Translated as “beautiful bamboo,” Bambu Indah is a passion project of jewelry designers and founders of the nearby Green School, John and Cynthia Hardy. Canadian and American expats living in Bali for more than 30 years, the Hardys bought 11 teakwood bridal houses in 2005—houses that Javanese noblemen once built for their wives. The houses were moved to the Sayan Ridge above the Ayung River in Baung, Bali—15 minutes west of Ubud—before the couple restored and individually decorated them to house their many friends and guests. Today, the houses are surrounded by cutting-edge bamboo dining and lounging structures, an organic permaculture garden, swimming holes inhabited by fish and frogs, tracks of dense rain forest, and flat green rice paddies. Bambu Indah is a family- and community-driven property where John Hardy’s daughter Elora is responsible for some of the bamboo architecture and furnishings; his son Orin is involved with the edible gardens; and spiritual ceremonies, tours, and textile courses involve local friends. The decor is heavy on traditional textiles and beautiful objects from around the world. Those, combined with whimsical surprises—from a bamboo treehouse to a rope swing that drops guests into the pool—ignite the imagination.
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Bambu Indah is situated above the Ayung River just 15 minutes west of Ubud, Bali’s cultural center that’s become internationally respected for visual and performing arts as well as yoga, wellness, and sustainability. While Ubud is a popular destination among artists and spiritual seekers from around the world, its stunning setting of rice terraces, forests, and rivers still provides a tranquil respite. The main palace holds nightly dance performances, and some kind of Hindu-Balinese ceremony takes place daily. Ubud has more recently become known for dining, which ranges from authentic eateries and markets to raw and vegan hot spots like Clear Café. The outskirts of Ubud are strewn with artisan villages and far-out architectural projects such as the Green School, envisioned by Bambu Indah’s owners in 2007. Guests of the resort can also arrange a tour of the John Hardy jewelry factory located nearby.
Need to Know
Rooms: 11 antique houses. From $95 to $345. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Dapoer (“kitchen” in Indonesian) offers homemade bubur (Balinese porridge), granola, breads, and jams for breakfast as well as family-style Indonesian entrees prepared using age-old recipes from ingredients grown on-site. A complimentary afternoon tea is held between 4 and 6 p.m., when the bamboo dining hall glows orange and pink. Spa and gym details: Balinese treatments from traditional massage to boreh (an island spice mask) are offered in guest accommodations or at the Massage House. Minang House is a black bamboo structure that often hosts yoga and meditation sessions as well as retreat programs and special celebrations. Nature lovers should swim in the rock pool carved out of lava stone and native vegetation, or go for a morning walk through the rice paddies and local villages.
Who's it best for: Culturally- and environmentally-conscious travelers who consider homegrown produce, bohemian design, and simple pleasures great luxuries. Our favorite rooms: The Afrika House showcases furnishings from John and Cynthia Hardy’s family trips to Africa. It’s the largest of the Javanese homes and features a spacious bathroom with a rain shower and a hand-hammered copper tub designed by John Hardy. The creek running alongside the house provides a soothing soundtrack morning till night. The Sumba House, constructed entirely of bamboo by Elora Hardy’s company Ibuku, is a treehouse-like reflection of the aboriginal Sumba culture. Unexpected treats: Playful experiences are hidden throughout Bambu Indah. Guests can jump off a rope swing into a natural rock pool; play a bamboo harp installed by violin maker Rüdiger Schödel; climb a towering ladder to a boat-shaped treehouse; swim or float down a holy river, which happens to be Bali’s longest; or rent a stylish scooter bedecked in traditional batik prints.