Updated: May 15, 2017
Bali Hotels – Tips and Recommendations
- Bali is a great year-round destination and weather shouldn’t make a huge difference in deciding when to visit Bali. That said, expect the least rain and most sun from April to October.
- The best website for booking Bali hotels is Booking.com (safe, reliable, huge selection, best rates).
- My favorite beach towns on Bali are Jimbaran (quiet stretch of beautiful sand, great seafood restaurants, luxury hotels) and Seminyak (nice beach, trendy restaurants, quality hotels). My favorite inland town is Ubud (wonderful art, culture, and food; surrounded by rice paddies and countryside).
- The best months for surfing are from May to September (generally the dry season) when the west coast beaches (Bingin, Canggu, Uluwatu, Padang Padang, and Impossibles) have the best surf. From October to April the best breaks are on the east coast beaches (Sanur, Serangan, Nusa Dua, Green Balls, Keramas).
- Kuta is great for learning how to surf and has many beginner surf schools.
- The best restaurants on Bali are La Lucciola (Seminyak), Sardine (Kerobokan), and Mozaic (Ubud). The beach restaurants serving fresh seafood along Jimbaran Bay should not be missed.
- Bali is an awesome destination for families.
On This Page
- Best Hotels in Bali
- Best Hotels in Kuta
- Best Hotels in Legian
- Best Hotels in Seminyak
- Best Hotels in Jimbaran
- Best Hotels in Bukit Peninsula
- Best Hotels in Nusa Dua
- Best Hotels in Tanjung Benoa
- Best Hotels in Sanur
- Best Hotels in Ubud
- Best Hotels in Eastern Bali
- Best Hotels in Northern Bali
- Bali Hotels with Private Pools
THE 17 BEST HOTELS IN BALI
1. Alam Kulkul Boutique Resort – Kuta
Best Hotel in Kuta – Small, serene and bursting with tropical plants, it almost resembles a Balinese village.
2. Padma Resort – Legian
Best Hotel in Legian – One of the region’s first is still the best for location, traditional design and family-friendly facilities.
3. W Retreat & Spa – Seminyak
Best Hotel in Seminyak – Luxury without pretence, the setting is sublime and facilities ultra-modern.
4. Four Seasons Resort Bali – Jimbaran
Best Hotel in Jimbaran – Opulent and elegant, with the most eye-popping views of Bali’s most appealing resort beach.
5. Segara Village Hotel – Sanur
Best Hotel in Sanur – Family-owned and designed like a Balinese village, it’s understandably perennially popular.
6. Grand Hyatt Bali – Nusa Dua
Best Hotel in Nusa Dua – Prime position and traditional design, the size, beach and range of family activities are truly impressive.
7. Viceroy Bali – Ubud
Best Hotel in Ubud – Jaw-dropping views and truly personal service, this boutique resort is pure class.
8. Bloo Lagoon Bali Village – Padangbai
Best Hotel in Eastern Bali – Eco-friendly villas boasting extraordinary cliff-top setting above a Crusoe-esque beach.
9. Amertha Bali Villas – Pemuteran
Best Hotel in Northern Bali – The vast grounds are flanked by an extensive beach and imposing mountain range.
10. Pondok Santi Estate – Gili Islands
Best Hotel on Gili Islands – Tasteful villas among a serene coconut plantation within an easy walk of the island’s renowned party scene.
11. Indiana Kenanga Villas – Nusa Lembongan
Best Honeymoon Hotel – Facing the sea in a charming village on this gorgeous little island (just off Sanur), seclusion is absolute and sunsets sublime.
12. The Ayana Resort – Bukit Peninsula
Best Hotel for Solitude and Seclusion – Easy to become lost among what are probably Bali’s most spacious resort grounds.
13. The Sakala Resort & Beach Club – Nusa Dua
Best Hotel for Water Sports – Unapologetically hedonistic, catering superbly for sun-worshippers and jet-skiers alike.
14. The St. Regis Bali Resort – Nusa Dua
Best Beach Resort with Villas – Immensely stylish villas face a postcard-perfect bay of powdery-white sand.
15. Hard Rock Hotel Bali – Kuta
Best Hotel for Families – Parents will relish the unbeatable location in central Kuta but beware: the young ones may not want to leave the pools and water slides.
16. The Laguna Resort & Spa – Nusa Dua
Best Hotel Swimming Pools – Among numerous lotus-lined lagoons, some of the seven swimming pools feature beaches and islands.
17. Four Seasons Resort at Sayan – Ubud
Best Hotel Setting – Facing sheer ravines, above yawning valleys and snaking rivers, it has to be seen to be believed.
KUTA – THE BEST HOTELS
The hub of the Bali tourist scene, Kuta is busy, noisy, hectic – and a lot of fun. It’s where you’ll find the most nightlife in the form of large thumping dance bars. Crowds are younger but older travelers are in the mix too. This is the busiest beach in Bali but still a great place to suntan and swim. Also, a great place to take beginner surf lessons.
Charm, ambience and tranquillity in the midst of chaotic Kuta. Unique within Bali’s most hedonistic region, this hotel is evidently focussed on tradition and tropical gardens, with the name emanating from the traditional ‘kulkul’ tower and the Indonesian word for ‘nature’. The buildings are delightfully designed and the gardens lovingly landscaped, with plentiful ponds, palms and fountains. Both pools are adequately sized and feature lovely wooden decking and a pool bar. The standard rooms are very comfortable, with verandas overlooking lush gardens, while the villas boast private pools, large tiled balconies, four-poster beds and extensive windows maximising light and views. All rooms are at least 100m from the beachside road and its relentless traffic. And, remarkably, this resort is within metres of the famed beach of Kuta and its endless shops, cafés and bars.
Likeable funky gem hidden from the crowds. So much more appealing than other motel-style resorts, the distinctive mauve paint and wood-stained balconies are quite striking, and the limited number of rooms is pleasingly ‘un-resorty’. All rooms are spacious, and most face the elongated and narrow pool. The Family Suite features two of everything – bedrooms, bathrooms and balconies – while the villas are hidden behind walls, but still only five metres from the pool. Located 100m along a tranquil path from the very busy road in Tuban, it’s only 200m from the beach and 500m from Kuta. The Alaya is also very convenient to Discovery Mall and right behind the Waterbom water-slide park, which does make the resort noisy at times.
No beach frontage, but outstanding for families. While this resort does not directly face the ocean and, therefore, no rooms have sea views, guests can enjoy the private beach area only metres away. The sand, however, is greyish (which is typical for Tuban), but the water is calm. The pool, with its ‘waterfalls’, volleyball nets and swim-up bar, is truly massive and seems to dominate the entire resort. The rooms are very comfortable, while ‘family rooms’ with bunk beds can cater for up to five. Most rooms overlook the pool and gardens, but some do face the car park and entrance road. The location is ideal: very close to two malls (Discovery and Lippo) and the Waterbom water-slide park. And the younger ones would also certainly enjoy the cheerful kids’ club and playground in the pool.
Stylish, convenient, unpretentious and old-fashioned (in a good way). The traditional design with masses of lotus-filled ponds and trickling fountains is more appealing than other resorts nearby. All rooms are spacious and stylish, with contemporary Balinese décor, and face the sea and/or tropical gardens. The villas, however, are less appealing. The main beachfront pool (with swim-up bar) is very shady, while the ‘adults only’ pool is lined with gorgeous gazebos. The beach is still part of the curved Kuta bay, so it’s wide (but not shady) and the sand is white. Some rooms cater for up to five and there’s a kids’ pool, but it’s not as well set up for families with young children as other resorts in Tuban. However, the location is ideal: adjacent to Discovery sall, opposite the Waterbom water-slide park and about 200m from central Kuta.
Funky and functional, compact and convenient. Part of the renowned international motel chain, this place is squeezed in along a quiet access road, but only 50m from the legendary Kuta beach and a short stroll to the world-class Beachwalk mall and main road, with its endless cafés and shops. The overall design is colourful and impossible to miss, while the rooms are equally bright and fashionable, although a little cramped and ‘minimalist’ (as the brochure almost boasts). The stylish rooftop pool and bar offers inviting lounge chairs, welcome breezes, terrific views and more funky furniture. Nothing about the place is remotely Balinese, but it serves its purpose very well for the budget-conscious on packaged tours.
Functional, convenient and ideal mid-priced family option. Located in the heart of Tuban (also called South Kuta), this modest hotel is only a short stroll from the Discovery mall, Waterbom water-slide park and Tuban beach, and barely 700m from downtown Kuta. Rooms, all in a motel-style block but well away from the busy road, are simple but certainly comfortable, with a wide veranda/balcony. The large pool at the front features elephant spouts and welcome shade from frangipani trees, while another smaller one is set further back from the road. Considerably more affordable than most in the region, Febri’s caters reasonably well for families, with rooms for up to five people, a playground (tiny) and pool (large), and an ideal location.
Vast, with endless family-friendly facilities in downtown Kuta. This inconceivably massive hotel is right on the busiest corner of Kuta. The Hard Rock theme continues throughout the hotel, with autographed guitars lining the corridors. The pools surrounded by thatched gazebos seem never-ending and even feature a ‘beach’ with volleyball courts, raised outdoor stage, lifeguards and Beach Club. All rooms are luxurious, as expected, and face the extensive gardens 200m back from the incessant traffic – but a few may suffer noise from the adjacent Hard Rock Café. Quite probably the best resort on Bali for families, it offers a children’s pool with playground in the water, exhilarating Kids’ Club with extensive activities, and a range of fun things for the whole clan.
Spacious, convenient, peaceful and truly family-friendly. About halfway between the airport and Bali’s most frenetic tourist spot, this resort is still within a brief taxi trip of Kuta’s malls and surf, while being far removed from it. Yet, guests can easily stroll to the Discovery and Lippo malls and Waterbom water-slide park. With ponds at the entrance and vast expanses of lawn all around, this resort is bright, breezy and instantly likeable. The comfortable rooms, which feature a modern décor, are huddled together in a three-level motel-style block overlooking the gardens, but this does provide considerable space elsewhere. The pool (with swim-up bar) is lined with appealing gazebos, while kids would certainly revel in the kids’ club, games room and dedicated eating area. The beach is grey and gritty, however, but this is typical for Tuban.
