Review: COMO Shambhala Estate, Bali

Jyaga love (5/5)

COMO Shambhala Estate

Nearest Airport : DPS (40 km away)
Neighbourhood : Payangan, Bali
Website :
Address : Banjar Begawan, Desa, Melinggih Kelod,
Kec. Payangan, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571
Chain : COMO Hotels and Resorts

The COMO Shambhala Estate is the flagship of the Singapore-based COMO Hotels and Resorts. The resort complements the existing COMO Uma Ubud, which itself opened in 2001. COMO Shambhala Estate originally opened in 1998 as the Begawan Giri Estate, owned and developed by Bradley and Debora Gardner of the Begawan Foundation. The resort took Gardner over 10 years to build and the Begawan Giri legacy remained with the name of the nearby village of Begawan.

In 2004, the Gardners sold Begawan Giri to Singapore’s Christina Ong, who in turn rebranded the resort into COMO Shambhala Estate at Begawan Giri. The resort joined COMO Uma Ubud, which up to that point was the island’s only COMO property. It wasn’t until years later that the Begawan Giri moniker was dropped from its name, leaving the resort to be known as COMO’s flagship.


COMO Shambhala Estate is located 15 minutes north of central Ubud in Payangan. The resort is located at the end of a narrow village street, accessed from the main road through a labyrinth of other village streets. It is honestly really easy to get lost and the many parked vehicles along the side of the street made the drive even more tedious. We were relieved when we reached Banjar Begawan, where the street is correspondingly called ‘Begawan Giri Street’. 

Do note that there isn’t really anything within the direct vicinity of the Estate, apart from the neighbouring Ayung Resort. Additionally, the resort’s difficult access makes it less desirable to drive in or out. Despite that, its isolated location does it as an appropriate retreat to get away from everything!

Arrival and Check-in

When we finally reached the Estate’s entrance, we were stopped for a quick and routine security check. The security team was especially courteous and radioed the reception in anticipation of our arrival. Once at the beautiful reception, we were promptly greeted by the reception hosts. We were offered cold, scented towels as well as their green juice welcome drink called ‘Namaste’. During this time, another host took care of our bags and parked our rental car.

Lobby at COMO Shambhala Estate
Lobby Building at COMO Shambhala Estate

After confirming our reservation, we were introduced to our wonderful personal assistant, ibu Ayu. She would also be our main point of contact for the duration of our stay, equivalent to a butler. As we walked to our room, ibu Ayu took care to introduce the facilities at the resort. Along the way, I was surprised to be told that we had been upgraded from our COMO Shambhala Suite all the way to a Two Bedroom Pool Villa. It was only once in the villa were the registration formalities completed.

Our Two Bedroom Pool Villa

Our Two Bedroom Pool Villa, Saundarya, is some 35 steps down from the main pathway. Set on a relatively ‘small’ plot of 235 sqm, the villa is spread over two floors. The second floor houses the main living room, the master room, as well as the infinity pool. Right underneath it, is the additional bedroom, which generously features its own balcony and bathroom.

Saundarya, our Two Bedroom Pool Villa
Staircase to the pathway

Notably, the villas were a later addition to the estate. They were designed by Koichiro Ikebuchi, who is COMO’s main designer, having also designed the other two COMO properties in Bali.

Living Room

Immediately by the main door is the villa’s impressive open-air living room. Parallel to the pool, the space is equipped with a very comfortable sofa, a ceiling-hung daybed, and a lounge chair, along with a dining table that seats three. Behind the dining table is the minibar, fully equipped with a Nespresso coffee machine. In addition, the resort interestingly offers COMO-branded steel water bottles that were explicitly encouraged to be taken home. What a very unexpected yet thoughtful gift!

Living Room in the Two Bedroom Pool Villa
Minibar in the Two Bedroom Pool Villa

Private Pool Deck

Shared with the living room is the villa’s drop-dead gorgeous deck with an infinity pool that views the forest below. Combined with the sunlight filtering through trees, the setting looked absolutely ethereal. Whilst not completely dramatic, the ambiance was honestly breathtaking. Really, nothing less than wow!

