We arrived late night at the hotel. After checking in, the same driver who fetched us from the airport helped us with our luggage bags and brought us to our accommodation. I was surprised to find out that it was just a room. Though it resembles one of the photos in Airbnb (I got it for $46 SGD/night). I expected the unit to be separate since it was indicated as a “private home apartment”, not a room in a villa. The compound was dimly lit so we couldn’t see much of the surroundings.
After waking up the following morning, I saw that our room was just next to a rice paddy and that was what I’ve expected. I was woken up by the sound of singing grasshoppers, buzzing bees, cock-a-doodle-doos of the roosters and chirping birds. I was excited to do my first meditation during this vacation. I explored the property on our first morning and found the right place for my meditation. I chose the spot facing a pond that is almost completely filled with waterlilies. It was a serene moment: chirping birds of different varieties, bees buzzing around and a gentle breeze rustling the leaves. And I did this routine for the 7 days of our stay.
And at night, we fell asleep with the lullaby of the sound of a crickets, cicadas, frogs, and the many other night critters.
The weather was also fantastic during our stay. It was cool and there wasn’t much rain, except at night which didn’t last that long. In one of the mornings, Alvin woke up at 4am to try to take pictures of the Milky Way and he managed to have a good shot.
The room given to us, called Dolce 4, is furnished with a king size bed with mosquito net. We were given only two pillows and since there were three of us, I asked for an extra pillow but unfortunately, we were given only a throw pillow as they didn’t have one available.
The bathroom is huge but the toiletries are not complete. The hotel provided the basics like towels, shampoo and shower gel, but not face towels, face soap and toothpaste & toothbrush (luckily, we brought our own set of toiletries). The bathroom has a plain layout and there is no separation between the shower area and the rest, causing much of the bathroom to be wet and sometimes flooded. There were also no sight of any tissue holder and toiletries’ shelf as well.
As for housekeeping, they tidied up the room enough. However, the replacement towels did not smell pleasant. I asked the reception how often they change the beddings and they informed me after every three nights which is acceptable. But after four nights, I noticed that they still haven’t changed our bedding so I reminded them again. They finally replaced it.
It has huge paintings at first I’m quite bothered but later I got used to it. Alvin said looks like surrealism. It has no television, however we don’t mind it because we here to relax and enjoy the serenity of Ubud.
Breakfast is included in the package! Breakfast menu is simple. You can choose one in each of the following: coffee or tea (their coffee is good); fruit salad or fruit juice; pancake crepe style or toast (freshly baked but not always available); omelet or scrambled egg. We had stayed for seven nights so the limited choices didn’t work really well for us (though we enjoyed them for the first three days). Serving could also be slow sometime because there are only two staff in the kitchen.
The restaurant is clean and organized. They have four playful cats that sometimes will disturb you while eating. As it is open-air, there can be a lot of insects at night so better apply insect repellant lotion or stick an insect repellant patch on your shirt (my son and I had lots of insect bites on the second night.)
Lunch and Dinner menu: The restaurant offers several local dishes in their menu (during our stay, some items from their menu were not available, though). Don’t try the super platter (Asian) it’s a waste of money. Their staff (Putu, Ria and Agung) are all hardworking especially Agung. There was one night when he was alone in the kitchen and he had to serve four tables. He took the orders, chopped the ingredients, cooked them, and then served them. And he repeated this for the four tables. He smiles always.
They have three pools: the first one is exclusive to the three-room villa; the second one is small, like 12m x 12m and faces the rice paddy; and the third one is L-shaped and is probably 20m on the longest side, enough for Albert to do his laps.
The hotel provides free shuttle to Ubud town area. Ubud’s town centre has many good places to eat, from local to international cuisine. There are also several gelato and coffee shops. You can shop for souvenirs, clothes, batik and anything you can think of.
We took advantage of the free shuttle, and went to town almost every day for meals, shopping and sight-seeing. We’ve had some problems with the pickup from town though. Twice, we were fetched after an hour from the pickup point. One time, the shuttle didn’t arrive due to some complicated reason (the short of it: the hotel reception claimed they didn’t receive the call).
First impression’s last… the reception desk was not that tidy. It looked dusty. It would be much better if they were fresh flowers on the reception desk. And a warm smile from the receptionist.
We’ve had several (mis)communication issues with the reception staff:
- We requested for a 6:30am shuttle to Capuhan as we wanted to have an early walk along this trail. No shuttle came. Since the reception desk only opened at 8am, we didn’t find anyone to talk to. At 7am, the kitchen staff, Ria came in and we told her about our problem. She tried to help us by calling the drivers but to no avail. We decided to have breakfast first and was able to have the shuttle only after 8am. (We were later told that free shuttle service only starts at 8am. Regardless, we were not told about this the night I booked)
- The pick-up point in Ubud town is at the Nomad restaurant. On our first 2 pick-up requests, the shuttle came within 30 minutes, as communicated to us during our check in. On our third pick-up request, Nomad’s manager helped us to call the hotel for pick up but no one came after 30 minutes. After a while, he brought me to the phone so that I could talk to the hotel reception staff myself, however no one answered the call. We waited further. At last, the service came after an hour and 30 minutes of waiting.
- On the fifth day, as usual, we went to the pick-up point. One of the Nomad staff helped us to call the hotel and she said the driver is coming. While waiting, we kept ourselves busy by reading our own books. After an hour, we requested her to call again. She asked me to come with her to the phone, however no one answered the call. I decided to go to the market first. When I came back, Alvin and Albert were still reading their books and there was no sign of our driver. We’ve been waiting in vain for two hours so I told Alvin to go with the staff to call AGAIN. Same, no one was picking up. So we decided to take a cab. When we reached the hotel, I was frustrated and sternly asked the receptionist why they didn’t pick us up. Shockingly, they said they didn’t receive any call from Nomad! I spoke to Wayan (manager) and Andre (owner) to explain the situation. Honestly, I think they were not able to handle the situation well. They blamed Nomad, saying that they probably dialed the wrong number. After that, they told me that cab to the hotel is cheap so I should just have called one. That really annoyed me. It’s not about whether the cab fare is cheap or expensive, it’s about the hotel giving us the expectation that the driver was coming. If they couldn’t provide the service, they could have just told us that they couldn’t that time. That would be better than letting us wait for two hours and 30 minutes. We were very frustrated with the service that we planned to check out early. We dropped by the villa near Indigo Tree. They have a room with the same price. Unfortunately, we couldn’t refund our unused booking because of the terms and conditions. In the end, we just decided to bear with the hotel.
Despite the miscommunication issues, I can still say that the hotel a good choice for up to three nights of stay, or probably longer if you don’t mind the limited breakfast and other meals in their restaurant. The staff should wear uniform so guests can easily identify them. They should also stock some basic necessities such as first aid kit and flashlight/torchlight. I had a cut after our hike and I requested for a plaster and to our surprise, the staff said they didn’t have it. We also had electrical problems at late night and early morning. Our lights did not work for the past 4 nights of our stay.
They should have a note in the reception desk for contact numbers, in case guests arrive late (they don’t have 24 hours reception) and emergency.
The hotel should also try to manage the expectation of their customers. For the free shuttle, they should tell us upfront if they can’t fetch us so we can arrange our own transport. Or they could arrange pick up times from Ubud, to avoid overwhelming their drivers.