Thought you knew Bali? Think again. The island is jumping with new bars, restaurants and luxury accommodation options. Ubud is still delivering, with consistent culinary gems and nature embracing experiences. But could Seminyak be about to lose its crown as the ‘city of cool’ to the islands more sophisticated south?
Here’s our destination guide to Bali’s best hot spots.
Seminyak & Kerobokan
Potato Head is a weird name for a bar, but don’t be fooled, this is the newest swanky beach club to hit town. Looking like Noah’s Ark from the outside; a curved wall of Javanese shutters opens into expansive gardens with a merrymaking infinity pool and look-at-me day beds. Pose by the bar and scan the scene for talent. Ku De Ta is still infinitely better for dining with ex-Hugos chef Phil Davenport creating food almost as heavenly as the sunsets. Order the Halloweenesque ‘Smoking Sangria’ and watch heads turn as your cauldron arrives. If you are looking for something more casual, hop over to the Delicious Onion. The owner will make your night with his mum’s prized Asian dumplings (to rival even the best of Din Tai Fung) and divine Hainan chicken. Rest your head at uber private The Kunja in trendy Kerobokan where supersize villas of sumptuous proportions provide the ultimate runway to sun-lounger service. Wake up to the smells of a freshly cooked breakfast as your butler hums away in your kitchen.
Bridges is a relative newcomer to the dining scene dominated by Chis Salans world famous Mozaic fine diner. Bridges is a white tiered foodie playground, with a Divine wine bar (happy hour kicks off at 5pm), tea parlour, street terrace and casual fine diner below. Expect fusion food with an Asian slant. Don’t miss the lip smacking caramelised laksa prawns, Thai spiced chicken Ballotine and you must reserve room for the cheeses. The French owner knows his fromage!
Stay at Kayumanis, but you’ll have to leave the kids at home. Tucked away down waving paths of cinnamon trees is a luxury adult only residence of private villas, set along the gently flowing Ayung River. Individually themed interiors with “you had me at hello” four-poster beds, open living and decadent bathrooms. We love the complimentary massage, daily home baked nut cookies and drinks fridge (which included Bintang Beer). Their spa is more intimate than award winning The Maya (which is heavenly), but its isolated location on the river’s edge is unbeatable for unwinding to the sounds of nature.
Queues can be 200 deep to get into The Rock before sunset to descend via inclinator. But wow, it’s worth it. Perched on a rocky outpost 14 meters above the crashing Indian Ocean is the sexiest, most lavish sunset scene in the world outside Ibiza. Daybeds are playgrounds for Prada sunglasses and Camilla kaftans as ambient tunes fill the air and the cocktails go down as beautifully as the sunsets. And here’s our hot tip – either book a room at the Ayana resort to secure entry as a VIP or get there early to avoid a wait. Head over to fine diner Dava in the Ayana Resort if you want to continue the celeb spotting.
The Banyan Tree is the ultimate cliff top indulgence. Shimmering like a silver pearl this resort knows how to pull out the bling, in a beautiful way. The Ju-Ma-Na restaurant is a sumptuous place to dine. If you can push the boat out and stay a night, these are some of the most lavish villas in Bali. Grab a group of friends and hire the Presidential Villa which could house an Elton John concert with room to spare. It comes complete with a grand piano, karaoke entertainment system and an infinity pool which makes the ocean look small (keep your eyes peeled for the launch of their Hens package). The main pool is a stunner with gondola-like lilos and decadent muslin draped day beds. Don’t forget your factor 30+.
And why limit yourself to one experience when you can enjoy them in multiples? At Karma Kandara Resort, laze around at the Nammos Beach Club in your private bamboo folly, grab a pizza for lunch and head up 150 meters of cliff face in an inclinator to experience one of the best secrets on the island…their Spa. Cliff hanging bures provide to-die-for views. All scrubbed up? Relax at the trendy roof top Moroccan Temple Bar with a cocktail and finish with dinner at Di Mare, if you can get yourself out of the wine room that is.