My favourite way to get from Singapore to Bali is on Singapore Airlines Business Class (the 787-10 Dreamliner has a great regional Business Class product that is ahead of its competitors). Alternatively, you may consider flying on KLM’s 777-300ER Business Class product if that timing or price point suits you better. With all that being said, I usually fly in to DPS on SQ942 and there is usually only a short queue at immigration (just make sure you head to the line first before going to the bathroom). After I collected my bags, I was met with a private driver from the HOSHINOYA Bali who then escorted me to the car.
After spending one night at the ultra-luxurious HOSHINOYA Toyko last year, I was extremely eager to check out the HOSHINOYA Bali since is only a short flight (and car ride) away from Singapore. More importantly, the price of this property here in Bali is also a fraction compared to what the iconic property in Tokyo charges. Now a lot of people may not know this but Hoshino Resorts owns and operates various luxurious ryokans in Japan - HOSHINOYA are luxury flagship properties and the first property was unveiled in Karuizawa (a resort town near Nagano in Japan). HOSHINOYA Bali officially opened back in 2017 and it is located in Ubud so this is not a typical beachfront property that most people think of when they come to Bali.
Once the car pulled into the private driveway, the doors to the property opened up magically (almost like clockwork!) and two staff then came on out to welcome to the property. My luggage was quickly attended to while I was escorted to a sheltered area to freshen up with a welcome drink and an oshibori (commonly offered in Japanese restaurants to clean one’s hand before consuming food). I really like the small walkways that lead to the villa and many of the design elements here are inspired by traditional Balinese villages.
For this stay, I have reserved myself a Jalak which is a Garden Pool Villa that comes with a private terrace. HOSHINOYA Bali is an all-villa property and there are three main room categories here - Bulan, Soka and Jalak. It is importantly to recognise that all villas here offer direct access to the swimming pools (there are three swimming pools here) in HOSHINOYA Bali. The Jalak villa which I stayed in is the biggest and also the priciest one amongst the three. Unlike Soka which is a maisonette, Jalak is a single-floor villa that overlooks the expansive jungle that carpets the Pakerisan River Valley and they are also located near to the restaurant and spa for ease of convenience (especially when you are traveling with young children). Opening the first door to your villa will lead you into a private walkway which ends at another door (which can be locked with a physical key) - you will also find a private bale bengong here to laze around in the day and honestly, if you are afraid of mosquitoes, the HOSHINOYA Bali has done a great job and keeping these out (even though it seems impossible when you have got lush forests and pools surrounding you).
The Jalak villa-type here at HOSHINOYA Bali comes with approximately 198 sqm of space which feels even larger due to the open-plan design. There is a small dining table by the side of the living room and there is a huge lounging area that looks out to both the forests as well as the swimming pool (more photos below to help you get a better idea of how the place looks).
As you can tell from the photos, the terrace plays a crucial part in this room - you can basically open up all the sliding doors if you wish to create a huge space for you to enjoy the tropical heat and sounds of nature. Alternatively, if you wish to be more selective in the times in which you enjoy nature’s creations, all the sliding doors can be closed and the air-conditioning works without a hitch. Even though I do not typically enjoy the heat, I did find myself craving for that peacefulness outside. Honestly, I was very tempted to leave the sliding doors open while I slept but I eventually decided against it.
One thing you will probably notice is that there is no TV here at all in the bedroom or the living room of the villas - HOSHINOYA properties around the world (with the exception of the HOSHINOYA Tokyo) do not actually have a TV located in guest rooms and suites. They truly believe in creating an environment that is conducive enough for people to focus on the present without getting distracted by modern technologies. There is also no coffee machine here in the villa (which is probably my greatest struggle) but you can always head down to the Dining Hall for one (for a fee). Drinking water is provided throughout the property and there is also a water kettle here if you wish to make yourself some tea.
If you have been rather attentive, you might have noticed that the bedroom lies immediately behind the wall that separates it from the living area - you can also access the bedroom by walking straight from the main entrance. I really like the impressive Balinese wood carvings that you can find behind your bed. The open-plan design of the Jalak makes it feel extremely roomy so you have to make sure that you are comfortable with sleeping in a space like that (otherwise, Bulan and Soka will probably offer the closest resemblance to a hotel room). There were no USB Charging ports here by the bed and if I did remember correctly, a travel adapter was required for me to charge my devices (so make sure you bring one!).
The pillows are definitely on the softer side (something that i have observed on my flights in Business Class on Japan Airlines as well) but I am not sure if they have a pillow menu where guests can select a firmer one instead if required. Honestly, I did struggle a little with the level of neck support that these pillows offered but the beds themselves were great. When booking the Jalak villa-type, be sure to indicate your preference for a king-size bed (at least one day prior to arrival) if that is indeed what you want. Otherwise, the default configuration is three twin beds (105cmx210cm) which will be slightly awkward if you are only sharing this room with one other person. There is a small panel by the bed which allows you to control most of the lighting here in the room but I have found myself pushing accidentally while sitting up in bed because of its position.
As I have mentioned earlier on, there is a private terrace outside of the bedroom and the living room. In fact, it is probably more accurate to say that this private terrace actually surrounds the exterior of the Jalak villa-type which makes it possible to transit between ‘home’ and ‘nature’ seamlessly. The bedroom also looks out to the lush forests of Ubud and while I have woken up to many sea views before, this was definitely the first time that the first thing I see each morning were forests.
