Are you looking for a luxury hotel with a stunning pool, views of lush tropical plants stretching down to the river below, right in the centre of Ubud? Do you want smiling faces to greet you, healthy vegan options on the menu and a breakfast full of vegan versions of local dishes?
Well then Alaya Resort Jembawan might well be for you.
As tourism in Bali has grown, the once sleepy village of Ubud which was made famous by Hollywood, has morphed into a sprawling and busy town full of tourists, cars and motorbikes. There are endless shops, restaurants, yoga studios, galleries and more. It’s still possible to experience the charm of one of Bali’s most popular destinations by picking a peaceful retreat to stay in where all the best things the town has to offer are still right at your fingertips.
Alaya Jembawan is located on Jalan Jembawan just off the main Jalan Raya Ubud, in an area where it’s still possible to wander about away from the main crowds and browse in one of the pretty boutique shops nearby. It’s also close to some excellent vegan dining opportunities, including their own restaurant, Herb Library.
It’s a modern hotel which has tried to keep some traditional Balinese features with the use of bamboo and wood in its design. Rooms are spacious and the higher floors offer a picturesque view over rooftops and huge tropical plants and trees which grow up the side of the gorge where the hotel is located.
Staff are friendly and the team at reception were certainly happy to help with our various dietary requests.
There were complimentary activities such as an interactive Balinese dance class, a class teaching you how to make traditional Balinese offerings, a detox juice demo and a flower making workshop. There were also a range of interesting activities that could be organised (not complimentary) including yoga and an Asian Herbs and Spices Masterclass with cookbook author and Cordon Bleu trained chef Diana von Cranach.
The Vegan Food:
Breakfast is served either in your room or at Herb Library, the choice is yours. You can also choose the time you wish to eat (right up to 10pm at night!). Vegan options included a ‘nasi kuning’ with ‘tempe bacem’, yellow coconut rice, a wingbean stir fry and glass noodles. There was also ‘Tempe Penyet’ a sweet spicy dish of slices of crispy grilled tempe, served with rice and a lemongrass, chilli and shallot sambal on the side. The fried noodles with tempe and spicy tomato sambal were tasty, as was the Indian inspired dosa with coconut chutney and shallot pickle.
For a more western option, try the vegan waffles or vegan coconut crepes with fruit salad and syrup (make sure to request palm sugar syrup instead of honey). These light, thin crepes were stuffed with shredded coconut soaked in treacly palm sugar, served wth a side of tropical fruits and some extra caramelised banana that caught our eye from elsewhere on the menu.
There was also one of our all time favourite breakfast options on the menu at Herb Library, an Indian inspired ‘masala dosa’. It’s a rice flour pancake served with coconut chutney, the usual potato filling had been replaced with a vegetable curry instead but it was pretty good!
Everyday there is a complimentary afternoon tea served in your room and carried to you in traditional Balinese woven baskets (or you can have it served in the breezy Herb Library next door).
We couldn’t eat anything on our first day as there was only non-vegan cake available, so the chef made us a ‘Royal High Tea’ the following day to make up for it.
It was a stunning tiered display made from palm leaves with an intricate woven top reminiscent of a traditional ceremonial ‘penjul’ (which can be seen lining the streets during festivals). Each layer was filled with little delights, using traditional Indonesian ingredients and showcasing some local favourites such as banana stuffed pandan cake, ‘kue lapis’ layered rice cake, mini circular rice flour and coconut pancakes, and black rice pudding.
The savoury selection included tempe and avocado ‘sandwiches’, fresh spring rolls, stuffed mushrooms and tofu sate kebabs.
The on site Herb Library restaurant has an interesting menu, full of plant based creations (all clearly marked ‘Herbivore’) and it’s a lovely open air space with mellow vibes.
The Vegan Essentials:
There were both feather pillows and non-feather pillows on our bed when we arrived, so we could easily select the vegan friendly option.
Amenities were in planet saving refillable bottles and were full of delicious smelling essential oil combinations (such as spearmint and patchouli, rose and coconut, vanilla and rosemary, cinnamon frangipani, lime and lemongrass). They smelled delicious but as we couldn’t tell whether they were vegan or not so we used our own.
The spa offered lots of vegan friendly massages and treatments, as well as a complimentary Ayurvedic consultation and a daily complimentary glass of the traditional herbal medical drink ‘jamu’. It’s a great place to sample this wonderful (and often delicious) Indonesian practice.
Yoga is avalaible in the hotel, in the purpose built yoga bale, or visit the world class Radiantly Alive yoga studio which is located within a stones throw of the hotel.
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict:
Check in at the Alaya Resort Jembawan for a vegan friendly luxury stay right in the centre of Ubud. Enjoy the location and busy shop lined streets around the hotel, safe in the knowledge that a peaceful retreat awaits you when the crowds get too much. Enjoy indulgent, freshly made vegan dishes for breakfast, at your leisure either in your room or at Herb Library.
We were guests of Alaya Resort Jembawan but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
Alaya Resort Jembawan
Telephone: +62 361 9083289
Cost From: £80 / $105 per night (November 2017)