In June 2023, I checked into the River Tent at Capella Ubud. Nestled in the heart of the rainforest north of central Ubud in Bali, next to the rural artist village Keliki with its lush green rice paddies and proximity to the sacred Wos River, the luxury tented camp comprises 23 different themed tents in a 19th-century-inspired adventure camp setting conceptualised by famed design Bill Bensley. Assuming the traffic is fair, Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport and Nusa Dua are a 90-minute drive away while you can reach Seminyak within an hour.

Nearby resorts include Hoshinoya Bali, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, Viceroy Bali, COMO Shambhala Estate and Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve.

Other Bill Bensley properties include Shinta Mani Wild (a similar adventure camp concept), InterContinental Danang, Rosewood Luang Prabang, The Siam and Capella Hanoi.

The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Bill Bensley-whimsical luxury tented camp in Bali jungle.

The must-dos (if any): Take a soak in your bathtub, enjoy the a la carte breakfast at Mads Lange, have evening cocktails at the Officer’s Tent, book a dinner at Api Jawa.


Upon your arrival at the camp and after being divested of your luggage, you are invited to cross the arrival portico which, in manner of magical wardrobe, Platform 9 ¾ or similar, served as gateway to the Bill Bensley-style fantasy jungle setting. Before you step into the Camp Post (the open-air bale which serves as the reception area), you are given a traditional Balinese blessing involving water and rice. As your check-in is being processed while you sip your welcome drink and take in the awe-inspiring surroundings, a staff member approaches you and offers a welcome massage. After your bodily tensions have been karate chopped and kneaded away, a Camp Ranger offers you a walking stick and a survival kit comprising mosquito spray, poncho and ear plugs, and you are brought on a brief tour of the camp before eventually being escorted to your tent.

The luxury tented camp harks back to the 19th century days of spice trade and romantic expeditions – think brass monkey statues perched on rooftops and balancing lamps with their long tails, toilets in the shape of wooden thrones, an abundance of chest imagery (treasure, not torso – Moral Education Ed.), campfires with hot chocolate and marshmallows as well as an Officer’s Tent with orange-dim lighting, ornamental taxidermy, a pool table and spirit-forward cocktails to knock back while regaling your comrades with stories about your last jungle adventure. The camp’s accommodation tents as well as social and dining spaces – including all-day dining restaurant Mads Lange, omakase concept Api Jiwa and the Mortar & Pestle Bar – are spread out across a vast expanse of hilly, forested terrain and connected via undulating stone paths.

The camp offers five tent categories – the Terrace, Rainforest, River and Keliki Valley Tents are 173sqm one-bedroom spaces, while the two-bedroom Lodge is a 217sqm affair. All tents come with spacious outdoor decks and private saltwater pools, with the Keliki Valley and Lodge tents having the largest pools. Each of the camp’s tents has a different name and theme which visually pays tribute to a different personality or concept from the 1800s – the  Captain’s Tent bears a massive old map of Bali; the Bali Temple Tent has a design inspired by a Balinese Hindu temple; the Baker’s Tent features baking tools and spices from former times; and the Toy Maker’s Tent showcases a toy collection from the collonial era. During my stay, I stayed in one of the River Tents which are the furthest from the Camp Post and dining spaces, and heading for breakfast proved to be quite the uphill trek. (Pro tip: ditch non-sensible footwear such as slippers or stilettos.)

In terms of wellness, guests can indulge in one of Auriga Wellness’ bespoke treatments in the comfort of one of the spa’s three luxurious tents. The Armoury offers both a fully-equipped indoor gym with TRX equipment and free weights as well as a sheltered, open-air space for outdoor workouts such as pilates and yoga. Elsewhere, The Cistern is the resort’s dramatic-looking 30-metre steel-clad outdoor rainforest pool with multiple “taps” which gush powerful jets of water for your aquatic massage purposes. 

Guests can enjoy complimentary activities set out in the camp’s weekly schedule. The week of my stay, such activities included HIIT classes, Surya Yoga, Keliki Village Biking, Keliki Fun Run with the camp’s General Manager, TRX classes, Balinese Dance Lessons, Traditional Boreh Making (boreh is a kind of Balinese body scrub) as well as something scary-sounding called “G.I. Jungle”(!). Those who seek a more immersive cultural experience during their stay can consider participating in one of the resort’s payable activities, which include going for a spiritual cleansing ritual at The Beji, an ancient spring of holy water near the Wos River some 225 steps down stone paths from the camp; venturing on a hike up the active volcano Mount Batur to catch truly breathtaking sunrise views from the summit; visiting ancient temples such as the Pura Pucak Penulisan and Pura Dalem Balingkang whilst learning about Hindu astrology and architecture from your Camp Ranger guide; and participating in a photoshoot whilst dressed in the traditional attire of a royal Balinese princess and/or prince.