Admirably spacious and tranquil in the midst of chaotic Kuta. Unlike its neighbours, this is a genuine boutique resort, and is well-established and not part of some impersonal international chain. Surprisingly expansive, it is only a minute’s stroll from the Beachwalk mall and just across the (busy) road from the famed beach, with its legendary sunsets – but all rooms are, however, far from the incessant traffic. Rooms in the three-level block are comfortable, with chic wooden design, but not as alluring as the cottages, which offer seclusion and privacy behind vine-smothered stone walls. The pool is enormous for the limited number of guests, and the extensive tropical gardens are peppered with Balinese statues and shady palms, and even feature a tiny rice-field.
Adjacent to airport but tasteful, traditional and quiet(ish). Large enough for guests to need maps, the runway can be clearly seen and planes often heard, but neither is that intrusive. The Balinese-style gardens are expansive, immaculate and sprinkled with palms and ponds, and the beachfront pool boasts a delightful tropical setting. The rooms are spacious, airy and lovingly furnished, while the villas with private pools are secluded and elegantly designed. Typically for Tuban, the sand is grey and gritty, but the beach is curved, calm and ideal for swimming. And there’s more than enough space for tennis courts, as well as a playground, children’s pool and kids’ club. The resort does, however, feel remote (for example, it’s not easy to find taxis nearby), but the location among the streets of Tuban village is a rare attraction.
Historic, charming oasis among the chaos of Kuta. One of the very first built in the region, Poppies features a subtle but appealing Balinese design, and gardens dotted with fountains, bridges, frangipani trees and ponds choked with goldfish. Detached and hidden behind dense foliage, the gorgeous cottages feature a corner lounge suite, thatched roof, open-aired bathroom and private balcony facing the flourishing gardens. The stylish pool, which is not unnecessarily oversized, is lined with shady palms and adjacent to a library, bar and Jacuzzi, while thatched umbrellas with rattan chairs around the grounds are very inviting. Quiet and secluded behind lofty stone walls and directly opposite the equally renowned Poppies Restaurant, the hotel entrance is only meters from an endless array of shops, cafés and bars and 300m from the beach.
Luxury that couldn’t be closer to Bali’s most renowned beach and mall. The gigantic lobby sets the scene: waterfalls, and men playing gamelan instruments and young ladies in traditional dress welcoming guests. This modern and chic resort is, quite remarkably, located right above the upmarket and extensive Beachwalk Shopping Centre, which faces the beach right smack in the middle of Kuta. Every room is opulent, as expected of this international luxury chain, with bright contemporary décor, spa, plush ‘Sheraton bed’ and angled balcony offering uninterrupted vistas of the famed Kuta Beach and its celebrated sunsets. The upper-level Infinity pool and adjacent gym also boast superb views, as well as welcome breezes, while the entire resort somehow avoids noise from the incessant traffic below. The kids’ club seems like a token add-on, however, with an uninspiring indoor room packed with TVs and computers.
LEGIAN – THE BEST HOTELS
Legian is largely indistinguishable from Kuta other than it being calmer and quieter as you move north. There are still plenty of places to eat and drink, and the sand and surf are still great. The hum and nightlife of Kuta is just a short walk away.
Massive but traditional, in a top-notch location and perfect for families. In a gigantic block within a short stroll of Kuta and Seminyak, this long-established resort is based around lovingly landscaped gardens and features an overall design that is unapologetically Balinese. The spacious and commodious bungalows include wide balconies overlooking thick foliage, and feel secluded. The smaller ‘standard’ rooms are in motel-style blocks, but still pleasingly traditional in design and furnishings, while verandas on the ground-floor rooms spill out into one of the many pools. The beachfront pool appears endless, with delightful wooden decking, plentiful shade, abundant lounge chairs and one of the most enticing swim-up bars imaginable. The young ones would relish the children’s pool with water slides and the appealing, supervised kids’ club, with numerous fun activities.
Family-friendly and mid-priced, with tradition and charm. Despite the name, this is not really a resort or another trendy boutique hotel – and is priced accordingly. The newer rooms are in motel-style blocks, almost colonial in design, and face the lagoon-shaped pool, which is popular (and noisy). These rooms are spacious but the traditional décor seems a little incongruous. More appealing are the older mustard-coloured ‘suites’ that share a larger, shadier pool with a bar. These suites feature a veranda/balcony with views of the well-established gardens, and are packed with art and old-style furniture. Although quiet and private, the suites can be quite dark inside. The Melasti is well set up for families, with a playground, kids’ pool, games room, kids’ club, and tennis court, and suites catering for three children. It faces the quiet Legian beach, but is within ambling distance of Kuta and Seminyak.
Traditional design and sparkling décor in prime location. Less opulent and more affordable than neighbouring mega-resorts, the Bali Mandira features an unimaginative Balinese-style design that is, nonetheless, pleasing. The rooms are huddled together and don’t offer sea views, but all face the delightful gardens with plentiful ponds and traditional statues. All rooms are spacious and have been lovingly renovated with many Balinese touches, while the secluded cottages are accessible along a village-style path. The extensive lawns are dotted with lounge chairs and palm trees, and the glittering beachside pool boasts a ‘waterfall’ and sandy ‘beach’ with thatched umbrellas. Another definite attraction is the raised and curved Azul Beach Club lounge, which offers superb ocean views. It is also attached to an upper-deck ‘adults only’ pool lined with gorgeous gazebos and a spa.
Spacious, convenient, long-established and popular with families. The extended entrance flanked by numerous ponds of goldfish epitomises this expansive, traditional-style resort. On the corner where hedonistic Kuta ends and the more tranquil Legian starts, it faces a peaceful beach with a seaside pathway lined with cafés. The facilities are numerous (such as a tennis court and surf shop), the two beachside pools are inviting and very shady, and the gardens are thick with foliage and dotted with trickling fountains. The standard rooms are smallish but comfortable, while the secluded and traditionally-designed cottages look dated, but have been lovingly renovated inside. The Little Starfish Kids’ Club is decent enough, with unusual activities like Balinese dance lessons and squirrel feeding, and the younger brigade would also revel in the games room.
Modern, comfortable and compact in the heart of the action. This chic new boutique hotel is right in the midst of Kuta and Legian’s renowned nightlife, but rooms are a sleep-inducing 100m from the traffic (although nightclub noise does travel a lot further). Rooms are spread along five floors, so it resembles a motel, and they all overlook the pool with its well-designed wooden decking and tiled areas – but some of the narrow balconies look straight into another balcony. Better are those on the ground level, which feature an inviting double lounge chair and direct access to the pool, while plentiful palms offer some privacy for all. The highlight is the rooftop pool, with its bar/lounge (offering happy hours at sunset), café (with evening buffets) and enthralling views of downtown Kuta and the distant beach.
Compact and pleasant with resort-style facilities but no resort-style crowds. The Bali Niksoma faces a quiet stretch of beach, far from any traffic, but is still adjacent to numerous classy bistros and bars and is within strolling distance of Seminyak and Kuta. Agreeably undersized compared to its neighbours, this resort features a pleasing design of beige and maroon and gardens scattered with lounge chairs and gazebos. The Deluxe Rooms are in small three-level blocks and face the inviting split-level pools and gardens (but not the sea). The rooms are very stylish, with an elongated desk, L-shaped sofa, and some Asian (but not necessarily Balinese) art. The more spacious and secluded suites are minimalist – but in a good way – and feature tasteful, modern décor, including a four-poster bed and marble bathroom.
Stylish, compact and convenient for the action of Kuta and Legian. Squeezed along the invisible border between these two beach regions, this resort is new, central and comfortable, with no pretences about luxury. The motel-style rooms are compact and functional, with some Balinese art and colourful retro furnishings. The ‘superior’ rooms have no balconies and face the busy ground-level pool, while most ‘deluxe’ rooms do have balconies but overlook the main road, which is even noisier. There are no gardens, but plenty of palms provide some welcome shade. The rooftop pool is favoured more by the younger crowd, with its trendy music and funky lounge chairs, while others prefer lounging about the ground-level pool. The resort does, however, face a very busy corner, but traffic is often at a standstill and, therefore, not so noisy.
Mega-resort with impeccable location and superior luxury. Along the invisible divide between Kuta and Legian, the Pullman enjoys a prime position, with endless shops and cafés nearby, and facing the renowned beach – and the noisy beachside road. Behind the unappealing art décor façade, the vast grounds are more welcoming, but nothing about the overall design or décor inside is remotely reminiscent of Bali. Most of the five-level blocks of rooms and suites face the gardens and/or pools, while only those rooms on the third level or above would really enjoy genuine sea views. All facilities expected are on offer, including a children’s pool and kids’ club – although better family-friendly resorts can be found just 200m up the beach. The main Infinity pool seems permanently crowded, so many prefer the gorgeous roof-top pool-cum-lounge with its sublime views.
Luxury and location, modern and chic. This opulent resort is along the invisible divide between hectic Kuta and unruffled Legian. Although the entrance is only metres from the world-class Beachwalk mall and a plethora of other shops, bars and cafés, the rooms are a tranquil 200m from the traffic-clogged beachfront road. The overall design is stylish and distinctive, but nothing is particularly reminiscent of Bali. The spacious rooms, each with chic décor and modern touches (like BOSE stereos), have no balconies and a few are quite dark inside. They all face a courtyard and overlook the gardens or massive ground-level pool. Better are the ground-floor rooms with veranda steps leading to a private pool that opens out to the main pool. Alternatively, the rooftop pool offers welcome breezes and enjoyable vistas. The kids’ club is airy but indoors, yet the resort doesn’t seem that interested in being family-friendly.
Ambient and traditional mid-priced oasis. Stretching across a vast block and facing a quietish street lined with shops and cafés, this hotel boasts a setting and expansiveness envied by five-star resorts. Unlike others of its vintage, it doesn’t feel or look dated, with constant renovations ensuring modern comforts without sacrificing tradition and charm. Rooms are mostly semi-detached and only in one- or two-level, traditionally-designed buildings, and most feature ornately-carved doors, a four-poster bed and high thatched ceiling. The two-storey villas contain two bedrooms, a delightful open-air bathroom and wide balcony. The sparkling blue pool is almost hidden behind a thicket of palms, while the well-established gardens are home to a myriad of birds, as well as banyan trees and other dense foliage ensuring privacy. Sometimes, one of the very first is still one of the very best.
SEMINYAK – THE BEST HOTELS
Seminyak is where you’ll find high-end dining, trendy clubs, and the best hotels of the Kuta-Legian-Seminyak region – which is basically one long beach town. The crowd here skews older and wealthier but it’s still a fun and lively place. Lots of bars, nightlife, shopping, and music. The beach is wonderful too (and quieter than Kuta and Legian).
