Looking for the perfect accommodation stay in Ubud to meet your expectations and your travel budget can be a bit daunting considering the wide range of choices displayed on all major hotel booking sites. Most of them promised superb luxury amidst the Balinese forest with mouth-dropping views of the famous rice paddies; some sort of well-being experience such as free morning yoga classes or a tempting relaxing spa treatment; and the infinity swimming pool or that unique private plunge pool in your own villa. Probably, you get shocked at the prices when you first see them as somehow you´ve had this pre-formed idea that Bali was cheap, or cheaper than other tropical island destinations. Truth is, some of the hotel options are dream-like but a real trip splurge, however, there is affordable luxury available that won´t leave you disappointed and keep your pocket healthy for the tempting extras one never counts on when looking just at the room daily rate.
With a selective list of villas and boutique hotels in my mind to experience one day, I decided to stay at the Samara Villas & Restaurant, only 15-minute walk away from Ubud´s market but tucked in a peaceful and beautiful countryside setting. Location and comfort were my main selection criteria and the Samara Villas & Restaurant excelled my expectations. Here is my impression of this luxury boutique hotel during my four-night stay in June.
Shortly after having made the reservation through booking.com, the Samara Villas & Restaurant contacted me by e-mail to confirm my booking and offered their help for anything that could be needed during the planning stages. It was a great gesture to be contacted directly, so I arranged a pick-up from Bali´s airport to the hotel with them. From the moment we came out of the arrival hall and into our hotel room, we were treated like king and queen: luggage taken care of, welcoming drinks during a very easy quick hotel check-in and welcoming briefing on the resort facilities and Ubud.
The Samara (how they like to referred to it) is recently new in the tourism industry of Ubud with extra attentive personnel going the extra mile to make your stay in Ubud memorable. Located among rice paddies and lots of palm trees, you can expect a little quiet paradise of authentic Bali. The facilities are not exuberant and do not resemble those of large resort chains but rather a more intimate and personalized ambience of a boutique hotel. There is an outdoor swimming pool, restaurant offering a varied menu of both Balinese and international cuisines and a tourist-information front desk. Unfortunately, there are no spa facilities but they offered in-room massages if desired.
The double bedroom has a good size for two people and their large suitcases. There is a very comfortable king-size bed with amazing pillows, a cozy sofa by the window perfect for evening reading, a large bathroom with an outdoor shower and a front-terrace with comfortable chairs and a table for that mid-afternoon coffee. The ceilings are very high, which enlarges the appearance of the bedroom. The air conditioning works to its full power keeping the bedroom cool to fight the summer heat of Ubud and the evening mosquitoes on the green surroundings.
The breakfast is served at their restaurant overlooking the green paddies and Bali´s highest volcano, Mount Agun. You can, of course, have your breakfast served in your room but with the restaurant energizing yet relaxing view, there is no better way to start the day! There is a menu with several options to choose from: fresh fruits, cereals, bread baskets, pastries, eggs, local noodles and rice dishes, fresh juices and a hot beverage. Order and it will promptly served at your table with a smile on the waitress´face.
The Samara is located about 10 minute-walk away from Ubud´s main street. It is a short but somewhat steep walk in some parts of the path, so if you prefer not to tire your feet or sweat under the Balinese heat, The Samara offers free motorbike rides to the guests 24 hours. You just need to inform reception a few minutes before leaving the room and you will be taken to the main street. At check-in you are given a mobile phone with The Samara´s phone stored on the contacts, which serves the purpose of communicating with the hotel´s reception in the event of needing something when outside and also to arrange the motorbike pick-up service to return home after an outing around Ubud.
Apart from the comfort and the beautiful surroundings, the Samara has excellent guest service and details that make the difference between an average and fabulous stay. All staff are friendly, helpful and professional, engaging in conversation but knowing when to keep distant. Because it was our honeymoon, they ensured we had fresh flowers placed in the room every day and complimentary treats by the swimming pool.
The front-desk offers tours around Ubud and other places in Bali. We took a private day-tour to visit Bali´s countryside and we enjoyed not only the natural landscapes of the island but the extensive knowledge of the tour guide (who was also our driver). If you don´t want to waste time looking around for transport or tours, I highly recommend looking at their tour options at fair prices and completely tailor-made for your needs. The front-desk staff was so efficient, we decided to rely on them arranging our transport from the Samara to our next destination, the island of Gili Trawangan in Lombok.
Considering the room and food quality, great central location and excellent service given throughout the stay, one would expect the day rate to be very high. However, it is not. This is the best part of The Samara; its objective is to be an affordable luxury accommodation option at approximately 130 euros/night (depending on the offer chosen at the hotel booking sites) inclusive of taxes and hearty breakfast. The extras such as drinks, food, tours and laundry are appropriate for the high-end accommodation category. Surely they are more luxurious options in Ubud but at much higher prices.
Our 4-night-stay at The Samara Villas & Restaurant was an excellent accommodation choice for Ubud and I highly recommend it for an affordable luxury stay where location, service and price are the top requirements. We had an amazing start in our honeymoon partly thanks to the warmth of the staff at The Samara, making us feel special from arrival to farewell.