I would never have known about Villa Madu in Bali if a friend in Ubud hadn’t suggested it to me (thank you secret friend! You know who you are!). It’s one of those under-the-radar places that I’ve never seen before in big magazines, but is known through word-of-mouth, or by people who know people. I was looking for a unique place to stay in Ubud and when I looked up Villa Madu’s website, I was immediately interested. It looked lush and appealing, and very, very nice. Yes, I’m staying! Here I come!
Villa Madu is a compound of 6 private villas available for rent in a secluded property overlooking a deep gorge. By the way, most of the homes I’ve seen in Ubud seem to overlook a deep gorge – the whole town is comprised of emerald green rice fields interspersed by an intricate web of small rivers, brooks and streams cutting deep into the hilly landscape.
Villa Madu has its own logo, a bee, and the name means honey in Bahasa Indonesia. We don’t speak the language but coincidentally discovered this when we randomly bought a package of local crackers to snack on. The crackers were deliciously crispy, light, and unexpectedly sweet and we couldn’t stop eating them. They were called Madu Crackers, which we realized was honey. And here we were, staying at the honey house!
We drove through a pretty residential street to find the entrance to Villa Madu – a narrow driveway framed by walls covered with creeper, creating a picturesque green tunnel to our new holiday home. Villa Madu does feel like home. The compound of houses is hidden behind two gates, set among gardens filled with luscious ferns, bamboo groves, and frangipani trees set around a landscaped swimming pool. Stone statuary nestles in alcoves, presiding over lotus ponds filled with koi.
During our stay the whole guest compound was fully occupied by a family group of 16 Australians, so we weren’t able to see any of those houses or swim in the pool, which was in their section of the grounds.
When Villa Madu’s owner Adrienne goes away, she lets her house out to guests. So luckily for us, she invited us to stay in her house, which was behind another gate next door the main guest compound. In Balinese style, the house is almost entirely open-air. It had no real walls other than the garden walls surrounding it, so its front gate served as the front door of the house and opened into the living room.
We loved our two-storey, two-bedroom house and felt at home there. With a bedroom and ensuite bathroom on each floor, we each had a floor to ourselves and all the space we wanted. I had the downstairs bedroom with a koi pond and waterfall right outside the bedroom door.
My friend Jenny had the upstairs bedroom, which was mostly open-air, and featured a balcony overlooking the giant palm fronds in the garden below. This upper floor had two separate sitting areas and a spacious office with wraparound views of the grounds. This is where Jenny worked in the morning catching up on her clients in San Francisco.
A stay here includes breakfast, and at first I wondered where the breakfast was going to come from since the fridge in the kitchen was devoid of food except chocolates and coffee. I needn’t have wondered. The next morning, our front gate opened and a polite staff member gently asked if we were ready for breakfast. Shortly afterwards, plates laden with food appeared , delivered from another kitchen located somewhere else on the premises, and the table was ready with breakfast.
It was a simple yet hearty and very filling breakfast of fresh tropical fruit, eggs and potatoes, generous slices of bread with butter and jam, plus coffee and a tall frothy glass of bright purple dragon fruit juice. Once we were done, the dishes were quickly and efficiently whisked away to the unseen location where they had come from.
We didn’t have much time to hang around the house though. We were only there for a shortish stay and our goal was to explore Ubud and go shopping in its bustling market and boutiques.
One of the best features of Villa Madu is its wonderfully convenient location. I found it amazing that this tranquil, secluded compound was only a short five-minute walk down the peaceful road to Ubud town’s busy main road, Jalan Raya, and then another five minute walk to the exciting Ubud market and the throbbing heart of all the shops, spas, cafes, restaurants, temples, and the Ubud palace. Having everything within walking distance was just perfect for us.
We were out exploring the town most of the time and ate our meals outside too. However, the lovely housekeeper, Nurdi, can make home cooked meals if guests choose to dine at the villa. With advance notice, Nurdi and the staff can create both local and international meals and can cook vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and other dietary requests.
Villa Madu is also available for private events like small weddings and yoga retreats. For special evenings, you can order a nasi tumpeng Balinese banquet by coconut torchlight in the garden with classical dancers from the village to highlight the experience.
I’ve stayed in various hotels in Bali but this was my first time staying in a private villa that was a complete two-storey house . And I loved it! It was so relaxing having an entire house to ourselves with a real kitchen, airy living room and a big dining table to spread around in. Not to mention the highly efficient, discreetly invisible villa staff and the food that appeared by itself! It’s more relaxing than a sharing a hotel room. I still wonder what’s behind the other gate though. I just might have to come back and try the big villa and that multi-level pool another time.
Have you stayed in a private villa in Bali? How was your experience?