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Where to stay in Bali
Just 10 minutes from Ubud, Danish-owned Chapung SeBali Resort and Spa is surrounded by nature: it’s immersed in vivid green rice terraces and lush rainforest, the infinity pool looks out onto the vast jungle, and from the day beds guests can hear geckos croaking, accompanied by the sound of the Osh river running below, and watch dragonflies dipping in and out of the water. All of the bedrooms, from the smart villas to the elegant suites, have high ceilings, earthy interiors and lots of natural light, and in the deluxe pool suite the black-slate bathroom comes with a tub with a panorama that takes in both the greenery and private pool. A Scandi influence is apparent throughout with wooden deck chairs and hanging swings at the Jungle Fish pool, and glazed ceramic mugs of herbal tea at the tranquil Chapung Spa, offered before a hot-stone therapy treatment. At the Blind Pig lounge and bar, try the Old-Fashioned Pig made with bourbon, homemade grilled corn syrup, ale reduction and angostura bitters. Then head to the open-air Jungle Fish restaurant on the second floor, which serves a fusion of Danish and Balinese flavours including the intriguingly titled ‘You Said Potato’, prepared with baby potatoes, creamy coconut garam masala sauce, sweet-potato puree and red rice. Dishes change monthly, but hard-to-beat fresh catch of the day is always on the menu. By Sophie Knight
Address: Chapung Sebali, Jl. Raya Sebali – 80561 Keliki, Ubud, Bali
Telephone: +62 361 8989102
Formerly the Serai, this secluded hotel changed management, and name, in 2002. Yet apart from a new Alila spa, there have been few radical alterations. The design now looks curiously old-fashioned, with 56 bedrooms set in four two-storey buildings grouped around a central swimming pool. The facilities, too, seem pretty average compared with the flair and standard of similarly priced newer hotels elsewhere on the island. The hotel does however, make a pleasant base from which to explore this intriguing area of Bali.
Address: Alila Manggis, Buitan, Manggis, Karangasem
Telephone: +62 363 41011
Just 5km from Ubud, Bali’s thriving cultural heart, this hillside retreat has 56 rooms, housed in two-storey blocks designed to resemble a Balinese village, a stunning pool and a spa.
Address: Alila Ubud, Desa Melinggih Kelod, Payangan, Gianyar
Telephone: +62 361 975963
About 10 minutes from the centre of Ubud, this is one of Bali’s most influential and inspirational hotels. It was created by Australian-born Peter Muller in 1989 and is the oldest of the Amanresorts on the island; but for all its age, the design is seminal. The hotel celebrates Balinese life brilliantly. Accommodation is in 31 villa complexes modelled on the island’s courtyard houses, a style that has since been much copied. But it is the integration of village life in the public areas that is particularly clever: the design incorporates the main path between local settlement and its temple and so the villagers walk through the grounds, with all their festivals and ceremonies becoming part of Amandari’s essence.
Address: Amamdari, Kedewatan, Ubud
Telephone: +62 361 975333
Less than an hour and a half’s drive from the airport, Amankila is spread along a cliff face with panoramic sea views. Its thatched pavilion suites and central buildings are linked by long, white stairways. It is so glamorous, you feel as if you’ve strayed into one of the more exotic James Bond films. Given that the hotel was built in 1992, some of the facilities could seem a little outdated, just nine of the 34 suites have private pools. The beach club at the bottom of the cliff encompasses a reasonable stretch of grey-gold sand, a restaurant, a 42-metre pool and an open-air spa. The temptation for most guests is to stay put, but the hotel also offers a range of activities including diving, Hobie Cat sailing and village treks and trips.
Address: Amankila, Manggis, Karangasem
Telephone: +62 363 41333
The scent of frangipani fills the air at Amanusa, the Aman’s third property on the island, set amongst green hills just 15 minutes from Bali’s Denpasar airport. The sumptuous retreat boasts a blissful white sand beach, a dazzling pool, and 35 thatched roof suites. Bedrooms have four-poster beds draped in white veils, while spacious bathrooms feature sunken baths. Eight suites have private pools. There’s a golf course, tennis courts and spa treatments.
Address: Amanusa, Nusa Dua
Telephone: +62 361 8468585
BULGARI HOTELS AND RESORTS BALI
Traditional Balinese architecture is combined with contemporary Italian interior design at Bulgari’s Bali resort, high on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean. Villas are filled with local antiques, and each has its own pavilion, plunge pool and terrace. The spa includes an open-air infinity pool and yoga pavilion. Try the Unforgettable Double Bulgari Royal Lulur, a top-to-toe treatment for two people involving four therapists.
