By Tania LaCaria
I could feel the morning sun on my face, and just like any other morning, I blinked the sleep out of my eyes, turned over with a noisy stretch and pushed the crisp, cotton sheets off my legs. Except, this morning was different. It was special. I had woken up in the hotel room of my dreams with the love of my life. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t still sleeping, but before I could lift my arm the comforting scent of incense wafted into the room and enveloped us. This confirmed it: I was home…or at least I felt like hotel Pande Permai in Ubud, Bali could be my new home.
I dreamed of taking a trip to Bali to visit the artistically charged town of Ubud for a year before I finally managed to book the trip, and boy, am I ever glad I did.
Ubud was everything I hoped it would be and more – the town is bursting at the seams with culture, music, art and great food. Despite the four-hour-long journey we endured on a minibus to get there, I arrived with a giant smile that stayed plastered on my face for the whole week (I hear I was even smiling in my sleep).
I picked up my 13 kilo backpack, slugged it over my shoulder and began to walk with Jeff, my boyfriend and travel partner, in search of a hotel for the night. The afternoon sun was beating down on us and it was painfully hot outside, but the walk up the hill on Monkey Forest road soon became well worth it once we saw the wooden Pande Permai Hotel sign affixed to the grand entrance’s stone wall. I had never heard of the hotel, but I could tell from peering through the main entrance doors that it was exactly what I was looking for.
The kind woman behind the counter gave us a tour of the pool area and showed us to one of the rooms so we could decide if Pande Permai was “good enough” for us to spend the night in. Well, I have never been so enamoured with a hotel in my life. The swimming pool was divine – a large stone wall with creeping vines and niches filled with stone Bali-Hindu statues provided the perfect amount of privacy from the street. There was an elevated platform with a sitting area overlooking the pool, and a couple of loungers and poolside tables that I immediately envisioned myself enjoying with my morning tea.
The front door of our room was an intricately carved piece of wood painted in bright gold, green, red and blue hues reminiscent of local Balinese art – I was already impressed and we weren’t even inside yet! Our room was attached to one other room via a single wall – it really felt like a semi-detached slice of paradise instead of a hotel. Once I crossed the threshold and set my eyes on the dark wood furniture, the heavy four poster bed with mosquito net drapery and the marble-clad ensuite I knew I was going to have to spend a night (or four) in this hotel…no matter what the cost.
Jeff nudged me in the ribs once he noticed that my jaw was hanging wide open in amazement at the sight of the most stunning balcony view of the terraced rice paddy field in the distance – our chances of negotiating for a better room rate were gone. I was in love with this hotel – I knew it was going to be the most romantic, relaxing, and enjoyable place I’d ever spend the night. And, I was right.
By the way: This is not a hotel that you take the kiddies to (even though I’m sure they are “permitted” to enter). No, this is a hotel where you take your lover to feel guilt-free about lounging around in your intimates until you finally manage to tear yourself from the comfy bed and soak in the Jacuzzi before your afternoon swim. If you are looking for the perfect getaway to celebrate your love for life, culture and art in a town that values the same things, then book a (one way?) ticket to Ubud, check into Pande Permai, and enjoy yourself knowing that you’ve earned the right to be pampered.