It can take a lot of searching to find a perfect spa in Ubud as there are so many choices. You can seek out the five-star, high-end establishments, set in hanging gardens and on cliff tops, but they often come at a price that is over the top. On the other hand, you may be tempted by the numerous signs that greet you at every street corner in Ubud catering for the budget-minded with US$8 massages, which are of variable quality. The place will most likely be noisy. You will often just be separated from the next person by a hanging sheet. And forget about the hygiene!
Choosing a spa around the mid-range means finding somewhere with a soothing ambience where treatments are affordable. The minute I went through the tall Balinese gate of Tamarind Spa at Murni’s Houses, I knew I had found a winner.
Walking into Tamarind Spa is like finding the old, authentic Bali. The Spa is set in a beautiful Balinese compound. The tropical gardens and elegant fountains and water features create a serene setting, as the sound of water is your constant companion. Nature abounds. The exquisitely carved Ganeshas and Buddhas are a reminder that you have come to a place of peace – a beautiful haven of relaxation and divine connection. Make sure you look for the tamarind tree in the garden. The spa was named after this tree.
Tamarind Spa and the adjacent Murni’s Houses are historic landmarks in Bali and the owner, Murni, is a bit of a legend in Ubud and beyond. In fact, a book has been written about her – Forty Delicious Years 1974-2014 https://www.murnis.com/ebooks/forty-delicious-years-1974-2014/.
She is well known for her famous restaurant Murni’s Warung, which is located a short walk down the hill from the Spa. It was established over 40 years ago in Campuan, located at the old Dutch bridge, 5 minutes from central Ubud, with stunning views over the jungle gorge.
Tamarind Spa is a small, intimate facility. The professional therapists that take care of you have been trained, under Murni’s guidance, by a team of expert spa trainers from around the world. Most of them have worked at 5-star hotels in Bali and abroad. The wide range of treatments incorporate Balinese tradition and skills.
Word has spread about Tamarind Spa so, for example, in 2017 and 2018 awards included: Winner of UK Luxury Travel Guide Awards: Winner of Contemporary Spa of the Year, Indonesia, 2017 and Winner of Luxury Spa of the Year, Indonesia, 2018.
So how do you earn such prestigious awards? Murni explained, “The most important part of establishing a spa is the extensive research that must go into trying and testing the best of Bali’s masseurs and masseuses. This challenge took me one year.”
From personal experience, I recommend the indulgent Tamarind Spa Romantic Package. Mine started with a ritual flower petal footbath, followed by a heavenly one-hour massage delivered by the most intuitive hands, and by people who understand the complexities of the human body. They were able to balance the pressure points and create a gentle flow, resulting in an ultimate therapeutic experience. After the massage I had a foot reflexology treatment which helped with balancing my energy centres, creating a harmony of mind, body and soul. At this point, I was floating.
Next, came a luxurious Honey Seed Scrub. This left my skin feeling soft and smooth. Following the scrub, the paste was washed away under a warm shower, and I got to step into a gorgeous bath, filled with petals. As I floated among hundreds of petals, I was served a refreshing pot of organic tea and a platter of fresh tropical fruits.
Apart from the package, the Spa offers many other treatments. I added on another treatment – a facial. This turned out to be one of the best facials I have ever had. The natural ingredients used included honey, yogurt, white clay, cucumber and rose water. They were mixed by the therapists themselves. After my facial, my skin felt rejuvenated, and I was feeling radiantly alive.
Ear candling is also on the Spa menu. I was way overdue for one and so added this to my pampering regime. Okay, so this was now a one-day spa experience and I was up for that. Ear candling safely removes excess wax and other debris from inside the ears and leaves you feeling very balanced and for some people results in better hearing. My ear candling treatment at the Spa was combined a deep relaxation neck massage. What a bonus!
Meals are available in the beautiful, quiet garden setting of Murni’s Houses. I took advantage of that, as after my 4 hours of treatments, I was ready for a nutritious lunch.
With the combination of very high standards and the beautiful Balinese ambience, it is no wonder Tamarind Spa is an award-winning spa, and I would put it on the top of your list of things to do in Ubud.
Tips – What to Know
– Do not eat a heavy meal before a massage.
– Arrive 10 minutes early and rest on one of the lovely spa lounges overlooking the gardens. Relax into your spa treatment.
– To maximise detoxifying effects, drink plenty of water afterwards and try to avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol for the next 24 hours. After, make a plan to rest and allow your body to feel the healing effects of your treatment.
– A specialised Children’s Package (age 5-12) includes a chocolate scrub and 4 other treatments and finishes with ice-cream.
Balinese Massage Course: In addition, for those curious about the art of massage, there is also a Balinese Massage course. www.murnis.com/tamarind-spa/massage-classes
How to Book:
Phone: +62 361 970923 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Murni’s web site also covers Murni’s boutique hotel, Murni’s Houses, her restaurant, Murni’s Warung, and her shop Murni’s Warung Shop as well as her books and articles:
Story by Stephanie Brookes
Stephanie Brookes is a travel writer and blogger with tales from Indonesia and beyond.
Author: “Indonesia’s Hidden Heritage; Cultural Journeys of Discovery”
Photos by David Metcalf
David Metcalf is a photographer and runs cultural photography tours in Kalimantan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Odisha and NE India.