Address: Bulgari Hotels and Resorts Bali, Jalan Goa Lempeh Banjar Dinas Kangin, Uluwatu
Telephone: +62 361 8471000
COMO SHAMBHALA ESTATE AT BEGAWAN GIRI
This beautiful forest hideaway on banks of Ayung River, a 10-minute drive north of Ubud, is the flagship of Como Hotels and Resorts (Parrot Cay and Metropolitan). Offering tailor-made holistic health programs, this hedonistic retreat features 40 sumptuous rooms and suites set within secluded residences, and standalone villas with private pools, living and dining areas. Expect sunken baths in private gardens, antiques and exceptional views.
Address: Como Shambhala Estate, Ubud, Gianyar
Telephone: +62 361 978888
DAMAI LOVINA VILLAS
Damai is a peaceful retreat located on the verdant hillside overlooking Lovina Bay. Eight villas are decked out in teak and Balinese fabric, with four-poster beds and large picture windows. The restaurant produces fine European-Asian food using ingredients from the hotel’s organic farm. There’s a spa and activities include treks to nearby villages and boat trips to see dolphins.
Address: Damai Lovina Villas, Jalan Damai, Kayuputih, Lovina, Singaraja
Telephone: +62 81 338 437703
FOUR SEASONS RESORT BALI AT SAYAN
This offers splendid formality, in jaw-dropping, ultra-modern surroundings. To enter you walk over a long wooden bridge and find yourself over a lotus pond with extraordinary views of bamboo, rice fields and river. The hotel itself lies beneath your feet. A polished-wood staircase takes you under the pond and into the main area, a circular, three-storey structure left partly open-sided so that wildlife flits through. There are 18 elegant suites in the adjacent buildings but the best accommodation is provided in 42 villas, each with a private pool and some with fish ponds on their roofs. They are distributed in ample grounds where rice fields are kept at four different stages of cultivation, both for the edification of the guests and for visual drama.
Address: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar
Telephone: +62 361 977577
KAYUMANIS NUSA DUA
A 21-villa hotel that opened in September 2004. Set within walled gardens, each villa comprises separate pavilions, complete with thatched Balinese roofs, for living and sleeping in, with an indoor bathroom as well as either a bathtub or shower in an outdoor courtyard. Between the pavilions, every villa has a lap pool surrounded by decking and vegetation. You revel in the sense of space. The probability is that you will disappear into your own world, order the occasional in-villa spa treatment and rarely emerge. Forget eating out (though there are two restaurants), a butler will arrange for meals to be served from your villa’s kitchen. Conceived as a romantic retreat, the hotel does not accept children under 16.
Address: Kayumanis Nusa Dua, Nusa Dua
Telephone: +62 361 770777
Just north of Sayan, this hotel has gorgeous views of rice terraces dropping sharply down to the little river Oos. It opened in 2001 and has four suites and 16 villas with private pools. All the accommodation is in Balinese-style pavilions beautifully furnished with local materials. Many of the baths, for example, are carved out of volcanic stone. Facilities include a spa with open-air treatment rooms, a well regarded restaurant, a library and, emphasising the commitment to the local art scene, a small gallery showing contemporary works.
Address: Komaneka Tanggayuda, Banjar Tanggayuda, Kedewatan, Ubud
Telephone: +62 361 978123
PURI GANESHA VILLAS
Located on Bali’s unspoilt north coast, this secluded hotel has four two-storey thatched beachfront villas set in open gardens. Each is charmingly decorated with antiques collected by British owner Diana von Cranach, features a private pool and wrap-around terrace and comes with a butler and a housekeeper. Delicious organic meals are served in your villa or in the informal restaurant. And any number of activities can be organised from horse rides along the beach to shopping trips to Java.
Address: Puri Ganesha Villas, Desa Pemuteran, Gerokgak, Singaraja
Telephone: +62 812 3932984
Though located in the heart of buzzing Seminyak, The Elysian is a discreet, all-villa hotel, two streets from the beach. Each of the 26 high-ceilinged bungalows features a living area, kitchen, bedroom, state-of-the-art bathroom, and private pool set within a walled garden.
Address: The Elysian, 18 Sari Dewi, Seminyak, Kuta
Telephone: +62 361 730999
The Legian is a quiet and private hotel with 67 suites, among the largest on the island, all looking out over the two-tiered lip pool. Located in south Bali, it is ideal for exploring nearby shops.
Address: The Legian, Jalan Laksmana, Seminyak, Kuta
Telephone: +62 361 730622
Hotel Nusa Dua Bali
Also located in the south of the island, the hotel has 368 rooms, 11 restauants and bars, and a spa.