Luxury and modernity, somehow avoiding pretentiousness. In a colossal block the farthest north of Kuta that’s still accessible from a main road, this resort is airy and welcoming, without feeling trendy or pompous like others. Everything inside and out is ultra-modern, with nothing Balinese. The rooms are in a block facing the sea, while the opulent villas – given monikers like ‘WOW’ and ‘Extreme’ – sacrifice views for seclusion, with high walls and dense foliage also offering privacy. Each villa features a huge pool, gorgeous open-air lounge/dining area, sophisticated stereo system, elongated sofa and even longer desk. The split-level, beachfront Infinity pools are massive enough to contain ‘beaches’, ‘waterfalls’ and ‘islands’ with palm trees. The W is close to a handful of shops and cafés so it doesn’t feel too isolated, although you’ll need a hotel buggy to reach the main entrance.
Ultra-modern boutique resort in prime location. At the end of an access road lined with classy bistros and boutiques, this inviting resort offers a comparatively small number of suites (not rooms). Each either faces the pool, with the ground-level ones having direct access from the veranda, or the smallish gardens – but some actually face the road. The suites are in an unexciting five-level block but very comfortable, spacious and modern, with bright-yellow furnishings, marble touches, a Jacuzzi, separate dressing room, massive sofa and unusual L-shaped balcony/veranda. The Infinity pool faces the beach, which is public and typically grey, but on-beach cafés that scatter beanbags along the sand at sunset are nearby. Considerably less isolated than others in Seminyak, the beachfront location is ideal, although the seaside path and waves can be surprisingly noisy.
Inviting and unpretentious mid-range option in heart of Seminyak. Only 200m from the beach, and flanked by numerous bars, bistros and boutiques, this resort is deceptively large. All rooms are in a block that faces the pool and is distant from the busy road. Although the furnishings are modest, but certainly comfortable, the Balinese décor is stylish and plentiful traditional art adorns the walls. The balcony/veranda also offers views of the tropical gardens, which are small but tastefully-designed. The two huge connecting lagoon-style pools are surrounded by distinctive striped chairs and even boast a sandy ‘beach’. Other welcome attractions include a sunken pool bar, cinema, billiard table and tennis court, while there are also some limited facilities for children, and onsite parking.
Uber-modern with faultless position, but lacks warmth and charm. Incorporating the former name of the access road, this resort oozes opulence, but nothing is remotely Balinese or even Asian. The design is all stone, glass and wood, almost futuristic rather than modern, and staff seem dressed like extras from a Star Trek episode. The luxurious suites in a five-level block feature funky furnishings and uninterrupted views of the sea, while the ground-level verandas have direct access to the beachfront Infinity pool. The resort faces an extended public beach, which is typically grey, and is very close to endless classy cafés and shops along the road and beachside path. The waves can be surprisingly noisy, but not as loud as the constant music from the Cocoon Beach Club next door.
Small, traditional mid-priced option – a rarity in Seminyak. Certainly not a ‘resort’, despite the name, this family-run hotel offers a small number of rooms with far more seclusion and privacy than some five-star resorts. Although recently renovated, it still retains traditional old-fashioned charm in design, setting and service. The rooms feature genuine Balinese décor, with ornately-carved doors, high thatched ceilings and wooden balconies, as well as plentiful arts and crafts, four-poster beds and rattan furniture. The gardens are well-established and the pool is inviting, although both suffer somewhat from road noise. It is located along a dead-end street lined with elegant bistros and boutiques, and only 100m from the beach, which is, however, characteristically grey and less appealing than Kuta’s.
Tradition and charm – unlike stark mega-resorts nearby. This hotel faces an expansive stretch of public beach (although greyish) at the end of an access road lined with stylish cafés and boutiques, so it’s not as isolated as other resorts in Seminyak. The rooms are in three-level blocks but don’t feel huddled together, with plentiful lawns and shady gardens to admire. With views of the gardens and/or pool from the wide balconies, all rooms are impressively spacious, with appealing dark wood and even traditional art in the sparkling bathrooms. The villas are separate, accessible along a cobbled-stone path, and hidden behind ornate doors and high stone walls. Each is luxurious and traditionally-designed, with lush gardens and a large private pool.
Stylish, personal and quiet – not another pretentious resort. Situated where the main road (which is not noisy) comes close to the beach, the rooms are spread along the ‘garden wing’ (on the other side of the road) or ‘beach wing’ with ocean views. Each room is comfortable without being opulent, and features modern Balinese décor, while the suites are far larger and more luxurious, even containing a Jacuzzi with sea vistas. The secluded villas with a private pool are close to the sea but don’t have views of the beach, which is typically grey and shade-less, but still wide and wavy. The delightful Infinity pool is surrounded by palms and traditional-style statues and fountains, and barely 5m from the sand. It can feel a little isolated but is only 500m from the main shopping district and within a stroll of several upmarket bars and bistros.
JIMBARAN – THE BEST HOTELS
One of my favorite beaches but perhaps a little too quiet for some – if you want shopping, nightlife, or trendy bars this isn’t the place for you. Jimbaran is minutes from the airport so makes a perfect spot for the first few days before heading off to explore the island. At night the beach is lined with seafood restaurants that serve some of the best food on the island.
Tranquillity and faultless opulence in one of Bali’s best locations. Cascading down an extensive hillside facing the sea, the villas are only accessible along cobbled-stone paths through ornate tropical gardens. The inside of each villa is spacious and sumptuous, with subtle Balinese décor, a stunning bathroom and plenty of windows to maximise the sublime views of the curved Jimbaran Bay and its famed sunsets. Each villa has a private pool with extensive wooden decking and a gazebo, and the edges of these and the main Infinity pool somehow blur into the horizon. Although only five minutes on foot from Jimbaran, the access road and paths around the grounds are steep, so buggies are available and can also whisk guests to the immaculate, private Jimbaran Beach Club and the renowned seafood cafés.
Sparkling-new and functional, with chic design and ideal location. Newly-built and necessarily squeezed into a compact space, this resort does not, however, feel cramped, but is remarkably breezy and welcoming. The design is very unusual – with nothing reminding guests of their location – but nonetheless appealing. The rooms are in a four-level motel-style block, while more luxurious and spacious units are in a five-storey column, with only two units per level. The saltwater pool spreads out expansively, so ground-level rooms have direct access via a ladder on the veranda, and the rooftop pool has striking views. The chic villas are secluded and split-level, and feature unusual blue/green colours. There’s no direct ocean frontage, but is only metres from a fine public beach at Muaya, with its multitude of seafood cafés, best enjoyed at sunset.
Hidden gem with angled palms across expansive beach frontage. At the end of a quiet road and fronting a magnificent stretch of powdery-white sand, this is designed like a Balinese village, with villas dotted among manicured gardens with Balinese statues. The cottages are spacious and old-fashioned (in a good way), but the smallish windows don’t maximise the views and breezes. The secluded one and two-bedroom villas feature adorable Balinese décor and a gorgeous wooden decking around a largish private pool, while the main pool boasts an ideal tropical setting. And it is only 300m from the main street with all its shops and a short stroll to the beachside seafood cafés.
Massive resort offering luxury, convenience and traditional design. Although the grounds are vast enough to house eight restaurants and a helipad, the rooms seem huddled together. Inside, they are spacious, however, with likeable, modern Balinese touches and views of the gardens (not the sea) from the sizeable balcony – and the corridors lined with Balinese art and photos add to the charm. The villas are distant and separated, and boast individual private pools and their own beach. The extensive gardens are packed with statues, fountains and ponds choked with lilies. The resort fronts a public beach, which is narrow and sloping (so not ideal for sunbathing), but most guests laze about one of the three pools. The Kid’s Club is impressive, while tennis, water sports and other fun activities are also offered. And it’s all within a few minutes’ stroll of seaside cafés and shops along the main street.
Funky and budget-priced, close to shops and beachside cafés. This low-key, but modern and convenient, boutique hotel has a genuinely affable vibe, which is unusual in this region filled with resorts. All rooms – which are a bit cramped and in a two-level motel-style block – face the pool, which is long and inviting. Some might find the lack of a wall between the bathroom and bedroom a little disconcerting, but the décor is appealing, with colourful tiles and a commodious balcony. The delightful open-air yoga shala (studio) also offers massages and a library with hangout cushions. Along a quiet access road to the beach, it is 200m from the noisy main road with all its shops and only 100m from a cluster of seafood cafés.
Cluster of intimate villas, secluded and serene. With villas hidden behind high stone walls and ornately-carved doors, this cosy resort is designed like a Balinese village. Each features a private pool, extensive kitchen/dining/lounge area and one, two or three bedrooms – often in separate buildings, so privacy and seclusion within the same villa is certainly possible. Inside, they are very comfortable, with plenty of windows to maximise views of the tropical gardens, as well as stone decking and wooden balconies. Set among delightful Balinese-style gardens, unquestionably enjoyed by the plentiful birds, the Karma is compact, flat and tranquil, yet only 150m from a lovely public beach and just 500m to the shops and cafés. Unusually, private parking is also available.
BUKIT PENINSULA – THE BEST HOTELS
The peninsula south of Kuta and the airport is known as the Bukit Peninsula. ‘Bukit’ means ‘hill’ in Indonesian. The area is dry, hilly and rocky, with lots of scrubby bush – not good for growing rice, so there are no real villages. Outside of the beach areas of Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa (described separately below), there is little shopping and the beaches (such as Padang-Padang and Dreamland) are mainly for surfing. The cultural highlight of the Bukit is Ulu Watu, the isolated sacred temple on the south-west tip. In the middle of the peninsula is the rather odd Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, designed for Indonesian tourists, with traditional dances, souvenir stalls and massive religious statues; and awesome views. There is no public transportation at all or tourist shuttle buses, so the only way to get around is by taxi – or rented car or motorbike (not recommended). Anywhere in the peninsula, taxis would normally have to be pre-ordered by your hotel.
Luxury and elegance in an extraordinarily spacious setting. The Ayana is about 10 minutes’ drive from Jimbaran, with its seafood cafés along a perfectly curved beach. The resort boasts one of the largest grounds on Bali (the main entrance is over 1km from the lobby), so golf carts are provided. The ‘deluxe’ rooms in a four-level block facing the gardens (not sea) are elegantly furnished with exquisite Balinese furnishings and carvings, and not modern and bland like other resorts. The lawns are vast enough for putting greens, while the lush gardens are comparable to some city botanical gardens. The cliff-top Infinity pool is connected to the renowned Rock Bar on the tiny beach below by a funicular. Regular shuttle buses to the private beach club at Jimbaran and the mall at Nusa Dua help offset the isolation.
