Oh Bali, you have stolen our hearts. Within a few days of our three weeks in Bali, it became very clear that Bali would be one of our favorite spots of the entire trip. Both of us have agreed that it HAS to be on our individual “top 3” lists. Anyone that has been here or even heard about it from others will understand…
There’s just something magical about this place. Of our three weeks, we spent the first two at a private villa with a pool in the middle of the jungles of Ubud and then met up with friends for a party week on the beaches of Seminyak. You know this place cast its spell when within the first few days of our stay in Ubud, Nick casually said “I think this is the most relaxed I’ve ever been in my entire life.” We were off to a good start!
Ubud & The Villa
Please try to understand what we mean when we say this…but after almost 7 months of travel, we didn’t realize (until we got to Bali) how much we needed to slow down and take it easy. A vacation from the vacation, if you will. Yes, it might sound silly but we very badly needed to disconnect from the flights and hotels and go-here-go-there timing we had gotten used to. Our beautiful villa in Ubud was literally THE perfect place for this. You know it’s good when the first moment our door is shut, Nick does a cannon ball into the pool.
So yeah, the villa was relaxing. It was beautiful. We had a koi pond literally IN our outdoor bathroom. Everything about it was peaceful. We decided to shut ourselves in for a few weeks and we only left for ONE meal (see below) and a few grocery store trips. We were fortunate to have one of the best teams when it came to service and they brought us breakfast every morning – the food we ordered and at the time we ordered – and we could eat it leisurely by the pool. We got to sunbathe. Swim. Read. Watch movies. Meditate. Pretty much whatever we wanted for two weeks. We ordered dinner in and stocked up on food and snacks at the store once or twice a week. We finally got the relaxation break we didn’t realize we needed.
Dessert for Dinner
Anyone else watch Chef’s Table? In one of their seasons, they focused exclusively on chefs that specialize in desserts. Will Goldfarb used to be a very famous pastry/dessert chef in NYC when he decided the stress of it all had gotten to him so he just up and disappeared…to Bali. To UBUD – in the middle of the jungles of Bali. We just so happened to be a 5 minute scooter ride to the restaurant he opened in Ubud that is dessert focused…so of course we had to try it. Our first Chef’s Table restaurant experience!!
Called Room 4 Dessert, this place was one of the best curated restaurant experiences – a well-oiled machine service-wise and serving up some of the tastiest and craziest food experiences we had had. Single-handedly produced the *best* cocktail of our entire 8 month trip (passionfruit infused gin with prosecco and a tarragon soda) and filled our bellies with savory bites as well as more-savory-versions-of-dessert dishes. YUM all around.
So what did this meal include?
I’m so glad you asked…
When you arrive, it’s as if an old friend has greeted you and asked if you’d like a tour of their garden. Which, of course, you DO want. So into the gardens we go…they show us all the fruits, veggies, herbs and spices that they rotate through using in their dishes, making sure to highlight the ones we’ll see tonight. We are then effortlessly dropped at the edge of an open-air, outdoor garden where our first round of 7 courses awaits. A round of “savory” bites, the night starts out with the acknowledgement that your taste buds will not be disappointed and your belly will not be empty. We couldn’t agree on the best dish here but suffice it to say, for a “dessert only” restaurant, the 7 savory dishes were pretty spectacular.
When done here, you are whisked away by another seemingly-family-member through the kitchen to say hello to all the lovely people preparing for your arrival and then into the main dining room to sit at the bar and watch as the chefs and bartenders expertly prepare your magical feast. A 7 course dessert menu, we chose to add on the beautifully prepared accompanying cocktails and couldn’t be more glad that we did. Each course was a completely different set of flavors, textures and presentations and not one of the dishes felt cloyingly sweet – a shock for a “dessert only” spot.
In case we didn’t have full bellies by this point, once done with our 7 full courses of desserts, we are guided into another garden for a final round of 7 petit fours. Just a “few” small bites, we were convinced we wouldn’t be able to finish the remaining courses. Of course, once they started, we couldn’t help ourselves and HAD to because they were just. So. Good.