Address: Hotel Nussa Dua Bali, Jalan Raya Nusa Dua Selatan Lot III Sawangan, Nusa Dua
Telephone: +62 361 8498988
HANGING GARDENS OF BALI
Location is the key issue here: this 38-villa property, managed by the Orient-Express group, is about half an hour’s drive from town, which would suit those who want a complete retreat; but it might be too remote for others. The setting is stunning, the hotel almost literally hanging off a wonderfully steep valley of the Ayung River, with a glorious temple on the opposite slope. Getting around this vertiginous property is simple: guests are scooted up and down the hill on a monorail.
Owned by Como Hotels and Resorts, empire of Singaporean hotelier Christina Ong, and sister property to the serenely luxurious CSE at Begawan Giri nearby, Uma Ubud has been cleverly pitched as affordable chic. There are just three suites with private pools; the other 25 rooms are in semi-hidden enclaves scattered around a central infinity pool and bar area. Yoga classes take place on the bar roof as well as in a hillside yoga-and-meditation pavilion set beyond the Shambhala spa. With white and cream furnishings, the hotel is marketed as a haven of peace. Yet there is something of a buzz as well; although it luxuriates in prolific greenery, the hotel is just off a bustling main street close to the Neka art museum and almost opposite the renowned gourmet restaurant Mozaic
Address: Uma Ubud, Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Banjar Lungsiakan, Kedewatan, Ubud
Telephone: +62 361 972448
ALU LIMA BALI
Adjoining a well-tended temple, this is one of the most stylish private villa developments. Even the driveway, lined with piercingly green banana trees, seems something of a design statement. The seven villas, with private pools, have their own walled space, with a separate sleeping area, both indoor and outdoor bathroom facilities, and an open-sided living-room. The style is oriental minimalist, featuring local materials and bold, clean lines, while decorative water channels in the gardens echo Bali’s ancient system of irrigation. There is no restaurant but the staff prepare breakfast in each villa’s kitchen and can organise other meals as required, as well as spa treatments, trips to the nearby rock temple of Tanah Lot and tours further afield.
Address: Alu Lima Bali, Gang Alu, off Jalan Raya Petitenget
Telephone: +62 361 736445
The estate consists of six super-sexy, ultra-private pool villas from the Australian owners of Seminyak’s popular Ahimsa hotel. They are vibrant in colour and style.
Address: The Ahisma, Jalan Kunti, Seminyak
Telephone: +62 361 734904
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Where to eat out in Bali
This highly rated restaurant, located in the Damai Lovina Villas on the north coast, serves specialist five-course menus, with much of the produce coming from the hotel’s organic farm.
Address: Damai Lovina, Jalan Damai, Kayuputih, Lovina, Singaraja
Telephone: +62 362 41008
The simple food is good, but what you remember is the view.
KAFE BATAN WARU
Serves a delectable combination of Balinese cuisine and familiar Western staples.
Address: Kafe Batan Waru, Jalan Dewi Sita
Telephone: +62 361 977528
This popular restaurant is ideal for a romantic evening with tables set amongst a tropical garden. Expect French and Asian specialities such as foie gras terrine with seasonal marmalade, roast pork in Balinese Babi Guling spices, and be sure to leave room for the warm Valrhona chocolate moelleux with sour cherry chutney and ginger ice cream. Booking essential.
Address: Mozaic, Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Ubud
Telephone: +62 361 975768
Chris Patzold, Ku Dé Ta’s former chef, has made this the place for imaginative, modern Australian cuisine. Try the well-priced six-course tasting menu.
Address: Axiom, Jalan Raya Seminyak 18A, Seminyak
Telephone: +62 361 738820
Website: no website
Good for Balinese food. Fish is its speciality and the menu changes daily.
Address: Bumbu Bali, Jalan Pratama, Tanjung Benoa, Nusa Dua
Telephone: +62 361 774502
DOUBLE SIX CLUB
Transformed from sleazy to sleek after a revamp.
Address: Double Six Club, Jalan Double Six, Seminyak
Telephone: +62 361 756666
KU DE TA
Set on the beach, this buzzing restaurant, bar and nightclub is the place to see and be seen.
Address: Ku De Ta, Jalan Laksmana 9, Seminyak
Telephone: +62 361 736969
Good spot for lunch. This is a sort of Conran-on-the-beach, serving focaccia sandwiches — even fish’n’chips.
