Have your palm read by a healer, experience the benefits of Balinese massage and enjoy fragrant cuisine at the most romantic of digs, says newlywed Harriet Hall
The island of the Gods famously had its pop-culture moment in 2010 大ヒット作 Eat Pray Love, and while the sheer mention of the film has become a Balinese cliché, there’s a reason the ‘love’ chapter was reserved for this particular Indonesian archipelago. From the spirituality of the island to its spectacular natural beauty, tropical climate and temperate water, you really can’t beat バリ for romance.
Whether sunbathing in Jimbaran Bay, exploring temples in Ubud, snorkelling the coral reef of Pemuteran or hiking Mount Batur at sunrise, there is something to suit every type of honeymooner here. And the incense that wafts from carefully lain Hindu blessings on every pavement leave a lasting memory.
If you’re looking to tuck yourself away for a relaxing retreat, Bali’s five-star resorts are designed with honeymooners in mind. Almost every corner of this island, from stunning coastal vistas to verdant jungle, boasts hotels with private pool villas and staff ready to spoil newlyweds with an opulent post-nuptial escape.
With an economy that relies heavily on tourism, Bali’s post-Covid re-opening is a welcome relief to the hospitality sector, and visitors are being greeted with open arms – so you can consider your trip a positive venture. Remaining restrictions in インドネシア are minimal, with masks required in enclosed spaces (though not in hotels) and no need to take a Covid test if you’re fully vaccinated (unless you’re showing coronavirus symtoms and/or have a temperature over 37.5C). British tourists can apply for a visa on arrival at a cost of IDR 500,000 (£28), valid for 30 日々
The island is best visited during the dry season from April to October, and gets busiest during the school holidays.
Best for restoration and wellness: 四季, Jimbaran Bay
A 15-minute drive from Denpasar International Airport, Jimbaran in the south of the island is the perfect first-stop after a long flight. Primarily known as a rather unexciting fishing village, its white beaches and turquoise ocean vistas have drawn several five-star resorts to the area, making it an ideal location in which to squirrel yourself away without the pull of external distraction.
To immerse yourself in romance and relaxation, look no further than Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay. The 147-villa resort spans part of the coastline, becoming an entire village in itself, with winding paths and colourful botanical gardens traversed by buggies at guests’ disposal.
The hotel underwent a major renovation in 2019 so the resort feels immaculate. Every room here is a private villa, each with plunge pools, indoor and outdoor showers, bathtubs big enough for two and spacious four-poster beds. Outside of your room – if you can tear yourselves away – various activities from cooking to anti-gravity yoga and holy blessings are on offer. There are three swimming pools with one particularly spectacular, at 57m, overlooking the beach and receiving the froth of crashing waves during high tide for a dramatic lengths session.
The hotel has three restaurants: casual poolside Alu; up-market Sundara offering signature cocktails and summer BBQ tapas dishes; and intimate Jala, whose traditional Balinese fare is an aromatic introduction to local cuisine. The breakfast buffet is the real star of the show, offering a cornucopia of cuisines, from Indonesian classic, Gado Gado, to chia pots, omelettes and fry-ups. Eat overlooking the ocean or take your breakfast as the honeymooners do – floating in your private pool.
The real jewel at Jimbaran Bay, でも, is the spa. The whopping 21,500 Healing Village is the result of a multi-million-dollar 18-month rebuild, completed just before the pandemic. The tranquil hub floats on koi-filled lily ponds and offers unique treatments that combine the spirituality of traditional Balinese massage with cutting-edge light, 音, thermal and colour therapies. Many of the 120-minute treatments are designed for couples and will leave you renewed.
Rooms from: £540, room only; fourseasons.com/jimbaranbay
Best for beachside indulgence: Six Sense, Uluwatu
With resorts spanning 20 countries from Europe to Asia, Fiji and the Maldives, Six Senses knows how to do unadulterated indulgence. Its sustainable approach to hospitality, using locally sourced ingredients, refillable water bottles and recycled packaging for toiletries, is leading the way in the sector.
Sitting on the Uluwatu cliffside in the southwest tip of the island, the Six Senses Bali resort offers the same environmentally conscious approach, with buildings carved from the cliff’s limestone, herbs and vegetables for the restaurants grown on the grounds and a spectacular ocean vista visible from all angles.
Comprising 28 hotel rooms and 69 private pool villas, the resort combines contemporary modernity with Indonesian detailing via perfectly manicured grounds of tropical plants. Infinity pools and water features bleed into the ocean view, and the resort’s own temple creates a tranquil setting that honours the island’s cultural beliefs.
