Ringed by palms and splashing waterfalls, Nirjhara is a back-to-nature resort in a lesser-trodden pocket of Bali’s south-west coast. The greenery-girdled hotel is minutes from volcanic beaches, rolling countryside and the island of Tanah Lot, a Hindu temple with some of the best sunsets in Bali. In tune with the lush vegetation on all sides, the suites and villas are dressed in timber, rattan and stone that was sourced from across the archipelago. At restaurant Ambu, regional specialities and flavour-filled fusion dishes are served in a wooden pavilion overlooking the largest of four waterfalls. At the spa, enjoy a Balinese massage or join an open-air meditation session in a thatched shala. Every guest gets unlimited use of bikes and surfboards during their stay, and the concierge can arrange hikes, ceramic workshops and cooking lessons with a local chef.
25 villas, including seven elevated Canopy Suites.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £125.80 (IDR2,517,520), including tax at 21 per cent.
Rates include sunrise yoga sessions, use of bicycles and surfboards, and films screened in the cinema room. Breakfast isn’t included, but doesn’t disappoint: expect lots of fresh fruit, Indonesian specialities like rice and corn fritters, Continental meat
The hotel’s off the beaten track but still within reach of Bali’s bigger towns. Canggu is 10-minute drive away, Seminyak can be reached in around 30 minutes and Ubud, Bali’s spiritual heartland, is around an hour’s drive.
At the hotel
Beach, cinema, yoga shala, library, boutique, laundry and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: Samsung TV, Bang & Olufsen sound-system, minibar, Nespresso coffee machine, local teas, free bottled water and Republic of Soap bath products.
Our favourite rooms
We’re smitten with the Canopy Suites, which are the most avant garde in design, standing several metres off the ground. They’re high enough to be brushing dangling palm fronds, but low enough to command sweeping views over the rice paddies towards Mount Batukaru – especially advantageous at sunset. To cap it all, each of these elegant treehouses has a roof deck with a circular bath tub (which will easily fit two).
Overlooking the hotel's natural waterfall, the long infinity pool is surrounded by exotic greenery and trees with snow-white blossoms. Sunloungers line the decked area and day-beds are tucked into leafy recesses on the outer edge.
The Retreat Spa stands next to a coconut grove and reflecting pool, endowing it with pacifying powers that get to work before you’ve even walked in the door. Many of the treatments draw on age-old Balinese wellness traditions and make use of Indonesia-sourced products. Treatments include massages, facials, botanical scrubs and reflexology. For the most immersive experience, try the Temple Blessing Ceremony, which is inspired by Balinese weddings and includes a sacred water blessing, foot ritual, massage, flower bath and a tea ceremony. The spa also has a waterside yoga shala for meditation, yoga and Pilates classes, and a 24-hour gym. A personal trainer can be booked for one-to-one sessions.
Bring hiking, biking, yoga and – if you have it – surfing kit.
The hotel is set over several levels and there are no adapted rooms, so it’s unfortunately not accessible for wheelchair users.
All ages are welcome, but older children and teens will be able to make the most of the surfing and bike-riding.
Request a table close to the edge, where you'll have the best views of Mount Batukaru.
Humidity-defying light fabrics and loose silhouettes.
Designed to make the most of Bali’s balmy evenings, Ambu apes the design of a pavilion, sporting a high ceiling, pitched wooden roof and open sides that allow a breeze to circle through the room. The lack of walls also makes it seem as if you’re sitting in the trees, with lush vegetation, birdsong and the splashing of waterall lending the feel of a tropical bower. The menu showcases Bali’s rich and diverse heritage, revisiting regional favourites with a fresh approach (there are Western dishes, too). The restaurant also makes the most of the hotel’s rural setting, working with the best farms and producers in the region.
The bar is part of the restaurant, and made from a single piece of U-shaped timber. Choose a vintage from the judiciously chosen wine list or have the mixologists work their magic, shaking up a cocktail made with local fruits and herbs.
Breakfast is available from 7am to 11am; lunch from noon to 3pm; and dinner from 6pm to 10pm. The Pool Bar serves food and drinks from 11am to 6pm; the main bar gets going at 5pm and stays open until 11pm.
Nirjhara is close to the temple complex of Tanah Lot, a peaceful stretch of Bali’s south-west coast. The hotel is encircled by jungle and rice paddies, and has no fewer than three waterfalls on its lush, green grounds.
