Our Ubud Villa – the best last minute booking EVER

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For the past 5 years Bali has been the one place I visit at least once every year (often solo), and I find myself pining for the place like I have a bad case of homesickness. I’ve never lived there, but it has this sense of familiarity about it that just makes me feel like I’m home as soon as I step off the plane and into that delicious balmy Bali air.

They speak bahasa Indonesia (almost identical to bahasa Melayu which is what I grew up hearing and speaking in Malaysia) and a lot of the food is similar to the food in Malaysia, plus Balinese people predominantly practice Hinduism, a religion I was exposed to and practiced as a child. So I guess it’s understandable that I instantly felt a connection to this place the first time I visited.

In my last post Winging Wanderlust & Choosing Happiness I mentioned the fact that Adam and I almost never have planned vacations and they usually involve us spontaneously deciding at the very last minute (I’m talking days out sometimes) that we are going to head off somewhere and I’m left scrambling to find us a place to stay.

This is exactly what happened in late July when Adam was still on his break between rugby contracts and I spotted some crazy cheap flights to Bali online. I constantly get excited about the online flight sales and poor Adam has to talk some sense into me and tell me why it’s not absolutely essential we buy ridiculously cheap seats to fly to Ho Chi Minh city ASAP. But for some reason this time when I mentioned how cheap it was to fly return from Auckland to Bali he just said “book it!.” So before he could change his mind I did just that and then it hit me I had only 5 days to plan an entire two week vacation!




Very early on it became apparent that I was the involuntary travel agent in my relationship with Adam and after six years of planning last minute travel arrangements I am pretty damn good at it. Last minute adventures can be exciting and the flexibility can allow for some incredibly serendipitous experiences that we’d never have been able to have had we planned everything well in advance. But there can of course be a downside to this arrangement and leaving everything to the last minute can mean you have less accommodation options available to choose from making things tricky for me in the past. But you rarely make the same mistake twice on your travels and I’m now fully equipped with a ginormous selection of travel apps on my phone which help me make all our travel arrangements a breeze. One of my absolute favourite apps has to be booking.com which I started using properly a few years ago and I now couldn’t live without. It has saved my ass on numerous occasions when we are on one of our “winging wanderlust” missions and are checking out of a hotel en route to the next destination and still haven’t organised accom at said destination. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been sitting in the back of a cab, in an airport or hotel lobby on my phone scrolling through booking.com options in search of the perfect home away from home.

I know to some of you reading this the sheer idea of cutting things that close gives you anxiety and I’d be fibbing if I didn’t admit that it can be a bit daunting for me at times but being able to use a service like booking.com eliminates the stress of having to research different places and compare prices. It does all that work for you and tells you exactly what is available that meets all your personal requirements at actual competitive prices, PLUS – if you find a cheaper price elsewhere, they’ll match it.

Needless to say I logged straight into my booking.com account and went on the hunt for the options in Bali. We were spending 5 nights in Ubud which is one of my favourite places but it was coming into peak season which usually means prices are higher and availability is scarce. But as fate would have it I ended up finding quite possibly one of my favourite boutique hotels I’ve ever stayed at called 11 on Kajeng. They had a special rate price on booking.com because they were listed as new so I jumped on it.

As we drove into the main hub of Ubud we turned off Jalan Raya (one of three main roads in Ubud) onto Jalan Kajeng and I knew I’d chosen a great spot. It was close to everything but far enough away that it was peaceful and a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the many tourists that come by the bus full for day trip visits.




Upon arrival we were immediately greeted by two incredibly excited, grinning (from ear to ear) young men wearing staff uniforms. I soon discovered the main reason for their excitement was because Adam and I had arrived on the official opening day and we were the second guests to stay at this beautiful brand spanking new spot. As we got to the check in area the owners Carmel & Jay, a lovely couple originally from Australia, introduced themselves to us and I instantly felt like I had hit the jackpot with this booking. Not only were they super lovely, laid back and the perfect hosts but they had impeccable taste when it came to designing 11 on Kajeng. I’m a sucker for a boutique hotel and much prefer the intimate and more personable vibe you get compared to the larger chain hotels where you aren’t able to build a rapport with the staff and the service is missing that little extra bit of love and attention to detail.

When we were shown to our villa I was completely blown away by how breathtaking the design and decor was. I felt like Carmel and Jay had somehow read my mind and designed the villa of my dreams. They have perfectly captured a bygone era when the British had occupied many parts of Asia and built these homes that combined traditional British architecture with local materials and design elements that were better suited to the tropics. As a child growing up in Penang (once colonised by the British) these types of grand beautiful old homes and buildings were and still are everywhere and I have always been enchanted by them. I loved the idea that both east and west could meet in such a harmonious way, fusing together to create something unique yet timeless. I have always found this strangely romantic and as I write this I now realise that perhaps it’s because I quite literally am the result of an east meets west romance, two foreigners meeting and falling in love and creating something unique – ME! Haha

Anyway I digress, basically what I’m trying to say is if you’re after somewhere sexy, stylish and romantic as hell than this is the spot you want to book. Seriously, it’s stunning and it has the added bonus of being incredibly instaworthy for those of you (myself included) who can’t help but get gram happy on holiday, there’s a selfie spot at every corner – trust me and you’re welcome.

We had such an amazing time at 11 on Kajeng and I know without a doubt that it won’t be the last time we visit this secret little gem discreetly tucked away in the heart of Ubud.



If you have been to Bali or are planning an upcoming trip to Bali and think skipping over Ubud is a good option – IT’S NOT!! If I haven’t already convinced you keep an eye out for more Jessie Guru Travels post about Bali. Ubud truly is the heart and soul of Bali and I think you’ll understand what I mean when you visit and experience it for yourself.

This is why I am so excited to have recently teamed up with the good folks at booking.com who have given me the chance to offer my lovely Jessie Guru support crew $40 off your next holiday booking. All you have to do is CLICK ON THIS LINK to use my special discount code, choose your destination and dream home-away-from-home and book as per normal. It’s that easy, there’s no catch just the fact you save $40 which you can spend on a massage, a meal or whatever tickles your fancy when you’re on your next travel adventure somewhere living your best life!

If you do decide to use the discount when you’re planning your holiday I’d love to hear where you’re going, and if it’s Bali make sure you go to Ubud and stay at 11 on Kajeng. Tell Jay and Carmel that Jess & Adam the Tokyo Kiwis say hi 😉




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