributes to local sustainability as the water will run down to neighboring paddy fields.
Inspired by Balinese traditions and architecture, Rie Azuma – the chief architect of every Hoshinoya resort – came up with a design that resembles a quaint village. She seamlessly blended the group’s signature contemporary style with the charms of the location. For example, nearly all public spaces of Hoshinoya Bali are arranged along the edge of the lush river valley, so that guests can take in the views of the majestic nature. The sunken river valley also allows refreshing breezes to flow through the resort.
Meanwhile, thirty spacious villas occupy the premise’s flat parts. They elegantly line three long stream-like swimming pools. All are concealed by layers of flora, evoking images of the island’s jungle. Other details also reflect the Balinese artistic skill, from the temple-inspired entrance, and the engraved wall depicting a story related either to Ubud’s nature or its folklore., to the thatched roofs made of alang alang, a blessed grass.
Upon exiting the reception area, I was guided down a wooden walkway to my villa, passing a vividly green landscape. A tiny gate opened up to a courtyard that had direct access to the emerald-colored pool. This relaxing place mimics a traditional Balinese house, containing a gazebo with alang-alang thatched roof and a large sofa. The accommodation itself is a modern maisonette, with the first floor being the living space whose floor-to-ceiling windows can be opened to bring in refreshing breezes. Meanwhile, the second floor is a combination of a bedroom and a study room. It offers a breathtaking view over the pool and the “village”.
The interior is furnished with minimal-chic teak furniture and frameless futon beds, as well as batik lampshades created by master artisans. They reflect the core concept of Hoshinoya Bali – a blend of Balinese traditions with Japanese design sensibilities. Yet the most magnificent of all is the elaborate fretwork hanging on the wall, featuring floral and fauna endemic to the island of the gods. The wood-carved wall looks even more stunning at night when the embedded soothing light illuminates from behind, accentuating the depth and beauty of the artwork.
The Swimming Pool
Like everywhere else on the island, water is a sacred element to Hoshinoya Bali. The pristine water which comes from the subak is not only for cleansing but also for socializing. Inspired by this distinctive feature of Balinese culture, Rie Azuma created a swimming pool unlike any other. She broke away from the ryokan’s traditional design which always incorporates a hot spring or a typical beach resort where each villa might have its own pool. Instead, guests at Hoshinoya Bali will receive aquatic bliss when dipping into one of the three long stream-like swimming pools.
These “streams” are about 70 meters long and dotted with multiple sitting areas where guests will share with each other. They connect the villas, making the property look like a village built along the water’s edge. You will feel as though are swimming in a jungle stream. And only from the water, you can fully appreciate the beauty of Hoshinoya Bali. Being said that, there are still private sections of the pools just off of each villa. They are beautifully hidden by crafted gardens so that guests can experience a more discrete swimming environment.
Another aspect that should not be overlooked when staying at a ryokan is the dining experience. It’s often a multi-course menu that highlights local and fresh seasonal delicacies. In the case of Hoshinoya Bali, Chef Mitsuaki created a delectable 10-dishes menu that fuses Balinese favors with Japanese finesse. All displayed skill and high-caliber creativity, from the addictively crunchy chicken skewers and the wagyu beef with three kinds of sauces to the delightful desserts. Breakfast is equally sumptuous. Guests opt between an Indonesian, Japanese, or Western-style set menu.
The meals take place in a bright, airy restaurant facing the jungle. From there, a vast green landscape stretches in almost every direction. The decor, especially the engraved wooden-wall unit, exhibits the intricacy of local craftsmen. Additionally, there is a series of birdcage-like gazebos hovering above the lush river valley where guests can enjoy nature while having snacks or cool drinks (I vote for the guava smoothie).
This post is written based on my personal experience. It was neither sponsored nor solicited by Hoshinoya Bali or any third party. All texts and pictures reflect my own opinions and are provided solely for informational purposes. I will not be liable for any errors or damages by using this information.