Once In A Lifetime Journey

Where to stay in Bali – The ultimate hotel & resorts guide

Where to stay in Bali Feature

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In the last few years I have been to Bali over twenty times – I know, it is incredible. Every time, I searched for the best luxury resorts in Bali and had to go down the list of options.

Some trips were done alone, others with friends, others for work and some of them with my partner at the time. There is no denying that the Island of Gods has one of the widest ranges of hotels and resorts you will find anywhere else. So, choosing where to stay in Bali can be daunting. All the international chains plus some Asian ones are present and the list of boutique resorts is endless. I have decided to put together a list of the top luxury resorts in Bali after many a friend request for help. It is hard to know even where to start.

But look no further. Check what you are looking for and I will suggest the best resort for your stay in Bali.

1. For infinity pool views – Ubud’s Hanging Gardens

Ubud Hanging Gardens

One of the world’s most photographed pool is in Ubud. The Hanging Gardens is a layered resort perched on the side of a hill. The wall is steep and the villas are hanging above a river. For the ultimate selfie, make sure to queue in the morning for a photo op at their split-level pool.

Aside from the pool, the resort is gorgeous. You can read my review here.

In the know: The private pools can be heated! You may think Bali is a tropical place, and you are right, but the water can be chilly. Luckily, all villas come with a heating system that brings the water to a pleasant temperature so you can continue taking as many photos from the privacy of your villa as your selfie stick battery allows

Check latest prices for Ubud Hanging Gardens

Heading to Ubud and wondering where to eat? Look no further! Where to eat in Ubud, foodie guide to Bali’s culture capital

2. For the complete resort experience – Intercontinental Jimbaran

Main pool swim up bar

Bali is full of fabulous boutique resorts so, why stay at one of the international chains? I wondered the same. Until I stayed at the Intercontinental Resort on Jimbaran. The hotel’s sprawling gardens are beautiful and peaceful. Despite being a large hotel it preserves its personalization. The staff knew our names since we arrived. The food was great and there were several pools to relax, not to mention the beach, with several sun loungers lined discretely on the grass above the sea.

In the know: Book one of the Club Rooms for an adults-only pool access with butler to bring you any drink or food at any time. Make sure to grab one of the handcrafted pina coladas from the coconut stall. There is a photographer in-house to take memorable photos in the pretty background

Check latest prices for Intercontinental Jimbaran

3. For a hipster escape – Chapung Se Bali, Ubud

Chapung Se Bali pool

Seminyak is where beautiful people go to see and be seen but the crowds and horrendous traffic can turn it into a breeding ground for stress. Head to Chapung Se Bali, in Ubud, for the lush greenery of the island’s heart with the sexiness of a Nordic design and a pool to die for. Read my full review here.

In the know: the pool villas are extraordinary and provide exquisite privacy. Non-guests can buy tickets to enjoy the common pool for 150,000 Rupiah which can be used towards F&B credit. If you are an in-house guest, book your sun lounger at breakfast.

Check latest prices for Chapung Se Bali

4. For over the top family luxury – Mandapa, a Ritz Carlton Reserve, Ubud

Mandapa

Newly opened and making the waves in Asia the new Ritz Carlton Reserve offers much of the same river and rice paddy view as the rest of Ubud’s properties paired with the Ritz Carlton brand’s over the top luxury. Suites start at $500 with a 25% launch discount offer whereas the 430 sqm pool villas go as high as $1,000+ per night B&B. The hotel is located along the Ayung River and some of the most stunning villas have infinity pools facing the flowing waters

In the know: The reserve has several children-focused activities to keep families entertained

Check latest prices for Mandapa A Ritz-carlton Reserve

5. For a party weekend in style – W Retreat, Seminyak

W Retreat Bali

The W is located in the heart of Seminyak’s shopping and entertainment area. Occupying a large expanse in front of the sea, the retreat features much of the same funky, hip and too-cool-for-school vibes that make the brand so famously homogeneous. You know what to expect. Glitter, disco balls, sunset beats and great party-related amenities and services. The place to go for a party weekend. Don’t expect backpackers or cheap beer, this is party in style.

In the know: the Sunday brunch at the hotel is artery-clotting. A pilgrimage for locals and visitors alike. Book early and come hungry and thirsty.

