Welcome to Backpacker’s Boutique. Every Sunday, this spot will feature a new travel blogger. Some weeks it will be a really fun interview about packing, fashion, and fitness so you can snoop inside their bags & lives a little bit and other weeks it’ll be a detailed luxury guide to a city the featured blogger/expat knows very well. E-mail me if you’d like to be featured.
A Luxury Guide to Bali
Tell us a little about yourself and tell us why you’re an expert on luxury travel in Bali.
Hi! I’m Claire, author of BackpackingBella.com, where I share my stories and tips for enjoying beautiful travel on a budget. But I didn’t always do this. For over a decade I worked in the media and was lucky enough to visit top restaurants and 5-star hotels. When I left to go backpacking around the world, I naturally expected things to be much less glamorous. Then I discovered Bali, where you can enjoy a stay in beautiful surroundings and feel like a VIP, on a tiny budget. Perfect!
What makes Bali a perfect destination for travelers seeking a glamorous trip?
Bali has everything. From blissful beaches to lush green rice fields as far as the eye can see; top class spas and cocktail bars; laid back seaside villages, ornate temples and peaceful mountain hideaways. It’s all about relaxing and soaking up the beauty of the place – the island’s nature and the people’s culture. This alone feels like such a privileged experience and it’s totally free.
What 5 star hotel is the best in Bali?
If you’re after something swanky, most of Bali’s 5 star hotels in Bali are located on Seminyak’s high end beach front or among the lush greenery of Sayan, near Ubud. While my travelling budget doesn’t stretch to 5 star, I’ve always liked the cool and contemporary W hotels. The W Retreat & Spa in Seminyak does the best Sunday brunch around and its chic bars host some of the area’s most happening nights thanks to its international resident DJs.
What about boutique hotels, of them all, which would you send your friends or family to stay at?
So many to choose from… Bali is spoiled for choice with boutique hotels and guest houses, where you can unwind and feel inspired. You don’t have to spend a fortune to find fabulous places. In Seminyak, try the Bali V hotel with its chic white rooms and swimming pool. For a getaway, the Aditya Guest House in the mountain village of Munduk has stunning views and four poster beds. There’s even a boutique hostel for backpackers: the Jolie Hostel in Jimbaran, which has a pool and a great atmosphere.
Are there any fun activities for the adventurous traveler?
Plenty. On this island you can be as laid back or as active as you choose. Bali boasts some of Asia’s best scuba diving and snorkelling spots. Or catch a boat to the islands of Nusa Lembongan, the Gilis and Lombok, which are worth exploring and also offer great diving. Yoga is huge, especially in Ubud, with centres including the fabulous Yoga Barn. For the truly adventurous, I recommend the Munduk Wilderness Adventure for a fantastically fun day of buggy driving and bike riding through the hills.
Where are the best hang outs during the day?
There are some great cafés in Bali. Kafé and Atmans in Ubud are two of my favourites for laptops and lattes, while the Deki warung in Balian is a great place to watch surfers and kite surfers tackling the waves – the beach itself is also divine for a daytime walk.
If you have a big date night, what are the most delicious restaurants in Bali and what are their best dishes?
I’d head straight to the glamorous Merah Putih in Seminyak. The innovative fusion food here tastes heavenly, especially the Sumatran roasted duck curry and the Balinese suckling pig. Just this week, the restaurant and its chef were nominated for four awards.
Let’s talk desserts – what place makes the best?
I’m not really a dessert person, but Bali has the best ever chocolate and banana pancakes I’ve ever tasted. Yum!
Tell us all the hot shopping spots; who’s carrying the trendy local designers?
Seminyak has all the high end labels you could need, alongside local, Australian and European designers. In Ubud you’ll find a host of smaller boutiques, independent art galleries and stores selling handcrafted wooden furniture and stunning home furnishings. You will want to have the whole lot shipped back home.
What are a couple of the best salons and spas in Bali?
There is a proud tradition of Balinese massage and many first class spas here. Indulge at the SPA at The Samaya in Seminyak or visit Ubud’s small but beautifully formed Wellness in Ubud. If you want to learn it for yourself, take a course at the Bali BISA Spa School in Sanur.
Time for a great sunset view… where would you go?
Munduk has wonderful multi-coloured sunsets, while the chilled out beach villages of Amed also enjoy beautiful skies, against a mountain backdrop.
Now that the sun’s gone down, fill us on the best places to go for some evening drinks or a great pre-gaming spot.
Potato Head is a legendary beach club in Seminyak where you can sip artfully created cocktails while checking out the beautiful people. Their Bloody Mary is accompanied by sushi condiments and tastes bloody amazing.
If you end the night at a fancy club, which one do you head towards?
Instead of going clubbing, I would make a date for an all-night beach party on the nearby island of Gili Trawangan, where you can dance on the sand to awesome DJ tunes, while fire dancers perform in front of you, until the morning sun comes up.
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