A modernist vision in dark wood and floor-to-ceiling glass, boutique hotel Alila Semiyak sprawls sultrily along a stretch of volcanic sands on Bali’s buzzy southern coast. It may house a traditional temple in its grounds, but its enticing spa, ocean-view restaurant and three sleek infinity pools showcase a thoroughly modern take on hospitality. Like what you see? This hotel is one of the luxurious stays in our Indonesian adventures…
Noon. Earliest check-in time, 3pm. Late check-out up to 6pm subject to availability and a half-day charge.
Double rooms from £161.34 (IDR3,153,667), including tax at 21 per cent.
Rates exclude buffet (IDR250,000 each excluding tax and service) and à la carte breakfast (hot dishes from IDR40,000 excluding tax and service), but include a scheduled shuttle to Seminyak Square.
Stop by Pura Dalem Segara, the resort’s aptly named ‘temple by the beach’. As a place of worship for three local families, it’s a testament to Bali’s vibrant Hindu heritage, but don’t be fooled by its traditional appearance: it was erected in the 80s.
No check-ins or check-outs are allowed on on Nyepi Day each year (dates vary), although stays are still possible. Bali’s airport also closes for the day.
At the hotel
Spa, lounge, yoga classes, bikes to borrow, boutique, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, minibar, kettle, Alila toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Pared down and elegant, the hotel’s rooms are a showcase for Alila’s refined aesthetic: clean lines, crisp linen and lashings of chocolate-hued wood. Book a corner Beach Suite for sweeping sea views from the wrap-around balcony. The three-bedroom Penthouse has its own infinity lap pool high above the beach – just the thing for a cooling dip in the most minimalist swimwear. It's worth noting that the Deluxe Suites face a beach club, so you might be able to hear music during the day and evening (but never after 9pm).
Take your pick from a trio of freshwater infinity pools, sleek, wood-decked numbers perfectly positioned to blend into the blue, blue sea.
Taking inspiration from ancient Asian medicine and Balinese therapies, Spa Alila takes a tailored approach to pampering. Book one of the nine treatment rooms for a tension-busting four-hand massage, a traditional lulur body polish or a spot of reflexology. Don’t miss the creme bath, a nourishing avocado and coconut hair mask combined with a blissful neck and shoulder massage.
Petitenget’s dark volcanic sands can get very hot in the sun; bring some pale-coloured flip-flops to slip into after a spot of sunbathing.
All rooms are accessible to wheelchair users; one Deluxe Garden Suite has been adapted for disabled guests. If you’ve fallen for the hotel’s understated Balinese style, stop by Alila Living (open from 9am to 9pm) to pick up a local memento..
One under-12 can stay for free on an existing bed. All suites have space for a free cot or an extra bed (IDR500,000 a night). The restaurant has a special menu for little ones (under-4s eat free) and babysitting can be arranged.
Seafront hotel Alila Seminyak doesn’t skimp on family comforts: expect child-friendly spa treatments, a drop-in kids club and a laid-back take on Balinese life.
Kids of all ages.
Opt for a suite for handy butler service and plenty of sprawling space. Just steps from the ocean, Beach Suites have a separate living room with a sofa bed than can serve as a second bedroom, and a wrap-around balcony with sea views.
Take some time to pick out your favourite swimming pool – all three have uninterrupted sea views, but elevated positions, strategically positioned sunloungers and proximity to the beach should all be considered carefully. Petitenget beach beckons just beyond the hotel’s manicured lawns, an alluring sweep of warm, dark sands dipping into the Indian Ocean. Waves can be rough here – Bali’s southern coast is popular with surfers – and the beach isn’t supervised, so keep an eye on little ones. Children can monkey around at the kids club, a supervised space running both indoor and outdoor activities. Alila Seminyak specialises in tension-busting ministrations: try one of the free daily yoga classes, a spiritual healing session or a course of soul-soothing pampering in the modernist spa.
The three freshwater infinity pools are sleek, wood-decked numbers perfectly positioned to blend into the blue, blue sea. They’re open from 7am to 7pm and all are unsupervised; two are for adults only.
Rates exclude buffet (IDR250,000 each excluding tax and service) and à la carte breakfast (hot dishes from IDR40,000 excluding tax and service), but include a scheduled shuttle to Seminyak Square. Children One under-12 can stay for free on an existing bed. All suites have space for a free cot or an extra bed (US$50 a night). Under-4s eat free.
