Hanging Gardens Ubud in Bali, Nestled deep in the heart of Ubud’s rich rainforest preserve

The Story of Hanging Gardens Ubud

Hanging Gardens Ubud is a luxury resort built on 3.2 hectares of land situated near Payangan, a village North of Ubud, surrounded by ancient trees, steep terraced gardens and jungle forest, but the site was once a barren, 45-degree angled hillside.

Now a hotel perched adjacent to layered rice terraces with sweeping views across the Ayung River gorge to the ancient Pura Penataran Dalem Segara temple, Hanging Gardens Ubud’s 38 villas are all constructed in contemporary Balinese style on gravity-defying wooden pillars with thatched alang-alang roofs.

The entrepreneurial pioneer owners conceived Hanging Gardens Ubud in 2003 and the building work was completed in 2005. The concept was to create something magical and authentic in the heart of the Balinese jungle; a place to escape the frenetic beach resorts and party lifestyle and literally kick back and relax amongst the beautiful and natural tropical environment.

Their hidden paradise was founded near the Buahan village community, close to Payangan, 20 minutes North of Ubud, Bali’s spiritual heart.

This little village with a population of 1300 had all of the spiritual and cultural richness of Ubud but was yet undiscovered by tourism. Here the designers decided to lay down the roots of their personal spiritual nirvana.

The owners wanted to create an estate that took its inspiration from the surrounding countryside, a sanctuary inspired by nature that would be built harmoniously into the landscape leaving as small a footprint as possible. The aim was to protect and reflect the environments and to propagate and preserve local traditions and indigenous style. In building the expansive property, the designers were proud that only one tree needed to be moved.

Over 700 local craftsmen lovingly built Hanging Gardens Ubud, sourcing traditional materials, utilising existing resources and adapting indigenous ideas.

The owners employed a local architect who transcribed their vision into a practical design. The design of the hotel follows the contours of the land – the idea was to work as much with the natural habitat as possible. The surrounding treetops serve as an umbrella for the open walkways and the wind as natural ventilation providing a constant breeze through the open restaurants and common areas. The intention was to incorporate vegetation into the villa resort, thus planting palm trees, bamboo and other plants.

An abundance of bamboo was used in the building of the hotel, not just for construction and scaffolding but also planted in the landscape as shade protection from the sun. Traditional belief holds that being in a bamboo grove – the favourite dwelling place of Buddha – restores emotional calm and stimulates creativity.

The foundations built deep into the landscape were dug three times further down than the original plan to ensure stability against the tropical rainstorms that could lead to damaging landslides.

The basic lie of the land was extremely challenging with its steep sedimentary rocks, forcing the architect to place each building in a “floating” position, employing a raised platform, with floors raised above the ground to provide space for the land to absorb water and therefore able to “breathe” better.

The buildings take up less than 20% of the resort area, allowing generous water absorption as villas sit perched off a slope on pillars.

The walkways are made of Paras Stone from the Ayung River, each cut on site then laid piece by piece. A fresh leaf was picked from the local fern trees and individually placed on each tile, leaving a natural imprint.

88 steps from reception to the restaurant were built with Feng Shui principles in mind as these Yin Feng Shui numbers are considered to mean infinity, abundance and stability of energy; an important factor when building on a 45 degree angle. The steps are built out of volcanic ash that serves as a natural resource for construction and industry; this was sourced from local Mount Batur (1,717 m), an active volcano located in central Bali, which last erupted in 2000.

The world famous and recently awarded ‘most amazing pool in the world’ by both Condé Nast Traveller and Trip Advisor, is a split-level infinity pool, designed by a specialist architect. Lined with Batu Chandi slate stone and consisting of geometric walls of solidified volcanic ash, the striking bi-level pool is suspended over the dense rainforest; with an undulating shape that echoes the surrounding terrain.

The resort’s garden was conceived by a landscape architect. It is planted with exotic trees and tropical shrubs such as cocoa, coffee, durian, rambutan, lychees, and a variety of tropical bamboos, fruit trees, flame trees, bird of paradise flowers and orchids.

The villas were also designed with a contemporary Balinese influence and all have king-sized four-poster beds, handmade batik cotton fabrics, an interior bathroom with hand molded bath, terraces with open air showers and dramatic Java stone infinity pools with adjoining Bales (traditional Balinese relaxation areas). The designer used precious woods throughout the property, including Merbau flooring for the interiors, Benkirai for the exteriors and wooden furniture with sculpted doors in the Balinese tradition.

The hotel has four categories of villa-style accommodation: 15 Riverside Deluxe Pool Villas, of approximately 100m², 15 Panoramic Deluxe Pool Villas, of approximately 100m², two Panoramic Pool Villa suites of 160m² and six 2-bedroom Duplex Family Pool Villas of 160m².

One of the challenges for the owners was how the guests would move effortlessly from level to level. As a luxury hotel, there needed to be a simple effective solution. This was found in the unique feature of the Twin funiculars. They were imported from a New Zealand cable car specialist company, were customized for the resort and made from reinforced aluminum. The first funicular takes guests from reception to the bar, via four different levels, accessing private villa stations and the boutique shop and library. The second funicular takes guests from the bar down to the River Café and Spa overlooking the Ayung River. Together both funiculars, canopied by the jungle vegetation, reach eight levels.


