The sheer choice of "seriously" fabulous places to stay in Ubud that encapsulate that "gorgeous" Balinese aesthetic I love is mind-blowing. There are simple, rustic and utterly charming eco-houses, gorgeous old-style Balinese guesthouses, antique Joglo houses from Java, and award-winning architecturally designed boutique hotels.
This post is a brief snapshot of a few places that are truly amazing style-wise, or that have that special charm I love. Importantly they can also work for families. I've tried and tested a few with our little kids, and the others have been well researched and are on my wishlist. As always, I'd love your honest feedback if you have stayed in any of them, or do in the future!
1. Villa Aalaya
Open air "nature inspired" large family house
Best for families with school kids - tweens
4 bedrooms - 9 guests
Featured in Family Traveler Magazine, Villa Aalaya (Sanskrit for 'Home") looks like a truly beautiful home that oozes character and charm. This open air "nature inspired" house is the much loved home of a Canadian family Renee and Steve and their boys, Seth and Lachlan who rent it out when they are away on a family jaunt. I can imagine it would be perfect for a relaxing and special family reunion with school aged kids to teens (but note that there is no pool fence).
It's a huge and spacious house made up of three antique wooden buildings than can fit 9 people all up. I think it's reasonably priced for the size, the style, and what is included. There is what looks like a gorgeous open air kitchen, dining and outdoor balcony area that overlook a lovely pool and lush ravine, as well as a separate family house with bedrooms, bathrooms and an internal living space, and a separate bungalow that can fit a couple of extra guests.
It has been designed and decked it out with their kids in mind. There is a trampoline, a fire pit for campfires, a badminton set, a swing, a guitar and electric piano. There is also a TV and hard drive packed with kids movies, as well as games and toys. The family pets, Luna the dog and Boots the cat even get quite a few glowing mentions in the reviews.
Be warned it's an open kind of joint, so you need to be prepared for little critters and toddler hazards (no pool fence, some stairs with no railings etc). But, there is aircon in the bedrooms from what I can tell.
5/5 with 51 reviews on Airbnb
2. Bali T Houses
Enamoring budget eco-houses
Best for families with preschool kids to tweens
20 houses of varying sizes
The T Houses are a collection of 20 "fairly simple" and charismatic eco-friendly bungalows in two locations (which are not too far from each other.) We have stayed at T House Lemongrass for a week with our young kids a few years back. Waking up to a view of the rice paddies was pretty amazing experience we will never forget! If you are anything like me, you will spend too much time pouring over the enticing photos of the different houses.
They are really amazing value for families and come with a simple kitchen, indoor and outdoor living spaces, and separate sleeping areas. The gardens at the T House are beautiful, the rice paddies are luscious green, and the shared pool is divine and has a fun kids round pool.
Be aware that they are pretty basic and quirky, (which personally I love). But, if you don't like open air living, critters (mozzies, ants & lizards), and need 5 star service, with aircon and everything spotless and working perfectly then best give them a miss. Some of them could do with a bit of maintenance and spruce up. There are some odd layouts, and if you have a house on the rice paddies expect to have the locals walk within arms reach of your balcony. There are toddler and crawler hazards, i.e. no pool fence (but some houses are a distance from the pool so little kids have a way to walk before they find the pool), ponds, as well as stairs and decks with no or low railings, etc.
*Many of the T Houses also have their own website or can be rented through Airbnb.
3. Swasti Eco Cottages
Budget bungalows with goats, fish and bunnies.
Best for families with preschool kids to tweens
There are certainly lots of pluses about Swasti Eco Cottages for families on a budget. It's not perfect, but it's really nice we thought. We stayed here with our young kids (aged 2 and 5) in 2015 and recommend it to our friends. They have a number of basic recycled timber bungalows that certainly have a "rustic" kind of charm. There is enough space and gardens between the little bungalows so they feel fairly private, and you have a bit of your own space and a little balcony.
Our kids loved the (noisy) goats, bunnies, ducks, fishponds, the winding paths and exploring the nooks and crannies around the organic veggy garden. They run lots of classes - art, yoga, wood carving and kite making etc. There is colouring in stuff at the restaurant too.