Pool deck at the Two Bedroom Pool Villa
The Two Bedroom Pool Villa

Interestingly one section of the pool is equipped with a jacuzzi function, which I thought was very nice. There is also a small gate that leads into the outdoor shower. Surrounding the private infinity pool are four very plush sun loungers, representing the maximum occupancy of this villa.

Jacuzzi at the Two Bedroom Pool Villa
Sun loungers at the Two Bedroom Pool Villa
Pool deck at the Two Bedroom Pool Villa

Master Bedroom

The master bedroom is located behind the pool deck and features two lounge chairs, a desk, and a large television, in addition to the four-poster bed. Between the warm lighting, the plush bed, and the rustic timber floors, I thought the bedroom is very beautiful. I honestly loved the soft, warm glow of the ceiling lights, which really set a calm mood in the bedroom.

Bedroom in the Two Bedroom Pool Villa
Bedroom in the Two Bedroom Pool Villa
Desk and lounge chairs in the master bedroom

Waiting for us was a signed letter from the Estate’s General Manager, Gede Suteja, along with a generous fruit plate that was topped up whenever the villa is serviced. Conveniently, an endless amount of water was also placed on the table during the nightly turn-down service.

Welcome amenities
Turndown amenities

When it came to sleeping, I thought that the bed is very comfortable. In addition to the plush and soft bedding, the mattress just had that perfect balance of firm and soft, making it very pleasant to sleep on.

Bed in the master bedroom
Bed in the master bedroom

Master Bathroom

Next to the bedroom is the massive bathroom that features an open closet and double sinks. The closet featured a pair of yoga mats and really soft bathrobes. A COMO Shambhala-branded shopping bag was hung on the closet and was also offered as a gift to take back.

Double sinks in the master bathroom
Closet in the master bathroom

Behind this is an oversized wood and stone bathtub that views the pool. I was impressed that the tub fills up quickly and was comfortable to use. On the side were these excellent bath salts containing dried citrus peels that smelled amazing. The bath amenities were very high quality, being COMO Shambhala-branded, which I love.

Bathtub in the master bathroom

In this bathroom are also the toilet and an indoor shower. Whilst the indoor shower isn’t equipped with a rain showerhead, it does have a very interesting steam feature. When turned on, the shower room doubles into an incredible sauna. I also appreciated that both showers had a fantastic water pressure. A second shower is available on the private terrace outside, this one featuring a rain showerhead. Both showers were also individually equipped with COMO Shambhala amenities.

Honestly, all these options made the bathing experience here phenomenal – definitely amongst the best I’ve had anywhere in the world!

Indoor shower in the master bathroom
Indoor shower in the master bathroom

The toilet, however, was just plain and normal and had no bidet. But hey, that’s just me being nitpicky. After all, a review must be balanced, right? 😉

Toilet in the master bathroom

Secondary Bedroom

In comparison to the master bedroom, the downstairs bedroom looked a bit simple. It features a pair of plush lounge chairs, its own minibar, as well as a similar oversized television, in addition to the twin beds. Despite the plain design, the room still felt like it was properly designed for comfort rather than an afterthought. The bedroom also came with its own terrace, which had superb views of the forest.

Secondary bedroom in the Two Bedroom Pool Villa
Terrace outside the secondary bedroom

Whilst unoccupied during our stay, the bedroom was still completely provisioned with all amenities. Unexpectedly, our personal assistant, ibu Ayu, also offered to have housekeeping turndown this room as well. Regardless, it was done before we managed to reply.

Secondary bedroom in the Two Bedroom Pool Villa

Secondary Bathroom

The downstairs bedroom is similarly provisioned with its own bathroom and walk-in closet. This bathroom also has double sinks and a lovely indoor shower with views towards the forest. Interestingly though, the bathroom does not feature a bathtub despite having more than enough space for one. The walk-in closet was equipped with similar amenities to the master bedroom.

Secondary bathroom in the Two Bedroom Pool Villa
Shower in the secondary bathroom
Toilet in the secondary bathroom


The food at the resort was unfortunately the least memorable part of our stay. That’s not to say it was bad, but I felt that most of it is simply too health-conscious. Well, at least in a way that might dampen the taste of the dishes. The ingredients used were undeniably very high quality and very fresh – but sadly, I didn’t care too much for the taste of the food.