Whether a family holiday, business meeting or detox retreat is in order (Six Senses always places a focus on health, and multi-day wellness programmes are available to book), the resort has you sorted – but for honeymooners, a luxury beachside idyll is the strongest pull of the place.
It’s a 10-minute drive from the centre of town, where restaurants and bars are the main attraction, second only to legendary Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of the six key temples in Bali, perched on the clifftop offering unbeatable sunset views and nightly traditional fire dances.
Rooms offer sunny terraces, indoor/outdoor showers, baths and state of the art Japanese toilets with heated seats and bidets.
The hotel has two restaurants: Crudo, which has yet to reopen post-pandemic, offers Japanese and Latin American food; and Rocka, which serves everything from European to American and Indonesian dishes. This is where the a la carte breakfast is served, overlooking the terraced infinity pools and the Indian Ocean. でも, with private pools in all villas, a floating breakfast served on a heart-shaped woven tray is unmissable.
The spa, surrounded by lily ponds, offers locally inspired treatments and a menu of signature therapies, as well as a gym and daily morning yoga. Leave feeling renewed, well fed and blissfully in love.
Rooms from: $506 (£406) based on two people sharing a Sky Suite, B&B; sixsenses.com/en/resorts/uluwatu-bali
Best for unadulterated luxury: 四季, Sayan
To find the spirituality, yoga and culture that the island is known for, look no further than Ubud. The town is the cultural heartbeat of Bali and its population of expats is testament to its unique pull.
Though the hotels in the centre of town are largely hostels and guesthouses, ただ 10 minutes away by car (6km), the Four Seasons resort in neighbouring Sayan is an ideal base for honeymooners.
Built into the valley overlooking the Ayung River, the Four Seasons Sayan welcomes guests via a dramatic walkway that juts out into the sacred Ayung Valley, underneath which the rest of the resort unfolds.
The main hotel building is slick, housing a chic cocktail bar, one of two hotel restaurants, a gym and 18 suites. Surrounding the main building are 42 spacious villas – some overlooking the river and hotel’s own rice terraces, その他, the jungle – each with private plunge pools, generous terraces and expansive marble bathrooms.
Ayung Terrace in the main hotel serves upmarket Indonesian cuisine and the Riverside Café, which overlooks the two stacked infinity pools, offers Mediterranean fare. 朝ごはん, served in the former, is an la carte menu of fruit, pastries, eggs and local classics.
You’ll be hard-pressed to tear yourself away from the hotel’s environs, with activities on offer including a two-hour picnic, where chefs will accompany you on a short trek through private rice paddies before serving a Balinese feast in a secluded spot nestled in the jungle. Yoga, tours and rafting are also available, as is the legendary Sacred Nap, which sees guests rocked gently to sleep by former Buddhist nun Ibu Fera. It’s so good even the Obamas gave it a go.
After a day exploring the museums of Ubud, realign your chakras with one of several transformative massages at the hotel’s Sacred River Spa.
Rooms from: £770, room only; fourseasons.com/sayan
Best for an authentic Balinese retreat: Amandari, Ubud
Designed in the image of a traditional Balinese village, Amandari Ubud, with its stone-walled pathways, thatched-rooved rooms and jade green infinity pool, feels as close to an authentic local experience as a luxury hotel can get and an intimate and quiet escape where you will be left to you own devices.
The hotel, just outside the centre of Ubud, which is reached by free shuttle at any time of day, is low ley but stunning. だけで 30 部屋, it offers an intimate experience with little pretence, where staff project a family feel (many have worked at the hotel for decades) and personal touches such as homemade cookies in rooms and hand-painted carved birds made by a local artist left on pillows leave a lasting memory.
Free-standing suites are reached via winding pathways and are constructed in wood and marble with multi-aspect windows from which the lush jungle views can be seen from every angle. Outdoor bathtubs, private pools big enough for lengths and enormous living spaces are an ideal romantic retreat from the bustle of town. Fall to sleep listening to the sounds of the jungle and awake with the rooster.
The spa offers treatments and small steam and sauna and the restaurant overlooking the pool and daily traditional Balinese gamelan music is a perfectly tranquil place to cap your night after a day visiting the famous Ubud Yoga Barn or braving the biting long-tailed macaques at the Monkey Forest.
A visit to the hotel’s chosen healer is a must. Made Lunas promises to tell your fortune, cure any ailments and give you an unforgettable story to take home; the real Eat Pray Love 経験. At the end of your stay you’ll be sent packing with a homemade brownie for the road.
Rooms from: $907.50 (£755), B&B, including airport transfers; aman.com/resorts/amandari