People like hotels that feel like home. I disagree. Strongly. While I technically don’t have a home right now, I think the whole point of staying in a hotel is that it ain’t like home. I want crisp linens and someone who makes my bed (a habit I have never gotten into even as an adult), I love a minibar and pretend it’s always free, and I love spreading all of my clothes around a room within 5 minutes because I know I can leave the next day and will just move the mess into my suitcase.
No, really, I don’t mind that hotels are nothing like a home. Having that said, though, there are some I would like to make my home.
Bisma Eight in Ubud is such a place. From the moment I saw the website, I knew I would want to move in indefinitely. While there is no shortcoming on great Ubud accommodation options, this one is just the right amount of different to stand out from the pack.
Stylish Ubud Accommodation
One of its highlights is its location. Jalan Bisma runs parallel to Jalan Monkey Forest and is about a ten-minute walk to the entrance of the Monkey Forest. Close enough to get your daily dose of monkeys – especially important for my friend and travel companion Julia who has declared on multiple occasions that she wants to be Michael Jackson just for the pet monkey – but far enough not to get surprised by random monkey business. And by monkey business I mean random monkeys stealing your breakfast treats or your spilling your coconut.
There is also a lot less hustle and bustle on Jalan Bisma than in the rest of the city. When deciding on where to stay in Ubud I like to choose a location that is within walking distance to all the sights and eateries, but still gives you an authentic Bali feeling – after all, we are all here for some rice paddy views and a bit of Eat Pray Love.
While most Ubud accommodation offers either one or the other, Bisma Eight combines the best of both worlds: Jalan Bisma is close enough to the city center but still surrounded by a few rice paddies and their resident ducks. At least for now.
Another specialty about Bisma Eight is a seamless blend of modern design and local craftsmanship. You will see this mixture in the rooms, in the food, and the location. This is unusual as many of the best hotels in Ubud like to showcase traditional architecture and interior design. Nothing wrong with that at all, but if you are a city slicker at heart like me and are looking for something a bit more contemporary you will find very little options. If there was ever a design hotel in Bali – this is it.
From the outside, Bisma Eight looks like a gray block of concrete but upon coming closer you realize that the austere walls blend in beautifully with the Balinese landscape: Flowers on those gray walls, billowy curtains and once you are inside, their very own altar with a big Ganesh statue. Here guests can leave an offering that you are given upon check-in.
Our room is nothing short of stunning. Poor Julia has to be a good #Instagramhusband and stand in a corner for the first fifteen minutes while I am taking pictures of everything before the 5-minute mess can set in.
I am even tempted to fill the giant wooden bathtub for a nice ‘action shot’ but decide against it. Because a) I don’t like taking baths and b) saving water is important and c) climbing into a bathtub with no water just to take a picture seems rather silly though is probably not unheard of. While I don’t mind making a fool of myself for you, I do have my limits especially when a non-blogger is watching.
Instead, we decide to take to the pool, order all the wine and all the snacks because that is also the beauty of not staying at home – calories consumed while staying at a Bali hotel do not count. Or at any hotel for that matter.
While everybody agrees that it is a bit early in the year for heavy rains, the skies don’t give a damn. Soon we are swimming in the rain before retreating for a nap. We don’t mind either. Swimming in the rain is something I need to do more often and some beds are too good not to spend as much time as possible in them.
The next morning we are devouring eggs and waffles with sorbet (!!) for breakfast. Even I, the non-breakfast, non-sweet eater, am in love with my dish. Then we get down to business.
Monkey business that is. We are off to the Sacred Monkey Forest! Julia is cautious, I am enthralled – my rabies shots which cost me a fortune are making me brave. Before we even enter, my water bottle gets stolen and I have two little ones hanging off me. I am ecstatic.
While the Monkey Forest is called a sanctuary it is definitely a tourist attraction, one I am not so sure about in hindsight. You pay to walk inside the forest and you can pay a bit extra to get bananas to feed the monkeys. While there is nothing outright harmful about feeding them bananas, this has become a money-making operation – the banana sellers will tell you exactly how to hold them so the monkeys will come and sit on your shoulder (or head) while they take a picture of you and your new friend. They also have long sticks to keep them at bay if the monkeys become a bit too cheeky.
I will admit that I cannot resist either and neither can Julia. This is as close to her Michael Jackson fantasy as one can get without engaging in some seriously questionable practices. As you cannot choose whether your banana is going to attract a cute baby or a big mama with fangs, we are both getting a bit scared and to me, the whole thing feels a bit off. At least in hindsight. After I return home, I find this post by Rikki who shares similar feelings about the ethics of the Monkey Forest. That makes me think and I decide that in the future, I will rather seek a natural interaction as she had with the monkey. And with that, I vow to return to the Monkey Forest sans bananas but with a lot more patience. I still need to add a proper monkey selfie to my collection!
We return to Bisma and there are no monkeys in sight and instead, a serene-looking Ganesh is greeting us. For now, we are happy to have a monkey-free place to retire to and we make our way to the rooftop terrace of the Cooper Kitchen Restaurant. There are no waffles and sorbet on the dinner menu but instead some delicious Balinese dishes and chilled wine.
Fairy lights twinkle, the curtains billow, and we listen to the sounds of the Balinese rice paddies. The perfect place for a date night with your best friend and no monkey business*.
*And if you miss them too much, you know they are just a short walk away!
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