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16 Best Hotels in Bali

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Floral offerings, the scent of incense and ornately carved temples keep you reminded why this Indonesian island has the nickname ‘The island of the Gods.’ For those who haven’t yet visited, Bali may evoke images of tropical postcard clichés, but there’s so much more to it than beach life—its dedication to Balinese Hindu customs and a busy calendar of rituals means a taxi ride can end up giving you front-row seats to colorful processions. Proudly dressed in ceremonial dress, the warmth and sincerity of the villagers’ smiles is heartwarming. Lovingly tended green, green paddy fields vie for your Instagram attentions along with thatched ocean-view balés and dramatic pools cantilevered over river valley. It’s a destination of contrasts—a tourist hotspot choked with motorbikes one moment, a jungle paradise which tunes you into nature the next.

HOTEL

Amankila

RCA 2018

Wend your way to Bali’s less-explored and truly rural east coast; just after the almost-hidden sign for Amankila has nudged you to turn off the road, the dramatic watery horizon comes into view. With greenery stretching for miles below and the island of Nusa Penida in the distance, this is the paradise travelers dream of—a world away from traffic-clogged, built-up Seminyak and Nusa Dua. One of the original Aman resorts, whose name means “peaceful hill,” remains as charming as ever.

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Six Senses Uluwatu

Six Senses Uluwatu

$$$

From the moment you arrive, you feel like you’re teetering at the edge of the earth. Six Senses Uluwatu is a fan-shaped property built into a high clifftop on Bali’s southern coast, behind which lies the pool to end all debates about the world’s best pool, with an infinity-edged blue swath of water that extends to meet sky and clouds. Six Senses is a wellness pioneer in the hospitality industry; given that Bali is a mecca for health-seekers, they bring their A-game here with a long menu of spa treatments, an Integrated Wellness Screening, and an organic kitchen garden.

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Indonesia, Bali, Hotel, Hotel Tugu Bali

HOTEL

Hotel Tugu Bali

$$

Walking into Hotel Tugu Bali instantly transports you to Indonesia of the past. In the dimly lit lobby, you suddenly realize you’re standing under a massive carved wooden pagoda of sorts, which is in fact a 150-year-old sacred ceremonial hall that was transported piece by piece from a village in central Bali. It is one of literally thousands of priceless pieces that the owner, the biggest collector of Indonesian antiquities in the country, has installed here on the edge of Batu Bolong beach in Canggu. It’s all part of the intention to preserve Indonesia’s near-forgotten cultures (Tugu means “monument”). And it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Rooms are comprised of different villas, many of them based on Javanese wooden houses, and each of them utterly unique. (The Rejang Suite, on the upper floors of a Javanese house, for example, has rich antique wooden floors, a carved four-poster bed, a kind of rustic sun porch lined with wood-paneled windows of colored glass that overlook the garden.)

Capella Ubud, Bali

HOTEL

Capella Ubud, Bali

$$$

The only luxury retreat in the Keliki Valley, Capella Ubud is easily missed—only the eagle-eyed might spot the dark pitched roofs of the 23 tents, which perch on this steep patch of jungle by the river. If you’re especially sharp-focused, you might even spot brass monkey statues among all the fronds and foliage; they’re the first clue that the imaginative designer Bill Bensley has been at play here in Bali’s leafy center. Step inside the front portico and you’ll be transported back to the early 19th century.

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HOTEL

Alila Villas Uluwatu

$$

RCA 2017

The striking latticework rectangles of Alila Uluwatu, an all-villa resort set high on a cliff on the Bukit Peninsula, has become an icon for contemporary Bali. This Indonesian island is less about the beaches, more about the balés—sure, you can find tempting stretches of sand, but you couldn’t do better than settling into a cabana by the infinity pool here to enjoy those Indian Ocean panoramas. And if you do need to dip your feet into the sea, it’s only 600 steps down the cliff-hugging stairway to get to it

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HOTEL

COMO Shambhala Estate

$$$

RCA 2018

Eyebrow-arching views greet you as you arrive at COMO Shambhala Estate, a jungle-hugged designer health retreat perched on staggered hilltops above the Ayung River. For two decades, COMO Shambhala has reigned as a five-star refuge for luxury travelers seeking to say farewell to stress and hello to spiritual development. East meets West at each of the five residences, which house a total 30 suites, each with its own pool. Stand-alone villas have private pools, and one-bedroom Retreat Villas have their own treatment rooms.

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Indonesia, Bali, Hotel, The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah

HOTEL

The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah, Ubud, Bali – A GHM Hotel

$$$

It’s hard to believe the sprawling The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah is only a 10-minute drive from increasingly tourist-clogged Ubud—once you’re there, it’s as though you’re in private a country estate miles from civilization. The hotel sits near the 9th-century Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave; as a tribute to this sacred temple, elephant statues line the winding driveway to the open reception area. Once the family home of Hendra Hadiprana, a serious art collector and one of Indonesia’s preeminent architects, The Chedi Club boasts clear influences from its past life.

HOTEL

COMO Uma Ubud

$$

RCA 2018

Because Bali is a tropical island, there’s a misperception that it’s all about beaches. Yet there’s little more dramatic than the magical tableau of Ubud’s jungle scenes. At COMO Uma Ubud, coconut palms and banyan trees frame 46 rooms, suites, and villas, all designed by Koichiro Ikebuchi, offering an intimate, hyperlocal experience. At the heart of the resort is an 82-foot jade-green pool with rooms and eating areas staggered across the snug plot. Clever planning, fresh interior design, private courtyards, and infinity-edge plunge pools make the property feel modern—yet totally at home in Ubud.

