Dates: March 8 — 10, 2018
Who Stayed: Sabrina & Her Best Friend
A ten minute motorbike ride outside of central Ubud is the residential village Kutuh Kaja, where at night the skies are dotted with more stars than many of us city dwellers are used to seeing, and by day large swaths of rice fields dominate the scenery. Here is where you'll find the Calma Ubud, the most accurate picture of a boutique hotel if there ever was one, and one of the best values in Ubud.
The Calma Ubud consists of ten individual rooms set in what feels like a very private complex of villas. Operating at such a small scale the hotel is able to provide a high quality experience for guests at a lower cost than many of the larger resorts dotting the Ubud area.
Checking in at the Ubud was a fairly straight forward process, although finding the hotel for the first time is a little tricker— keep those eagle eyes out because it's very easy to drive by as the hotel blends so seamlessly into the surrounding area.
The Calma's lobby is open aired and elegantly decorated, a little taste of what's to come when you enter the compound. We signed up for a spa package during check-in and then were guided through a few wooden doors to our suite, where we were greeted with complimentary mojitos as a welcome drink.
We had booked a "Superior Room" and honestly I was a little surprised at the size of the bedroom, which was smaller than I had expected. The Calma Ubud has ten rooms but six different room types, and it gets kind of confusing to keep track of the hierarchy here. I think I had mistaken the "Superior Room" for the "Superior Double or Twin" which appears a little more spacious in photos.
Nonetheless, it wasn't a huge disappointment and because of the large bathroom and easy access to the hotel's common areas, we never felt cramped or like there wasn't enough room for the two of us. Since Ubud is also packed with sights to see and we had a relatively short time there (two days) we weren't spending that much time in our room anyway. Our room also included a little patio in front with two chairs, straw blind for privacy, and buddha statue out front.
The room itself was very minimal in decoration. I loved the carved white wooden headboard, jade colored side tables, and vibrant woven rug, but I'm not going to lie I wasn't super into the minimalist wooden wall art on display in the room. Since the room is already so sparse I would've loved to see some color on the walls in addition.
As usual, the bathroom is always a highlight for me and the Calma Ubud is no exception. The open shower area has a skylight that fills the room with the most wonderful warm ambiance in the morning.
There was plenty of counter space around the sink for all of our things and the landscape mirror was perfect for two girls to get ready at the same time. The bathroom also has a drying rack in addition to a ladder-style towel rack.
The center-piece of the Calma is the infinity pool overlooking rice fields in the back. Due to the hotel's small size the pool was never over-crowded during our stay. It's the perfect place to spend the afternoon and chill out with a happy hour drink after seeing sights all day. On the other side of the pool is also a quieter wooden deck area with a few lounge chairs overlooking the fields if you're looking for some privacy.
The pool is connected to the hotel's restaurant, which is tastefully decorated with a variety of seating options: bar, coffee tables with sofas, hammocks, a large communal table, and more traditional cafe-style tables for two.
I feel like I had very mixed experiences with the service at Calma Ubud. There were certain staff members who went above and beyond during our stay, like the front desk attendant who went around asking the other staff members for small bills so that I could break a large bill to pay my motorcycle driver. Or the friendly young man who would drive the hotel's van to drop us off in central Ubud.
On the flip side, breakfast our first day was somewhat stressful. Knowing that our tour guide was coming to pick us up at a certain time, I wanted to make sure I was able to get breakfast, which is included free with your stay. I think the restaurant must've been understaffed that day because it took over twenty minutes before someone was able to take my order. We ended up having to ask them to package breakfast to go in order to leave the hotel on time.
In addition when we booked our spa services it wasn't clear to us that we had essentially booked a 'couples' treatment when what we wanted were two individual treatments. This meant we shared a lot of the same time and resources but without any discount on the price of the services. Despite this, I would still recommend getting a massage or bath at the spa if that's something that interests you— ultimately the price is so much more affordable than getting similar treatments in the U.S. that it's hard to complain too much.
Despite my complaints about the slow service in the kitchen, I have to say the food itself was amazing. The strawberry crepes we had for breakfast the first day were some of the best I've ever had. I think it's super impressive albeit ambitious that their free breakfast is made to order from a decently varied menu, considering most hotels with free breakfast will either set out a buffet or limit their menu to two or three options at most. The free breakfast also includes your choice of juice or a smoothie in addition to tea and/or coffee.
If you're looking for a quiet and tranquil area to stay in Ubud you can't get much better than the Calma. However, the hotel isn't walking distance to any restaurants or sights. You'll need to take the hotel shuttle to downtown Ubud which is free if you go according to their shuttle schedule or around $6 each way (for the whole party) outside. Our schedule pretty much never worked out with the shuttle so we ended up paying for the shuttle a few times, with the return trip always being a little cheaper because you can just find a driver in Ubud to take you back for less.
I'm still kind of torn on whether or not I would've liked to stay in Central Ubud. On the one hand, it's nice to be close to all the restaurants, shops, and nightlife. On the other hand, it's also nice to be in a more relaxing environment with the space to stretch out.
While there are ground-floor rooms available at the Calma, there are steps all over the hotel grounds that it's hard for me to recommend this place for wheelchair users. With the exception of the upper-floor suites these tend to be short flights, but they are there separating the rooms from the pathway to the restaurant, from the restaurant to the pool, from the pool to the spa area and the lounge/deck area on the other side of the pool. There are also shallow steps around the various thresholds and doorways leading to the suites from the lobby.
If you really want to go "all out" during your stay to Ubud there are definitely bigger, more reputable resorts that are worth checking out. However, if you are keen to stick to a budget but still want to stay somewhere inspiring and relaxing then I think the Calma Ubud is one of the best options in the area. It's price point is simply lower than average for the quality they deliver and as long as you keep that in mind and overlook a few flaws, you'll be happy with your stay.
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