Having world-famous beach club Potato Head as your sibling could cramp your style a bit, but Katamama Suites at Desa Potato Head rises to the challenge. (Check out that striking red-brick exterior, for starters.) Sartorial successes continue apace inside, where mid-century furniture, statement lighting, contemporary art and moody hues add decorative clout to the excellent restaurant, masterful cocktail bar and sea-spying suites. The coffee’s not half bad, either.
Get this when you book through us:
A cocktail each and one IDR500,000 resort credit to be used at Katamama restaurant, Potato Head Beach Club or Akademi (excludes alcoholic drinks)
Flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £241.46 (IDR4,369,760), including tax at 21 per cent.
Rates usually exclude à la carte breakfast.
You’ll want to take some of the locally made, hand-dyed indigo home with you: it plays a starring role in uniforms, rugs, throws and other soft furnishings. Mid-century-furniture fans will go weak at the knees when confronted with Katamama’s rooms, styled with Louis Poulsen pendant lamps, Le Corbusier and Arne Jacobsen chairs – and more.
At the hotel
Access to Potato Head beach club; tropical garden; gym; gallery and retail space showcasing work by local artisans and artists; on-loan audio equipment; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: cocktail kit and ‘bar’; beach bag with sarong and matching hat; Katamama bath products, including a gift set with room spray, face mist, face scrub and body lotion; TV; maxibar.
Our favourite rooms
You’re in Seminyak: you’re clearly in the market for sea-and-sunset views: the Rooftop Suites deliver generously on the above (they also come with a barbecue kit). Waterbabies will love the Pool Suites for the private plunge pools; wannabe DJs might want to opt for the palatial Katamama Suite, whose charms include an on-loan turntable (plus speakers). If you choose a Garden Suite, be prepared for the occasional Tom, Dick and Wayan to veer into view (these rooms are overlooked from the street).
There’s a small, gated pool shaded by leafy greenery, so passersby can’t gawp upon you. Swim up to the pool bar and order a tropical cocktail – inspired by the Indonesian archipelago – whenever you get thirsty. A fleet of chic green-and-blue sun loungers are positioned by the pool for horizontal lazing.
Let the gently wafting scents of jasmine, turmeric, ginger and coffee guide you to Nila Spa, where expert therapists offer massages, body treatments and facials that use Indonesia’s traditional herbal remedies and techniques. A range of Balinese spices, herbs, local flowers, and exotic fruits are used in these Jamu-inspired spa sessions; we recommend the lulur (scrub) that’s based on the beauty regimes of Javanese princesses.
Remember to bring: easy breezy linen layers, your most artistic expression and threads for Potato Head.
Guests are invited to take part in Katamama’s cultural programme, which sees regular events staged at both the hotel and likeminded, arty neighbours: Potato Head, Escalier boutique and Alchemy (Bali’s first raw-food-only restaurant), to name a few.
Little Smiths are welcome. The hotel reckons it’s best suited to teens, but babysitters and nannies can be arranged (IDR50,000 per hour; a four-hour minimum applies). Katamama can also provide cots, cribs, high chairs, baby baths and baby toiletries.
Nab a side or corner table, so you can alternate between admiring food, fellow guests and each other.
Balinese boho, but don’t don flip-flops for the restaurant – this food is far too tasty to be served in the presence of plastic-clad toes.
Katamama Restaurant, which serves a mix of local and international breakfast favourites, including Indonesian porridge, French-inspired pastries, fruit-filled smoothie bowls. Order from the breakfast menu right up to dinnertime, when the focus shifts to Mediterranean-inspired dishes of grilled fish and vegetables, paired with refreshing tropical cocktails and international wines.
Forget fishbowls, sugary punches and unfortunately named cocktails: Seminyak drinking is a refined affair at Akademi, styled with concrete and marble, grey and blue hues and sleek geometric furniture. The cocktail list comes courtesy of master mixologist Dre Masso – even his name is impressive – and the lobbyside drinking den has been proclaimed a ‘centre of mixology’. There’s also the pool bar...
The restaurant closes at midnight (breakfast between 7am and 11am; lunch between noon and 3.30pm). Akademi bar quenches thirsts between 10am and 1am. If you’re still thirsty, head back to your room: an impressive cocktail kit and ‘bar’ await you.
Order snacks, meals and drinks to your room around the clock.
Katamama Suites at Desa Potato Head is set back a bit from the beach, a flip-flop’s throw from some of Seminyak’s best boutiques, bars and restaurants (including its world-famous sibling, Potato Head beach club).
Ngurah Rai International Airport is 13km from the hotel, a 45-minute drive. Hotel transfers can be arranged (IDR400,000 per car, each way).
Denpasar is a 45-minute drive from the hotel. There’s guest parking 200m from the hotel, but you’ll probably have a more restful time if you leave the driving to the locals.
Worth getting out of bed for
Ask staff about Katama’s cultural programme – chances are, the hotel will be hosting an interesting talk or workshop during your visit. Buy beautiful Balinese ceramics from Kevala, browsethe traditional Indonesian products made by local artists at craftmen at Canaan gallery, or trawl Seminyak’s wealth of fashion boutiques for both men and women. Spend some time on the beach; don’t miss sunset drinks at one of the relaxed, waveside shacks. Obviously, it would be rude not to visit Potato Head beach club, given that it’s Katamama’s sibling (and totally brilliant).
