If there’s a ground zero for unique hotels that take full advantage of their natural surroundings, it would be Bali. But even here, the infinity pools overlooking volcanic mountains and thatched-roof bamboo villas tucked within palm forests can eventually seem interchangeable with luxury accommodations on other far-flung islands. The whole point of traveling is to get out of your bubble. In Bali, the way to do that is to sleep in one.
I was recently looking for tree houses on Airbnb (as one does . . .) when I clicked across a bubble hotel available for $120 per night. The “romantic transparent dome” was set on a clearing overlooking the jungle and came with a private gazebo for dining, a swing, and an outdoor hammock bed.
It was pure Instagram material. And that’s 100 percent why I booked it. I’d been seeing posts from Iceland’s Buubble Lodge, the Maldives’ Finolhu, Australia’s Bubbletents, Ireland’s Forest Domes at Finn Lough, and Mexico’s Campera Hotel, and the FOMO hit harder than my double tap on the photos.
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Despite their newfound frequency on Instagram’s Discover page, bubble hotels aren’t exactly new. Attrap’Rêves opened one of the first in 2010 in France. But the ubiquity of social media and the fact that, in recent years, millennials have become notorious for prioritizing spending on experiences over anything else have created the perfect climate for bubble hotels to, ahem, blow up.
In Bali, it seemed like a relatively inexpensive way to experience the rural, rice paddy–filled outskirts of Ubud. Like next-level glamping, these bubbles give you the experience of camping under the stars without the indignities of roughing it. But even after I reserved my bubble, I worried if reality would be as good as the ’grams.
Of course, the photo opp was unreal—my three photos from the bubble garnered almost 1,000 likes. But there isn’t really a comparable way to quantify the magical experience of sleeping alone in nature like that.
That’s because—besides booking hotels like this for the likes—people are drawn to the seclusion they offer. To get to this bubble Airbnb in Bali, you have to drive about 30 minutes out of Ubud into the Tegalalang area. Once you turn off the main road, it’s another 10 minutes of driving through the rice fields before you reach a dirt road, at the end of which you’ll find the check-in area. Then it’s a cautious walk along the cliffside to get to the private lots.
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Each bubble is made from sturdy transparent plastic and comes fully equipped with a double bed, nightstand, air-conditioning, outlets for recharging devices, lights, a full minibar, and bathrobes and slippers. You order food from a menu (say nasi goreng and chilled bottles of Bintang beer) sent via WhatsApp.
While there were other bubbles near mine, they were almost entirely concealed by different types of palm trees. Even the outdoor private bathroom, which sat about 25 feet back from the bubble and came with a real flushable toilet and a rainshower, was walled off only by a shoulder-height fence. Still, I never felt like anyone could be watching me.
Sure, you could leave—my hotel was only a few miles to Tirta Empul, one of Bali’s famous water temples, or Gunung Kawi, an 11th-century shrine carved into the mountainside—but why would you? For 24 hours, it’s about staying in one place and appreciating the jungle landscape without the distractions of other people, city noises, or light pollution.
Even Bali’s evening storms couldn’t put a damper on my bubble bliss. Listening to the rain plop against the plastic directly over my face as I fell asleep was better than any white noise machine I’ve ever tried at home in New York City, and the next morning’s sunrise was better than any alarm clock. The likes rolling in? Those were an added bonus.
Book Now: From $103 per night, airbnb.com