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For those looking for luxury in Ubud, the options are wide, expanding the breath of brands and propositions. From a newly opened Ritz Carlton Reserve to the long-standing Four Seasons, the large Maya Ubud or the Hanging Gardens, one of the world’s most photographed pool (I can testify to that being case having stayed there and seen how the stream of selfies and photo ops was a never ending story, read my review here).
What Ubud was lacking was a hip and sexy version of the Seminyak hotels. Ubud is where the young and beautiful people come to disconnect and enjoy the silence and serenity of the rice paddies extending into the horizon. They come here to hide whereas they go to Seminyak to be seen. Until Chapung Se Bali opened its doors, and has started to slowly become noticed.
Offering just 8 villas perched on a hill overlooking a river, Chapung Se Bali is the place where the tanned and healthy bodies of local residents come to enjoy a lazy Sunday with chill out, Ibiza-style beats, fabulous cocktails with a Latin influence and yummy food. The hotel’s guests have their own large designer villas with private pools and can decide to enjoy the quietness of the rice paddies or the happening Jungle Fish pool. Design and space merge into this Danish-owned Den.
Arrival and check-in
Chapung Se Bali is tucked away in a quieter part of Ubud, among jungle greenery and a river. The resort is no more than 10min away from Ubud center by scooter and is surrounded by local houses, farm land and paddies.
The reception, an area you may never return to until your departure, is at the highest point of the resort. Check-in was swift and within minutes we were shown to our villa, at the very edge of the resort, where the owner has bought additional land to expand the resort. Descending down to the restaurant and taking a peek at the pool is an invitation to spending the rest of your day there.
The villas are located at different levels above the resort’s pool all facing the river. They are very large and made of three areas; an indoor bedroom, bathroom and changing room, an open-plan outdoor living room and kitchen area overlooking the other side of the stream and a pool and sun lounging space under yellow umbrellas.
The design is modern, hip and Nordic. The owner’s furniture business and Danish heritage shows in the mid-century inspired touches. Bright purple, green, red and yellow contrast with the otherwise muted tones of the wood. The furniture is made of clean straight lines and reminiscent of ABBA. Refreshing, considering the repetitive and almost cookie cutter design of most hip hotels. Chapung is different. The design is smart and it has managed to combine Nordic influences with Balinese warmth.
The outdoor space is beautiful, simple and comfortable. The sink-in sofas swallow you in and the views have you hooked. The plunge pool can be accessed directly from the bathroom or the bedroom. You can literally wake up and take ten steps into the pool. What impressed me the most was the sense of calmness and stillness. Aside from the sound of the birds there was no other noise disturbing the tranquility of the place.
The bathroom was large and spacious with an appealing bathtub and a separate toilet and shower area. Next to the bathroom was a walk in closet with views over the rice paddies. The warm sun rays penetrating through the curtains in the afternoon gave the space a glowing tone.
The bedroom had a four poster bed with a TV and a desk area overlooking the pool. The wooden floors and walls and the pieces of art hanging from the walls made me feel like I was staying at a one of a kind place.
The villas are an independent space to chill and relax. You have freedom and privacy making you feel as if you were at home. But the facilities are tempting. The turquoise blue of the scenic Jungle Fish swimming pool shines bright among the pink, orange and red flowers decorating the lush trees. Even at the end of the rainy season Ubud’s jungle vegetation takes over from the edge of the infinity pool. The area is stunning. The Nordic design shows again in the clean cut cabanas, the flowing sun umbrellas and the bar area. It is colorful without overwhelming and it is full of beautiful people, good vibes and flowing music.
We sit down for a drink with Nikki, the fascinating owner of Chapung, among recycled glass mosaic tiles and black volcanic rock. It is clear that he did not build Chapung Se Bali to turn it into a money-making business but to experiment with various ideas and concepts. “Bali is where creative Europeans come to experiment with ideas that would ruin them in Europe”, he confesses as we down spicy chili margaritas inspired by his Andalucian wife. Jewelry makers, creative souls, clothes designers and those seeking a deeper meaning all flood to Ubud’s bamboo houses. They come in search of a place to try things out, ideas that would not be possible in constrained, regulated and old Europe. In Bali, anything is possible and the low cost of living has afforded a thriving entrepreneurial life.
Chapung was supposed to be located elsewhere but when Nikki was about to put down the deposit, someone else bought the land. His local “fixer”told him it wasn’t meant to be and that it was bad karma and found him the current location instead. I don’t know anything about karma, but the place is certainly magical.
At the time of our visit, he was expanding the spa, currently located on a gorgeous temple style building among the rice paddies. A cube was also being built. Guests will hang from hammocks over the void, drink in hand. “I am just trying things out. I get the staff from my furniture factory over here to test new ideas and see what works. If it doesn’t, we do it again”, Nikki confesses. He has this open minded contagious smile that makes you believe anything is possible. At Chapung, it is. He is creating a space where music and food converge, where the stunning surroundings take center stage and where you can feel at home. “There is a Spanish family who is staying on Villa no.2, they have been staying there for a month”, he explains partly in disbelieve, partly with pride. I could understand why someone would want to live at Chapung. The place is beautiful and colorful, in a unique kind of way, as if the jungle decided to dress up for the occasion and flowers of all colors were coming out to show off.
The villas are all hidden behind tall grey rock walls. They looked like a black and white postcard only brightened by the small spirit houses by the entrance to each villa. Frangipani trees, heavy with yellow and pink flowers, hang from the inside of the villas filling the air with their spa fragrance.
The gardens are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Rice paddies, lily ponds, vegetables and herb gardens and the occasional offering and small spirit house. Flowers of all colors give the space an explosion of color.
Chapung’s chef is from Greek origin and the menu offers Mediterranean cuisine with an Indonesian touch that complements the setting and the surroundings to perfection. We enjoyed fresh breakfast with the fluffiest pancakes I have ever tasted. Surprisingly, coffee was excellent, a pet peeve of mine, since hotels don’t seem to get it right, even the luxury properties. There were fresh fruits, cereals and a delicious lime and ginger water that served as the best morning perk me up. The best part of breakfast were the views. Over the pool and the valley, nothing could beat such a pretty place.
The food was fresh, simple but made to perfection. The type of light options you would want to enjoy when it is hot, sunny and bright outside.
By the pool, the menu offered a similar list with salads and other light snacks available. The drinks were a success. For those living in Bali, the resort offers day passes with access to the pool for only $15 which can be used as credit towards drinks or food. A bargain that may not last long given the cool and hip atmosphere.
Chapung Se Bali is currently the sexiest place in Ubud. Combining unassuming luxury in a beautiful setting and with a young, hip atmosphere this is the place where those who have had enough of crowded and overly show-off Seminyak come to escape. It is the place that has it all for the young and up and coming professionals that do not want flashy places but prefer to keep secrets like Chapung to themselves. I am only half heartedly spilling the beans on such a diamond, for the best things in life are better when shared. But please, keep to yourself.
Rates start at $296 per night, a steal for what you get.
Once in a lifetime journey was a guest of Chapung thanks to BookGreener , a green hotel booking engine that promises to deliver the most enriching travel experiences, focusing on hotels that are making the world a better place.
As always, my opinions are my own. I would recommend Chapung to my friends and, if I return to Ubud, I hope to stay there again.