No need to pack
If you’d rather leave your stroller at home, the hotel can help you find a local rental. There are bikes to borrow for little ones, but you’ll need to bring your own helmet.
Open from 7am to 9pm, the supervised drop-in kids club caters to kids up to 12. Little Smiths can unleash their creative genius in playful playdough, face-painting and kite-making sessions, or spend laid-back afternoons catching up on DVDs or competing with new friends on the Playstation. Under-4s are welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult.
Alila Seminyak is a showcase for environmentally sustainable architecture, with an open-air design that keeps lighting and cooling needs to a minimum. The resort meets Earth Check’s stringent standards thanks to its water conservation and management programmes, the use of local and recycled materials and a considered approach to environment protection.
Sit at the edge of the terrace for uninterrupted sea views, or ask staff to set up a picnic on the beach for a more intimate tête à tête.
Rolled up sleeves, billowy maxi-dresses and designer sandals.
Having perfected his modern take on pan-Asian cuisine at Alila Villas Uluwatu, chef Stefan Zijta is at the helm of the Restaurant – an indoor-outdoor space with communal tables, low loungers and ocean-view tables that spill out around the main pool. Embark on a whistlestop tour of the region with fiery Thai curries, freshly steamed dumplings and Korean-style ribs, or have the day’s catch from the fishing village of Jimbaran grilled with a side of Indonesian bumbu. Don’t miss the dessert bar, a spectacular display of tempting sweet things lined up alongside the kitchen’s open pastry section.
Pick a day-bed at the Beach Bar for Middle Eastern snacks and expertly mixed cocktails. The Coffee Bar brews a mean flat white and an even sharper espresso martini.
The Restaurant is open 7am–11pm; the Beach Bar pours drinks 11am–11pm. The Coffee Bar is open 24 hours.
Tantalising classics such as burgers, noodles and steamed buns can be brought to your room in compostable paper boxes around the clock.
No. 9, Petitenget, Jl. Taman Ganesha, Kerobokan Kelod
Alila Seminyak is a tranquil beachfront resort, just a short stroll from Jalan Petitenget’s cosmopolitan bars and designer boutiques.
Just south of capital Denpasar a 30-minute drive away, Ngurah Rai Airport is the nearest international hub, serving flights from Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Australia.
A car is a must to explore the island, but hiring one with a driver is often safer than trying to come to grips with the chaotic local driving. There’s free parking at the hotel if you do come with your own wheels.
Worth getting out of bed for
On the quiet end of a long stretch of beach that stretches from Kuta to Legian, Seminyak is Bali’s hub for all things bright and beautiful. Take a break from a strenuous regime of surf, sand and sunsets with one of the hotel’s free daily yoga or meditation classes. Jalan Laksmana’s upmarket clothes and interiors boutiques are just a leisurely stroll away, but guests can also hop on the hotel’s free shuttle to the air-conditioned comfort of the Seminyak Square shopping centre. Further afield, Bali’s lush paddy fields and rich heritage beg to be explored. The hotel can arrange excursions to nearby temples and sundowner hotspots aboard one of its vintage Volkswagen vans, or a well-deserved beach picnic at the end of a scenic cycle. Catch a hypnotising kecak dance at Uluwatu Temple (you can borrow the requisite sash at the entrance), or brave the slippery stones to picturesque, wave-kissed Tanah Lot.
Eat fresh, live well is the manta at Watercress, one of Bali's founding fresh-food pioneers. Everything on the menu, from the meat-packed burgers to the crispy and colourful salads, is made from scratch by chef Ibu Wayan, so it's super fresh, healthy and tasty – good things do come in threes.
Bright and retro, Sea Circus' quirky café dishes up all manners of brunchy eggs, post-hangover lunches and tapas-style tacos, ceviches and salads. Stop by after a day’s surfing for a frozen margarita and a 15-minute shoulder massage. What started as a no-frills roadside shack in Ubud is now a welcome Kuta pit-stop. Stylish monochrome interiors with bright raspberry accents and comfy sofas make Grocer and Grind a great spot for lazy lunches and brunches. Choose from a refreshing selection of fresh juices, smoothies, icy granitas and seriously good coffees, or order one of their appetising light bites such as the chargrilled chorizo with roasted tomato relish. Next door, the deli stocks organic coffee, smoked goods, antipasti and oven-baked Italian breads.