Our only issue was that when stayed in September, it was really hot in our bungalow, and there is no aircon, and to be honest the fan wasn't effective. But, they do have a couple of rooms with aircon.
4. The Stone House
A boutique B & B - earthy understated luxury
Best for families with little bubs, school kids & tweens
3 gorgeous suites
The Stone House is certainly a labour of love for Walter and Wendy, the owners, who had a a dream of having a "beautiful property in sync with nature, where old friends and new friends could enjoy each other’s company". It is the kind of place where Walker and Wendy, with daughter Kyan and two affectionate dogs will treat you as their house guest.
Style and design wise - the Stone House is a 10/10 for me. It has been profiled in various upmarket travel and design magazines. OK, so this kind of understated luxury comes with a fairly hefty price tag.
There are 3 suites, the Long House, the Java Suite and Sky View, all slightly different and all equally divine looking. There is a beautiful common open air pavillion called the Great Room which overlooks the pool and garden.
It seems that they welcome and accommodate families as best they can, and can organise cots, toysa, highchair, as well as balls and goggles. I've read that Lulu and Bella the house dogs are a hit with kids. There is no pool fence and the usual toddler hazards.
5/5 with 32 reviews on Trip Advisor
5. Umajati Retreat
Gorgeous, eco & ethical
Best for families with bubs to tweens
2 separate villas
Umajati retreat has two separate gorgeous old Javanese teak wooden homes that are beautifully and tastefully decorated. After reading all the excellent reviews it really seems that this is a truly special place where the owners and staff will go out of their way to accommodate families. There is no pool fence but the property looks relatively flat (as Ubud can be fairly steep and hilly), and there is certainly space the for kids to roam.
These villas tick all the eco and ethical boxes, and I LOVE the philosophy behind this place. Umajati's owners founded the fair trade Threads of Life which aims to initiate community business by establishing women’s weavers cooperatives to make high-value traditional textiles. They can organise batik dye making class, cooking classes and offering making classes.
"Our family of 4 (two primary school aged children) all found something to love - the spa, the fireflies, the lizards, watching the local rice farmers, lounging on the most relaxing and comfortable daybed, chatting to the staff, learning how to make offerings", Trip Advisor review, Jeanie, Australia.
5/5 with 113 Review on Trip Advisor
6. Alam Indah Guesthouses
Charming old world Bali at its best.
Best for families with preschool kids to tweens
3 properties with various rooms/suites/houses
Mid-range $$ +
The locally owned Alam Guesthouses encapsulate charming "old style" Bali at its best. They certainly have that beautiful aesthetic with magical gardens as well as antique teak furniture and wonderful service. There are 4 guesthouses - Alam Indah, Alam Jiwa, Alam Shanti and Kebun Indah. All except Kebun Indah are located in the lovely little village of Nyuhkuning. I've stayed at Alam Indah and Alam Jiwa, and have had a good look at Alam Shanti.
There are a range of different suites, rooms and a few separate houses which vary in size and price. Some will work better than others with kids, especially if you have little ones. Perhaps Alam Shanti would be best if you have little kids because the grounds are fairly level and there is some lawn as well. The pools don't have fences, and there are the usual toddler hazards (steps, ponds, drops etc). So ask lots of questions when you enquire as they are really very helpful and try an accommodate you as best they can with cots and whatever you need. These properties are old style Bali at it's best I think!
VIST THE ALAM INDAH WEBSITE
You may also be interested in my detailed review about Casa Raja in Ubud which is perfect for little school kids to tweens I think.
Other posts you may like.
I have only stayed in the T Houses and Swasti Eco Cottages. I have read lots of articles and reviews about the other places in this post. I'd love to hear your insights, the good and the not so good about any of the places in this post. I want the information on Growing up Troppo to be as honest and accurate as possible. I'm not getting any freebie or incentives to write about any of the places in this post. I just love to research and discover unique and extra special places to stay with kids. Some photos are mine, but the majority aren't. I hope I have credited them properly. Please let me know if there are any issues and I can take them down or credit as you think appropriate.