Sisterfields at Jl. Kayu Cendana No.7 serves up some of Seminyak’s best brunch options. Australian in feel and focus – and in its undying affection for ‘smashed avo’ – Sisterfields showcases local ingredients in healthy dishes.
Caffeine-fans will appreciate the care and attention put in to each cup at the artisan One Fifteenth coffee shop. Only the best qaulity beans go into their coffees, made with a their golden ratio of 1:15 coffee-to-water.
Shanghai Baby pays tribute to the glamour of Shanghai in the 1930s, when the city was known as the ‘Paris of the East’. You can dine here too, but the cocktails are particularly tempting. Try to wrangle seats on the garden roof terrace. Book a mixology class at Akademiand learn to twist, shake and stir like a pro – specifically, the bar's founder,theaward-winning mixologist, Dre Masso. Located in Katamama’s lobby, you can then take your new-found skills back to your room, where a cocktail kit awaits.
It’s pretty common nowadays to covet something in your hotel room so much that you want to steal it – a particularly chic dressing gown that makes you feel like Lauren Bacall or a really comfy pair of slippers, say.
But it’s not all that often you want to somehow pack the entire room into your suitcase, including every single navy woven throw and each piece of mid-century furniture. It was only the fact that I couldn’t possibly squeeze the Louis Poulsen pendant lamp into my Bric’s wheely case, or prise the terrazzo tiles in the bathroom off the wall that stopped me from nicking the lot when I stayed at Katamama Suites at Desa Potato Head.
Which is my kleptomaniac way of saying that whoever designed the rooms here has serious style. They’re incredibly well-thought out and dotted with locally-made crafts – such as the covetable hand-woven bath robes made by artisans from Blahbatuh village.
The whole experience feels very much like you’re loafing at a (very chic, very rich) friend’s house, rather than staying a hotel. Even the artwork on the wall is actually interesting for once (rather than don’t-scare-the-horses-bland), like the pop graphics of rising Indonesian artist Wedhar Riyaidi.
And then there’s the minibar – sorry ‘maxibar’ – which deserves a whole paragraph in its own right. So here goes. Forget tiny bottles of tonic water and bags of KP nuts, the in-room bar here is a Tom Cruise movie waiting to happen. Among the elegant glass bottles on your mirrored shelf are sencha whiskey, archipelago bitters and roasted-pineapple arak (the local spirit). There’s a well of ice, a glass of every description and even a cloth bag of serious-looking cocktail-making kit including muddlers and strainers and other implements I had not a clue how to use.
Luckily part of the check-in process includes a bar tender coming to your room to fix you a welcome mojito, while another member of staff taps your details into a tablet. So much cooler than sipping a fruit juice at a crowded reception desk. It makes you wonder why more hotels don’t do this.
Clearly Katamama – ‘mama says’ in Indonesian – knows best. The Brutalist-like building is made entirely from terracotta temple bricks and looks like nothing else on this stretch of Seminyak. It also offers a unique, and rather grand-sounding ‘Cultural Programme’ which runs the gamut from personal PT sessions in the immaculate gym, to a Balinese blessing at the hotel temple (‘traditional ceremony attire will be provided’).
Elsewhere, the Akademi cocktail bar could easily be a hip Brooklyn hangout, not a Bali hotel bar, and comes complete with a record player, a library of books and curated collection of cacti. The hotel’s restaurant is the Melbourne tapas institution MoVida, which sounds a bit incongruous, but with a really interesting menu featuring sea-urchin custard, wagyu tartare, and a whole section of tinned fish, it’s unmissable. Although it’s a shame the staff aren’t able to give a clear answer on how many dishes we should order which led to Mr Smith and I somehow ordereing enough tapas to feed a small army – and meant we were too full to order the amazing-sounding creme caramel (which still haunts me to this day).
Katamama Suites at Desa Potato Head is owned by the folks who set up Potato Head Beach Club – Bali’s first and most famous beach club, located just across the way. Hotel guests get preferential treatment at Potato Head – they can book one of the sand-side daybeds free of charge – and even if you’re not a swim-up-bar-and-house-music kind of person, it’s worth spending the afternoon here, if only for the snacks.
I’ve never met a cinnamon bun I didn’t like, but this one – brought to me on my ocean-view day-bed by a charming man in a Hawaiian shirt – was a perfect curl of doughy, just-baked deliciousness.
Katamama gets so much right that when it gets it (a little) wrong you feel weirdly let down. It seems churlish (when there’s so much attention to detail elsewhere) that the hotel charges guests for an airport pick-up. It’s surprising that although we booked a ‘Garden Suite’, only a few rays of sunlight made it down to our private terrace. It’s a little indulgence-free for the breakfast menu to be designed with one eye on those who would be spending the day in a bikini, with multiple (admittedly delicious) variations on fruit and granola.
Our swishy-blonde-haired concierge Gina gets it very right, though, when she directs us to her favourite spots in Petitenget, the area of Bali known for its hipster boutiques and stylish brunch spots. We seek out hot-tip homeware shop Biasa and lingerie boutique Gooseberry.
On the morning we checked out, a member of staff tied a red, white and black string around our wrists, explaining that it was a Hindu ‘tridatu’ to remind the wearer that life is not just one colour, but many.
It was the perfect souvenir of our time in Bali. Well, that and all the reed diffusers, robes and blankets I stocked up on in the hotel’s gift shop. I guess I’ll have to go back with a bigger suitcase for that lamp…
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