Luxury with extraordinary cliff-side setting and family-friendly facilities. This massive resort, only 4km from Nusa Dua (and accessible by hotel shuttle bus), is somehow carved from a cliff facing a lovely white beach (with dangerous waves at times). All accommodation is in four-level blocks and the cliff-top layout ensures minimal gardens. The ‘family’ rooms feature two bunk beds and a colourful Balinese-style décor, while the ground floor ‘deluxe’ rooms have access to a pool from the veranda and the villas have private pools. The lagoon-shaped pools are grand enough to feature ‘beaches’ and ‘waterfalls’, and the resort offers amenities rarely found elsewhere, eg a medical clinic and amphitheatre for traditional performances. With a water slide, and the Jungle Camp playground, it also caters quite well for families. (Formerly the Grand Nikko Resort.)
Impossibly immense and implausibly luxurious, with vast beach frontage. The sheer opulence and utter extravagance commences at the lobby, which is perched on a cliff. From there a ‘window lift’ hurtles down to sea level where the spread of villas among lush tropical gardens is so extensive that guests wait for transport to their rooms at the ‘Buggy Meeting Point’. The superlative Cliff Villas with pools are designed as New York-style apartments, with every inch modern and lavish; there’s even a TV above the Jacuzzi. The suites in the four-level block are comparatively modest, while those at ground-level have direct access to the Infinity pool from their veranda. The resort caters extremely well for families, and is connected by shuttle bus to Nusa Dua, with its cafés and mall, about 4km away.
Spacious, secluded villas with gorgeous views – even butlers provided. Dotted along the cliffs about 6kms from Nusa Dua, this trio of villas contain three or four bedrooms (each with an en suite bathroom). They all feature a walk-in closet, home theatre, extensive kitchen/dining area and sizeableInfinity pool surrounded by wooden decking, while the largest offers ultra-luxurious extras like a Jacuzzi and games room. The bathrooms are truly open-air, with the toilet even offering views of the lovely gardens. Everything about the Asmara (which means ‘romance’ in Indonesian) is spacious, airy and bright, maximising the breezes and views from the cliff-top setting. Some might regard it as too remote; others may consider the isolation is part of the attraction.
Impeccable luxury and views near a lovely beach and village. Despite the name, these villas are not at Ulu Watu, location of the famed cliff-side temple, but at Padang-Padang, not too far by taxi from Jimbaran. And, unlike many other resorts along the peninsula, it is within walking distance of cafés and the Padang-Padang beach, with its renowned surf and dramatic rocks. The resort’s overall design is minimalist but elegant, with no hint of anything Balinese, but the villas are luxurious and almost all boast marvellous sea views. (There is no beach below.)Balconies on the upper floors feature a plunge pool and spa, while ground-level rooms have direct access from a veranda to the main Infinity pool, with edges that seem to blend into the sea and horizon.
Contemporary, intimate and elegant, with endless sea views. Far smaller and less pretentious than neighbouring mega-resorts, the Ulu Segara faces a narrow private beach that disappears at high tide. The Ocean Villas are massive, with a modern décor, garden inside and out, and plenty of windows. They also contain a bathroom as large as the bedroom, plunge pool with a gazebo and wooden decking, and a comfortable living/kitchen/dining area. In the curved six-level block overlooking the cliff-top Infinity pool, the Ocean Suites feature a stylish Asian décor, kitchenette, huge lounge area and broad balcony from which the sea views are sublime. The constant crashing waves can be loudish, and the regular shuttle bus to Nusa Dua (5kms away) compensates for the isolation.
NUSA DUA – THE BEST HOTELS
Nusa Dua is home to many of the 5-star resorts of Bali. It’s a great destination if you want to sit by the pool and drink cocktails. Not so great if you want to see the “real Bali”. The beach here is lovely with the softest sand on Bali. There is a large shopping mall (Bali Collection) filled with high end western name brands but not the eclectic collection of shops that you’ll find in Kuta, Seminyak, or Ubud. The area has benefits unheard of elsewhere in Bali: minimal traffic, wide roads, flat footpaths, zero hawkers; but seems sterile and lacks much ambience but there’s no hassles and minimal noise. The world-class Museum Pasifika showcases arts and crafts from across Indonesia and the region. A lovely pathway lines the beaches at Nusa Dua and extends to Tanjung Benoa; the path is ideal for strolling and cycling – rent a bike from your hotel. There are also two world-class golf courses in the Nusa Dua area.
Massive, convenient and long-established, with arguably Bali’s best beach. Within strolling distance of the mall, world- class Museum Pasifika and golf course, this resort faces probably the longest beach on the island; curved, sheltered and shaded, it is also one of the loveliest. The lobby sets the tone, with its lotus ponds, traditional thatched roof and welcoming staff. Rooms are in ‘villages’, gigantic traditionally-designed blocks spread over an inconceivably vast area of lawns, gardens and ponds. The rooms are spacious, and feature a stylish, modern Asian (not necessarily Balinese) décor, with wide balconies facing the sea or gardens, while villas offer more seclusion and privacy. Other attractions include the shady pools (with swim-up bars), tennis courts, arcade-cum-market and water-sports centre. The young ones would adore the endless activities on offer, playground on the beach, children’s pool, water slide, and welcoming kids’ club.
Five-star excellence, with opulent villas facing a perfect beach. This improbably vast resort offers all the amenities expected, with many pleasing Balinese touches, such as gamelan players in the lobby. The main lagoon-style pool is extraordinarily large and the extensive gardens are bursting with coconut palms. Fronting one of the longest and most postcard-perfect beaches on Bali, all villas boast a perfect seafront location. Tranquil, private and secluded behind walls and foliage, they feature the most modern appliances and furnishings imaginable, as well as a plunge pool and thatched gazebo. In a block facing the sea, the suites with ornate furnishings, walk-in closet and sunken bath are also stunning. The Kids’ Club offers more cultural and engaging activities than most resorts. The resort is just outside the gated complex of Nusa Dua, but still within walking distance of the golf course and affordable shops and cafés.
Faultless luxury among vast tropical gardens in superb location. The grounds, substantial enough for guests to be provided with buggies and maps, are crammed with lotus-choked lagoons that dominate every view from every place. Few rooms are angled towards the sea, but all are spacious and superbly furnished with subtle Balinese touches. Balconies overlook the shady gardens and/or extensive lagoons, while verandas in the ground floor rooms open directly to a pool. Some of the seven pools even feature ‘islands’, ‘waterfalls’ and ‘beaches’, while the real beach is perfectly curved and immaculately groomed. Plenty of family activities are offered, such as tennis, yoga and water-sports, while the young ones would adore the kids’ club, special pool and games room. And The Laguna is within walking distance of the mall, golf course, headlands (after which Nusa Dua is named) and world-class Museum Pasifika.
Balinese design and ambience with one of Bali’s finest gardens. Not just another ugly modern resort, the Ayodya is old-fashioned (in a good way), tastefully designed and oozing tradition and charm. The lobby bursts with Balinese carvings and statues, while the gardens are exceptional, with seemingly never-ending ponds, swaying palms and lawns edging to the sea, as well as an amphitheatre for live performances. The wide beach lacks shade but most guests congregate at the vast Infinity pool with ‘islands’ and fountains. The rooms are stylishly furnished with lovely Balinese-style cushions and lampshades, and balconies facing the gardens and pools. (None have sea views.) Plenty of activities are offered, such as squash, yoga and cycling, and the young ones would certainly enjoy the playground and kids’ club. Unlike most others, this resort is also within walking distance of affordable cafés and shops.
Tasteful, traditional and not another ugly, modern resort. The reminders of Bali around the grounds are numerous: carvings, tropical gardens of swaying palms, dragon spouts among ponds of lilies and goldfish, an ancient Banyan tree, and stone amphitheatre with nightly performances of traditional dances. All rooms face the shady gardens sprinkled with Balinese-style thatched ‘bales’ (gazebos) for afternoon tea, which is included. Among the usual luxuries inside are extra seating, a decent-sized balcony and subtle, pleasing Balinese décor. The pool is particularly inviting, with extensive sheltered decking and a bar in the middle. The beach is lengthy, curved and immaculately-groomed, and the resort is ideal for families, with two children’s pools and the colourful and airy Gecko Kid’s Club offering many activities.
Convenience, contemporary elegance and family-friendly. Villas feature a stylish modern (but not Balinese) décor with a corner sofa, bathroom (with another TV), private pool and balcony/veranda with a rocking chair overlooking the gardens and ponds. Rooms flank a massive lagoon-shaped pool that connects all the four-level blocks, so those on the ground level have direct access to the pool from the veranda. The gardens are comparatively modest, but still immaculate, while shady lawns creep right up to the beachside cycle path that meanders through Nusa Dua. It caters well for families, with a Kids’ Club offering many activities, and a spotless private beach protected by a reef, so it’s shallow and calm. There are also several huge pools, one for children with a slide, and another with a swim-up bar. The Sofitel is within walking distance of Tanjung Benoa, thereby offering a wider selection of shops, cafés and water-sports.
Unpretentious, well-designed and welcoming for families. Although part of an international chain, this resort is truly Balinese, with traditional gates, ponds and statues, and a tasteful brown-and-white overall design. The comfortable rooms feature wide balconies with views of the gardens or pool (but not the sea). The spacious suites, with two or three bedrooms (each with attached bathroom) and a massive lounge/kitchen/dining area, contain a modern but pleasing Balinese-style décor. Lack of beach frontage is compensated by lagoon-shaped pools covered by vine-smothered pergolas and shuttle buses to the modest 2.28 Beach Club on a powder-white (but shadeless) stretch of sand. The commodious Kids’ Club adjoins the children’s pool and playground, and offers plenty of activities. It is accessible from two main roads, so many affordable shops and cafés are within walking distance.
Compact, understated luxury and excellent for families. Smaller and more personal than neighbouring mega-resorts, plenty of activities for the whole clan are offered, while the Kids’ Club – with a playground with rock-climbing, trampoline and spa – is probably the best in Nusa Dua. (And, unusually, it accepts those aged under four.) Rooms in unexciting motel-style blocks offer views of the gardens or pools from the disappointingly undersized balconies, while only some enjoy genuine vistas of the ocean. The lagoon-style saltwater pool is shady, and has curved waterslides and even a ‘beach’, and the gardens are dotted with waterfalls and ponds packed with fish and flowers. It fronts a very scenic sheltered bay with immaculately raked sand lined with enticing lounge chairs. And The Westin is within a short stroll of the mall, golf course and excellent Museum Pasifika.