2014 Worlds Best Swimming Pool Trip Advisor
2014 Worlds Best Swimming Pool Condé Nast Traveller
2014 #1 honeymoon destination in Bali, Condé Nast Traveller
2014 # 10 in list of hotels to visit before you die – The Science Acadamy
2008 ASEAN Energy Award for an energy efficient building in the tropical category
2009 Indonesian Construction Award

Only 29 % of the buildings use air conditioning and the hotel’s water heater system uses gas instead of electricity. The hotel management turns all lighting off at 11 pm. Hotel lighting is only turned on from 5 am to 6 am and again from 6 pm to 11 pm.

In all, the hotel saves an estimated 115.94 kWh of electricity per day, or 42,318.1 kWh per year compared to a conventional hotel that occupies the same land size.



Ubud is a remarkable spiritual town in the heart of Bali. For more than a century, it has been the island’s pre-eminent centre for fine arts, culture, dance and music. Healing, comfort, nature and inspiration create Ubud’s Sanctuary.

It is surrounded by many of the elements that attract people to Bali – scenic rice fields, small villages, arts and crafts communities, ancient temples, palaces and its holy river. Its central location makes it easy to get from Ubud to the mountains and major towns. The real Ubud can be discovered under the surface. There are plenty of interesting things on the main streets, but most of the magic of Ubud is hidden.

The name of Ubud is derived from the word “ubad”, meaning healing or medicine in Balinese language, and refers to the myriad variety of healing plants found along this riverside and in the surrounding environs. Ubud has long since been a retreat for those seeking peace of mind, clarity of thought and inspiration in the arts.

Bali is an island and the smallest province of Indonesia, and includes a few smaller neighbouring islands, notably Nusa Penida. It is located at the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, between Java to the west and Lombok to the east, and has its capital of Denpasar at the southern part of the island.

With a population of currently 4.22 million, the island is home to most of Indonesia’s Hindu minority. Bali is also the largest tourist destination in the country and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music.



Hanging Gardens Ubud in Bali (previously Ubud Hanging Gardens by Orient Express) is now independently managed. The hotel was completed in 2005. It is set in 3.2 hectares of stunning jungle landscape on an almost 45 degree incline, with 8 levels accessed by funicular and is located 20 minutes north of Ubud, Bali’s cultural and spiritual centre.

Nestled deep in the heart of Ubud’s rich rainforest preserve, this enchanting five star boutique hotel, designed in complete harmony with nature, has 38 private suites and individual villas with thatched roofs, each enhanced by its own luxurious granite infinity pool, rippling into the jungle below.

Nestled deep in the heart of Ubud’s rich rainforest preserve, this enchanting five star boutique hotel, designed in complete harmony with nature, has 38 private suites and individual villas with thatched roofs, each enhanced by its own luxurious granite infinity pool, rippling into the jungle below.

The estate’s fertile gardens produce chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, jackfruit, coconut and lemongrass; all ingredients are used in the hotels recipes and spa products. The gardens feature a variety of bamboos, flame trees and orchids creating a symbiosis of tropical life

The five star gourmet restaurant offers a mix of contemporary cuisine with, Balinese influence. While the truly luxurious hotel Spa combines natural local ingredients and ancient techniques, to create beauty therapies and treatments that soothe the mind, rejuvenate the body and energise the soul.

Hanging Gardens Ubud offers supreme luxury and ultimate privacy combined with five star service, set in the abundant and breathtaking Ubud countryside.


The Swimming Pool at Hanging Gardens Ubud

At the geographical epicentre and emotional heart of the property is Hanging Gardens’ world-famous swimming pool.

It is without a doubt one of the most photogenic and photographed pools around the globe, and has the unique distinction of coming top of both travel bible Condé Nast Traveller’s list of ‘the best swimming pools in the world’ and number one on Trip Advisor’s list of ’10 jaw-dropping hotel pools’.

This stunning split-level infinity pool, lined with Batu Chandi stone and featuring a vast geometric wall of solidified volcanic ash, suspended high over the surrounding jungle, appears to float in its setting, giving swimmers the unique, immersive feeling of literally swimming above the treetops and the valley.

The organic, free form design, with its undulating curves, was designed to echo the lines of the steep, terraced rice paddies that are such an iconic feature of the Ubud landscape.

This is very much in keeping with the vision of the owners and architect Popo Danes, who designed the entire hotel to follow the contours of the land and work with the existing natural habitat as much as possible.

The upper level has an expansive deck, which flows out from the hotel’s bar, while the lower level’s decking is almost hidden from sight for ultimate privacy, with only the sounds of nature as a backdrop.

Both levels have steps down into the water for graceful access, with the bottom pool additionally featuring a stone bench for swimmers to bask in the exhilarating spray of the waterfall from the level above.

Our staff are always happy to serve both food and drinks beside the pool during the day, and most of the treatments from the hotel’s spa can be taken poolside, for the ultimate immersive sensory experience.

Honeymooners and the romantically-inclined can book Hanging Gardens’ signature Romance Under the Stars gourmet dining experience, where we float an antique wooden deck on the lower pool, decorated with beautiful, colourful drapes for a mesmerizing and delicious evening, surrounded by suspended frangipani candles with inspiring views of the ancient holy temple and the smooth, rhythmic jungle sounds at dusk.

This same floating deck may also be used as the ultimate, breathtaking wedding ceremony location, with a small number of guests able to be seated on the deck, although many couples opt to enjoy this uniquely romantic moment with just each other, before journeying through the jungle for a blessing at our temple.

For those wishing to stay dry but still absorb the beauty of this special pool, the hotel’s restaurant has expansive views over the upper pool level to the jungle, temple and valley beyond.



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