Check the latest prices for W Retreat & Spa Bali

6. For a romantic wellness retreat in the unspoiled north – Spa Village Resort Tembok, North

Spa Village Tembok

Located in the least developed and most isolated part of Bali, Spa Villa Tembok is part of Malaysia’s luxury hotel chain YTL. It is a spa village before it is a resort and that is obvious from the moment you arrive and are welcomed by a massage as you are checking in. The rustic north is unexplored and offers volcanos, treks, waterfalls and unspoiled nature. Bali like you have never seen it before. Explore heritage villages in their original state, climb waterfalls, ponder around lakes or enjoy a dolphin spotting cruise. You can read my detailed review here.

In the know: The spa treatment under the stars is a unique and awarded spa experience. The Spa journey, which I reviewed here, is absolutely worth it. The resort has just launched Solo Female wellness retreats

Check the latest price for Spa Village Resort Tembok

7. For the privacy of your own villa with the service of a resort – The Legian, Seminyak

The Legian Bali

Bang in the middle of Seminyak yet enjoying the calmest of enclaves The Legian Hotel and Villas offers all the services of a full-blown resort with the privacy and silence of your own villa a few steps away from the happening strip on Seminyak. On the beach and facing the ocean is the hotel. You can use all the facilities and enjoy the sun and the beach with all the rest of the guests. But if you prefer to spend time with your loved one or your family, stay in the comfort and absolute intimacy of your villa on the other side of the road. The Villa area also has its own pool and all villas come with their own plunge version. You can enjoy cocktails and romanticism in the Villa section or at the main resort. This is a gem in the middle of the buzz and noise of Seminyak

In the know: The resort can organize romantic dinners and BBQs in your own villa so that you never have to leave. But, should you need some music and people watching, the famous Ku De Ta and Potato Head are only a short walk away.

Check the latest price for The Legian

8. For stunning cliff-side villas – Bulgari Hotel, Uluwatu

Bulgari Hotel Bali

Unfortunately, this is one of the few places on this list I have not stayed at. But I have visited it a few times for sunset drinks and dinner.

This is a stunning place. Expect the same level of luxury you would from the Bulgari brand plus some breath taking location. The villas are hanging from the cliff. They come with their private pools and views over the sunset. One of the truly top-end places to stay in Bali no doubt.

In the know: If you cannot stay there (we know that the $1,000 per night rate is a bit off for most of us), you can go there for dinner and enjoy delicious food with awesome views and with the peace of such a gem. Forget Ayana or other crowded Uluwatu places, this is the sunset location to check out.

Check the latest prices for Bulgari Resort

9. For adult Kuta surfing – Sheraton, Kuta

Most of my Aussie friends will associate Bali with cheap backpackers, drunken teenagers and surf. Sadly, the sea-facing area around Kuta can feel a little bit like that during the peak season. The Sheraton Kuta offers high-end hospitality in the heart of the wave-catching area but without the obnoxiousness of young travelers. Within a few steps from the hotel’s lobby you are in Kuta beach, your feet in the sand and with a surfboard rental stall in front of you so you don’t have to carry yours. Catch a few waves and return to the luxury of the hotel’s infinity pool without the noise and rowdiness. If you are coming for some fuss-free surfing in the almost-guaranteed and convenient Kuta Beach, the Sheraton is the right place to stay.

In the know: the suites and rooms facing away from the beach are extremely quiet and you will forget you are in one of the busiest parts of Bali

Checked the latest prices for Sheraton Bali

10. For romance and service – St. Regis Nusa Dua

St Regis Bali

St. Regis is one of the longest standing properties in Bali and, as such, has a great rapport in service. Its location on Nusa Dua ensures great beach times. The resort is one of the most romantic on the island.

In the know: The concierge can organize anything, just ask.

Check the latest prices for The St Regis Resort Bali

11. For the resort feel – The Mulia

The Mulia Bali

Huge resort with over 1,000 rooms and villas spread over three distinct properties: The Mulia, The Mulia Resort and The Mulia Villas. The Mulia is the most exclusive part of the property with private cabanas, less families and more couples. The beach is private and for the use of the residents only. If you are visiting as a family, the Resort is a good choice. There are pool games, aerobic lessons, surf lessons, children’s area and several restaurants. The Resort is not for couples looking for peace. With the many children and activities happening peace is scarce. The Villas are aimed at families or groups of friends looking for their own private space.

In the know: Make sure to choose the right part of the property or you will be disappointed. Due to the structure of the resort, seaview rooms only face the sea from the side so you will be able to view the beach from the balcony, not the room. Choose wisely.