Affordable, convenient and not just another massive resort. The layout is pleasant enough, but a little odd, with the lobby/café jutting out on a higher level so pylons are inside the split-level pool underneath, and the four-level motel-style blocks 150m from the sea are unappealing. The rooms, however, are stylish, compact, and hidden behind some foliage, while those on the ground floor feature a veranda that leads directly to the main pool. There are no tropical gardens – only lawns which are immaculate, extensive and alongside the sand, but lack trees. The beach is also short of shade, but guests can shelter under the funky, colourful lounge chairs. Perhaps best of all are the rates, which are less expensive than most, and location: within walking distance of the mall, golf course and many affordable shops and cafés at the gate and along the public beach.
Perfect location, sublime beach and world-class gardens. Boasting one of the finest positions in Nusa Dua, the Melia is within walking distance of the Bali Collection mall, golf course, magnificent Museum Pasifika and twin headlands which lend Nusa Dua its name. The curved beach is also glorious: shallow, shady and sheltered, with, unusually, a café on the sand. Perhaps even more impressive are the landscaped tropical gardens of ponds and fountains with trickling water reminiscent of the wonderful water palace at Tirtagangga in eastern Bali. Although traditionally and tastefully designed, the outside of the buildings do need a facelift, but all rooms are comfortable and spacious, offering a broad balcony with views of the lovely gardens or lagoon-shaped pools large enough to have little islands. The convivial Kid’s Club offers plenty of games, while the whole family can revel in numerous activities.
Luxurious and vast, with all-inclusive packages ideal for families. Part of the renowned international chain, this is the closest resort to Tanjung Benoa, thereby offering more cafés, shops and water-sport facilities within walking distance. The welcoming lobby is traditionally-designed, while the rooms are functional and lavish, with garden views, walk-in closet and a modern décor lacking any hints of Bali. The Club Med is perfect for families, with four types of Kids’ Clubs (depending on age) offering a wide range of activities, such as the very popular Bungee Bounce, as well as an extensive playground and children’s pool. The three pools are crowded, but the glorious beach, which is curved, private and protected by a breakwater, is empty. With passes available inclusive of all meals/drinks, activities and entertainment, some guests have no need to venture out during their entire holidays.
Secluded villas with pool in a remote and uninspiring setting. Outside the gated complex of Nusa Dua and distant from any cafés and shops, this cluster of 28 villas immediately fails to impress with its lobby designed with pillars and dripping pipes. The villas – which feature a modern décor, outdoor shower and private pool – are called ‘retreats’, with ‘wellness packages’ and 24-hour butler service also available. But there is more concrete and bricks than grass and trees, evidenced by the shade-less main pool. It lacks any ambience or charm, and nothing about the design or décor is remotely Balinese or even Asian. It also faces a busy main road and not a beach, but is within 300m of the Balé Beach Club. There is a ‘no children’ policy.
Pretentious and contentious mega-resort in remote location. Built controversially on the pristine Geger Beach and close to a sacred temple, Nusa Dua’s latest resort is vast, opulent and ostentatious. The spacious one and two bedroom villas feature a jacuzzi on the patio and wonderful ocean views, while the private-pool villas with up to six bedrooms are back from the beach but also boast vistas of the sea. The beach is curved, shady and well-groomed, and the pools are massive, but lack shade and are spoiled by huge meaningless statues. The overall design is bland and unappealing, because so much space is taken up with pools that can’t be used for swimming, gardens that aren’t particularly tropical, and restaurants under the lobby that are dark and uninviting. The remote location with almost no cafés or shops nearby is offset by regular shuttle buses.
TANJUNG BENOA – THE BEST HOTELS
Tanjung Benoa is the entire ‘thumb’ that protrudes northwards from the Bukit Peninsula and is located directly north of Nusa Dua. It is about 6km of long straight coastline with constant white sandy beach – almost no shade but plenty of stalls and cafés to sit at. Tanjung Benoa is a more affordable option than Nusa Dua, and has a good range of mid-range to top-end hotels, with several places catering well for families (but very little in the budget range). The area is the centre of water sports on the island and the best place to arrange jet skiing, parasailing, or banana-boat rides. Worth exploring is the likeable village of Benoa at the northern tip of the peninsula, which has the usual market, streets of local shops, and a mosque, Chinese temple, and Balinese Hindu temple within 200m of each other. The beach at the village is a good place to organise water sports at cheaper prices, as this is where most Indonesian tourists go. No waves for surfing but very calm for swimming (though you do have to watch out for jet skis).
For beach worshippers, with luxury inside and hedonism out. Straddling both sides of the noisy main road, this resort is ultra-modern, with nothing traditional at all. The main attraction is the Sakala Beach Club facing the sea, with an elongated Infinity pool, gym, spa, pool bar and Sky Deck with wondrous views. All accommodation is across the road, offering little or no genuine sea views, but is very comfortable and contemporary, if a little dark, while rooms on ground level have direct access to the lagoon pool from the veranda. The secluded two-bedroom villas feature a private pool but can suffer from traffic noise. There are no gardens and the beach is surprisingly ungroomed, but it is close to numerous shops, cafés and water sport kiosks, as well as the charming village of Benoa. The Kids’ Club is modern and large, but indoors and uninviting.
Modern, luxury suites and rooms in prime location. The Conrad boasts three massive wings – one of suites, the other two of rooms – in four and five-level blocks with an appealing brown-and-white design. All accommodation is ultra-modern and immensely comfortable, with superb views of the garden and pool, while the suites are more likely to offer genuine ocean vistas. The gardens are extensive, with a beachside pool lined with swaying palms and another featuring its own sandy ‘beach’. The private beach is wide and immaculately-groomed, with plentiful shade provided by thatched umbrellas. It also caters very well for families, with an excellent kids’ club and activities for the family. Located along the southern part of the peninsula, plenty of shops, cafés and water sports kiosks are within a short stroll and Nusa Dua is only a quick shuttle bus ride away.
Familiar, compact and functional, in a top-notch location. Part of a renowned chain, this comfortable, sparkling-new and low-key resort is close to Nusa Dua, thereby offering a wider range of cafés, shops, beaches and water sports. The overall design is not traditional, but still an appealing brown and white, with all rooms in a four-level motel-style block. Views from some balconies are unexciting, but the furnishings, with a long desk, comfy sofa and entrance lobby, are pleasing. Slightly larger and more likeable are those with ocean views and direct pool access from the veranda. The sectioned-off swimming area along the curved beach is tiny and lacks shade, but is compensated by the inviting pool, while the bright and colourful kids’ club, next to the children’s pool, would please the young ones.
Family-friendly with traditional design in terrific location. With staff dressed in Balinese clothes and corridors lined with traditional sculptures, this resort is truly appealing, with the block of rooms and tropical gardens more tastefully designed than others. The spacious ‘Deluxe’ rooms feature a modern Balinese décor, as well as a Jacuzzi, but the balconies are surprisingly undersized, with views of the gardens (or even the resort next door); only the pricier ‘Ocean View’ rooms offer any glimpses of the sea. The beachside lagoon-shaped pool with swim-up bar is enticing and the young ones would relish the colourful Kids’ Club. About halfway up the peninsula, the Grand Aston is surrounded by shops and cafés, and adjacent to a major water sports centre. This does, however, affect the peacefulness of the beach, but a section of the sea is cordoned off for swimming.
Family-friendly with all-inclusive rates, adjacent to Nusa Dua. Part of the Melia chain, this resort offers three types of rooms with rates including meals/drinks, entertainment and a myriad of activities. Along the invisible border with Nusa Dua, guests have a wider range of cafés, shops and water sports, and quick access to the enjoyable outdoor mall. The beautifully landscaped gardens are packed with ponds and fountains, while the lagoon-shaped pool also offers plenty of shade. The private beach is inviting, with a cordoned-off swimming area along a curved bay. The overall design and décor in the rooms were being substantially renovated in 2016 to a very appealing nautical theme of blue and white. Although there’s no real kids’ club, the location, pools, activities, beach, package deals and special suites make it ideal for families with teenage children.
Charming, affordable and traditional alternative to yet another beach resort. Part of the renowned Bumbu Bali Restaurant and Cooking School, the handful of rooms and villas are individually designed and positioned around delightful gardens like a Balinese village. All feature elegant traditional décor, with an open-air bathroom, marble floors and teak tables, but also contain mod-cons expected of a resort costing twice as much. All accommodation faces the tropical gardens, shady pool or enchanting courtyard bristling with busy kitchens, while secluded two- and three-bedroomed villas with a private pool are accessible along a cobbled-stone path. It is located about 100m west of the main road, far from traffic and jet skis, but close to a myriad of cafés and shops. Other attractions include a tennis court, cooking classes and off-street parking.
Family-friendly with massive gardens, traditional design and genuine views. Halfway up the peninsula, and surrounded by cafés, shops and water sports centres, this resort is bright, unpretentious and immensely appealing. The massive tropical grounds have been lovingly crafted, with seemingly endless lawns and lagoon-sized ponds. All rooms are spacious, feature an elegant traditional design, and face the sea – with most boasting genuine uninterrupted ocean vistas. Catering very well for families, it offers tempting all-inclusive packages, with meals/drinks and nightly traditional performances in its own amphitheatre. There’s also a bright and airy kids’ club, children’s pool, playground and games room, while other activities, such as tennis, yoga and cultural lessons, are also available to all guests. The beach is narrow, but not choked with noisy and dangerous jet-skis, and the beachside pool features a swim-up bar.
SANUR – THE BEST HOTELS
A quieter alternative to Kuta-Legian-Seminyak. A nice beach (though narrow in spots) and calm waters (protected by a reef) make Sanur popular with families. Lots of restaurants and shopping. Nightlife is restrained but still plenty of places to get a late night drink.
Delightful, traditional resort in first-rate beachfront position. Family-owned for about 60 years, this hotel has been significantly modernised without sacrificing any charm. The sprawling gardens are well-established with paths, ponds, fountains and even an ancient banyan tree. The ‘deluxe’ rooms are compact and comfortable, with Balinese touches and a broad balcony overlooking lush grass or one of three pools. More appealing are the bungalows shaped like Balinese rice barns and concealed behind tropical foliage. Pleasing extras like a library and tennis court are also offered, while part of the spotless beach has been sectioned off for the private beach club. It caters reasonably well for families, although there’s no Kids’ Club. Plenty of cafés are along the beachside path, and it’s only a 1-wood drive from the golf course.
