Ngurah Rai Airport (www.baliairport.com), just south of capital Denpasar, is your nearest international hub and a 30-minute drive away, serving flights from Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Australia. You can buy a visa on Arrival, if required, which costs US$25 for 30 days (ideally bring cash).
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
In the heart of buzzy Seminyak, One Eleven is on a quiet backstreet surrounded by villas and neighbourhood restaurants. It’s a short walk to the stylish clothes and interiors boutiques on Jalan Laksmana, and the tranquil stretch of beach dotted with enticing restaurants, glitzy clubs, and, yes, the occasional surfing posse too.
Beyond the villas’ walls, Bali’s an island for the curious, active, and downright restless; whether you choose to brave the Ayung river’s white water, gallop on black-sand beaches or catch the swaying of kecak dancers in clifftop temples, the hotel can assist with excursions near and far.
About 45 minutes away on the road to Ubud, the Bali Purnati Centre for the Arts is a blissful artists’ retreat set in lush tropical gardens, where traditional Balinese dance, music and arts are studied and taught. Look out for T’ai chi and yoga retreats, as well as performances, Hindu blessing ceremonies and craft workshops (+62 361 294 590). A short stroll along the shore past Ku de Ta will take you to the long strip of beach that stretches from Legian to Kuta, where the gentle morning swells make taking those first few paddles a slightly less daunting affair. The area has well-established surf schools such as Rip Curl School of Surf; for more tailored one-to-one instruction, ask your butler for a recommendation (+62 361 735 858).
Balinese wood carvings, muted golden lighting and crisp linens face lush paddy fields at elegant and romantic Métis. The French-Mediterranean menu has a whole section dedicated to foie gras, and indulgent meaty mains such as a 14-hour crispy pork belly or a gargantuan côte de boeuf with all the trimmings. Leave some space for something from the soufflé menu – the airy coconut, lemongrass and lime one is dreamy (+62 361 4737 888). Nestled in a verdant tropical garden, Sarong’s dining pavilions have an indoor-outdoor feel, with oversized sofas, billowing drapes and intimate lighting. Book ahead to sample the exceptional fusion food: a pork belly starter comes stacked high and drizzled with a black vinegar caramel; the soft-shell crab and mango salad is a moreish mix of salty, sweet, tender and crunchy. Desserts range from the exotic (black sticky rice with lychee and mango ice-cream) to the truly indulgent (Balinese chocolate cake with white chocolate ganache and cashew nut ice-cream) (+62 361 4737 809).
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 (+62 361 738 667). 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 (+62 361 730 418).
Forget rival Ku De Ta: seafront must-do Potato Head Beach Club has fantastic ocean views and irresistible cocktails. Watch the sunset while sipping on a Kookaburra – a heady mix of lemongrass gin, mint leaves and fresh lime, topped with passion fruit and vanilla foam – or a Pistachio Rockmelon martini made with vodka, melon liqueur, fresh rockmelon and pistachio foam (+62 361 473 7979). With guest DJs and bands, communal tables and laid-back décor, New-York-cool Mantra’s a great place to pop in for a glass of wine or a chilled margarita.