Clare Dight finds a hotel that is a sanctuary in the jungle.
Hotel Insider: the Uma by Como, Ubud in Bali
I check in to the Uma by Como almost 10 years to the day that Bali fell victim to a series of terrorist attacks, and security is obviously still a concern; the underside of our car is checked for explosives as we pull off the main road and into the hotel's private driveway. I'm greeted with courtesy and an ice-cold towel at reception and escorted to lunch while my luggage takes another route to the room.
The hotel is a 30-minute walk from the cultural hub that is central Ubud - a motley collection of shops selling artworks, antiques, cotton clothing and touristy knick-knacks. It's either a shopper's paradise or hell on Earth, depending on personal taste. Just outside the confines of the hotel is a collection of boutiques, discreet hotels and Mozaic, one of the region's top restaurants and a destination in itself.
Behind a locked door, across a pool jumping with frogs and circling carp, I find my garden room. To the right, a rather romantic bedroom hides behind whitewashed plantation shutters. The black stone bathroom is entirely separate and open to the elements, with a large oval bathtub, a powerful shower supplied with plenty of hot water and Como Shambhala's own range of beauty products made with essential oils.
The two rooms are linked by a short, covered walkway skirting the pond. There's a burbling water feature that, thankfully, I can turn off at night. The four-poster bed festooned with mosquito nets, the flatscreen TV, complimentary Wi-Fi and elegant furnishings ensure that it is both well appointed and memorable.
Attentive with no obvious mistakes. When I ask a waiter to send someone to my room to light the mosquito coil, it is smoking away on my return from dinner.
Como has a number of resorts around the world offering a mix of luxury accommodation, fitness programmes and guided cultural activities. The Uma Ubud is frequented by couples either lazing by the swimming pool or looking into each other's eyes at dinner. With only 29 rooms, suites and villas, the Uma Ubud has an atmosphere of discreet privacy. A couple of rather ostentatiously dressed honeymooners from the UAE are waiting for treatments in the spa, neatly underlining the fact that the Uma Ubud enjoys a wealthy clientele.
The restaurant, Kemiri, serves a wide selection of Asian and western dishes and is outstanding thanks to locally sourced, fresh produce. I tried the Chinese roast duck soup with sago, shiitake mushrooms, kale and white pepper (181,500 Indonesian rupiah; Dh70) followed by grilled jumbo prawns with chilli, pineapple and tamarind sauce with torch ginger for 229,900 rupiah (Dh88). There is also a delicious raw-food menu.
The hour-long yoga class looking out across the tropical jungle foliage of Tjampuhan Valley.
While undeniably beautiful, I find the resort's pebbled pathways, different levels and private enclaves rather a pain to negotiate. The A/C in my room is on an energy-saving setting that turns on and off and I sleep badly, aware of the noise.
The bottom line
A terrace room at the Uma Ubud costs from US$333 (Dh1,223) per night, including breakfast, a complimentary group yoga class and group morning walk, and taxes. Uma by Como, Ubud, Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Bali (www.comohotels.com; 00 62 361 972448).