bali

Bali — the ‘Island of the Gods’ —a declaration the Indonesian isle wears well. Steeped in spiritualism, sprinkled with pink, yellow and bougainvillaea and infused with frangipani incense there’s a Hindu temple at every turn as you wend your way through the endless green, green paddy fields. There can be a misconception that because Bali is a tropical holiday island it is all about beaches — sure, you can find tempting stretches of sand, but you’d do better to picture dramatic swimming pools in the jungle, cantilevered over valleys. It’s a destination of contrasts — a place as much about tuning into nature and all things eco, as somewhere that inevitably also flaunts the symptoms mass tourism: busy winding roads are thrumming with taxis and motorbikes, and in the south, Kuta’s bars heave with Australian party people. It’s not hard to sidestep the chaos — choose an eco-friendly escape, and experience the culture and beauty of Bali while supporting its preservation and upholding the islanders’ traditional way of life. Take time to learn about, appreciate and respect the Balinese culture and people. See the ceremonies parade through the streets and admire canang sari (offerings) scatted in doorways and paths everywhere. The Balinese are some of the warmest, most friendly people in the world and don’t be surprised if you’re rewarded with an invitation to a ceremony or home. A place of complexity and polarity, reflective of what contemporary life so often lacks and what we should be trying hard to preserve, Bali is more than a destination, it is a celebration of centuries-old cultures and the power of community.

TO STAY

COMO Shambhala Estate

The villas at COMO Shambhala Estate are nestled within a 23-acre jungle with treatment rooms sitting alongside the Ayung River. Guests can swim in the natural spring pool, practice yoga in the bamboo pavilions and indulge in treatments. Unsurprisingly, there’s a big focus on nutrition here, and you can get your fix at one of their two restaurants. Your stay will support the local kindergarten and provide electricity for surrounding villages.

  • +62 361 978 888
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  • Banjar Begawan
    Desa Melinggih Kelod
    Payangan
    Gianyar
    80571

Alila Uluwatu

Built on a cliff in the south of Bali, Alila Uluwatu provides panoramic views of the ocean. The cage-like lounges that border the infinity pool have won awards for their ingenuity; they sustainably capture rainwater. The open-plan architecture ensures an unobscured view of the outdoors, so you can sip a cocktail and watch the sunset from the comfort of your villa.

  • +62 361 848 2166
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  • Belimbing Sari
    Banjar Tambiyak
    Desa Pecatu
    80364

Bambu Indah

Originally guesthouses for friends of Green School Founder John Hardy, Bambu Indah is now an eco-friendly boutique hotel. Situated on Sayan Ridge, the traditional wood houses overlook rice paddy fields and the Ayung River. Swing on a rope across the natural swimming pool, feast on organic food and watch the sun rise over the volcanoes.

Temple Lodge

This bohemian escape is situated on the cliffs in the Bukit Peninsula, overlooking the world-famous “Impossibles” surf break. Each suite is its own private mini-property and they have all been sustainably built – choose the Eagle’s Nest for unrivalled ocean views and a private outdoor deck. We suggest a morning yoga practice followed by an afternoon of surfing. All food is homemade and organic.

  • +62 857 3901 1572
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  • Jalan Pantai Bingin
    Bukit Pecatu
    Kuta Selatan

Desa Seni

Set in an enchanting sprawling garden, Desa Seni, translated as “village of art”, is made up of thatched cabins and wooden cottages built from materials brought to the island by communities across the archipelago. The Canggu retreat pays great consideration to the environment, from its centrepiece saltwater pool to it’s prized restaurant serving dishes compiled using predominantly ingredients from their organic gardens. Daily yoga lessons are open to guests and the local community — Bkakti Flow and Kundalini yoga are worth noting. At the spa, the traditional Javanese Lulur treatment is a winner.

  • +62 361 844 6392
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  • Jl. Subak Sari 13
    Pantai Berawa
    CanggU

Suarga Padang Padang

Maximum comfort, minimal impact on the environment — Suarga lives up to its Sanskrit name which translates as “paradise”. Overlooking one of Bali’s best surfing beaches, Padang Padang, this sustainable resort, constructed of soaring bamboo architecture and sculptural thatched roofs, gives Suarga a distinct silhouette. Built using traditional Indonesian artisanal practices, Suarga is utterly boutique and authentically eco. Independently owned, the intimate resort was created by a Belgian husband and wife who wanted to give discerning luxury travellers the chance to feel connected with nature yet with five-star amenities at their fingertips. Enchanted by the culture, nature and Balinese people, founders Karolien Verschelden and Frederik Wittesaele swapped a background in textile manufacturing for responsible hospitality. Having worked in cahoots with international organisations such as Forest Stewardship Council and Rainforest Alliance the construction has total eco-integrity — particularly in its use of ironwood. Ask Frederik to show you photos that reveal the provenance of this repurposed petrified timber and hear his journey around the decaying pontoons of Borneo — it’s a fascinating tale.

  • +62 361 472 5086
  • Go to Website
  • JL. Pantai Labuan Sait
    Br Dinas Labuan Sait
    Pecatu
    Kuta Sel.
    Kabupaten Badung
    80361

Hotel Tugu

Boutique and a little bit bonkers, the weird and wonderful antiques and oversized sculptures at this hotel have been painstakingly collected by the art-loving family who owns and run it. A world away from sterile designer stays, luxe-for-less B&Bs hotels or brash new-builds, it’s like a living, breathing walk-through museum where every theatrical touch is larger than life. “Tugu” means “monument” in Bahasa Indonesian and thoughtful notes and signs tell tales from history, navigating guests through its lovingly restored 18th-century Javanese palace, Chinese temple and balé crammed with cabinets of artefacts.

Katamama

Designed and built by local artisans, Katamama’s thoughtful design and exquisite craftsmanship evoke a sense of understated luxury that not only supports local artisans and champions centuries-old Indonesian crafts, but also wows with some of its environmentally considerate practices. As the sister of Bali’s most famous beach club, Potato Head, it is no wonder that canny in-room cocktails and sea-view suites are a speciality at Katamama. If you’re a ceramics or textiles fetishists, you’ll love every touchy-feely moment here — we also love that water is provided in glass bottles and there’s not a buffet or plastic straw in sight.

  • +62 361 302 9999
  • Go to Website
  • Jl. Petitenget No.51B
    Kerobokan Kelod
    Kuta Utara
    Kabupaten Badung
    80361

Fivelements

Tuning into nature is inevitable at Fivelements, the riverside wellness retreat 15 minutes south of increasingly bustling Ubud. Here, in this thatched enclave, is a true next-gen spa sanctuary celebrating Mother Nature. Follow twisting paths, tiny bridges and stepping stones through enchanting gardens to your secluded suite where every design detail feels characterful and considered.

  • +62 361 469 206
  • Go to Website
  • Jl. Raya Mambal
    Banjar Barturning
    Desa Mambal
    Abiansemal
    Mambal
    Kabupaten Badung
    80352

The Lowdown

Turquoise Holidays tailors itineraries such as two weeks in Bali, including return flights from Heathrow, from £1,995 per person.

COMO Shambhala Estate

Alila Uluwatu

Bambu Indah

Temple Lodge

Desa Seni

Suarga Padang Padang

Hotel Tugu

Katamama

Fivelements

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