The humdrum of January is finally over, yet we’re still left with that dismal feeling of meh every time we look out of our prison-like office windows and are faced with grey skies and pitiful drizzle.
We’re also back on the sauce after Dry January, yearning for blue skies, sun drenched beaches and general merriment, whilst Instagram feeds taunt us with gleeful images of exotic lands and knees that look like hot dogs overlooking swimming pools.
Screw it all I say and book a luxurious holiday to Bali – the land of eternally smiling people, gloriously warm weather, idyllic sandy beaches and healthy food so tasty you almost dread returning to the bland fayre of this chilly land.
That’s exactly what I did, so here are my top picks of where to stay, play, dine and get pampered like a boss…
Where to stay with your crew and pretend you’re on MTV Cribs
This opulent villa is hidden away majestically in the atmospheric town of Tanah Lot and boasts a striking emerald green swimming pool surrounded by elegant wooden sun loungers and exotic plants. The bedrooms are shamelessly plush and feature deep bathtubs and outdoor showers, so you can wash away the day under a thousand shimmering stars. A talented chef and team of friendly staff make bespoke meals to please even the fussiest of palates – we consisted of a vegan, a gluten-intolerant dairy hater and an anti-sugar occasional health freak (which quite possibly may have been me). The poolside massages we were treated to can only be described as otherworldly and our friendly driver was always on call to take us to various places of interest – make sure you check out the waterfall caves by the Tanah Lot Temple and the spooky ‘ghost hotel’ – mwah ha ha….
Where to do fine dining in style
It took us 4 hours to drive to this boutique fine dining restaurant through the worst traffic we have probably ever encountered, but boy was it worth it when we finally arrived at this culinary gem located in the bustling town of Seminyak. We were treated to the 10 course Degustation Menu and mind-blowing cocktails infused with heady flavours of the East as we cooed over the chic decor of the venue. Tastebud-tempting courses included octopus carpaccio with compressed watermelon, truffle rich mushroom Risotto and tender Wagyu beef adorned with sticky aubergine and caramelised onion. The exciting foodfest ended with an enticing chocolate concoction accompanied by plump lychees and creamy mascarpone – the perfect end to a truly exquisite meal.
Where to feel smugly loved up
This holistic haven has to be one of the most romantic spa resorts you will ever set your tanned foot in. Winding paths take you to various treatment rooms, surrounded by mesmorising jungle scenery, emanating with the calming scent of lavender. Pampered guests can take part in an enlightening hindu fire ceremony complete with an eternally smiley priest inviting you to chant whilst gazing meditatively at a large cracking fire. Another blissful experience involved a two-hour long spa treatment consisting of a couple’s full body massage and scrub before excessive wallowing in a deep slate tub. This was generously filled with fragrant warm water strewn with fresh lemongrass, orange pieces and raw ginger to invigorate the skin. A black pot of zesty herbal tea rested on the edge of the bath, but it was the breathtaking view of the babbling Ayung River that made the whole experience somewhat otherworldly. Long lazy days come to an end in this special place with a healthy plant-based dinner in an atmospheric restaurant where dishes include hearty chickpea pancakes topped with curried vegetables and a raw creamy cashew nut cheesecake.
Where to go Instagram crazy
Nestled within acres of bamboo forests in Payangan, this ultra luxurious five star spa resort simply screams “take endless social media photos of me!” yet still manages to evoke a sense of serenity to help you unwind and forget the outside world. Rapidly accumulating work emails? Pah! Lengthly conversations with eternally moany friends? No thanks. To do lists? I’ll do you mate. Eloquently put, this place is strikingly beautiful and will keep you in a constant state of wonderment during your stay. Why not swim a few laps of the massive jungle-facing infinity pool before supping on some brain freeze inducing (but oh so good) frozen margaritas at the swim up bar? Or how about a spot of chakra balancing kundalini yoga against a ludicrously scenic backdrop? Rooms are sumptuous and extravagantly furnished – think big regal beds and deep stand alone bathtubs. Foodies will rejoice at the varied breakfast buffet, where they can feast on traditional Bailanise delicacies such as stir fried noodles with veg, or simply go crazy and stuff their western food-loving faces with pancakes drizzled with shameful lashings of maple syrup – which is exactly what we did.
Where to get a massage and a meal…like a BALLER
This opulent collection of private villas are hidden amongst lush green groves of coconut trees near the picturesque Jimbaran bay. Although you can book a glamorous stay here, many guests come simply to experience the rejuvenating spa treatments and feast on exquisite Bailanise gourmet food. The spa and its treatments are luxurious, yet traditional and remenicant of a bygone Indonesian era. The Beer Beauty Bliss in particular utilizes an ancient Bailanise tradition of using antioxidant-rich beer to add shine to hair and smoothness to lackluster skin. The treatment starts with a soothing foot bath followed by a beer hair treatment (not the same as falling into your pint whilst sloshed) before your weary body is pummeled and stroked to a heightened state of deep relaxation. You are then left to lie back in a beer infused bath (don’t try this at home with a pint of strongbow) before nipping off to the chic restaurant to enjoy a healthy meal. Dishes include the tastiest garlic and ginger infused fish we had tasted on the Island and unashamedly moist banana cake. Couples are encouraged to try the joint massage and body scrub treatment, which utilizes skin-smoothing essential oils and finishes with a rose petal adorned bath.
Where to enjoy Island life with a touch of chic
Gili Air is the quietest of the famous Balinese Gili islands (Gili T is where you go to rave the night away with sweaty party people) and is famous for its crystal clear sea and powdery white sands. Numerous hostels and budget accommodations are dotted around this pretty island paradise, but for those who want to sleep in more glam surroundings, The Waterfront Hotel is ideal. Hailed as the most luxurious boutique hotel on the island, this inviting resort features stylish bungalows containing high ceilings, enormous king sized beds and sexy outdoor showers – complete with the sounds of the Island’s rampant wildlife. Budding divers can take advantage of The Waterfront’s diving school, which arranges daily boat trips and diving classes in aquamarine warm waters. Our food-obsessed group ended balmy nights in the hotel’s beach-facing, open air restaurant, gorging on spicy coconut and lemongrass curries as the whispering waves lapped a few meters away from our sandy feet.
Bali, you will truly be missed….