During my stay, I went on an evening rice paddy trek with Camp Ranger guide Hendra who brought me on a stroll around the peaceful rice paddies and shared with me stories about the village, including the secret as to why there were random trees which bore raspberry, mango and orange fruits. Along the way, he introduced me to the camp’s resident rabbits and showed me a tree bearing orange coconuts (carotenoids give these coconuts their colour, and they improve immune function and lower risks for heart disease and cancer). Before I could say no, he obtained permission (as well as a sickle) from the farmer whose land the tree stood on and climbed up the tree to get me an orange coconut for me to take back to the Officer’s Tent to enjoy. Who said chivalry is dead?

That same evening, after my dinner at Api Jiwa, I persuaded my new-found friends from dinner to join me for hot chocolate and marshmallows at the Camp Fire (yes, a literal one) while a black-and-white silent movie depicting yesteryear Bali played on a big screen. Undeniably and commendably atmospheric.

Capella Ubud Welcome Blessing
Welcome Blessing (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Reception
Reception (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Retail Shop
Retail Shop (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud The Officers Tent
The Officer’s Tent (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Auriga Spa
Auriga Spa (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud The Armory
The Armory (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud The Cistern
The Cistern (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud The Camp Fire
The Camp Fire (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Wos River Temple
Wos River Temple (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Rice Paddy Trekking
Rice Paddy Trekking (Capella Ubud).


Located close to the tranquil Wos River, the 173sqm Translator’s Tent offers a large outdoor deck with an oversized daybed and dining area, indoor and outdoor shower spaces and a 24sqm private saltwater plunge pool accessible via a spiral staircase leading down to a lower deck. 

The air-conditioned tent is beautifully furnished with lots of quirky charm. The four-poster bed, ceiling fans and suspended draperies lend a touch of old world romance, while the minibar – impressively stocked with an extensive variety of wines and spirits including Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve Champagne NV, 2017 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon from Barossa Valley and 2012 Lavau Gigondas, Rhone – is presented within an oversized travelling trunk. Elsewhere, the Illy espresso machine and kettle are concealed within a treasure chest, while the black leather rococo sofas, cowhide-printed slipper chairs, dimpled surfaces and Granny-style floral wallpaper come together in a clash of whimsical personality. In line with its translation theme, the tent features Balinese “lontar” palm-leaf manuscripts with teachings covering various aspects of life such as religion, ethics, astrology, history, homeopathy and healing.

The indoor bathroom boasts double vanities, a hammered copper freestanding bath and distinct corners with privacy curtains for showering and going on the throne respectively. Yes, a literal wooden throne, one which I’d be honest I didn’t use very much for a multitude of reasons. Elsewhere, the perfumed Capella Ubud-branded shower amenities were heavenly, while you also get your pick of two soaps from six different scents (bamboo, citrus lily, coffee, chocolate, lavender and orange). Two different doors in the bathroom offer access to the outdoor shower deck outside which is big enough to seat fourteen Primary Three children.

Capella Ubud Translator's Tent
Translator’s Tent (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Translator's Tent
Translator’s Tent (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Translator's Tent Refreshment Trunk
Refreshment Trunk, Translator’s Tent (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Welcome Duffel Bag
Welcome Duffel Bag (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Translator's Tent Bathroom
Bathroom, Translator’s Tent (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Translator's Tent Toilet Throne
Toilet Throne, Translator’s Tent (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Translator's Tent Soap
Soap, Translator’s Tent (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Translator's Tent Outdoor Shower
Outdoor Shower, Translator’s Tent (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Translator's Tent Outdoor Deck
Outdoor Deck, Translator’s Tent (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Translator's Tent Private Plunge Pool
Private Plunge Pool, Translator’s Tent (Capella Ubud).


Breakfast is served at Mads Lange, the camp’s tented split-level and open-air dining room. Guests can help themselves to the bakery table and its array of spreads or order from the a la carte menu which offers Indonesian dishes such as Nasi Campur (banana leaf rice, chilli sambal, chicken satay, fried egg), Ikan Goreng (fried baby fish, garlic, chilli, lime), Black Rice Pudding (coconut cream, grilled mango) and Martabak Telur (minced pork, chilli and vinegar, Thai basil); wellness options such as Shakshuka Eggs (chickpeas, tomato, bell pepper) and Smashed Avo (dark rye, tomatoes, olive oil, basil, feta); Chinese and Japanese dishes such as Pork Wonton Soup (pork rib, shallots, cabbage) and Japanese Bento (salmon shiozake, Japanese rice, wakame salad, pickled radish, miso soup, tamagoyaki); or go for the epic and hearty Camp Big Breakfast (2 eggs in any style, hash brown, pork jowl bacon, house-made sausage, baked beans, roasted tomato, sauteed mushrooms, roasted onion). Fun fact: the restaurant is named after Mads Johansen Lange, a Danish spice trader who was once nicknamed “The White King of Bali” for his entrepreneurial success in Bali.

