By infatuation or fated obligation, Bali is inevitable for Australians who travel. The tropical Indonesian island is for weddings, birthdays, and multigenerational hangs amid the colourful processions of Bali-Hindu tradition. It's a meeting point for distance-challenged relationships, an easy escape, and a place to recover a mislaid soul. And it serves all these purposes with the promise there will be a daybed somewhere glorious with your name on it.
Then comes the downside of broad appeal; with mass tourism comes the crush of overdevelopment. And in Bali that means traffic, crowds, or just finding yourself in a chlorinated version of Balinese culture. Get it right, though, and there is brilliance to be discovered.
Our guide to the best Bali luxury resorts and hotels has been road-tested by us to pinpoint resorts where luxury runs deep. This is not the Bali that has "something for everyone" or a run sheet of where the best area to stay in Bali is; it's more distilled than that. From the very best hotel in Bali for seclusion to the best resort in Bali for rebooting, these Balinese stays are the ones to escape to. Whether with relatives, with friends or a partner… this is how GT does Bali.
Here are the best Bali resorts, as recommended by our editors.
Best Bali resort for seclusion
Set in 23 hectares of lush, tropical gardens and native jungle, seclusion is the name of the game at Bali's newest super luxury resort, Raffles Bali, which opened in Jimbaran Bay in late 2021.
Each of the property's 32 private villas sits enclosed behind a gated front garden, with its own private infinity pool offering panoramic views of the bay below. Signature private dining experiences include a lantern-lit private dinner in The Secret Cave, dining alfresco on The Farm Terrace, or an oceanfront feast in the Purnama Honeymoon Bale. Guests can also opt to take their spa treatments in a hidden hillside suite, The Sanctuary, where the soundtrack comes courtesy of the native fauna frolicking in the surrounding jungle. With a wellbeing butler on hand to satisfy your every whim, guests can easily go their entire stay without ever crossing paths with another guest if they so choose.
Prices start from $2635 per night for a private villa.
MANDAPA, A RITZ CARLTON RESERVE
Best Bali resort for opulence
Delicately and with sigh-inducing reverence, Mandapa hits all the high-end touchpoints. On arrival, the ubiquitous chilled towel and cool drink combo is elevated with a Kautuka thread ritualistically tied to wrists in the lobby – part ancient temple, part lounge, overlooking the magnificent Ayung Valley. There's no waiting to check in, instead guests head to their suite (one of 35) or pool villa (25) where their patih (a king's assistant) takes care of registration (and later check out) in the room.
Mandapa is one of just five Ritz-Carlton properties in the world to earn the "Reserve" tag and it wears it well. Villas feature a separate pool cabana, indoor/outdoor bathrooms and traditional touches courtesy of starchitect Jeffrey Wilkes. Even the entry-level suites are endowed with hand-painted murals, shell pendants and woven ceilings. Rattan bags and hats are ready to use while citronella spray, face mist and suncream are also provided.
Sawah Terrace serves breakfast, including fresh pressed juices, flaky pastries and à la carte items spiked with caviar and foie gras while on Sundays Sawah also hosts a regal Indonesian brunch. Come sunset, Ambar Ubud Bar has the best views along with stellar cocktails and Japanese dining while the Pool Bar is as good a place as any to splash some cash, except for the parade of complimentary fresh coconuts, snacks, and mandarin popsicles. At evening turndown sweet Balinese treats are left in the room (as one might anticipate at this level). Less expected, the contents of formerly haphazard suitcases have been sorted and folded. Mandapa sees to guest's expectations and raises them a few surprises.
Prices from $2093 per night for a balcony suite.
FOUR SEASONS RESORT BALI AT JIMBARAN BAY
Best Bali resort for families
Family holidays are levelling up at Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay where exemplary service extends to micro details and tiny people. The resort embraces the Balinese family-forward way of life to make children and their parents feel at ease from arrival – notably with the presentation of a batik backpack filled with toys and activities along with chilled towels and honey and ginger elixirs in the open-air lobby.
Four Seasons opened back in 1993, snaring a prime position on Jimbaran's white sand beach next to the traditional seafood barbecue vendors the area is famous for. And thanks to a renovation from 2015 to 2017, the established player shines alongside Bali's bright young things. Villa interiors by Jaya Ibrahim (an Aman favourite) showcase an impossibly chic take on Balinese style with floaty canopies over the super-sized beds, ikat fabrics and antique doors. Each of the 147 villas has an infinity plunge pool – another big tick on the family wish list along with complimentary holiday necessities such as sunscreen and pod coffee.
Scooting around the property in golf buggies, guests are encouraged to visit the resort temple, and to experience Balinese dining at Jala. The trump card for families is the new Umah Rare kids club, with paddling pool, games, movie nights and activities including kite making, all perfectly paired with a Healing Village Spa and Rossano Ferretti Hair Salon for the parents. Luxe family bonding guaranteed.
Prices from $1082 per night for a garden villa.
Best Bali resort for silver service
"Excuse me Ibu, may I clean your sunglasses?" A scraped knee initiates a first-aid kit without asking, luggage is treated to new leather tags on the sly, and fresh tuberose arrangements appear in rooms like magic. This is Aman life and it is addictive (the reason fans are known as Aman junkies).
