June 04, 2018
Lovingly created by American furniture-design couple Walker Zabriskie and Wendy Kassel, the intimate, character-packed Stone House is the antidote to the island’s big-name mega resorts.
Set amid lush tropicana, a mere skip from the centre of Ubud, this private, family-run guest house comprises just three individual rustic-chic villas, each stylishly decked with Balinese rattan, Indonesian antiques and textiles, plus furniture crafted by Walker himself, but natch.
Choose between the regal 'Java Suite' with its splendid hand-painted Javanese panels; the two-storey white-washed Med-inspired marvel 'Sky View' or the stilted 'Longhouse’ hovering above the paddy fields – better yet, book all three and bring the entire family. The house cooks whip up healthy yet insanely delish food to eat on your porch, or in the communal Great Room overlooking the freeform pool and bougainvillea-dotted gardens. And exhale…
Jl Tirta Tawar, Kutuh Kaja, Ubud, +62 822 4725 5745. stonehousebali.com
Stone House co-owner Wendy Kassel shares her tips for a Balinese family holiday sans the crowds.
One of the best things about coming to Bali is how easily it is to have your children with you. The Balinese believe that the younger you are, the closer you are to God. Thus, your children will be revered during their time here. It’s true the Balinese absolutely adore children and often would much rather interact with the kids than the adults – shop and wait staff love to entertain and engage with children, making for a more pleasurable and relaxing experience.
One thing I tell everyone visiting is to get lost, go off-the-beaten track and away from the crowds. The further you disconnect from the tourist centres, the more engaged you will be with the Balinese. There is one particular bike trip that I enjoy doing with my family that takes you up towards Kintamani, starting in a beautiful forest. The trip takes you through the backroads of the island – ‘old Bali’, I like to call it, past rice fields and orchards, beautiful temples; you get to visit a family compound for fruit and end up at the Balinese owner’s home for the most delicious home-cooked meal. I only ever recommend Sepeda Bali – hands down the best biking tours in Bali.
For children to connect with authentic Balinese experiences, I suggest going to the handicraft centre, Ubud. In Bali, art is a way of life. If you have crafty children, there is a plethora of activities they can partake in while they are here. Around Ubud are silver jewellery making classes, batik painting on cloth, indigo dying, ceramics, as well as learning how to make the intricate offerings made of an adornment of flowers, and plaited coconut palm leaves to make beautiful baskets.
The Sayan House has incredible views for sunset in a spacious outdoor setting with a cool mid-century Asian vibe. Parents will be happy with imaginative cocktails and the kids will love the small playground. My new favourite go-to restaurant is Batubara, a mouth-watering steakhouse with a fun, lively atmosphere.
When shopping locally I like Macan Tidur for unusual beaded baskets, wooden sculptures and amazing ikat from around the archipelago. Ikat Batik is is the place to go for unique handwoven, traditional textiles and a wide variety of indigo coloured batik sarongs, cushions, duvet covers and clothing for men, women and children. Better yet, your purchases helps educate and assist Balinese women and children to continue their ancient tradition of textile creations.
My secret place is Tenganan, the original Bali Aga village located in Karangasem, East Bali. This is where the beautifully woven basketry you see around Bali comes from. If you’re lucky, you'll find the most intricate, finely woven bowls, hampers and trays. It’s a dying art to be appreciated while you can still find it.
What is it about Bali that keeps us here? The people. The Balinese are some of the kindest, most gracious people I know.
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