Secret Hotels of Bali
The island is home to some of the world's most famous resorts: Aman this, Four Seasons that. When it comes down to friendliness, however, they can't compare with these seven intimate gems.
If you're traveling in a group . . .
On Bali, villas--with their own pool and staff, where you and your friends are the only guests--get much more affordable outside high season (which runs from mid-July to mid-September and over Christmas/New Year's). You can also cut costs by booking last-minute, usually within 10 days of arrival, although such offers are hard to come by in high season. Most management companies insist on a minimum stay of two days in low season and five to ten days in high season; meals generally cost the price of groceries plus a service charge. Ask when booking if prices include taxes (10 percent) and service fees (5 to 11 percent). Some villas worth a look:
Hidden behind a rice paddy 20 minutes outside Ubud, the two-bedroom Villa Uma has gorgeous valley views, tall windows, high ceilings, and well-chosen furniture. A reception room, a kitchen/dining room, a multitude of terraces and balconies, and a pool and deck all contribute to a sense of spaciousness. Elite Havens, 011-62/361-731-074, elitehavensbali.com, from $300 per night, sleeps two couples.
The stunning estate in Bebengan has six villas, each with a bedroom and semi-enclosed bathroom, arranged on broad terraces linked by a dramatic staircase. Traditional Balinese and modern design are integrated in the villas and the other spaces, which include a spa, dining pavilion, and meditation bale. It's more like a hotel than a traditional villa; there's even a restaurant. 011-62/361-742-2928, sukhavatiretreat.com, from $1,200 per night, sleeps six couples (villas can be booked individually, starting from $150).
Villa Jembar Lawang
Jembar Lawang is a two-wing villa in Canggu built around a high-ceilinged, semicircular living room with huge windows. The look is modern but with lots of Balinese and Asian art, and there's a long pool and large garden. When they have outdoor barbecues, the staff lights the garden with candles. Bali Homes Management, 011-62/361-730-668, balihomes.com, from $480 per night, sleeps five couples.
Villa Bali Impian
Jimbaran Hill may not be in the most beautiful part of Bali, but the four-bedroom Impian has a nice relaxed air and is a five-minute drive from the beach. There's a large living room, a bar area with a pool table, and an infinity pool that, following some recent construction in the neighboring lot, no longer sees to infinity. 011-62/361-703-060, balivillas.com, from $650 per night, sleeps three couples and two singles.
Spa Villa Barong
Also located in Jimbaran Hill, Spa Villa Barong was built in a modern manner with plain but attractive dark wood furniture. The living and dining areas are open-sided, and the pool is a good size. The villa offers two free hours of spa treatments a day. 011-62/361-703-060, balivillas.com, from $420 per night, sleeps three couples.