We gape, amazed.
Oversize golden serpents hang from the ceiling.
A wood-carved Komodo dragon clings to the wall. Marble sculptures of lions roar at us. Painted-wood winged beings and other fantastical creatures stand like sentries.
Many are larger-than life.
It looks like a large art gallery. But we’re actually in the breezy reception lobby of Ayung Resort Ubud, a five-star luxury hotel in Ubud on the island of Bali. (You may remember Ubud from the Eat Pray Love flick, starring Julia Roberts).
And this lobby is stuffed with an eclectic collection of original art and sculptures from Indonesia and across Asia.
Ayung Resort Ubud: A tropical hideaway
Ayung Resort Ubud garners great reviews on TripAdvisor (with a 2021 “Travelers’ Choice” award). It was also a “World Luxury Hotel Awards” winner as well.
And we can see why.
For one thing, the resort’s private and lush rainforest setting is ideal.
It is serene and quiet, yet just a 10- to 15-minute drive away from Ubud, with its bustling daytime shopping and art gallery exploration and its nightly traditional Balinese dance performances.
To get to Ubud, the resort offers free transfers by luxury SUV three times a day. (Luxury transport to the resort from Bali’s international airport in Denpasar, some 90 minutes away, is also offered.)
You can choose a hotel room
Reached by a winding road, the resort entrance is flanked by two rearing horse statues; Ayung’s art-filled lobby sits near the top of the resort.
Two separate hotel buildings (one with 18 guestrooms and the other with 20 guestrooms) and 18 luxury villas are strewn along a sloping hillside.
All the villas (and the Sita hotel building or wing) overlook the Ayung River gorge and have panoramic views of the emerald-green tropical rainforest opposite.
The two hotel wings (Sita and family-favored Laksmana) have their own large swimming pools.
Carved wood villas
We stayed in one of the villas (called Rumah Kudus) – a fabulous 100-foot long, one-level vacation home done in traditional Indonesian style.
The Rumah Kudus interiors and exteriors were built from lovingly restored, hand-carved, dark wood panels imported from Java.
Our villa was very private, with its own pool (big enough to swim a few laps), wrap-around outdoor decking and solid teak outside lounge furniture.
Inside, the beautiful large living-and-dining room with a gleaming granite floor came fully furnished with polished mahogany and rosewood furniture, a fridge filled with complimentary juices, and an excellent Malongo coffee/cappuccino maker for all-day espressos or cappuccinos.
The separate bedroom, also traditional dark wood, invited rest and relaxation.
The huge, super-modern bathroom – with a tub, separate glass shower and two well-lit sinks and spacious vanity/make-up areas – was a treat (no jockeying for mirror space needed).
Façade of Borobudur
Outside, a winding brick path leads down past carved stone faces and even a detailed, carved façade of Borobudur, Yogyakarta’s most famous Buddhist temple monument.
The path leads down further to an enclosure holding small deer, well-fed and looked after.
You can actually walk down a serpentine footpath with stairs all the way to the river bank below.
All the moss-covered carvings look ancient, though the stone was actually carved by 250 master artisans four or five years before the resort opened.
We thoroughly enjoyed the food at Ayung Resort Ubud – some of the best fine dining in Ubud.
The restaurant is beautiful.
At breakfast and afternoon tea, we’d sit by the railing looking out over the thick rainforest, keeping our eyes peeled for monkeys swinging in the treetops.
Sometimes we could see helmeted thrill-seekers in colorful whitewater rafts, cheerfully bouncing along the Ayung River way below.
There’s also a more casual dining rooftop space offering Italian food and oven-baked pizza, which we wish we’d had time to try out.
Photo credits: 2, 3, 9 to 14, 16, 18, 19 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Remaining photos Ayung Resort Ubud
We stayed at Ayung Resort Ubud as media guests for review purposes. But our words and views are always our own – and we tell you if a place has any warts. (We follow the SATW, TMAC and NATJA codes of ethics and conduct for professional travel writers.)