Back in February I was lucky enough to experience a stay at the breathtakingly beautiful Desa Seni Village Resort in Canggu, Bali. Full disclosure, I didn’t pay for my stay here. My friend Candi was gifted the stay as she’s an incredibly talented writer and was featuring the resort in an upcoming book (which you can now order here). Because she’s a total babe, she invited me along. Side note: you should all buy her last book too because these stories of incredible, inspiration women are ones we all need to know.
So whilst I don’t have to feature this resort on my blog I really wanted to share it because it’s such a special place and my time there was truly unforgettable. I really hope I get the chance to go back there one day.
This isn’t a review, this is four ways my stay at Desa Seni enriched my Bali experience.
Restoring through beautiful surroundings
Even a casual browse through this blog or my Instagram will tell you that I am someone who is passionate about how my surroundings look. I love interior and exterior design, and being in nature. As a real homebody, being in beautiful surroundings is incredibly important to me, and the places I’m staying have a huge impact on how I’m feeling.
Thankfully Desa Seni had a positive, restorative impact. It’s a really special place, and the atmosphere as soon as you walk through the entrance gates is serene and welcoming. It invites you to rest and feel at home.
Based on a traditional village, they have not altered or changed the natural landscape or waterways, instead, they’re cleverly incorporated into the resort. As you wander through the grounds you cross small streams, pass lush lawns, and well-tended gardens bursting with colourful produce.
There are terraces, seating areas, huts for lounging in as well as antique wooden homes dotted throughout the property. None of the houses face each other so you can have total privacy in your own little oasis.
A key aim of Desa Seni is to be green and sustainable. The entire resort has been built with recycled or sustainable products from local sources and all the furnishings are antique or repurposed.
Our village house was Rumah Mandau, named after a ceremonial Kalimantan kris, the Indonesia traditional sword that represents the rite of passage into manhood. It is a traditional rumah tinggal (dwelling house) made entirely of teak and imported from West Java, it dates back to the 40s or 50s. It’s one the most unique places I’ve ever stayed and full of beautiful details.
All the furnishing in our house are original kampoeng or village pieces used in daily life, all made of teak wood and hand-carved.
One of my favourite details was the wooden Buddha do not disturb sign.
The head-board was originally used as a screen or room divider, and this one comes from Java.
The small ceramic pots on the desk are called kendi, they are traditional vessels for holy water. Sprinkling water is part of the Balinese Hindu praying tradition, to cleanse any bad spirits that may be around.
The gorgeous bathroom is an addition to the house. The wooden shutters open to a window overlooking the vegetable gardens, it’s so relaxing showering somewhere this beautiful while bathed in natural light. Desa Seni provide you with delicious smelling toiletries including their own all-natural insect repellant. It smells gorgeous and was such a nice break from the chemical-filled deet we’d been using.
We had a huge wooden terrace which was the perfect place to relax in the shade. Peep that cute little wooden bridge? That crosses a tiny stream outside our house.
The bells are original cowbells collected from all over Indonesia and hang on an old loom bar from Mentawai, Indonesia.
Our terrace light fixture is a Bagong ox bell. The painted face represents Bagong, a protector who originates in traditional Balinese dance and folklore and is believed to ward off evil spirits. This bell, actually worn by an ox, dates back to the 1930s.
Fitted high on the wall, made from wood is the plangkiran, or prayer box these are a customary Balinese home feature that you’ll spot throughout the island. According to the Balinese Hindu traditions, one family member makes daily ceremonial offerings (canang) to ensure, good health, happiness, and prosperity. As all offerings in Bali are made from natural things, canang is formed from a coconut palm leaf square basket traditionally filled with a slice of banana or sugar cane, a few grains of rice, a betel nut, vibrant hues of flowers and shredded leaf on top. Every morning a basket with the canang was left on our terrace and we were invited to place it in the prayer box with our own prayers and sprinkle it with holy water.
