Wish you were here?
Some destinations are great for a fly and flop, but you don’t sit and dream about them back at your desk. Other places hit you in the heart and make you want to sell up and move there pronto: I discovered that Bali is just such a place…
It’s the south of this mystical island that has the most going on and youre bound to fall in love with something whether it’s the culture, clubs, shops, or surf.
Kuta is the touristy district, packed with bars and restaurants and a well-known hangout for Aussie surf dudes. A walk along Seminyak Road, lined with shops selling everything from high-fashion clothes to mosaic furniture, sarongs and hand-made jewellery, will eventually lead you away from the hoards to Legion Beach. One of the best stretches of sand in the southwest, you can lie back and soak up the rays while enjoying a blissful $10 massage.
Culture vultures should take the 30 minute drive up the southwest coast to the holy temple of Tanah Lot. Built on a rocky outcrop its only connected to the mainland at low tide and is the perfect place to view the sunset.
On the south coast youll find Jimbaran Puri Bali, a dreamy resort which feels like a traditional Balinese village thanks to walled gardens and thatched roofs, but with a huge injection of modern panache too.
When you walk into the lobby you are met by smiling faces, delicate orchids and a great sense of calm. If you can stretch your budget, opt for a deluxe pool villa nestled behind stonewalls with your own private pool and outdoor thatched dining pavilion just made for intimate candlelit dinners.
Stay in a pool villa, where on arrival you’ll be greeted by your own butler who will even fill in your registration form there and then - no boring wait in reception here. Fall in love with the attentive touches, such as free daily afternoon tea served with yummy biscuits and the fragrant chilled towels handed out after a day spent in the heat.
My best local discoveries were the seafood shacks, some of the island’s best and cheapest, just a five-minute walk along Jimbaran Beach. You can enjoy succulent catch of the day, rice, fresh pineapple chunks and a cool beer with your feet in the sand for under a tenner. Bargain!
Out and about
If the unadulterated luxury gets too much (as if!) and you fancy exploring, the cascading green rice fields dotted with temples in the centre of the island are worth the trip.
Ubud, a bohemian town in this region, is the hub of Bali’s vibrant arts and crafts trade. Walk along Monkey Forest Road and youll find shops and galleries selling local art that youll want to ship home immediately. The Lotus Café, with its giant lily pond at the foot of the Pura Taman Saraswati Temple, is a romantic place to dine on delicious nasi goreng (traditional fried rice). Alternatively, head to Ubud Palace and watch an ancient Balinese dance. The Ayung River Valley close by was my favourite place for stunning walks, while thrill-seekers will love the white water rafting there.
Stay in style
Uma Ubudis a boutique escape tucked away in lush grounds overlooking the Tjampuhan Valley and snaking River Oos. There’s such an air of tranquility here youll feel any post-wedding stress fall away as you walk through the flower-filled gardens to the rooms, which are set on a hillside and reached by winding stone paths and moss-covered arches.
My room had a romantic four-poster bed and French doors opening on to a terrace with amazing views overlooking the valley. The bathroom’s sunken tub made for two and the outside shower were the perfect love nest touches.
Keep-fit fans will love the huge swimming pool and open-air yoga pavilion which offers free daily yoga sessions. As Ubud is the spiritual heart of Bali, I got with the vibe and booked the signature COMO Shambhala Massage in the small spa which uses specially blended oils to rejuvenate your body. After blissing out, I sipped fresh ginger tea in my robe before dinner at Kemiri, the hotel’s open-air restaurant next to a giant lily pond teaming with colourful koi carp. A wonderful way to end my trip.
Jimbaran Puri Bali, Jalan Uluwatu, Jimbaran. Rates from US$395 per room per night, including buffet breakfast, bottled water, fresh fruit and wireless internet. Visit, orient-express.com
Uma Ubud, Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Ubud. Rates from US$260 per room per night for a Terrace Room, includes breakfast, excludes government tax and service charge. Visit, uma.ubud.como.bz