The hour-and-a-half-drive between Amankila and the nearest airport makes one of the best hotels in Bali also one of its most isolated retreats, but this is an Aman, after all, so you know the reward is worth the journey. Built on a hillside overlooking the Lombok Strait, the property’s 34 thatch-roof villas pair their stunning views with canopied beds, giant bathrooms with sunken soaking tubs, and, in nine of them, private pools. The hotel’s silvery beach—the launching point for diving and sailing trips—beckons at the bottom of the hill, but you might not make it past the three-tiered infinity pool. That’s okay: an Euro-Indonesian farm-to-table restaurant and open-air spa (which offers traditional Balinese massages and rose-scented baths) at the top of the hill are equally worthy distractions you don’t need to hike to.
Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
You might mistake Ritz-Carlton’s third outpost in its Reserve portfolio for a traditional Balinese village. The property, which sprawls over 14 acres along the Ayung River outside Ubud, features its own farmer-tended rice paddy and ancient Hindu temple in addition to 60 sumptuous suites arranged around an infinity pool, decked out with local artwork, hand-embroidered throws, and Balinese furniture. The theme here is all about wellness and spirituality: there are sunrise and sunset yoga classes and blessings by a local shaman, poolside guests are refreshed with fresh fruit and infused face towels, the spa offers ESPA treatments and a vitality pool, and the romantic Kudu restaurant features nine riverfront bamboo cocoons for dining in peace. Hoping to break up all that serenity? Dedicated butlers can arrange everything from Ubud day tours in a vintage convertible to lessons in subak (rice) farming.
COMO Shambhala Estate
More than a decade after it opened in 2005, Como Hotels and Resorts’ flagship resort continues to be the style-setter of destination wellness retreats on an island now overrun with them. Everything here was designed to promote holistic health, albeit in the most luxurious way: the spa has nine treatment rooms for oil massages and meditation; there’s a yoga pavilion and climbing wall to get your blood pumping; staff members include a resident psychologist, Ayurvedic doctor, and nutritionist; and everything—from happy hours to mealtimes—are set by you, the guest. The 23-acre jungle setting means you’ll spend most of your afternoons hiking and biking among the trees, though a few hours in your guest room—tricked out with Balinese teakwood, Chinese antiques, and, in villas, a heated pool and steam room—is time equally well spent.
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
In contrast to Bali’s typical pavilion-style digs, the Four Seasons Resort at Sayan is a more modern take on Balinese living—and we’re more than okay with that. The statement begins from the start, when guests enter via a teak walkway suspended over a gorge—filled with pink frangipani trees, palms, and bougainvillea—to a floating lily pond, where a staircase descends into the open-air lobby. The 60 guest suites and villas are sophisticatedly sleek, with modernist furniture, vast marble bathrooms with double vanities, and floor-to-ceiling views of the grounds. The two restaurants are equally swish and focus on contemporary Indonesian cuisine, while included activities like dance performances and cooking classes showcase the best of Balinese culture. After a treatment at the spa (which might incorporate Himalayan salts or mud wraps), head to the infinity pool cantilevered over a rice terrace for a perfect view of the Ayung river.
You may not know it from Katamama’s unconventional red-brick façade, but Indonesia’s artisanal heritage comes to a head here in Seminyak. Native lifestyle company PTT Family worked with native artisans to design the 58 guest rooms, where everything from bathrobes and ceramics to Java tiles and even the bricks in the walls was made (or hand-picked) following Indonesian craft techniques. (We especially love the cocktail station, which stands in for the traditional mini-bar and features a book of recipes by the in-house mixologist). You’ll also find on the property more than 100 original artworks, a bar headed by master cocktailer Dre Masso, and a standout pool whose daybeds deserve consideration when the surf at nearby Petitenget Beach gets too strong.
Hanging Gardens of Bali
Paradise is closer than you think: you only have to head 30 minutes outside Ubud to feel like you’d found the Garden of Eden—also known as The Hanging Gardens of Bali. The property is just as it sounds—thatched-roof buildings cling to a jungle valley so steep, guests are shuttled between reception and their villa by funicular. Even those with a fear of heights won’t soon forget the view—a verdant valley and hidden temple on the opposite side—which is best taken in from basically anywhere on property, be it your guest room’s personal plunge pool, the spa, both Indonesian restaurants, or the hotel’s famous multi-level infinity pool that juts out over the treetops.
Alila Villas Uluwatu
Sophistication is the calling card of the Alila brand, and it’s everywhere at Villas Uluwatu. The 30 soothingly minimal guest rooms are visions of sleek white stone and volcanic rock, with private plunge pools, indoor-outdoor showers, and at least one all-glass wall where you can gaze out at the grounds from your giant day bed. It’s the hotel’s setting, however—on a vertiginous cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean—that truly wows, made even more dramatic when set against the hotel’s modernist architecture. In addition to a glamorous spa and two restaurants, there’s also a private beach (though you’ll have to make the hike down the cliff and back up to experience it). It makes that infinity pool all the more appealing, doesn’t it?
Hoshino Resorts’ first non-Japan-based property deftly marries Japanese style sensibilities with hints of Bali. You’ll see it in the architecture, where Japanese-style tiered rooftops are juxtaposed against thatch-roof pavilions made with Balinese alang alang. You’ll also see it in the guest villas, with their futon beds, hand-printed lampshades, and carved wooden artwork by Ubud craftsmen. Every villa is separated by waterways and offers access to one of the property’s three pools—though you’ll want to keep track of the time so you can make your reservation at the restaurant, whose hyper-seasonal menu is a mash-up of Japanese and Indonesian flavors (think sambal-topped tuna tataki and wagyu beef tenderloin paired with different types of satay sauces). For a deep-dive into the local culture, ask about the hotel’s complimentary class on how to make Canang sari, a traditional Hindu offering made with flowers wrapped in banana leaf.
Not a single tree was removed during the construction of Capella’s newest property, which explains how hidden this 22 canvas-tented property feels, sitting among the trees along Bali’s sacred Wos River. This is forest living at its most luxurious: every room comes with a saltwater Jacuzzi pool, outdoor shower, and personal assistant (should you desire a private tour of a nearby temple or guided rainforest hike). Along with two restaurants, a gym, and a spa, an outdoor rainforest pool and campfire storyteller add to the allure.