Traditional design with modern comforts facing excellent beach. Conveniently located half-way along Sanur, this resort is long-established and back from the main road, so the tropical gardens, with Balinese-style fountains and statues, are extensive and tranquil enough to hear birds singing. The rooms are unusually designed: some are shaped like Balinese rice barns, with separate rooms upstairs and down; and others are like an old-fashioned homestay with doors facing a common veranda. All rooms are spacious and comfortable, however, and feature traditional furnishings, but many seem huddled together. In contrast, the single-storey villas are spread apart and some are hidden behind walls with private gardens. The beach is broad and shady, and there is a kids’ pool and enticing games area, but this resort would be more suitable for families with older children.
Contemporary, with pools instead of gardens in an unbeatable spot. Squeezed into a space next to the popular Hardy’s Supermarket, this place boasts a prime location for shops and cafés, although it is pleasingly set back from the busy road. All rooms are in four-level blocks overlooking the pool that takes up all ground-level space between blocks. Inside, the rooms are compact and functional, without being overly spacious, and feature a lovely wooden décor that extends to the undersized balcony that, oddly, feels like a cage. Considerably more appealing are the ground-level rooms with wooden decking for verandas that open out directly to the pool, which can often be busy and noisy. The resort doesn’t face the beach but is only 300m from the sea.
Modern design and traditional décor in tropical setting and central location. This hotel has been family-owned for over 30 years, and is not just another resort. The entrance is about 100m from the main road, so it’s quiet, while still being in the midst of Sanur’s best shops and cafés. The rooms are in modern but tastefully-designed three-level blocks among lovingly landscaped tropical gardens with Balinese-style statues and fountains. Each room faces the pools and/or gardens from wide balconies and feature colourful Balinese décor. The suites are even more spacious and boast four-poster beds and a sunken bath. The three pools are sizeable and shady, with unusual designs, while the beach is powdery-white and well-groomed, although not entirely private.
New and older-style villas in central but tranquil location. This hotel is in a narrow block stretching 200m from the beach to the lobby, which is 100m from the main road, so it’s quieter than others. It only offers villas, with the older ones separated by high walls and accessible along a village-style path. With lush private gardens, old-fashioned furnishings, plenty of windows and decent-sized balconies, guests can enjoy privacy without feeling isolated. The newer villas are in two-storey buildings shaped like Balinese rice barns, with sloping roofs, and less secluded but more modern inside. Although named after Nusa Penida island, no villa has views of the sea, let alone that distant island. The beach is a bit unkempt and has no shade, and the main pool is, unusually, near the lobby and not facing the beach.
Fully-equipped apartments in unappealing location offset by facilities galore. Although facing the very busy Bypass Road, this resort is somehow remarkably quiet – and certainly huge (like its sister, the Sanur Paradise Plaza Hotel). The spacious, bright and modern suites-cum-apartments offer functionality over tradition. Each contains a fully-equipped kitchen, spacious lounge/dining area and one, two or three bedrooms, each with separate bathrooms. The main pool is truly massive, shaped like a lagoon and sparkling blue. A vast amount of activities are offered at the extensive Camp Splash! Kids’ Club. No shops or cafés are nearby so hourly shuttle buses ferry guests around the main shopping district and to the private, luxurious Sand Beach Club.
Modern, quiet, but isolated – also with members-only facilities. This resort is massive but feels less impersonal than others of similar size. Although at the far southern edge of Sanur, with enough shops and cafés nearby, it is isolated – but also quiet. Among the expansive lawns several wings of rooms feature traditional design or colonial-style features. The bungalows are old-fashioned with an ornate Balinese-style door and plenty of traditional paintings and furnishings. These are secluded and spacious, with garden views, but also a little dark. Rooms in the members-only Santrian Club are modern, with a four-poster bed, walk-in closet and bathroom offering garden views, but no Balinese décor or design. The four Infinity pools are dazzling, while numerous gazebos face the beach, which is calm, sheltered, mostly private and perfectly curved.
Ultra-modern, with emphasis on room luxuries rather than gardens. Bordering on futuristic in design, this gigantic resort seems stark, with far more concrete than lawns. Some swaying palms do provide limited tropical ambience but the multi-tiered ponds and non-swimmable pools seem pointless. All rooms feature a walk-in closet, massive bathroom with free-standing bath, and long enclosed balcony. The secluded villas contain one, two or three bedrooms, and some feature a spa, steam room and private pool. The main Infinity pool is raised, offering superb views of the curved beach which is partitioned from jet skis. The resort is where the mid-section of Sanur with its many shops and cafés blends into the tranquil southern part, so it doesn’t feel isolated. For the young ones, there’s a water slide, playground and Kids’ Club with many activities offered.
Not beachside, but modern, luxurious and surrounded by pools. Although not facing the sea, it is in a prime location for shops and cafés, and only a five-minute stroll to the beach. All precious space in this new resort is occupied by blocks of rooms that are ‘connected’ by swimming pools, so there are no gardens. The ‘deluxe’ rooms are so packed with furniture, appliances and features (such as a Jacuzzi) that they seem crowded, and not all balconies overlook the pools. Better are the ground-level rooms with a veranda leading to a tiny private pool that opens out to the main shared pool. This pool is split-level, fringed with palm trees and large enough to feature bridges to ‘islands’. The lounge chairs that seem to float in the shallow end are particularly inviting.
Oozing tradition and charm in top-notch location. Built way back in 1962, the ‘Cape of Flowers’ is one of the very first hotels in Bali, let alone Sanur. It was designed to resemble a Balinese village so all buildings are on one level, and mossy paths meander past ponds of voracious goldfish and stone bowls choked with lotus flowers. With all rooms 100m+ from the main road, it is serene but also within a brief stroll of endless cafés, shops and the golf course. The villas are separate and secluded behind lofty stone walls, and feature an elegant and, often, individual design that is traditional (eg with a four-poster bed) and modern (eg a sunken bath). The only two-level structure onsite contains a reading/viewing area overlooking the captivating seaside path and divine beachfront pool.
Convenient, comfortable and also suitable for those on business. Although on a very busy corner about 800m from the beach it somehow seems to avoid the relentless traffic noise. The rooms are squeezed into an unappealing motel-style block without balconies but are certainly comfortable and spacious, with bright and modern Balinese décor. Those on the ground floor have direct access from verandas to the shady lagoon-shaped pool. While convenient to renowned fast-food outlets, the golf course and speedboats to the Gili Islands, it is in northern Sanur, a fair distance from the region’s best shops and cafés. However, a shuttle bus ferries guests around Sanur, and to the private Beach Club and Sanur Paradise Plaza Suites (reviewed elsewhere on this website), with its numerous facilities.
Opulence and luxury in ultra-modern resort. Opened in early 2015, there is nothing remotely Balinese or even Asian about this place, with an entrance resembling a Mayan temple from Central America, but it does offer state-of-the-art facilities. In a narrow block stretching from the busy road to the beach, it’s in a prime location surrounded by classy shops and cafés. But there are almost no gardens, with all ground space taken up by elongated pools. The rooms are spacious and cheerful with modern but tasteful design, while the suites with private pools are even more chic. All rooms face the ‘lagoon’ (ie pool), with those on the ground-level having direct access from wooden verandas. The beach has no shade and is surprisingly scruffy, but the beachfront family pool is gorgeous.
Massive family-friendly resort, but isolated and motel-like. It is at the southern edge of Sanur, a classier area with fewer (but enough) cafés and shops – but also with far less traffic and crowds. The unusual enclosed lobby opens out to the expansive lawns dotted with swaying palms and stylishly-designed gardens. Despite all the space, however, the rooms seem clustered together in uninspiring four-level blocks too far from the sea for any worthwhile ocean views. The standard rooms also appear cramped inside, although certainly comfortable, while the Deluxe Rooms are more spacious. The beach is immaculately-groomed, wide and virtually private, and the pool is large and sparkling blue. For families, the Kids’ Club is bright and inviting, with many activities offered; the children’s pool features a slide and playground inside; and the numerous gazebos are large enough for four.
UBUD – THE BEST HOTELS
The cultural heart of Bali – Ubud is where to go to watch traditional Balinese performances, take a cooking class, wander through rice fields, or buy from local artists. The food here is wonderful and some of the hotels have jaw-dropping settings. I highly recommend 2 to 4 days in Ubud.
Unimaginable opulence in dramatic, riverside setting. From the main road, a 200m path leads over a footbridge floating above a yawning valley to the lobby, which is shaped like a space-ship and seemingly suspended in mid-air with 360-degree views. The split-level suites with separate lounge/dining rooms face the river and jungle-clad ravine, while the villas with private pools are hidden behind high walls, sacrificing views for seclusion. All accommodation is spacious, luxurious and immaculately furnished, with ultra-modern touches like an expresso machine and sunken bath, but nothing looks or feels Balinese. Wide balconies and abundant windows maximise views, although the split-level Infinity pool with edges that seem to blend into the forest has arguably the best vistas in Ubud. And quite rare for Ubud, it also offers a kids’ club. It’s in Sayan, a 10-minute drive from central Ubud, but doesn’t seem as isolated as other resorts nearby.
Romantic, award-winning boutique resort in pristine tropical setting. This classy resort offers truly personalised service, with the owners living on site and their children helping to run it. All 25 villas (with one or two bedrooms) are perched along a hillside, offering uninterrupted views of rice-fields and the valley. The spacious, airy villas feature a subtle but evident Balinese design and décor, with luxuries like a plunge pool, marble bathroom and expresso machine. The main Infinity pool seems to blend into the ravine facing it, while the spa and elegant bistro, with its imported chef and home-grown vegetables from the greenhouse, both share the same extraordinary views. The Viceroy is isolated, however, with no shops or cafés within walking distance, but only 15 minutes from Ubud by free shuttle bus.
Like an art museum, with individually-designed accommodation in vast gardens. Formerly a private guesthouse owned by a Balinese art collector, this is one of the largest, oldest and most memorable hotels in Ubud. The grounds contain statues, rice-fields and ponds packed with swans, and are extensive enough to feature an organic vegetable garden, tennis court, temple and art gallery. But there’s only 20 suites and villas (with private pools), each separately designed and traditionally furnished by the previous owner, with carved bed stands, an outdoor sunken bath and even a fireplace. The rooms are spread out, offering genuine privacy, while the elongated main pool is surrounded by lotus ponds and immaculate lawns. It is a 15-minute drive from downtown Ubud, but some shops, cafés and the Goa Gajah elephant temple are within walking distance.