Ngurah Rai International Airport is the best place to touch down; it’s about a 50-minute drive from here to the hotel. You can fly directly from most of Australia’s larger airports, or from Amsterdam if you’re coming from the Continent. From the UK, you’ll need to take a connecting flight; popular stopovers include Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai and Singapore.
Most visitors get by without doing any driving themselves, in part because the roads aren’t always what they’re used to. Hiring a car with a driver is cheap and easy, but if you do plan on getting behind the wheel, there’s valet parking at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Banish traveller's fatigue by joining one of the regular yoga or meditation sessions, held in a wooden shala with a sculptural roof and soundtracked by the chirps of bright-liveried birds in the canopy overhead.
After a hearty Balinese breakfast, head out to explore the countryside on your bicycle (every guest gets one) or pedal down to the beach, where you can make use of your surfboard. If you’re in need of a little guidance, the concierge can arrange lessons with a qualified instructor. (Veterans, on the other hand, should set sights on Kedungu, a local favourite with a buzzy scene.) The sunsets on this side of the island are said to be the best in Bali, so aim to be installed in your spot of choice (drink in hand, natch) in good time for the show to begin. There’s also a cinema that holds weekly screenings of blockbusters and silver-screen classics.
Like getting your hands dirty? As the concierge to book you in for a ceramics workshop at Gaya, a stylish studio on the fringes of Ubud. It’s well worth a visit even if you don’t plan on taking a class, but be warned – temptation will strike when you see the shapely creations on sale in the showroom. Culinary wizards will be relish the expert-led cooking class, which starts with a visit to a local market, where you’ll learn to select the best the produce and spices according to scent, texture and taste. Armed with your natural bounty, you’ll then decamp to the kitchen to cook up a Balinese storm. Natural highs can be sought on the slopes of Mount Batur, an active volcano that makes for soul-lifting hikes. If you set off early, you’ll climb above the carpet of low-lying cloud that lingers over the canopy in the morning, making the sunrise seem all the more impressive. At last light, there’s nowhere better to be than Tanah Lot, a Hindu temple built on tiny island just off the shore. It’s the most famous sunset-watching spot in Bali – and the hotel can make it even better by arranging the journey in a vintage VW convertible. Alternatively, book the sunrise bike tour, which heads off at 6am.
There’s not much in the immediate area, but one place that's within walking distance is the Fat Hog, an Australian-owned restaurant that has gained quite the repuatation for its friendly vibe and stellar barbecue ribs. The restaurant at Joshua District can be reached in under 10 minutes in a cab. Laid-back and industrial in looks, the building is right on the edge of some rice fields. Working from an open kitchen, the chefs turn out fusion dishes that borrow from Europe, Asia, the US and beyond, echoing the international crowd and ambience.
If you’re determined to eat out more than once, your next best bet is the village of Canggu, a 25-minute (traffic-dependent) drive away. Mason is one of the hottest spots in town, not least because of its pleasing interiors and sleek courtyard lit by strings of naked bulbs. The emphasis is on slow, careful preparation using organic ingredients, and Australian chef Nathan Sasi brings his knowledge of smoking, pickling, fermenting and curing to the table, ensuring plenty of twists and turns on the flavour front. The cocktails – prepared behind a bar of ridged concrete that runs the length of the room – are well worth a try, too. Billy Ho is inspired by the hand-me-down recipes and relaxed atmosphere found in family kitchens across Asia. The dishes are sourced from star chef Will Meyrick’s own notebooks, filled with favourites that he discovered on his travels across the continent. The flavours and rich and varied, coming from far and wide – Japanese izakayas, South Korean tea houses and Hong Kong’s cha cha tengs, where locals get back to basics with comfort food.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this tree-ringed resort in Bali and unpacked their sarongs, a full account of their break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Nirjhara in Bali…
Bali might be the one of the worst-kept secrets in the travel industry, but choose the right hotel and you’ll find that the island still has its natural charms. Set apart from the island’s more tourist-heavy towns, Nirjhara offers exactly the sort of tranquillity that first attracted the surfers and chill seekers to these shores. From the wood-clad suites and villas, the views stretch over palms, scented gardens and rice paddies that take on a golden glow in the late afternoon sun. Volcanic beaches and beginner-friendly surf spots are within a five-minute drive, but we’d recommend opting for pedal power instead (every guest has use of a bicycle – along with a surfboard – during their stay). The interiors are modern and minimalist, but stay true to their surroundings with organic details like carved wooden tables and coconut-husk headboards. Where the hotel really triumphs is blending the boundary between outside and in, the ultimate example being the open-sided restaurant Ambu, where you can reach out and touch the jungle.