Did you know?

Many of the dishes found at the restaurants were inspired by the founder of COMO Hotels and Resorts, Christina Ong. These COMO Shambhala dishes are even listed in a cookbook launched by her, called The Pleasures of Eating Well.

I think the complete focus on healthy foods made the choices a bit too niche. I honestly thought that the food at COMO Uma Ubud interestingly excelled over the ones here, in terms of taste. But again, that’s just my personal preference, and I’m sure there are guests who are attracted to this ‘detox’ cuisine.


We tried having dinner at glow, which is the resort’s all-day dining restaurant featuring their signature COMO Shambhala cuisine. The restaurant is positioned near the lobby building, in which several tables feature gorgeous sunset views of the Ayung River Valley.

glow restaurant at COMO Shambhala Estate
glow restaurant at COMO Shambhala Estate

As expected from the restaurant’s description, everything on the menu looked lean and health-conscious. Hence, no steak frites here! For dinner, I sampled their Steamed Fish in Fragrant Tamari, which was cooked in a light ginger-vegetable broth and served with brown rice. As normal, the meal started with cold towels and a choice of rye bread and their signature ‘real toast’. The bread was served with olive oil and ground spices.

Dinner table setup at glow restaurant
Bread at glow restaurant

The steamed fish of the day was grouper, which I quite liked. The dish honestly tasted very fresh and light, but despite that, I personally thought the combination of flavours and aromas to be a bit unusual for my preferences.

Steamed Fish in Fragrant Tamari at glow restaurant

I also had the Kerapu Menyatnyat, which is a Balinese grouper fish curry, served with organic red rice. This dish tasted very fresh and flavourful and somehow simultaneously rich yet light – certainly no easy feat. As such, the Kerapu Menyatnyat was also probably the better of the two.

Kerapu Menyatnyat at glow restaurant

Honestly, I wasn’t wowed by the taste of the food at dinner, but I was really impressed that I never left the restaurant feeling sick or bloated – which was probably the end goal here.

glow restaurant at COMO Shambhala Estate


For breakfast, the meal is served at the Kudus Restaurant located next to glow restaurant. This is also the resort’s Indonesian restaurant dining venue and is appropriately housed in an ornate antique joglo house. Much like glow, the tables at this restaurant had great views of the river valley and the surrounding forests.

Kudus House restaurant at COMO Shambhala Estate
Kudus House restaurant at COMO Shambhala Estate
View from Kudus House

Breakfast can be started with a choice of healthy drinks, including their interesting medicinal shots, which I agreed to try. For this, I had their Wheatgrass shot with mint, which I ended up liking. I also loved that they have coconut water as a drink choice on the menu. Let’s just say I might have overindulged in coconut water here… 😀

Breakfast setup

Over the duration of the stay, I also managed to try both their fruit salad and fruit plate, which interestingly had different fruits. The salad was an amalgamation of papaya, star fruit, and pineapple in orange juice, topped with passionfruit and coconut. I was really impressed by the taste of this combination! The fruit plate featured dragonfruit, pineapple, passionfruit, papaya, and watermelon.

Fruit Salad
Fruit Plate

For the main, I tried the Zucchini Waffle with smoked salmon. Despite the addition of cream cheese and cucumbers, I found the dish to be very dry. The ingredients were high-quality and the smoked salmon tasted excellent, however.

Zucchini Waffle with smoked salmon

I also had a Balinese rice congee called Bubuh Tepeng. Whilst it was a bit heavy, it was rich in spices and tasted quite interesting.

Bubuh Tepeng – Balinese rice congee

Resort Grounds and Amenities

The design and the landscape of COMO Shambhala Estate honestly looked phenomenal. The combination of the incredible views of the Ayung River Valley with the resort’s architecture made it mesmerising, for lack of better words. Set on a 9.3-hectare plot, I was told by ibu Ayu that it takes a team of 80 groundskeepers to keep the estate looking pristine. And pristine it was!