Almost unparalleled luxury in the midst of Ubud. Facing pristine jungle spread across a ravine, and surrounded by rice-fields, this resort feels remote but is only a 10-minute stroll from all the shops and cafés along Monkey Forest Road. The two Infinity pools, lined with palm trees and surrounded by rice-fields, appear to blend seamlessly into the environment, while a 5km jogging track meanders among the wilderness. The one- and two-bedroom suites are all opulent and feature a modern décor that is not particularly Balinese. Extraordinary 180-degree views of the forest, ravine and rice-fields are available from a balcony extensive enough to easily fit a table, chairs and sofa. Even the bath offers remarkable views. The villas are more secluded, but equally luxurious, with a private pool and gorgeous kitchen/dining area.
Tranquil, traditional and tropical in central location. The overall design is a pleasing mix of modern and Balinese along the narrow grounds stretching from the busy main road to unspoilt rice-fields and coconut plantations. The rooms are in a motel-style block, with some facing the road and the rest fronting the pool and gardens, but all are spacious and airy, with wide balconies. Most of the more appealing bungalows, which are separated and face the creek, feature vine-covered stone walls raised above the cobbled path for maximum seclusion, privacy and views. The pool (with bar) is smothered with shadows from a neighbouring resort, but the hotel’s location is superb: mid-way along Monkey Forest road, with its plentiful shops and cafes, and walkable to the market and Monkey Forest.
Traditional mid-priced option, oh-so-convenient yet oh-so-serene. Arguably boasting the prime location in downtown Ubud, the bungalows face verdant rice-fields alongside a quiet suburban street or front a creek with a bridge and temple, yet it’s only 100m from all the shops and cafés along Monkey Forest Road. One of Ubud’s oldest and most affordable, Nick’s offers so much charm, shade and serenity. Most rooms are bright and airy (but a few are dark inside), and all are traditionally designed but modestly furnished – within nothing trendy like sliding doors or open-air showers. The gardens, with mossy paths meandering past Balinese statues, are glorious, while the decent-sized pool alongside the café overlooks the rice-fields.
Traditionally-designed and mid-priced in perfect garden setting. Close enough to Monkey Forest that some of the pesky macaques occasionally visit, this cluster of only 10 bungalows is perched along the edge of a ravine, with a creek 100m below. Meaning ‘lovely nature’ in Indonesian, this charming hotel feels wonderfully isolated with only the sounds of trickling fountains and grateful birds. But it is located in the woodcarving village of Nyuhkuning (an extension of Ubud), with plenty of delightful shops and cafés. Each bungalow is bright, airy and individually designed in a traditional way. They feature enchanting Balinese-style furniture, a huge bathroom and many openable windows offering jungle views and valley breezes – but no ‘distractions’ like telephones and TVs. (Also, the cheaper one have fans, but this is often all that’s necessary in Ubud’s cooler climes.) The cobbled-stone path meanders down past ancient banyan trees to the pool overlooking the ravine.
Roomy, tranquil, central with rice-field views. Undergoing renovations in mid-2016, this deceptively large boutique hotel offers spacious rooms with some charming Balinese décor. The newer and larger rooms in a block further from the busy road feature a free-standing bath, elongated desk and plentiful luggage space. The appealing bamboo-lined verandas/balconies of all rooms overlook the sparse gardens or pools, and are easily wide enough for a table and chairs. The two lagoon-shaped pools are shady and peaceful. Remarkably, some rooms genuinely face rice-fields, yet the main entrance is so central: at the junction of Monkey Forest Road and Hanoman Street, with its array of classier shops and cafés.
Individually-designed villas in pristine valley, ideal for honeymooners and families. About 10 minutes’ drive from downtown Ubud, but within walking distance of some shops and cafés, this sophisticated resort boasts a traditional, rural setting. Sort of designed like a Balinese village, the chalets and villas (with one, two or three bedrooms) face rice-fields, lagoons, private gardens or the valley. The vast landscaped gardens are sprinkled with palms, gazebos, fountains and statues, and the Infinity pool facing the ravine features an inviting swim-up bar. All accommodation is traditionally designed, with a massive bathroom containing an outdoor shower and sunken bath, four-poster bed, and plentiful luggage space, while some also have a private pool. Although actively promoting romantic getaways, it also caters pleasingly well for families, with a wide range of activities for kids and the whole clan, and a children’s pool.
Luxury and unique setting in exquisite grounds of museum. Set among the gardens of the internationally-renowned ARMA Art Museum, this hotel oozes tradition, charm and elegance. The spacious rooms are in a traditionally-designed stone block facing the pool, gardens or flowing creek, and surrounded by a convivial corridor lined with rattan furniture. The décor is modern but Balinese, with ornately-carved doors and a marble bathroom. The secluded split-level villas are the essence of luxury, with plentiful Balinese arts and crafts, a massive private pool, outdoor Jacuzzi and corner sofa overlooking the greenest possible rice-fields. The main pool is enclosed by chequered stone decking and flanked by a thatched open-air lounge area, while the gardens are bursting with carvings, lily ponds and cobbled paths. Elsewhere on the grounds, there are three stylish cafés and plenty of facilities just outside the entrances.
History and ambience in a dramatic but central location. Built for Balinese royalty in the1920s, this colonial-style landmark oozes tradition and charm. It’s spread across two jungle-smothered valleys and faces a 900-year-old temple – but, remarkably, is within a 15-minute stroll of downtown Ubud, three major art museums and numerous classy cafés in Penestanan village. Around the grounds, paths zigzag past lotus-filled ponds, an open-air yoga shala (studio) and the lovely spring-fed swimming pool to the raging river below. All rooms boast uninterrupted views of the forest, valley or river, and feature an adorable Balinese design (eg thatched roof and ornately-carved doors) and exquisite traditional paintings, woodcarvings and cushions. The bathrooms do need some updating but the entire hotel – complete with library and movie lounge – is delightfully old-fashioned, and in a good way.
Ambience, seclusion and tradition in stunning valley setting. Designed by the local royal family to resemble a Balinese village, steep mossy paths meander past lotus ponds and trickling fountains to secluded villas spread across the slopes. The gardens are so lush that the foliage sometimes spoils the views, while the finest vistas are at the Infinity pool with edges that seem to drop off into the valley below. The 24 palatial villas feature a charming Balinese décor, with a four-poster bed, thatched roof, Jacuzzi, Balinese art, and open-air bathroom. Each is truly private, hidden behind stone walls and secure gates that do affect the views, however, although plentiful windows face the immaculate private gardens and pool. It’s only 5 minutes by shuttle bus from central Ubud, and within a short stroll of many classy shops and cafés, as well as the Bintang Supermarket and Neka Art Museum.
Opulence without indulgence, but isolated. Facing the (surprisingly noisy) Ayung River in Sayan, a 15-minute shuttle bus trip from central Ubud, there is nothing much Balinese about the overall design. But the setting is dramatic, with views in every direction of ravines, rice-fields, hills and the river – and even the sacred Agung volcano on a clear day. The villas have one, two or three bedrooms, a private pool large enough for several more guests, dining table on the patio and floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides to maximise light and views. Villas are huddled together, however, to share the optimum panoramas. Other than the Balinese-style gazebo, all accommodation is ultra-modern, even with Picasso-style paintings above the marble bath. No cafés or shops are within walking distance, so it feels isolated, and the paths are steep (but offset by golf carts).
Tranquil, classy boutique resort in central location – and no children allowed. As the brochure states, it is ‘exclusive, private and luxurious’ – and, remarkably, only metres from the main road, with its numerous shops and cafés, and 200m from the renowned Monkey Forest. The Kamuela only offers 12 villas scattered across either side of a creek and secluded behind high walls among gardens dotted with Balinese carvings and shady palms. Each boasts a pool large enough for four and surrounded by wooden decking. The décor is modern, with a few subtle Balinese touches, and there’s a delightful open-air lounge/kitchen/dining area, loads of luggage space, and sunken bath large enough for two. And everything – particularly the elongated desk and even the bath – overlooks the private pool and tropical gardens.
Extraordinary luxury in a jungle setting, still reasonably close to Ubud. The grounds stretch from a village street to the river below, so some rooms and facilities are only accessible via a remarkable funicular (sort of an outdoor elevator on rails). And the setting and views are sublime, yet it’s only 10 minutes by shuttle bus to downtown Ubud. The bright, airy villas, with one, two or three bedrooms, face the river or cascade down the slopes, and feature wooden balconies facing the jungle-covered ravine and overlooking the private Infinity pools. These villas offer sheer elegance and luxury, with an expansive bathroom, bedroom(s) dotted with classy Balinese arts and crafts, separate living room, and even a personal massage area. The edges of the main Infinity pool seem to hang over the valley and are surrounded by vast wooden decking.
EASTERN BALI – THE BEST HOTELS
Genuine eco-village resort with some of the finest views on Bali. The one, two, and three bedroom villas are tiered along the cliffs, each offering jaw-dropping views of the rugged coastline along eastern Bali. Each villa is comfortable, but a little rustic, with a kitchen, open-air bathroom and high thatched roof – but no real walls, with windows, a balcony and empty spaces maximising the vistas and breezes. The villas are separated and secluded behind walls and/or private gardens. The indescribable views are equally shared with the yoga deck, art gallery, spa and restaurant, while plenty of activities are also on offer. It is within a short (but steep) stroll of the charming village of Padangbai and only 200m to the Crusoe-esque Bloo Lagoon beach.
Serene and spacious, with plenty to offer families. The Rama is one of very few large and modern resorts along the east coast, but it somehow manages to seem compact and personal. The lack of adequate beach is massively compensated by the gorgeous palm-fringed pool. The expansive gardens, with immaculate lawns, swaying palms and trickling fountains, are quiet enough to hear birds. The ‘superior’ (standard) rooms are sizeable and noteworthy for the Balinese photos and carvings, while the one-bedroomed suites are secluded with perfect sea views as far as Lombok. The resort is a peaceful 200m from the main road but an inconvenient 1.5km from central Candidasa, but it does offer varied activities (often for free) for families, such as yoga and cultural classes.
Classy and convenient lower-priced resort with genuine beach frontage. The tropical gardens are choked with palm trees, and it’s built at sea level, so walking to nearby cafés and shops is not too strenuous. The bright and airy bungalows, which are distant from the main road, feature chic Balinese décor, with an extensive balcony, open-air bathroom and a king-sized bed dominating the room. Those with ocean views (more like glimpses) boast a private pool and sliding doors to maximise views and breezes. It is located at an upward bend along the main road, so the pool, gardens and café (but not rooms) can be noisy but it does face a beach that isn’t rocky – although the sand is lined with fishing boats.
