THE JAPANESE ARE FAMOUS FOR UNTOUCHABLE STANDARDS OF HOSPITALITY. They are surgically attentive, and prone to a level of neatness and hygiene that makes you self-conscious. A leisurely stay at a truly Japanese inn has always ranked as one of my favourite experiences.
Bali’s increasingly affluent hospitality scene in the jungles of Ubud has produced a small miracle. Say what you want about the stark increase in big name luxury brands opening on the humid, wind-swept island in recent years, but you can’t avoid arriving at the conclusion that the Hoshinoya Bali is something that we didn’t expect to happen.
Japanese Service Meets Balinese Warmth
Not in a bad way, of course. The Japanese’s deep-rooted sense of “omotenashi” — gratitude in service of others — takes many forms. Immaculate care and attention on each guest, unparalleled levels of cooking and food preparation, and manicured landscaping are some key identifiers of hospitality. Mix this with the free-wheeling Bali climate — warm, balmy, ice-cream-and-beach-ball-on-volcanic-sand type of escapes, and you’ll have a rare pairing in vacation heaven.
Legacy is not an issue. The Hoshinoya label is an offspring of the Hoshino Resorts marque — originally established as a ryokan concept by Kasuke Hoshino in 1914 in Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture. The company has evolved into a hotel and resorts management company operating 37 properties under four key brands — Hoshinoya, Kai hot spring resorts, Risonare resorts and hotels, and OMO city tourism hotels.
The resorts and inns which the brand acquired were generally owned and therefore operated by individual hoteliers but are now run collectively by 4th generation family member Yoshiharu Hoshino.
Life In The Dense, Mystical Valley
Hoshinoya’s first property unveiled in South Asia is the surprise of many. Decidedly low-key, understatedly beautiful and sits on a cusp of a hill that overlooks a dense, mystical valley. It is as therapeutic as it sounds.
Fancy a stint of aquatic yoga? An enthusiastic instructor will take you through the stretches on a sun deck, before coaching you in water. If that sounds too “exercise-y”, you can meditate at one of the many quiet pavilions or wade leisurely through the connected pool around the villas.
The Nirvanic villas for two are generously appointed, and elegantly minimal. You climb a short flight of stairs to the bedroom upstairs, but what else do you really need besides direct pool access from the patio and a bathroom with twin sinks large enough to shoot TikTok dance videos in?
The highlight of a Hoshinoya Bali is without question, a meal in one of the jungle gazebos. Enjoy the shifting morning mist and natural soft light as fresh fruits, a salad, and a sticky sweet Balinese pancake is served for breakfast. These structures appear to float among the treetops — sturdy stilts, actually — and the resulting views are unforgettable. If you’re somehow unconvinced that Indonesian cuisine rate among the best in Southeast Asia, try the Ayam Betutu — a brilliant dish of whole chicken stuffed with Balinese spices, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed with fragrant rice. Truly satisfying.
Br Penegembungan, Desa Pejeng Kangin, Kecamatan Tampaksiring, Gianyar 80552, Bali.