And let’s just take a minute to talk about the pool, the centre-piece of the stunning grounds. The saltwater pool is surrounded by sunbeds and bales which you can relax in. There’s free fresh water on hand, a stand full of soft towels and staff always around to take an order for food or drink. It was the perfect place to relax, a total oasis surrounded by lush tropical plants and palm trees.
Centring through yin yoga
Let’s be honest, Bali is chock a block full of beautiful places to do yoga, it’s a hub for yoga teacher training and retreats and the wellness industry in general. But this class, in this location, was something very special. Set in the lush surroundings of the Desa Seni landscaped grounds the open to the elements yoga shala invites you to relax and restore. We chose a restorative yin yoga evening class, the perfect way to wind down after a hot day. The great thing about Desa Seni is that their yoga and wellness offerings are open to anyone, and they have a huge variety of classes and workshops.
The gentle flow in the beautiful setting, with lizards crawling around, a welcome breeze flowing through, and birds singing was so incredibly relaxing, I nearly fell asleep during Savasana. Afterwards, we were invited to have water or delicious herbal tea in the peaceful grounds to slowly come back to reality.
A big part of my plan for the Bali leg of my trip was restoring and centering myself after a rough few months, this yoga class was a perfect way to do just that.
Nourishing ourselves with incredible, locally grown food
Rumah Uma, Desa Seni’s organic restaurant is open to the lush gardens, the ideal place for a relaxing meal. Almost 80% of the vegetables on their menu come from their own gardens and they partner with local businesses to provide the rest. The menu is full of delicious, healthy options with Indonesian as well as European options.
Every meal we had was delicious, fresh and colourful, served in the perfect setting. They also have an enormous juice and smoothie menu which not only lists the ingredients but the particular benefits those ingredients will have on your body.
I loved that you are free to take your meal anywhere. You can order room service to your room or terrace, eat poolside, or in one of the many seating huts scattered around the grounds.
Flourishing under the care of kind and dedicated staff
One of the highlights of our stay at Desa Seni for both of us was the care and treatment we received from the incredible staff. To say they were friendly and helpful would be an understatement. They went out of their way every day to ensure our time here was special. No question we had went unanswered, no request unheard – special thanks to the awesome security guard who helped us get a huge bug out of our room, even if he did laugh (understandably) at how scared we were of, what turned out to be, a cricket – it was huge!
When we arrived and were greeted at reception they hit a gong to announce our arrival, this set the tone for the dedication and attention from the staff. Each evening our room was prepared for us, with mosquito net let down and shutters shut. They also turn on the porch light to help guide us home and leave a note with a quote of wisdom on the bed every night.
We were there during a quiet week so we got a lot of attention at mealtimes and when we were lounging by the pool which was really appreciated. There are staff on hand at all times to ensure you have enough towels, water and food. The staff here take real pride in the beautiful resort and I loved watching them tend to the grounds and shrines or decorate with flowers and petals.
One element that made our stay complete was getting to hang out with the gorgeous dogs, Desa, Seni and Sally. They’re super friendly and freely wander around the grounds and even into the houses throughout the day. If you want them to leave you simply tell them ‘out’ but we loved having a friendly face chilling on our terrace each day.
Desa Seni gives back
Not only do they focus on giving their guests a unique, unforgettable experience, Desa Seni is also dedicated to giving back to their local community. They run a community service initiative that allows orphanage children to come to Desa Seni as apprentices learning skills for future employment. They also donate resources to provide yoga and traditional Balinese dance for children and locals. They are striving to reduce as much waste as possible, their bar and restaurant is plastic-free and they use organic and biodegradable cleaning products so as not to pollute the environment. It was refreshing to stay somewhere that took their commitments to the environment and local community so seriously.
I had the time of my life here. It was the perfect way to start my trip to Bali and my ongoing travels. I left feeling restored, rejuvenated and lifted. It’s a truly special place and I can’t wait to visit again.
Love, Sarah x