The cultural heart of Ubud

Meet some of the people who call it their home and who are doing their best to help improve life on the island.

Co-working space Hubud

Bali has always been a destination that attracts and inspires creativity. Its de facto creative and artistic heart, however, is indisputably Ubud. Set amid bamboo forests and with the sacred Ayung River at the heart of all life, Ubud charms and beckons, offering wonderful cultural diversions, exciting exploration and, if the world is all too much for you, a safe cocoon to which you can escape and rejuvenate.
On a recent visit to Ubud with Airbnb, we were introduced to several wonderful people via our hosts, truly immersing us in real life in Ubud and showing us the joys of the unconventional non-hotel route. So, whether or not you are in Bali to embark on your own Eat, Pray, Love journey or simply to enjoy an exhilarating break, here are several places that will not only give you a sense of support but give back to the community that is helping you.


Working Opportunities: Hubud

Have you ever wanted to experience the freedom of working while travelling as well as get the chance to meet like-minded individuals? Hubud might just be the co-working space of your dreams. It is ideal for freelancers looking for new opportunities or someone who has just left a corporate job and is exploring new options.

Started by Steve Munroe, Peter Wall and John Alderson, Hubud began with the intention of bringing together curious, risk-taking nomads on the island in one space. Initially, people doubted the concept would work. Munroe explains: “We were strongly advised by a lot of business people not to open in this part of Indonesia. We were advised to open in Jakarta instead, because of the tech scene. We were then told if we really wanted to open in Bali, at least open in Seminyak. You get the idea that people don’t come to Ubud to work or start businesses; people usually come to Ubud to get married or get over their divorce. This is the land of Eat, Pray, Love.”

Hubud co-founder Steve Munroe

Having previously worked at the United Nations, Munroe and his wife Renee relocated to Bali in 2009. As they have lived in many countries and travelled extensively, the couple now help nomads like themselves pursue their dream of living with a purpose. With co-working set to rise to 40% in the US by 2020, they felt they just might be onto something with this concept.

Founded in 2013, Hubud now has 6,000 members. As a co-working space, Hubud serves as a classroom and working space for its members, who come from over 80 countries. As part of the digital nomad movement, it provides members with high-speed internet, meeting rooms, regular workshops and events, healthy and delicious food, digital membership and access to other co-working spaces worldwide.

Compared with the fast-paced vibe of co-working spaces in big cities, Hubud has a more tropical island feel, overlooking the peaceful padi fields of Ubud. Members can work inside the bamboo walls of the space, which is just a short walk from the famous Monkey Forest. For those who plan to relocate to Bali temporarily, Hubud helps them find accommodation and holds weekly networking events. It also offers programmes that cater for career planning and personal growth, such as Women in Transition (WIT) and 9-to-Thrive. Events range from a basic introduction to Bahasa Indonesia and brainstorming sustainable food wastage ideas to offering entrepreneurial advice.

One of Hubud’s most notable events is Start-Up Weekend Bali, where start-ups team up and present their ideas together. Throughout the weekend, teams are mentored on their ideas and given feedback on whether or not they are viable. Often, those who join this weekend are more inspired because of the advice given by mentors. Hubud also has programmes aimed at helping the Balinese community by supporting local businesses or teaching people new skills.

Hubud is located at Monkey Forest Road 88X, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali. Visit to find out more about co-working opportunities.


Cook like a local: Janet DeNeefe and Casa Luna Cooking School

Galangal, cengkih and kunyit — these are essential ingredients in Balinese cooking. Started by Janet DeNeefe, Casa Luna Cooking School has been running since 1989, and has been listed as one of the world’s best cooking schools in The Australian newspaper.

DeNeefe is a name synonymous with the Ubud creative scene. She has written novels related to Balinese cooking — notably, Fragrant Rice and To Stir With Love. She is the founder of the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, which is responsible for bringing together local and international authors and artists over the course of five days for a range of workshops and performances. Created as a healing project in response to the 2002 Bali bombing, the festival is now in its 14th year and has played host to writers such as Michael Chabon and Mohsin Hamid in recent years.

Janet DeNeefe preparing a dish

Originally from Melbourne, Australia, DeNeefe first travelled to Bali in the 1970s with her family and quickly fell in love with the island. She loved it so much she decided to visit again on her own in 1984. This time, fate had a hand in making her stay. “I met a Balinese man from Ubud in 1984, and without much thought, moved to this charming hillside town and threw myself into a new life,” she says. The rest as they say is history and DeNeefe has not looked back. Together with her husband Ketut, DeNeefe has gone on to open Casa Luna Restaurant, Indus Restaurant and Bar Luna, and manages the Honeymoon Guesthouse, which is also located in Ubud.

As part of the Airbnb press tour, we are given the chance to take part in Casa Luna’s Food as Medicine workshop presented by DeNeefe. Like everything else on the island that is connected to traditional Balinese customs, Balinese food is an important aspect of the culture and religion. Cooking and eating in Balinese culture are subject to special rules and regulations concerning what may or may not be consumed depending on the situation.

A traditional Balinese meal consisting of ingredients such as pumpkin, tempe and bamboo shoots

At the beginning of the class, we are provided with a rich glossary of ingredients and DeNeefe then gives us an introduction on the background and healing properties of the spices we will be using. For example, ginger aids digestion, helps against sore throats and is often used to calm the nerves, while cloves help toothache and are used as an anaesthetic.

During the class, we help make a range of delectable and aromatic recipes such as kare rebung (bamboo shoot curry), kare waluh (pumpkin curry), sambal goreng and tempe sambal penyet. Hibiscus tea is served while we attempt to use a pestle and mortar. All ingredients used during this session are vegetarian, highlighting sustainability and the availability of fresh produce on the island.

Set against the tranquil environment of Casa Luna, we admire our culinary efforts and tuck into our dishes. An evening well spent creating heart-warming dishes that soothe the body and soul is one that is definitely not wasted.

Casa Luna Cooking School is located at Jalan Bisma, Ubud, Bali. Find out more about cooking classes at Casa Luna.

Follow us on Instagram