Unpretentious La Plancha has hearty tapas and a flirty flashpacker vibe – it might have something to do with the supersized beanbags strewn on the beach. La Favela has plenty of nooks and crannies for more intimate drinks and tropical gardens, heady tipples and quirky good looks to boot.
Nowhere offers such a heady mix of chaos and serenity than Bali. The minute Mr and Mrs Smith arrive on this intoxicating island we're engulfed with eye-popping sights: gaudy Hindu statues, anarchic motorcyclists balancing goods and passengers, steaming street food stalls and chirruping gaggles of smartly uniformed schoolkids – and that's just on the 30 minute drive from the airport…
The flip-side, of course, is that Bali is also a dreamy tropical island of blissful spa treatments and lithe people with exquisitely folded udeng (head-cloths), where every day intricately made offerings are presented to the gods and life seems filled with grace and colour. Nothing bottles up this soul-enhancing mood better than its luxury hotels with their sanctuary-like compounds, vast infinity pools and exotic shrubbery enlivened by statues of gods enjoying sex in seemingly impossible positions. Case in point: Alila Seminyak Bali, a confident and well-organised resort set beside the broad beach at Petitenget on the southwest coast.
We flop down in its cathedral-like lobby – which seems to be raining wall-plants and comes perfumed with the scent of tuberose – while smiling staff dressed in white administer the customary cold towels and a welcome drink of ginger tea. We can hear the waves, the weather looks promising, everything's going to be alright...
Having decided many moons ago that there's no point staying at a seaside hotel if you can't see the sea, we opt for an Alila Ocean Suite which comes with the full Indian Ocean view. Its spacious and muted design is so painless we feel at home in seconds – ripping open the balcony door, admiring the slender bathroom with double basins and generous closets, and jumping on the king-size bed. We clock the low-rise furniture in restful browns and creams, the bamboo-patterned screens, the all-important kettle and Alila's own brand toiletries (among the best around) which handily include sunscreen and insect repellent.
Naturally, we gravitate straight to the pool. There are five of these, so a little tour is required before we decide where to hang our sun hats. In the course of this we discover the well-appointed Spa Alila and gym and the new [email protected] Seminyak, offering more affordable accommodation. In the end the Serene Pool gets our vote, which is adults-only and overlooks a small picturesque temple with the beach beyond.
Less trafficked than nearby Kuta, the sands at Petitenget are a soft, shallow playground where the swimming isn't great but there's plenty to watch – including a squad of 20 men dressed in pink and blue strip who are playing football while wearing mouse-like masks so they can't see the ball and have to rely on the call of helpers. ‘They're training,’ Mrs Smith reports after seeking an explanation from their enthusiastic coach. For what? That blinding goal?
Come sunset we relocate to the Beach Bar (the pared-back Alila eschews fancy names, perhaps you can guess what the restaurant's called?). It's a very balmy Bali scene – bean-bags and beats, selfies and sundowners, fire-pits and the first stars of night. Our dinner errs towards average, but breakfast the next morning restores faith with its energizing juices and regal selection of jams, honeys and spreads.
Out in the ‘Yak, the streets are an enjoyable mayhem. The Alila offers a free shuttle to Seminyak Square but we prefer to use its complimentary bikes, hip steeds described as ‘London Taxi British Masterpieces’ for some reason. It's a rather stop-start ride as Mrs Smith keeps seeing things in store windows that ‘look interesting’ then swooning over the designer labels at Escalier, set beside the Potato Head Beach Club. ‘Give me two cocktails and I'd go crazy in here,’ she admits, but fortunately it's 10am and she settles for some brightly-coloured woven slippers.
The countless faux-spiritual t-shirts on sale – ‘You can’t edit yourself’ says one; ‘Live fast die last’ another – seem so very Bali, because this really is a magical, life-enhancing island where you might – just – sort yourself out. Or at least sort out how you might sort yourself out…
Our own path to chakra realignment is made all the smoother thanks to the resort's complimentary yoga sessions at 7.30am, which Mr and Mrs Smith eagerly attend. It's a useful hour of re-tuning, untying the knots of long-haul flying and instilling order on the scattered mind. At the end of each class, Santi, our bewitchingly flexible teacher, offers a short prayer wishing us all ‘peace, love and gratitude for our surroundings’. And when you're tucked up in the bosom of Alila Seminyak Bali, with its calming suites, huge pools and big wide beach, that's easily done.