Before we visited for the first time, I researched 'til my eyes ached for where to stay in Bali near Ubud, the cultural heart of the island. I wanted to stay in a place that had just the right feel for what I thought Bali was supposed to be. A tall order I know, but I found it at Alam Shanti, a place whose name means “peaceful nature”.
We arrived at Alam Shanti in the middle of the night, bleary-eyed and half asleep, after two flights and twenty-two hours of flying. Our driver unloaded us and our bags at 3:00am and quietly closed the door behind him. This place would be our home for the next week and after that we’d move to a sister property just down the road, Alam Indah.
Sleep. At last. We were beyond exhausted.
A few hours later we awoke to this....
... a welcome sight on our table outside - our first breakfast in Bali. I felt outside of my body, as often happens with super long flights and radical time changes. We gazed around at our sumptuous surroundings, taking it all in, and though I felt numb, I was in heaven.
Every room in Alam Shanti was serene and unique in its design (and we saw them all over the course of a week). We were in Yamuna, a large suite with an ensuite bathroom, and outdoor covered terrace even larger than the bedroom suite itself. Yamuna and Gangaa upstairs essentially made up one large house, and shared a private pool between the two.
Outside, each step I took through the property revealed a view more beautiful view around every corner. The air was filled with the fragrance of incense and jasmine, and mourning doves echoed their somber song in the trees.
Occasionally we heard gamelan music through the fields each day at Alam Shanti, a soothing and peaceful sound. At times it was so faint it was nearly indiscernable, but together with the incense on the breeze, it added to the sensual experience of this place.
Everything around us was a feast for our senses - sweet and peaceful.
Every morning, employees (mostly women) at the hotel made canang sari, small baskets of woven palm fronds that held offerings for the gods. Fresh flowers, rice, incense, betel leaf, and rice wine were set at every entrance and doorway in the morning and throughout the day.
It's not often you can escape the noise of the world and hear yourself....just breathe. I found a stillness at Alam Shanti I never knew before. A stillness so sharp it cut through the noise in my head, and let me hear what was real….
What We loved
The Balinese Design
Balinese design incorporates open air living with the outside and Alam Shanti was a great example. Houses are constructed of concrete, native hardwoods and bamboo, with low-pitched rooflines made from tile or sometimes thatch. Organic design elements like bamboo and carved teak furniture, silks and batiks, tropical garden statuary, and water fountains feature prominently in Balinese style. The look and feel is just heaven to me.
The Food and the Alam Wangi Cafe
Breakfast is included with your room and was always varied and delicious each morning. We loved the black rice in coconut milk with sliced bananas, the Nasi Goreng (fried rice), and Banana crepes with coconut. Their small poolside cafe has really good fresh juices and light fare.
Proximity to Ubud
The walk to downtown Ubud is an easy one and lies just past the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, which will tie you up for hours if you let it. If you don't, it's a 10 minute walk.
The Daily Ritual
Offering baskets and blessings are a part of daily life in Bali. Until you visit, it's hard to imagine the level of daily devotion that goes into preparing them.
Imagine depetaling flowers, weaving small offering baskets from palm fronds, gathering the various kinds of petals into little piles in the offering basket, along with other gifts. Dozens of these baskets are set at entrances throughout people's homes and properties to give thanks to the gods. The baskets are then ransacked by monkeys, run over by cars and motorbikes, and eventually swept away to allow for new baskets the next day. It's a true devotion.
The Alan Wangi Spa at Alsm Shanti offers a variety of body scrubs, salon treatments, manis/pedis, facials, even a head massage. I loved the full body massage with essential oils I had. There soft music, trickling water, and relaxing zen atmosphere all made for a totally relaxing experience. After a light snooze, the shower right off the massage room felt so refreshing.
We loved the quiet setting at Alam Shanti, away from major roads and traffic noise. People working in the fields or around the grounds were quiet as church mice and respected the privacy of the guests, even with all the doors wide open in our suite and in our open-air shower. We always felt completely secluded from staff and guests.
Service at Alam Shanti was excellent, and little extras added to the level of attention to guests, like bringing coil pots around at night to help with insects and mosquitos.
Probably the only drawback worth mentioning are the monkeys who can get aggressive at times especially when there's food. At breakfast one morning, a large male was making me a little nervous as he tried to get in our suite while we were reading on the outdoor terrace. We just went inside and took any food with us.
Staff did a good job of trying to manage the monkeys and run them off from guest areas where they may have been a nuisance.
We loved our stay at Alam Shanti and their sister property Alam Indah just down the road. The setting reflected the peaceful feeling we felt throughout our visit, from the fragrant scent of incense on the breeze, the sound of trickling water everywhere, and the soft exchanges of "Selamat Pagi" each morning. It's almost something that defies explanation. So I'll just say this. If you're planning a trip and wondering where to stay in Ubud, stay here. Alam Shanti is one of the loveliest places to stay in Bali.
Alam Shanti (Alam Indah) - P.O. Box 165, Nyuhkuning, Ubud 80571, Bali, Indonesia