View from COMO Shambhala Estate
Grounds at COMO Shambhala Estate
Grounds at COMO Shambhala Estate
Spa Pavilion at COMO Shambhala Estate
The boutique at COMO Shambhala Estate

In line with its well-being theme, the resort has a strict no-smoking policy. Despite that, there is one designated area between the restaurants and the spa pavilion in which smoking is permitted.

Designated smoking area at COMO Shambhala Estate


COMO Shambhala Estate has two pools that are accessible to all guests. These two are in addition to the private pools available in the villas and the shared pools in the residences. Whilst they used to be filled with salt water, the resort has transitioned to using normal pool water.

Main Pool

The resort’s main pool is located near the Spa Pavilion. This pool is an infinity pool that features a slightly obstructed view of the valley. It is quite small but that never bothered me since the pool remained mostly empty despite the resort’s near-full occupancy. Above this pool is also a vitality pool, though that required a hydrotherapy session booking to use.

Main pool at COMO Shambhala Estate
Main pool at COMO Shambhala Estate

Whilst the main pool is beautiful in itself, it was nothing compared to the sacred spring pool…

Journey down to the Sacred Spring Pool

The sacred spring pool is comparatively a lot more secluded. It is located some 300 steps down the valley, close to the edge of the sacred Ayung River. Likewise, it was indeed a bit of a hike to go down there and back up. Whilst I like to think of myself to be quite fit, I ended up panting on each ascent and descent. 😉

Steps from the main pool to the sacred spring pool

Halfway down, there is a beautiful Balinese shrine from which the pool’s spring water flows past. This honestly looked really magical. I mean, just look at that!

Shrine at COMO Shambhala Estate

Also, do note that the steps down can feel quite precarious since some sections of the stairs do not have railings. Hmmm… Despite that, what’s down there is definitely worth the effort!

More steps to the sacred spring pool (there’s a lot more than this)
Sacred Spring Pool

Once finally down there, the scenery changed dramatically and looked nothing less than phenomenal! Between the mighty gush of the Ayung River and the lush greenery, this has to be a top contender for Bali’s most magical places. It was absolutely breathtaking…

Daybed decks by the sacred spring pool

Here, there are three different pools, one of which is larger than the others. There are also daybeds scattered around. After I settled at a daybed, a friendly pool attendant showed up and brought over a cold towel and cold water. Definitely a godsend after that descent.

Deck at the sacred spring pool

As I had hoped, the spring water pool looked absolutely stunning. Fed by a flowing natural spring, the water is very cold and refreshing and felt really different due to the absence of chlorine. Being in the pool felt like swimming in a very pristine waterfall next to a large river. Honestly, I think it would be really difficult to top a swimming experience in this pool. Wow… :’)

Sacred spring pool
Sacred spring pool’s waterfall
View towards the sacred spring pool


As if the hike down and up from the sacred spring pool wasn’t enough, there’s also a gymnasium located under the Kudus House restaurant. The gymnasium is expectedly a bit small but fully equipped with modern looking equipment. To sweeten the deal, a few of the cardio machines even had gorgeous views of the valley! Nothing. Short. Of. Amazing.

Gymnasium at COMO Shambhala Estate
Gymnasium at COMO Shambhala Estate
View from the gymnasium


The service at COMO Shambhala Estate was nothing less than phenomenal. I particularly have much praise for our personal assistant, ibu Ayu, who was professional, exceptionally warm and friendly, and accommodating. She ensured that we had everything we needed during our stay and was very attentive to various details. She was also quick to respond to any queries we had. Whilst we still had to mention our villa name at the restaurants, I found that the service was mostly intuitive and proactive.


Overall, I thought that COMO Shambhala Estate is an unbelievably magical place. The resort doesn’t feel a lot like a hotel but is more akin to a retreat located near Ubud. Given the tough access situation and the resort’s expansiveness, it seems quite inappropriate to treat COMO Shambhala Estate as a base to explore the island. COMO even markets the resort more as a well-being and spa destination rather than a hotel.

Whilst the cuisine wasn’t something I enjoyed, I felt that the experience is something to repeat. It only seems fitting to have COMO Shambhala Estate as a peaceful escape from life. In many ways, the Estate exudes a special charm – akin to what one might feel at Amankila – although in a bit more of a lifestyle retreat-styled setting. 

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