Capella Ubud Mads Lange
Mads Lange (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Mads Lange Breakfast Nasi Campur
Nasi Campur, Breakfast, Mads Lange (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Mads Lange Breakfast Camp Big Breakfast
Camp Big Breakfast, Breakfast, Mads Lange (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Mads Lange Breakfast Japanese Bento
Japanese Bento, Breakfast, Mads Lange (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Mads Lange Breakfast Ikan Goreng
Ikan Goreng, Breakfast, Mads Lange (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Mads Lange Breakfast Martabak Telur
Martabak Telur, Breakfast, Mads Lange (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Mads Lange Breakfast Black Rice Pudding
Black Rice Pudding, Breakfast, Mads Lange (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Mads Lange Breakfast Mie Goreng
Mie Goreng, Breakfast, Mads Lange (Capella Ubud).

Api Jiwa (from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘fire to the soul’) is the camp’s Asian omakase restaurant, helmed by the dashing Michelin-starred Italian chef Nicola Russo. (“The wives at the table were all fawning and flirting with him”, my friend who dined there confided.) The Chawanmushi with King Crab and Yuzu whetted the appetite, while the Babi Guling and Kambing were moist, juicy affairs. The River Prawn topped with Fried Rice was a feast for the senses, wily my favourite dish was the Smoked Beef Tenderloin, which was the gustatory equivalent of a date with someone sexy (and probably involving spirit-forward whisky-based cocktails) which is going really, really well.

Capella Ubud Api Jiwa Chef Nicola Russo
Chef Nicola Russo, Api Jiwa (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Api Jiwa Oyster with Beef Tartare
Oyster with Beef Tartare, Api Jiwa (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Api Jiwa Chawanmushi with King Crab and Yuzu
Chawanmushi with King Crab and Yuzu, Api Jiwa (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Api Jiwa Babi Guling
Babi Guling, Api Jiwa (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Api Jiwa Kambing
Kambing, Api Jiwa (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Api Jiwa River Prawn
River Prawn, Api Jiwa (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Api Jiwa Smoked Beef Tenderloin
Smoked Beef Tenderloin, Api Jiwa (Capella Ubud).

Guests can enjoy afternoon tea as well as evening cocktails at canapes at the Officer’s Tent, which offers a billiard table, board games as well as a variety of books and magazines for your lounging and social activities. The extensive cocktail menu spans across different spirits – vodka choices include the Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger, lime juice, simple syrup, ginger ale), The Cistern (vodka, almond syrup, lime juice, yogurt, nutmeg) and Coffee Tini (vodka, house-made coffee liqueur, espresso); gin-based drinks include the Jasmine Gimlet (gin, jasmine cordial, lime juice), Negroni (gin, Campari, sweet vermouth) and Martini (din, dry martini, olive); rum options include Cuba Libre (rum, lime juice, coke), Daiquiri (rum, lime juice, simple syrup) and Api Jiwa (rum, Campari, peach syrup, lime juice, ginger ale); tequila cocktails include Margarita (tequila, triple sec, lime juice, simple syrup, salt), Cucumber Rita (tequila, cucumber juice, orangecello, lime juice, simple syrup) and Road to Bedugul (tequila, strawberry, basil, orangecello, simple syrup, lime juice, ginger ale); and whisky tipples include Boulevardier (whisky, sweet vermouth, Campari), Nyoman Hattan (whisky, sweet vermouth) and Bourbon Jamu (whisky, jamu cordial, simple syrup, lime juice).

It should be noted that the cocktail menu at Officer’s Tent is 90% identical to that offered at the poolside Mortar & Pestle Bar (i.e. where cocktails are chargeable). Located next to The Cistern, the al fresco bar was where I ended up enjoying my afternoon tea – the team is accommodating and flexible on that front.

Capella Ubud The Mortar & Pestle Bar
The Mortar & Pestle Bar (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Tea (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud The Officers Tent
The Officer’s Tent (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud The Officers Tent Evening Canapes
Evening Canapes, The Officer’s Tent (Capella Ubud).
Capella Ubud The Officers Tent Cocktails
Cocktails, The Officer’s Tent (Capella Ubud).


Whilst Capella Ubud was not my first luxury tented camp (I lost my adventure camp virginity to Shinta Mani Wild), I was still impressed by the immersive experience, stellar service and food offerings. In many aspects (not entirely geographical), Capella Ubud is one of the more accessible choices amongst the various Bill Bensley luxury tented camps in the region which also includes Rosewood Luang Prabang and Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, and a great option if you are looking for a launchpad into the dizzying and exhilarating world of Bill Bensley’s luxury tented camps.

Capella Ubud, Bali
Jl. Raya Dalem, Banjar Triwangsa
Desa Keliki, Kecamatan Tegallalang
Ubud, Gianyar
Bali 80561, Indonesia


Shawn is a full-time lawyer based in Singapore. Neither a professional critic, blogger nor photographer, Shawn is simply somebody who loves food and luxury hotels very much and (likes to think that he has) a quirky sense of humor. When Shawn is not premature ageing and turning his hair further grey due to stress and vicious deadlines, he is somewhere spending an exorbitant amount of money trying out new dining places and hotels.

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