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Indonesian Idyll



An eco retreat with a luxury edge, this Balinese hideaway near Ubud has grown organically over time, and now consists of ten hectares of land set on the verdant, undulating banks of the Wos River


Tucked away in a Balinese bamboo forest, surrounded by rice paddies and natural springs, the enchanting Panchoran Retreat is a holiday destination with a difference. Home to Irish interior designer Linda Garland – whose previous clients include Mick Jagger and David Bowie – this otherworldly oasis is a personal project that has been 25 years in the making.

Linda came to Bali in 1974, in search of a particular type of textile; she fell in love with the island and decided to make a home for herself here. She bought a plot of land and built a house among the giant bamboo plants and tumbling waterfalls, and it wasn’t long before she realised that she wanted to share the area’s unique atmosphere with others. ‘I never set out to turn Panchoran into a hotel – it just happened that way,’ says Linda, who comes back to the UK for work but spends as much time in Bali as her schedule permits. ‘For the past two decades, I’ve been slowly planting, sculpting and building around the river.’ The result of her efforts is a series of wooden huts on tall stilts, raised up to be level with the tree canopy, with suitably idyllic names such as River House, Coconut House, Waterfall House and Bamboo Garden House. There’s also a yoga pavilion and a communal space for indoor or outdoor dining, or just kicking back and enjoying the surroundings in the company of other guests.

If alfresco dining in a Balinese jungle isn’t enough to tempt you, all the food served here is organic and either grown on the estate or sourced locally. ‘We don’t have a set menu, and we don’t open up for anyone who isn’t staying here,’ says Linda of her unconventional kitchen. ‘Most of what we serve has been pulled out of the ground on the estate, supplemented by local produce. We are lucky to have some exceptional cooks, too, but you won’t find European food on the menu – just deliciously prepared Indonesian dishes.’

Linda was also adamant that Panchoran Retreat should be an ‘eco lodge’, a concept that’s integral to the hotel’s design, but hasn’t detracted from the guest experience in any way. The overall atmosphere is one of utter tranquillity, a peaceful haven that’s far removed from the pressures of daily life. ‘For me, it’s vital to relax and I wanted everyone to feel at home here,’ says Linda. ‘We get very creative individuals who come here to write, detox, practise yoga, or for any number of other reasons. But above all, they’re all seeking a calm and simple life.’