This July I had great plans to finally add two new countries to my personal map: I was going take my first trip to Tokyo followed by seeing my family in the Philippines. Alas, as it happens sometimes happens in life – you can plan all you want, things can still go wrong or in my case not work out at all. My travel plans fell through within a week to spare and I had to make a quick decision on where to go as my Thailand visa was running out and my mood was running low in grey Bangkok.
A look at the Air Asia website and luckily, I found a last minute flight to Bali.

Despite what people may say, I still love Bali and come to the island frequently as it is still a great place for a digital nomad like myself. Perfect because while it wasn’t quite Tokyo, I had a book to finish and Bali was just the place to get it done.

I settled in Ubud and as if to make up for my missed Tokyo trip, the Hoshinoya hotel reached out to me and invited me for a stay to experience a little bit of Japan in Bali. They didn’t have to ask twice; I quickly packed my bags, said farewell to my little Airbnb and was off.

The Hoshinoya in Bali is about half an hour’s drive from Ubud and offers the best of both worlds: Bali and Japan. You are, of course, surrounded by rice paddies, palm trees, and jungle views with the local river running through the property and even guests can bring offerings to the little family temple at the edge of the hotel. The buildings merge the best of Japanese architecture and Balinese design and are very zen, to say the least.

My room and the surrounding views seem everything I needed at the moment: a space to calm down and to disconnect. There are no TVs at Hoshinoya, Bali wifi doesn’t like Netflix and the internet was too spotty to work. So instead, I decided that my laptop and I could use a holiday from each other and did what any good travel blogger usually doesn’t do: I splashed around in the hotel pool sans camera and took an extended powernap in my very own gazebo in the company of my book.

Dinner was a lavish affair as the kitchen had planned an entire tasting menu for me. While I usually don’t mind eating on my own when I travel menus of this scale tend to get me a little nervous: will I look awkward sitting by myself for hours, will I get bored, and can I manage to eat so much food alone? In this case, I shouldn’t have worried. The Hoshinoya staff was incredibly kind, fussing over me just the right amount, and I quickly didn’t care anymore I looked eating on my own because I was fully focused on the food in front of me. One amazing dish after another was brought out and I was too busy eating (and yeah, okay, taking pictures) to get bored. And since the portion of each dish was tiny I managed to eat it all.

Apparently, the Balinese weather gods don’t know about the correlation of empty plates and sunshine because at night it started pouring down. The rain soothing enough that I overslept my alarm and missed the morning yoga session. To be honest, I wasn’t too sad because the only thing better than a cup of coffee in a really nice bed is two cups of coffee in a really nice bed.

So nice in fact that the only thing that got me out was the promise of a true Japanese breakfast in one of the gazebo nests. After all, I came here to make up for a missed Tokyo trip and all its culinary delights.

The nests overlook the jungle and are truly spectacular as was the food. Usually, I find breakfast a little meh, but this one was a different story as it came with rice, salmon, miso soup, an onsen egg and other yummy bits. And luckily, each nest is so secluded that nobody had any idea I had no clue how to eat my Japanese breakfast properly. I ended up putting everything in one bowl, eating one rice corn after the other – thanks chopsticks!

After breakfast, I spent the time in the library, learned how to make Canang, traditional Balinese offerings, and enjoyed the overall quietness of Hoshinoya and my room. Time can, unfortunately, fly even if you only enjoy the art of doing nothing.

In the afternoon it was time for my spa appointment. Bali is known for its spa culture and you will have a hard time finding a bad massage but this spa was something else. First of all, you don’t just take any old elevator to get there you take an open-air elevator through the jungle. How cool is that?! At the bottom, two hours of kneading and a traditional lulur scrub was waiting for me. Needless to say, I swiftly fell asleep and even may have drooled on the flower arrangement underneath my massage table. Afterward, I got to soak in an open-air bath overlooking the jungle. While I was trying my best not to see my stay as a work trip, I couldn’t resist taking one of those blogger in a Bali bathtub pictures. Or at least I tried. Let’s just say I am glad my camera and phone made it without drowning – some moments still happen even if you don’t have an Instagram to prove it.

Another dinner, another sleep with rain pounding on my roof, hazy morning light to wake up to and another unphotogenic bowl of rice with a side of everything before it was time for me to leave. Back to Ubud, back to work. You can’t blame me for not wanting to leave but at the same time, I felt ready and restored, even my laptop looked well rested. Rain or shine, sometimes two nights is all it takes to find a bit of zen and take on the world again.

Staying at Hoshinoya

  • The hotel is a 30-minute drive outside of Ubud but they offer a shuttle service to and from town a few times per day.
    They offer three different room categories which are all really spacious and have private access to one of three pools. All pools are open 24/7 – perfect for a midnight swim!
  • For families traveling with kids or groups, the Villa Soka with two stories is probably best. Don’t forget to pack your iPad though and load some movies beforehand – as I said there are no TVs in the rooms.
  • The restaurant features different menus with a mix of western, Japanese and Indonesian cuisine. You can have any of your meals in one of the nests, however, the gazebo restaurant has its own menu and only serves the Japanese breakfast if you ask very nicely or in my case beg them since I really wanted to take a picture.
  • Throughout the week Hoshinoya offers various local activities daily that you can join for free: sunrise and moonlight yoga, Gamelan performances, Jamu, and Canang making are on offer.

Hoshinoya invited me for a 2-night stay with meals and activities – thank you!

This post was written by Annika Ziehen who was a Travelette until 2019. Originally from Germany, Annika has lived in New York and Cape Town and now travels the world full time. She considers herself a very hungry mermaid and writes about her adventures, scuba diving and food on her blog The Midnight Blue Elephant. You can also find her on Instagram here!