Needless to say, in case our brief review doesn’t do it justice, if you’re ever in Bali and even considering heading to Ubud, we beg of you – PLEASE EAT HERE. Even if you “don’t like dessert.” It will delight your taste buds, fill your belly and provide you with an all-around magical night of food and scenery.
We were lucky enough to have FOUR visitors in Bali!! Shout outs to Michelle & Bryan and Allie & Chantal for making the incredibly long trek across the world to see us!! The 6 of us stayed together in the Seminyak area for 3-5 days (depending on the crew!) and enjoyed every moment of our time together!!
Best quote of the friends portion of the trip = Chantal with “I can’t believe I paid money to do this…” as we climbed to the top of Mt. Batur for sunrise at 3:00am…so glad Chantal put words to the misery we were all feeling. And speaking of which!
Sunrise “Hike” + Hot Springs + Coffee Plantation
This was undoubtedly one of *THE* most challenging hikes of our lives. Look, we are fairly out of shape due to 1) poor eating choices because we didn’t want to miss out on regional cuisine and 2) an increasingly difficult time finding gym access BUT this was actually a really difficult hike. We were picked up at 1:30am from our Airbnb and driven about 1.5 hours into the mountains. Meeting our guide at the base of Mt. Batur, we then started a truly grueling 2 hour hike to the top of the mountain to watch sunrise.
After we did a nearly straight incline up to the top, we caught some pretty spectacular views of sunrise. Almost eerie from the views we had but ended up being worth the ridiculously difficult hike up. After a much quicker and easier hike down, we stopped at a large natural hot spring for a lovely soak and view. Last stop of this day was almost a surprise to everyone – we stopped at a beautiful treehouse-like coffee plantation where we learned about the coffees of Bali and tried an INSANE number of coffees and teas. *Must get through day after 1:15am wakeup* – yeah, we all tried this strategy and it failed. BUT the coffees and teas were soooo tasty!! Anyone ever try avocado coffee?? Because it was delicious!!
The Beaches and Sunsets
Another one of the seemingly obvious reasons to visit Bali is its beaches. But every single night we all stood on the beach, in awe of the sunset. Spectacularly different each and every night, it was entrancing. Low tide hit around sunset every evening so the beaches were expansive with wet sands reflecting the range of colors the sun was still blasting out…sunsets are pretty everywhere but they felt show-stopping in Bali.
The FOOD Scene & The People
Why is the food scene worth its own section, you wonder? Bali is the one place we traveled in 7 months where we were not disappointed with ONE meal. In three weeks, that’s really saying something. And not only were we not disappointed by anything, we really enjoyed every single meal we had. Best tacos of the entire trip. Best milkshake of the entire trip. One of the best pasta dishes of the trip. Bali is all about food culture – especially our week in Seminyak. Yes, the places absolutely are catering to westerners and not to locals but the food and bar scene is on LOCK here. Even with minimal research on where to go, the food was out of this world. Fresh ingredients, beautifully prepared and exceptional service. I could list all the magical meals and restaurants we went to but that could be an entire post of its own. Just trust us – the food scene here is GOOD. Even the more “local,” Balinese food spots that weren’t obviously catering to westerners were chock full of flavorful, fresh food that kept us coming back for more and dreaming of our next meals…
When it came to the service in all parts of Bali, everyone felt genuinely nice and caring and went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable and had what we needed. It never felt contrived, no one ever felt pushy and there were few, if any, lapses in the extraordinary service we experienced on the entire island.
Other than saying “it’s BALI (duh)”, there really isn’t a good way to put into words why Bali made both of our lists. Nick doesn’t like beaches, crowds, tourists, or the heat and though Bali had all of them, it was still one of his favorite spots of the trip. Forced to create a list of reasons why this place was so special…the beaches, the sunsets, the incredible food scene, the accessibility for westerners, the price point, the relaxation quotient, the beautiful scenery, etc. Please, please, if you’re ever lucky enough to be in this part of the world, trust us and visit Bali. Once you’re there, you’ll never want to leave. It was the first place we were both legitimately sad to leave.