Check the latest prices for The Mulia

12. For boutique artisanal luxury – Katamama

Source: Katamama

The secret to Katamama’s effortlessly lux essence lies in its details. Each feature of this bespoke hotel has been handpicked or handmade by local artisans. Staying at the Katamama is not only good for replenishing your soul with the 5-star service, it will also do your heart a little good knowing that they source locally and help to support the local community by enabling indigenous craftsmanship – from the bricks in the façade to the bath robes and the ceramic cocktail beakers.

In the know: While the rooms are by no means cramped, if you’re looking for space, the Katamama Suite features 320sqm of living space, ceiling to floor windows and gorgeous panoramic views of the Indian ocean. Inquire about the turntable and speakers if you’re planning to have a birthday bash. To top it off, there’s even an interior staircase leading to a private rooftop garden with Jacuzzi.

Check the latest prices for Katamama

13. For eco-friendly facades and gastronomic goodies – Alila Uluwatu

Source: Uluwatu

When you arrive at Alila Uluwatu you’ll first notice the jaw-dropping views. As the resort is nestled on a limestone cliff, you’ll be wowed by the scenic beauty that merges perfectly with the minimalist and understated contemporary design. Other than the gorgeous Indian Ocean views, Alila Uluwatu boasts personal butler services, sleek design by Singapore architectural firm WOHA, a 50m cliff-perched infinity pool and is close to some great surfing spots. Be sure to visit Uluwatu Temple, only a short drive away.

In the know: Get your wellness on with daily morning (aerial) yoga in the Pavilion or organise a more private session for just you or an entire group with the Alila Leisure Concierge team. You can also dine in style at either gastronomic Quila, or Cire for comfort food.

Check the latest prices for Alila Uluwatu

14. For regal Balinese villas – the Viceroy

Source: Viceroy

The Viceroy is a true getaway in every sense of the word. Being close to artsy Ubud but far enough into the “Valley of the Kings” to be encapsulated by the spectacle of nature, the Viceroy is the perfect escape for those looking to get away from it all. Picture monkeys swinging from the the treetops, a valley-top infinity pool, and private pool thatched villas paired with fine dining at CasCades and a spa with views to die for.

The Viceroy is owned by an Australian couple, so they understand the needs of foreign guests. So much so that it has been touted as one of the best secret tropical hideaways due to its privacy and leisure.

In the know: Book one of the Deluxe Terrace Villas and you’ll be in for a treat. When I say dramatic views, I really mean it. Relax in your own pavilion on the terrace, while you listen to the sounds of nature and watch the Petanu River flow.

Check the latest prices for The Viceroy Bali

15. For a family lux experience among the rice paddies – The Chedi Club At Tanah Gajah

Art embedded into The Chedi Club’s DNA. A former estate of renowned architect and art-collector, Hendra Hadiprana, the Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah has now flowered into an unique luxury retreat with each villa featuring pieces of original Balinese artwork from Hadiprana’s collection.  

The resort also boasts its very own amphitheatre where you can watch the uniquely Balinese Kecak dance being performed. Relax among the multitudes of rice paddies while you watch the sun rise over Mount Agung, Bali’s highest and holiest mountain. And for an additional wow factor, if you book a villa, you’ll have a butler at your service at check-in.

In the know: The Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah is also very much family-focused. It has been awarded accolades from Australia’s Five Star Kids magazine and promises the perfect stay if you are traveling with kids in tow. Your best pick would be the spacious Two-Bedroom Estate. Babysitting can be arranged for up to three children with 24 hours’ notice at an additional cost. Baby cots, car seats and high chairs are free of charge.

Check the latest prices for The Chedi Club At Tanah Gajah

16. For stilted suites among the treetops – Amankila

Source: Amankila

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a true Aman junkie. Their mind-reading service paired with their design and sustainable vision won me over many moons ago. And the Amankila, their first ever property which opened as a residence for the founder’s friends and family, is their flagship. Visit the nearby royal water palaces of Ujung and Karangasem to see where designer Ed Tuttle drew inspiration for the brilliant three-tiered infinity pool. Then be elevated to your stilted suite with alang alang thatched roof that is accessible by elevated platforms lined with frangipani and bougainvillea. Plunge into bliss as you watch the ocean waves break into the calmness of the night.

In the know: With great views comes great eats! It’s great to know what you’re munching and when you eat at Amankila’s ocean-view Restaurant, you’ll soon find out that most items are locally sourced and grown focuses. From herbs in their very own garden, to the volcanic rich soil used to grow the vegetables and fruits, and even the ducks that are raised at the resort’s free-range farm in Jasri village; be prepared for a taste sensation – especially the vegetarians. Although Amankila’s location is bliss and its views breathtaking, access to the beach is not instant. You can either take a car or walk down a steep set of stairs. But with those pool views, who needs it anyway!