Address: La Lucciola, Jalan Kayu Aya, Seminyak
Telephone: +62 361 730838
Website: no website
THE BEST BEACH CLUBS IN BALI
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Things to do in Bali
This magical island has lost none of its vibrancy, with five-star resorts offering dazzling new levels of comfort and sophistication. Bali is a vibrant pinprick of Hinduism in the midst of the world’s largest Muslim country. With its beaches, palm trees and warm, blue waters, it delivers on all the tourist expectations of a tropical island. It also provides an extra dimension in its sublimely spiritual culture, even the humblest offerings of rice and petals by roadside shrines look exquisite. For most, its most powerful draw is the island’s varied landscape of beach and volcanic land; for others the appeal lies in the spiritual culture. On a more pragmatic level, the island offers an extraordinary calibre of luxury accommodation.
AN INSIDER GUIDE TO CANGGU
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SHOPPING IN SEMINYAK
The best shops in Seminyak Bali
NORTH AND WEST COASTS
Though the north and west coasts of Bali are not as developed or as visited as the south of the island, you’ll still find luxury hideaways and plenty to see and do, from exploring local villages to dolphin spotting of the coast of Lovina and snorkelling off the coast of Java. The west is home to the Bali Barat National Park, a mountainous area of natural rainforest, mangrove forest, savannah and coral islands. It is the last refuge of the endangered Bali Starling and you can visit the Bali Starling Recovery Project at Tegal Bunder. Also look out for long-tailed macaque, rusa deer, flying foxes and black giant squirrels. At Pemuteran, visit the Turtle Hatchery Project where you can release a baby turtle into the ocean.
HEART OF THE ISLAND AND UBUD
Traditional Balinese architecture, with its courtyard concept, looks inwards. So, in terms of beauty, does the island itself. The interior is a volcanic area of abundant vegetation and brilliant flowers, where hills are etched with terraced rice fields. In this fertile environment it seems no coincidence that culture and art have flourished. The main road north of Denpasar is lined with villages specialising in different art forms: Celuk is renowned for its silversmiths; Batuan for painters and dancers; Mas for its wood-carvers. Ubud and its surroundings, meanwhile, are in an altogether different league.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Ubud’s royal family invited a number of guests to visit, and in doing so kick-started the town’s development as an international art centre. The most influential of the visitors were the German artist Walter Spies and the Dutch painter Rudolf Bonnet, both of whom lived in and around Ubud for many years. Today the streets are bordered by wall-to-wall art galleries, craft shops and cafés; but for all the commercialisation, the little town has managed to retain a genuinely arty spirit and with it an atmosphere of real charm. There’s a soothing pace here. Most visitors gently shop, watch traditional legong dances at the old palace, wander around the family compound of I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, Bali’s most celebrated artist, view more paintings at the Puri Lukisan (museumpurilukisan.com) and Neka (museumneka.com) art museums and perhaps stroll around the small Monkey Forest Sanctuary (monkeyforestubud.com) with its temples and resident long-tailed macaques. Those with more energy can go mountain-biking or white-water rafting along the Ayung River. While abstract paintings are the current art vogue in Ubud itself, around the spectacular Ayung River gorge just west of the town it is almost as if the luxury hotel has developed as an art form in its own right.
You get a placid sense of time standing still in the east of Bali. Quiet roads wind past rice fields bordered by coconut and banana trees. Ancient settlements such as Tenganan, a rare Bali Aga (original Balinese) village, are scattered around the southern fringes of Gunung Agung, the island’s biggest volcano. Footpaths run along pineapple-clad hills to temples, streams and waterfalls. The big attraction of the east is the unspoilt rural life. Its beaches lack conventional appeal: it is said that the further east you go, the more lava-black the sand becomes. A trip to the east coast from Bali’s capital used to be quite an undertaking; but a new fast road to Klungkung has reduced journey times, and this will inevitably bring more tourism. As yet, however, this is fairly limited: buses take day-trippers to Tenganan and guesthouses and restaurants have sprung up around the village of Candi Dasa.
The area south of the capital Denpasar is widely considered to offer Bali’s best beaches. So it is no coincidence that hotels have been popping up at a frenetic pace here. Yet for all the commercial thrust, Bali’s regulation that no building can exceed the height of a coconut tree has saved the south of the island from becoming an Asian Miami. Local residents will tell you with some sense of amazement that there are nearly as many hotels in the area as there are temples, but even the largest of them are low-rise and relatively low-key.
How to get to Bali
Jakarta airport and Bali airport.
AIRLINES FROM THE UK
Malaysia Airlines (0871 423 9090; malaysiaairlines.com), Qantas (0845 774 7767; quantas.com.au), Singapore Airlines (0844 800 2380; singaporeair.com)
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