The bathroom of the Jalak villa-type can be accessed from two entrances and honestly, the whole space looks like the interiors of a sauna. You will find a Japanese style bathroom here (complete with a small sink on the side and a Toto Washlet) which was a nice surprise to me. There are also double vanity sinks as well as plenty of storage space in the wardrobes located on the side. In fact, if you do not wish to share your wardrobe space, there is one on each side which makes great His & Hers storage spaces.
I really like how cozy and dark the bathroom is - it reminded me of my bathroom at the HOSHINOYA Tokyo but the wooden element here is definitely more pronounced (and rightfully so).
Guests staying here in the HOSHINOYA Bali will not have to choose between a bathtub or a shower since all villa types come with both - there is even a small window (which looks out to your private walkway) if you prefer to enjoy your bath with some natural daylight. Bath amenities are provided here in the room but you will not be able to take them back with you. Consistent to how ryokans traditionally provide these amenities, bath liquids and shampoo here at the HOSHINOYA Bali are placed into large bottles that do not contribute to landfill.
After a good soak in the tub, I decided that a dip in the pool was required. Honestly, when your villa comes with direct access to this lush and beautiful swimming pool, there is really no reason why you should limit your daily pool visits. If I were to recall correctly, I probably entered the pool on at least four or five occasions each day.
There is a set of steps that will lead you into the pool and since my villa was located at the corner, I managed to enjoy plenty of privacy. Now that is not to say that the other villa types do not enjoy a high level of privacy but since there are three big swimming pools and each villa is connected to one of them, there is a chance that someone might actually swim by. In reality though, I barely saw anyone else in the pool (except on one occasion where a new guest has just checked in to a villa across from me).
The pools here at the HOSHINOYA Bali are inspired by traditional Balinese villages where people build their houses along a stream of water. I really love the sense of tranquility here on property - there is just so much space to luxuriate and appreciate what nature has to offer. Most of the time I just find myself staring into a distance and wondering what have I done to deserve such greatness.
Much like my stay at the HOSHINOYA Tokyo and KAI Nikko, there are plenty of complimentary activities that hotel guests can participate in. Since there are only a few villas here at the HOSHINOYA Bali, you can be sure of a high staff-to-guest ratio. In fact, I was drawn to the sounds of the gamelan on my way to dinner so I actually stayed and watched the performance for a while. Since I was there only one there, he even offered a quick lesson and a chance to play this musical instrument.
I have been to many hotels in Bali (in fact, I flew into DPS five times just last year alone) but never have I felt so much at peace with myself. Perhaps, it had something to do with the fact that HOSHINOYA Bali is not a business hotel and I did not have to rush off to the lounge for cocktail hour (because I am definitely not one to say no to alcohol) but I felt like I had all the time in the world when I was on property. I took a stroll down to the Dining Hall for dinner and if you are planning to eat on property, this is the only place you can enjoy dinner (apart from room service) here - I requested for one of the tables that look out to the lush greenery and it was certainly a great decision.
Guests enjoying dinner here at the Dining Hall can select from a prix fixe menu or the a la carte menu - I tried both on separate days so I will just share my thoughts from both of them here for the sake of this review. The prix fixe menu basically features plenty of beautifully-executed dishes that incorporates local ingredients, flavours and some Japanese cooking techniques. The presentation is modern so if you are craving for a plate of nasi campur or bebek goreng, this is not the menu that you should be looking at. While most of the dishes were good, there were a handful that stood out especially - the tuna sambal matah (even though it could have done with a little more heat) and the beef rendang rice were both delicious!
On the second night, I enjoyed the Gado-Gado and the Ayam Betutu - the latter was done perfectly and I really did enjoy this meal a lot. Drink prices here are quite reasonable and a glass of wine starts from approximately IDR 100,000++ (roughly S$12 nett) while cocktails start from IDR 150,000++ (approx. S$18 nett).
I retreated back to my villa after dinner and I really enjoyed the quiet walk back. Being surrounded by nature and enjoying that light breeze at the end of the day really made the whole experience so much more enjoyable. These may sound like little things but in that moment, I felt like I have everything I needed in the world and I truly got in touch with some of my thoughts on that evening.
I woke up the next morning to find plenty of fallen flowers on the private walkway of my villa. They were beautiful and definitely not something that I was expecting to see when I was making my way down for breakfast.
Breakfast was served at the Dining Hall and I had the option of having either a traditional Balinese one or a Japanese breakfast. You will not go wrong with either since they are both beautifully-executed but obviously, I was more impressed with the latter since it is firstly not easy to prepare a good Japanese breakfast but more importantly, having this in Bali is really no easy feat - the miso soup is probably the only thing that I can fault. Having spent a week and a half at the Hyatt Regency Tokyo (where I got to enjoy what I think is the best Japanese breakfast that I have ever had) last year meant that everything else pales in comparison.
If you are active on Instagram or would simply like one of the most ‘Instagram-able’ shots on property, you will not go wrong with a gazebo breakfast. This has to be pre-arranged and it comes at a separate cost so you might as well drop by later in the morning for a second breakfast or an early lunch - these cages offer the best views of the forests and just sitting in one of these puts you in such a pensive mood.
It is safe to say that the HOSHINOYA Bali is not for everyone but if you are someone who enjoys the luxury of space to reflect and to rejuvenate, you will probably not go wrong with this property. Honestly, I thought that the stay at the HOSHINOYA Bali will simply be a great one (you know, like stays at The St. Regis Bali Resort and the InterContinental Bali Resort) but it turned out to be a spiritual one as well. Everyone talks about the culture and magic of Ubud but I am definitely one of the lucky ones to have discovered it here in on property.