Cottages among gorgeous gardens offering serenity amidst the action. A meandering mossy path from the main road leads up into the hills where a small number of cottages offer remarkable tranquillity under the dramatic backdrop of Mt Agung. With bubbling fountains and trickling water drowning out the traffic, genuine seclusion and privacy is created by thickets of flowers and shrubs rather than brick walls. Each cottage is separate, secluded and designed to face elegant private gardens and ponds choked with goldfish and lilies. The cottages are bright and airy, with plenty of windows offering 360-degree garden views. The attached café is classy but along the main road, while the pool is small but inviting. The entrance is along the main drag and barely 100m from the sea.
Opulent and secluded villas with arguably the best views on Bali. Each one-, two- and three-bedroomed villa features a modern, classy interior, and a private pool, charming kitchen, vast bathroom with a free-standing bath and open-air shower, and plentiful luggage space. And indescribable views from all windows. Squeezed between the coastal road and mountains, the villas are tiered up a steep cliff, so a golf cart is offered to get around. The whole place, particularly the lobby with its Infinity pool and bistro, is spacious and open-aired, offering welcome breezes and constantly striking panoramas of the ocean and hills. It is located in the less developed Bunutan village, so the beach and shops and cafés are a short, but flat-ish, walk away.
Taste of colonial splendour in a charming village. Despite the modest moniker, this new resort oozes colonial charm with its whitewashed walls and wood-stained doors in a three-level block. The tropical feel is enhanced by the sloping palms flanking the main pool, but only rooms on the top floor can boast sea views. Each room features a lovely tiled bathroom, and shares an extensive balcony overlooking the pool, but some are a little cramped inside. The location is ideal, however: facing the village beachside street, with its delightful cafés, and only metres from the jetty for the Gili Islands. And the appropriately-named Colonial Restaurant faces the curved bay and second pool, which is often used by on-site diving classes.
Affordable and convenient resort catering for families. With its low-key but welcoming beach club atmosphere, this place offers a range of rooms, apartments and villas in a tranquil location only 200m from the main road with all its cafés and shops. The all-round views of the hills, coastline and islands offshore from the pool and upstairs rooms are superb, while a breakwater creates a tiny beach with safe and sheltered swimming. The standard rooms are comfortable and functional, and the apartments offer a separate lounge/dining area, kitchenette and enough room for extra beds for children. All accommodation is huddled together, however, so rooms could be noisy, especially if facing the pool. Plenty of interesting activities are offered for the family, such as cooking classes and snorkelling.
Secluded villas with tasteful Balinese décor, only metres from crashing waves. Most villas face the sea, and are pleasingly not huddled together. All are quietly located away from the main road and front an Infinity pool that somehow blends into the azure horizon and is surrounded by palm trees. The villas are spacious and feature lovely wooden décor with Balinese touches, as well as an extensive balcony. The cheaper rooms layered up the cliff on the other side of the road also offer superb views, while the roadside café is breezy, popular and lined with comfy cushions. There is no beach below, however, and there aren’t that many shops and cafés nearby.
Traditional, exquisite and affordable, in a serene location. Along a laneway in the tranquil eastern end of Candidasa, but only a few minutes’ stroll from shops and cafés, each cottage is hidden behind a stone wall, so it genuinely feels like a Balinese village. Each cottage is cheerful and spacious, and traditionally designed and furnished, with thatched roofs, ornate carvings and Balinese rugs, arts and crafts. Other accommodation is built like traditional ‘lumbung’ rice-barns, with sloping roofs, and sea views from the second level. Meandering stone paths lead to the lagoon-shaped pool, which faces the dramatic coastline and alluring islets just offshore. Like most others in Candidasa, the beach is typically grey and undersized, and often unsuitable for swimming.
Traditionally-designed bungalows with genuine beach frontage. Facing a clean – but very rocky – beach with no boats to spoil the views, the Santai can offer perpetual views and refreshing breezes. The spacious two-level bungalows are away from the road and alongside a rocky path lined with bougainvillea. Designed like traditional houses found in the Sulawesi province of Indonesia, these bungalows feature a high thatched roof, stylish rattan furniture and an open-air shower, but the design does ensure the need for constant air-conditioning. The lower level contains a futon mattress for relaxing, which can double as a bed for a child. From the delightful tropical gardens, which are dotted with gazebos, is the continuous sound of crashing waves. It’s located on a flattish road flanked by cafés and shops.
Amid the action, yet tranquil and relaxed. The cottages offer agreeable garden views from expansive verandas, as well as a separate lounge/dining area and massive bathroom, but they are a bit dark inside, clustered together in a narrow block, and contain unfitting marine photos on the walls. More appealing are the two-storey, three-bedroom villas, which are secluded, airy and spacious, and boast sea views. A curved terrace covers the classy bistro, while nearby steps lead to a sheltered swimming area. But most guests prefer to relax on the sunbeds, lounge chairs and gazebos among the tropical gardens or on the raised sandy area with dramatic ocean views. The lobby with its welcoming Balinese décor is only 50m from the main road with endless cafés and shops, but rooms are sheltered from the continual traffic noise.
NORTHERN BALI – THE BEST HOTELS
Spacious resort with traditional design and lush tropical setting. With extensive beach frontage, and a stunning mountain backdrop, this resort boasts one of the most expansive grounds on Bali. The one- and two-bedroomed villas, each with a private pool, open-air kitchen/lounge/dining area and charming gardens, are not totally secluded or entirely private, but the Balinese-style design and modern furnishings are impossible to fault. The ‘suites’ are more secluded in a two-storey block, and feature a kitchenette. The beach is typically grey, but immaculately maintained, and the vast gardens are dotted with Balinese-style statues and fountains. The massive pools are framed by palms and face the enchanting coastline. The resort is located 300m from the main road, with a limited selection of cafés and shops nearby.
Luxury, tranquillity and convenience, and ideal for families. This resort is set in a massive block facing the sea and 300m from the main road, with its relentless traffic. The suites open out to the main pool but are a bit dark inside, while the secluded villas feature a massive kitchen/dining/lounge area, sizeable private pool and sea views. The palm-choked gardens are spacious and the two beachfront pools are very enticing. It caters particularly well for families, with a range of activities offered free to guests, such as yoga and dance lessons. The Lovina is only a 10-minute stroll along the road or beach (or on a free shuttle bus) from Kalibukbuk, with the region’s best selection of shops and cafés.
Convenient and unpretentious mid-priced option that welcomes families. First built in 1953 but extensively renovated and extended since, it still retains some genuine charm. The rooms are distant from the constant traffic and many face the sea, while the gardens are delightful and the decent-sized pool would never feel crowded with guests. The ’standard rooms’ only offer fans, but the more comfortable and secluded ‘cottages’ feature air-con, traditional rattan furniture and appealing balconies. The family-sized bungalows are bright, surprisingly spacious and particularly good value. The beach is typically grey, but unusually clean, shady and picturesque with swaying palms. The hotel is only 200m from Lovina’s best selection of shops and cafés in Kalibukbuk.
Delightful tropical setting and traditional design with mountain backdrop. Stone paths flanked by palms and bougainvillea meander through gardens so extensive that even staff can get disoriented. The villas are semi-detached but secluded, and feature a private pool, but none of the accommodation offers real sea views. The ‘deluxe’ rooms are spacious, with an open-air bathroom, tasteful Balinese décor and largish balcony overlooking the alluring gardens. The three main pools are so enticing that guests ignore the typically grey and gritty beach, which is also surprisingly scruffy. The resort is located along the busy road, with its modest selection of shops and cafés, but well sheltered from traffic noise.
Luxury villas – new, secluded and convenient. Probably the nicest of its kind in Kalibukbuk (which has the best selection of shops and cafés in Lovina), these villas are located along a quiet country lane used more by cows than tourists. Each of the three sparkling-new villas is bright and airy, and offer absolute privacy and seclusion behind high walls. They feature a gorgeous open-air (but undercover) lounge/kitchen/dining area and two separate bedrooms, both overlooking a private pool large enough for five people. Little touches, like a modest library in the lobby and umbrellas for guests, are part of the personal service often not found in large resorts.
Cluster of villas – chic, convenient and popular. These one- and two-bedroom villas are cosy and secluded behind rather stark grey walls. Each features a private pool, while many also face the sea, and the décor is fashionable and tasteful. The gardens and beach can be noisy from the incessant traffic but the villas are sheltered from the noise. Although the sand is typically grey and gritty, the views, especially from the café facing the sea and main pool, are superb. Lilin is located where the main road almost touches the sea. It is barely 700m along the road or beach from Lovina’s best range of shops and cafés at Kalibukbuk, and a short stroll to the classy Spice Beach Club.
Appealing traditional design squeezed between the coast and mountains. The lobby features a captivating Balinese layout, with dragon statues and stone bowls of lotus flowers. This traditional design continues throughout the alluring gardens, with gazebos shaped like traditional rice-barns, ancient banyan trees and meandering paths dripping with bougainvillea. All categories of rooms are quiet and secluded, and contain Balinese touches, such as a carved wooden door and high thatched roof, while the open-air shower is enticing rather than just trendy. The beach is rocky, but shadier than others, and the mountainous backdrop also adds greatly to the dramatic setting. One of the first when approaching from Lovina, the resort is, however, a little isolated from Pemuteran’s very modest selection of cafés and shops.
Luxury without extravagance in an irresistible setting. This is one in a chain of luxury resorts across the island and sort of designed like a Balinese village, so none of the accommodation faces the sea. The Deluxe Cottages look over genuine rice-fields or dense foliage, which offers some limited privacy. They are attractively designed with Balinese-style carved doors, thatched roof and tiled balcony, but a little dark inside. The Superior Rooms are designed like an old-fashioned homestay, with rooms facing a shared but partitioned veranda, but are still appealing inside. The beach is typically grey, but the seaside pool is sizeable and inviting. The resort is 150m from the main road, with its relentless traffic, and within a 10-minute stroll of Lovina’s best selection of shops and cafés at Kalibukbuk.
Bali Hotels with Private Swimming Pools and Plunge Pools
Hotels that offer suites, villas, and rooms with private pools are common in Bali. They’re a wonderful experience and highly recommended if they fit within your budget.
Hotels with Private Pools
- Viceroy Bali – Ubud
- The Samaya – Ubud
- The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah – Ubud
- Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Ubud
- The Legian Bali – Seminyak
- The Oberoi – Seminyak
- The Royal Beach Seminyak Bali – Seminyak
- The Magani Hotel & Spa – Legian
- The St. Regis – Nusa Dua
- Hotel Tugu Bali – Canggu
- Prama Sanur Beach Bali – Sanur
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