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Indonesia, Bali, Hotel, COMO Uma Canggu

HOTEL

COMO Uma Canggu

$$

This modern, steel-and-glass hotel skews more South Beach than Bali, but offers a sanctuary from scruffy Canggu, a magnet for the global gypset. At the COMO Beach Club, in a haute surf-shack setting, the music’s always playing, the palms are swaying, and people are chilling in colorful batik cushioned banquettes and swinging white chaises. The Beach Club’s surf school, run by Tropicsurf, offers guided surf lessons for beginners to veteran shredders on Echo Beach’s famous left break. Overall the hotel’s wellness focus comes through in its delicious Balinese “clean cuisine” and its outposts of COMO Shambhala’s Spa and Glow café.

HOTEL

Bambu Indah

$$

In 2005, jewelry makers John and Cynthia Hardy brought 11 antique Javanese bridal homes to Bali, lovingly restoring them and opening them as guest rooms to friends and family before opening them to all as this truly extraordinary eco-escape. Celebrating sustainability and nature in all its glory, Bambu Indah, a bamboo wonderland in Bali’s leafy center, lets the landscape do the showing off; nearly every room has breathtaking views over Sayan Ridge. Rounding out the experience are rickety walkways, dramatic soaring black bamboo, and the constant sound of the powerful Ayung River whooshing below.

Indonesia, Bali, Hotel, The Legian Bali

HOTEL

The Legian Bali

$$

RCA 2018

The handsome and distinguished Legian Bali, a classic five-star hotel, gets repeat guests galore. Hendra Hadiprana’s architecture might seem a little hard-edged and dated when you very first arrive past the high gates, but step inside and you’ll be taken with the elegant teak antiques, parquet floors, and captivating art, all mapped out by interior designer Jaya Ibrahim. With a prime beachfront position, a show-stopping split-level swimming pool, and rolling gardens with tropical flowers, the grounds are all-out incredible. The 67 suites, grand as ever, follow suit with huge marble bathrooms with his-and-hers sinks, tubs and showers, and Acqua di Parma toiletries.

HOTEL

Katamama

$$

RCA 2018

Seminyak is built-up and noisy, and Katamama is a welcome antidote to the more traditional resorts and guesthouses in this area. Owner Ronald Akili’s appreciation of the Jengki, a post-war modernist design movement, was a big factor in the stylings here. The Indonesian hotelier and restaurateur’s collection of midcentury-modern furniture includes Hans J. Wegner chairs and Paul McCobb tables, all of which feature in some of the hotel’s suites. Smooth teak furniture and other handicrafts, custom-made from local materials by local makers, further the hotel’s mission to revive and preserve the fading arts of the Indonesian archipelago.

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HOTEL

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay

$$$

RCA 2018

One of Bali’s most respected five-star all-villa retreats, and one of the first international chains to have arrived on the island, the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay has been offering its own form of warm hospitality for more than two decades. After arriving at the open-air hilltop lobby, guests are gently ushered from the reception balé to a blessing from the resident Balinese Hindu priest—a completely magical welcome. Golf carts shuttle guests around the property, which is is more compact than the winding lanes convey, not to mention perfectly laid out.

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HOTEL

Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

$$$

RCA 2018

The luxe, jungle-based Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve achieves something rare—it feels pristine yet ancient. The open-plan open-air lobby, which overlooks an incredible section of the Ayung Valley, is bookended by a black-stone temple and and free-flowing lounges. From here, your patih—or “king’s assistant”—will greet you and escort you to one of 35 suites or 25 private pool villas. Mandapa feels like its own village, complete with working rice paddies, steep winding laneways, and the requisite resort pool, spa, cocktail bar, and restaurant.

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Indonesia, Bali, Hotel, Bisma Eight

HOTEL

Bisma Eight

$$

Follow a bumpy lane from Ubud’s center past little shops and spa outlets, and eventually you’ll reach Bisma Eight, an all-suite hideaway that does little to let on that an infinity pool hangs over the valley or that a rooftop restaurant awaits. Once you’ve checked in at the reception desk, you’re led to your suite via an open outdoor corridor blooming with frangipani, pandans, and bamboo. The 38 spacious, stylish suites are home-like in feel. Amenities are designed for digitally savvy travelers, and furnishings blend painstaking craftsmanship with materials such as hessian, woven leather, and delicate basketwork and wicker.

HOTEL

The Purist Villas

$$

The Purist Villas is a property full of indoor-outdoor spaces, wooden carvings, stone sculptures, primitive artefacts from all over the Indonesian archipelago, and bespoke furniture. Huge hunks of petrified wood and rough stone make elegant tables, and there are is so much rattan and wicker that you might nickname this place the Museum of Chair Weaving. Add to that chicken-coop lampshades, inscribed Timor stone and Sumbanese relics, and landscaped subak-irrigation channel running through the grounds, and there’s never a dull moment.

Indonesia, Bali, Hotel. The Slow

HOTEL

The Slow

$

The Slow’s tropical-brutalism aesthetic blends local artisanal design and urban minimalism in 12 concrete-cast suites. Since there isn’t much in the way of facilities, it’s especially important that the bedrooms nail the simple, stylish, and cool essentials. We especially loved the ready-mixed cocktails in the minibar and the big dial by the bed, which switches on a perfectly pitched retro playlist. The roadside bar-restaurant, with hanging plants and arty photography, punches above its weight when it comes to small plates; hand-crafted tactile ceramics are filled with a fresh spin on Indonesian flavors.

This article originally appeared on CNTraveler.com.

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