City hotels, Jakarta
For style-savvy weekend holidaymakers, these city hotels are ideal for urban breaks. Head to capital cities for culture and cuisine, and smaller town hubs for trips off the regular tourist’s itinerary. Skyscrapers beat suncastles at these luxury B&Bs, townhouses and street-side stays… all with a typical dose of Smith cool.
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Fried, grilled, boiled or steamed: Indonesia’s food is rich, subtly spiced and delicately fragranced. Food carts gather at street corners, peddling moreish crispy chicken, hearty bakso meatball soup and all manners of nasi (rice) and mie (noodles). Bali’s a tempeh-and-tofu haven for detox junkies, but also offers star-worthy dining and masterful fusion dishes. Métis’ foie gras and sweet soufflé menus bookend memorable meals; call ahead for a paddy-field perch and a taste of Bebek Bengil’s smoked duck (+62 (0)361 975489). Don’t leave the island without sampling its two meatiest finger-licking roadside eats: Ibu Oka’s lemongrass-stuffed suckling pig (+62 (0)361 976435) and Naughty Nuri’s coal-grilled ribs, washed down with as many dirty martinis as required (+62 (0)361 977547).
Borrow a sarong and sash to gawp at sea-perched temple Pura Tanah Lot, or climb Borobudur’s nine platforms to its majestic crown of stupas. Uluwatu’s clifftop temple is an atmospheric sunset setting for the percussive kecak monkey dance; for a closer encounter with scrabbly-pawed macaques, stroll through Ubud’s Monkey Forest and keep a sharp eye on your belongings. The islands are peppered with active volcanoes, surfing waves, trekking jungles and diving sites teeming with everything from whale sharks to pygmy seahorses. When you tire of all the adrenalin-seeking, surrender to the siren call of Indonesia’s divine spas, where you’ll be poulticed and pampered to a blissful state.
Mount Agung’s lunar landscape, the white waters of the Ayung river, Lovina’s black-sand beaches, rugged Ahmed’s snorkelling hostpots: there’s more to Bali than endless paddy fields, surfing beaches and designer boutiques, and much much more to sprawling Indonesia than this breeze-blessed island of gods. Dizzying Jakarta is the vigorously modern hub for committed shoppers and dyed-in-the-silk party people, and the jumping-off point for the archipelago’s true wonders: untamed Sumatra, mystic Yogykarta and the deep, clear diving waters from Komodo to Sulawesi.