Check the latest prices for Amankila

17. For a Balinese wellness retreat – COMO Shambhala

Just like the mythical kingdom of Shambhala, you’ll leave COMO Shambhala, COMO’s flagship resort, with a certain blissful purity of mind and body. This is due to it being an advocate of proactive holistic wellness. You will not only experience serenity here, but will actively be involved in bettering yourself through spa therapies, yoga, an Ayurvedic doctor, a resident dietician and clean eating. Its healthy living philosophy will guide you to empower your own body, mind and spirit – proving to be more than just a glamorous spa stay.

Expect a focus on raw foods, natural flavours and indigenous ingredients that all help to aid in improved concentration and an added boost of vitality.

In the know: The COMO Shambhala Bali is one of a few COMO Shambhala retreats around the world in which the locations are specifically selected for their meditative surroundings and silent tranquility. So you’ll be able to meditate in peace without noisy neighbours and honking horns in your stand-alone villa overlooking the jungle scenes of Begawan Village. The treatments are catered to your specific needs and end-goals, by trained professionals, which is a very welcoming personal touch.

Check the latest prices for COMO Shambhala

18. For a sustainably-minded eco-retreat – Bambu Indah

Source: Bambu Indah

Bambu Indah, which translates to “beautiful bamboo”, is indeed impressive with its ubiquitous Javanese style bridal homes structured from bamboo. The love child of jewelry-designer couple, John and Cynthia Hardy, Bambu Indah is a labour of love that shows this couple’s respect for the land, culture and people. Almost everything at the resort is designed sustainably to bring natural luxury, from the restored antique houses to the emphasis on light pollution (guests are provided torches at night for environmental concerns) to the natural pools (which are maintained monthly) and beautiful bamboo architecture.

Bambu Indah is an off the beaten path location though, and due to them not having concrete paths they are not wheelchair or stroller accessible. You’ll notice the many choices of abode to be completely unique (from the Javanese bridal homes to the multi-level Sumba House), and the break from electronics such as TV completely necessary.

In the know: It’s really important to know the history of this resort, as the founders are pioneers in their attempt to integrate traditional academic education with environmentally sustainable practices. I suggest taking the Green School and Green Village tours to see their vision in action, which is a chance to interact with the locals and learn something new that will surely warm your heart.

Check the latest prices for Bambu Indah

19. For a Balinese village feel – Amandari

Source: Amandari

Well I wouldn’t be a true Aman junkie without including at least one more Aman resort, and in this case it’s Amandari. Designed to reflect the style of a traditional Balinese village, Amandari is located above a Hindu shrine making it a highly spiritual area for the community and its guests. You’ll be amazed as soon as you walk in, being welcomed by the marvelous hand-carved stone walls enticing you into the resort. You’ll then be whisked away to luxurious solitude through the natural sounds of the forest leading you to views of the glorious landscape. Relax in the silent lavishness while you take in the bottomless servings of peace, serenity, opulence and elegance.

In the know: Amandari is really immersed into the surrounding culture. So it not only feels like you are submerged into a Balinese village, you are actually in the one. So you can decide if you want to to lounge in the sun all day by the emerald-green infinity pool or join the locals for an edifying tête-à-tête. As the resort is located 129 steps above two holy shrines, you’re never too far away from experiencing the true cultural and natural surroundings of Ubud.

Check the latest prices for Amandari

20. For volcanic black sand beaches and epic surf – Wyndham Tamansari Jivva Resort

For a scene that is a little different from the other white sand beaches, a stay at Wyndham Hotel Group’s 100th hotel in South East Asia and the Pacific Rim will introduce you to the beauty of volcanic black sand beaches. Surrounded by epic surf for advanced riders or those new to the sport, the untouched eastern region of Klungkung provides something authentic and fresh. The location is central and in walking distance from an array of sites including Nyoman Gunarsa Museum (2.8 km) and Watu Klotok Temple (3.2 km) and Cucukan and Keramas beaches (10 km). There is also a selection of art markets to whet your cultural appetite or you can take a cycling trip through the rice plantations.

In the know: If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to stand up while riding a wave, staying at Jivva is your chance. With private lessons that include shuttle transfer, all-inclusive equipment, training and techniques, snacks and insurance cover, you’ll be gleaming the cube in no time.

Check the latest prices for Wyndham Tamansari Jivva Resort

Still wondering where to stay in Bali? Get in touch with me at marpagesvidal@gmail.com and I’ll help find the right resort for you.