Six of the best: Ubud spa retreats, Bali

Puri Wulandari

Concealed in terraced rice paddies above the lovely Ayung Valley just out of Ubud, the all-villa Puri Wulandari is perfection at sunset, when feathery palms are an Impressionist splash against an orange sky. Lila Ulangun spa focuses on traditional Indonesian treatments, enjoyed in open-air pavilions with double jacuzzi, sauna and outdoor showers. Try the Balinese honey masque, which uses an application of honey mixed with sesame seeds, a traditional treatment that promotes glowing skin and smells indecently pleasant. The Javanese version uses an equally perfumed mixture of honey, cucumber and lime.

Rooms from $359. See

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan

Further along the Ayung Valley and seemingly afloat in lily ponds, the Four Seasons has a temple-like serenity, perhaps due to its Japanese-influenced architecture. Some villas have outdoor bathing pavilions, soaking tubs and showers overlooking private gardens. Its spa, mellow in teak wood and fine silks, sets itself apart with a spiritual emphasis. Treatments including ayurveda, yoga, meditation and chakra balancing; you can also visit a Balinese traditional healer. Then again, you could just comfort the body with a warming rice and spice treatment, guaranteed to relax.

Rooms from $647. See

Viceroy Bali 

Steam, plunge, wallow or relax on outdoor decks at this luxe (but laid-back) resort's Lembah Spa, or venture into the 68-jet therapeutic jacuzzi for an all-over tingle. Treatments are a Swiss-Balinese blend, and special packages combine massage, scrub and flower baths with yoga, trekking or cycling. The resort, Ubud's only Small Luxury Hotels member and a 10-minute drive from town, is Aussie-owned and operated. It features a dramatic infinity-edge pool and 25 private villas hunkered in landscaped gardens and overlooking the Petanu River gorge. Views from the restaurant are superb.

Rooms from $769. See

The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah

Settle here for rustic luxe, fine art and sculpture collections, and a sublime swimming pool, overlooked by carved elephants and jungle where birds cheep. Spa-pool villas come with their own private spa room and include 90-minute massages daily, though pool villa 6 is hard to beat for its volcano view. The spa itself looks over rice paddies of improbable green. Treatments wander the world, typified in the signature Chedi Jade Massage, a four-hand pummelling using shiatsu, Balinese, Swedish and Thai techniques sure to leave no tension knot undiscovered.

Rooms from $489. See

Maya Ubud

Maya Ubud is as close as you can get to town while still preserving that hidden-valley, resort feel. Its Spa at Maya is reached by a James Bond-esque elevator that brings you to river level, where the green valley provides added seclusion, and treatments are taken to the sound of burbling waters. Try the Balinese boreh, a herbal scrub and massage redolent with cinnamon and cloves. Some packages are aimed at men, such as the Masculine Express, with stress-relieving foot therapy followed by the long, kneading strokes of a Balinese massage.


Rooms from $307. See

Pita Maha

This small-scale resort, owned by Ubud's royal family, at times seems practically overtaken by its wanton tropical gardens. Its spa is a villa of mossy stone and thatch behind high walls, designed for couples' retreats. Have a lulur, a Javanese massage treatment traditionally given to a bride on the eve of her wedding. Afterwards, you're left in peace to enjoy the hot and cold tubs and steam room. Then kick back on cushions and admire valley scenery before flopping into the spring-fed plunge pool and floating among swirling frangipani petals. Bliss.

Rooms from $282. See

The writer travelled courtesy of Expedia.