Murni’s Houses & Healing in Ubud

Published 27 November 2017   


The original Murni’s Warung on the river

David Trauts escapes from the mad south into the tranquility of a special place recommended to him by one of his learned friends. He finds peace & healing on the convulence of two rivers.

Written by: DAVID TRAUTS Photos: JONATHAN COPELAND

Ubud town is one of the busiest places on the island nowadays. It seems to be busier than Kuta and Seminyak in many ways, and maybe just keeping up with Canggu, but with a completely different crowd. There are tourists everywhere, day and night, walking up and down its roads, stopping in coffee houses, dining in myriad styles of restaurants, browsing art and Balinese dance, many still living the eat, pray, love concept and surely all loving it.

But this part of Bali has a different pace. It’s a little more leisurely up in the hills and the people appear to be more laid back than their southern cousins. And especially the people living there.


Murni’s Houses lobby and restaurant

Murni’s Houses is one of the places where you can find the true essence of laid back Ubud. It’s peaceful, the gardens are lush, the tranquility reaches out to you as soon as you walk through the gate, and there’s a certain authentic old-world Bali calm and charm. The kind of Bali style that people talk about, look for in their travels and experience in their dreams, but one that’s often missed in the modern translation. Murni’s Houses are a step back in time, a time when things were simpler, not so rushed, and maybe not so fabulous.

The materials used in building Murni’s Houses are all from original Bali design; timber, bamboo, stone, crafted and carved like it has been for centuries, and here at Murni’s it looks great, functions well and is perfectly maintained. The local materials are just the beginning of the authenticity.

People think of moving to Ubud to write a book, their memoires, or like Obama himself, their manifestos. The temperature being cooler is an advantage and the peace can help to focus the senses. Ubud has always been a place of great creativity and from what I see continues being so.


Languid Campuhan walks

No doubt all guests at Murni’s Houses will meet Murni herself, the local pioneering creator of Murni’s Houses, who lives there. By the early 1980s she’d already successfully set up several busy shops stocked with old textiles, Balinese jewelry and unusual Asian antiques. More tourists were finding their way to Ubud and were looking for acceptable accommodation. Being a youthful entrepreneur, Murni scouted out the land and bought some rice paddies from the Royal family and started by building one house and laying out a huge garden with flowers and fruits, ponds and trees. Then, over the years, she added more accommodation as demand increased, but always keeping the garden, nature and Balinese tranquility at the forefront of everything.

While we were there, American writer Peter Stark and his wife Amy were staying in the main bungalow for a month or two finishing his novel about a young George Washington. Interesting breakfast chats were de rigueur and did I mention the breakfast? Excellent! Murni’s is definitely that kind of place – great food and culture from start to finish. It also features an award winning spa, Tamarind Spa.


Comfortably appointed rooms

Murni’s Houses is located in the beautiful Campuhan area of Ubud. A short distance away you will find two Campuhan walks that have become so popular since the advent of Instagram etc. One is a little more developed now, but they are both beautiful walks in the hills. Down by the river, (Campuhan means the confluence of two rivers, by the way), you will find two interesting restaurants, both reflecting the two worlds of Ubud today. Murni’s Warung, a multi-levelled restaurant, which the young Murni opened in 1974 on the banks of the Campuhan river is still operating successfully 43 years later, with a very authentic and delicious Balinese menu, (try the duck dish, as Jonathan, who’s also staying at Murni’s Houses, told me when I said we were on the way down to the warung, and he wasn’t wrong. Delicious!) and then, across the river and reflecting everything that has happened to Ubud, and Bali for that matter, in the last decade or so, you can find Bridges, which is a very impressive establishment with fine food and service. The first evening we were in Murni’s Warung looking up at the twinkling lights of Bridges and the next night in Bridges looking down at the twinkling lights of Murni’s—Campuhan is an interesting and intimate neighbourhood, and the old Dutch colonial steel bridge between the two restaurants just adds to the charm. The must-visit Blanco Museum, and futuristic Blanco par Mandif restaurant clinging to the vertiginous river valley are also nearby.


Looking down from Bridges

There is nowhere like Ubud in Bali and Murni’s is one of the most original and authentic examples of what and where Ubud came from. I read somewhere recently that Ubud comes from the Balinese word Ubad which means ‘healing’. After our long weekend spent there I must admit I felt the healing, not only from the persistent, change-of-season cough I had had for three weeks but also a refreshing of the mind and spirit that only comes from a stay in a magical place like this.

Murni is still busy creating and is opening a new three-storey building adjacent to the existing Murni’s Houses, containing an undercover swimming pool, gallery to display her collection of Asian tribal art, textiles and antiques, as well as short and long term accommodation (with and without kitchens). Rooms come with or without breakfast and start at around Rp 450k per night and can be booked instantly from Murni’s very impressive web site

www.murnis.com

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