In terms of heightened luxury in Bali, Amankila (1992) and her jungle sister Amandari (1989) are the prototypes. Trailblazer Adrian Zecha opened them as the second and third properties in the Aman portfolio after rewriting the rules at Amanpuri, Thailand in 1988. His idea was to transplant the service of Asia's grand hotels to relaxed settings (in this case to Bali's quieter west coast). All while working with local cultures to strengthen the connection to place.
In this 33-guest pavilion cliff-hanging paradise, career-defining architecture by the late Ed Tuttle taps into the calmness and craft of the Balinese vernacular. Thatched roofs hover over black and white gingham daybeds, the three-tiered pool mirrors terraced rice paddies and there are wood carvings aplenty, but the palette is limited to sun-bleached sandstone, beige and white – a muted stage for cooking classes and kecak dance performances.
Our less mobile readers should be warned, not all rooms have pools and there are many stairs to climb. And while some of the resort's game-changing secrets have spread across Bali since inception, only Amankila has this backdrop of crashing waves, this private crescent of black sand and service this intuitive. If Amankila is a throwback to luxury Bali in the 1990s GT will gladly take it.
Prices from $1977 per night for a garden suite.
BULGARI RESORT BALI
Best Bali resort for la dolce vita
Located in a part of Bali best known for its impressive, Amalfi-like cliffs, the luxurious quarters of the Bulgari Resort merge Italian design sensibilities with Balinese architectural motifs to dramatic effect.
With high stone walls crafted from the surrounding cliffs' limestone, each villa is poised to take in maximum views in utter privacy. With 55 villas (and three private residences) the resort feels distinctiy private and personal, even at full capacity. This is also thanks to the personal butler and instantaneous buggy service. The cliffside bar may just be one of Southeast Asia's most beautiful hotel bars; while a 12-course dégustation at Il Ristorante – Luca Fantin hits out with big-ticket seafood imports and new takes on Italian classics. The spa will have guests recalling the experience for years to come; a private beach includes a spectacular inclinator ride; and guests have exclusive access to the Bulgari boutique. It's pure glamor from check in to check out. The don't-lift-a-finger nature of Bulgari's offering makes a compelling case for total immersion in the private compound for the entire duration of a Bali stay.
Prices from $2000 per night for a villa.
BUAHAN, A BANYAN TREE ESCAPE
Best Bali resort for rebooting
"Uninterrupted views" is a term lobbed around far too often, but when a hotel doesn't have walls it's truly non-stop postcard-perfect vistas. At Buahan this translates into 16 rooms, each perched on a 22-metre-wooden deck platform, free from traditional walls. To call it a treehouse severely undersells it, given the thoughtful architecture with Balinese carvings and chic interior details, from artworks inspired by the sounds of the natural surroundings through to the block print-inspired sarong and robes.
Back in your "room" there's shielded curved bathrooms for privacy, with a deep copper tub. Each is cleverly plotted to ensure despite the lack of external walls, there's no lack of privacy. Come nighttime, sheer curtains are drawn while beds are turned down, an arak-spiked Negroni is poured and a fire is lit. In the morning you awake to the sight of a jungle cloaked in a shawl of cloud, and gentle coos of white-breasted waterhens. On each winding path through the jungle from your room to the (excellent) spa or private waterfall, you're surrounded by banana blossoms, frangipani and mosquito-repelling plants.
All meals are served at a poolside bale, where the open kitchen's beaming staff prepare meals crafted from the bountiful surrounds. Said meals blend truly local specialties – perhaps lontong sayur (pressed rice pieces in coconut milk soup) or nasi liwet with tempeh bacem (aromatic coconut rice with Indonesian tofu) – with clever preserves and forward-thinking vegetarian plates. If you're feeling inspired by what's on the plate, guests can join in a private cooking class, where you'll learn the art of smashing sambal and cooking smoky pork satay.
This constant greenery and lack of screens gives this resort an indelible sense of place, offering visitors a tech-free shower for the mind and refuge for the spirit.
Prices from $3050 per night for a rainforest pool bale.
Best Bali resort for intergenerational stays
Opened in November 2022, Segara is the 205-room hip hotel within Ayana Estate, a 90-hectare mega-resort with four sibling hotels to go between, each catering to a different type of traveller.
With its wave-like architecture, Segara is the chilled sister in the Ayana family. Think cold-drip coffee and sangria served by the indoor-outdoor pool and gin and lemongrass cocktails hitting the mark at Luna, the adults-only rooftop pool bar. And it's a final low-key luxe piece in the puzzle that places Ayana Estate as a fitting all-in holiday spot for multi-generational groups. It joins Ayana Villas, complete with butlers, buggies and private pools, for those who need more space and finery. Plus Rimba, with its water slide and kids' club, is suited for young families while social media hotspot Ayana Resort, is better left to the aspiring influencers in the group. Guests at all sister properties can skip to to the front of the line for the inclined elevator to Rock Bar for sunset drinks or Balinese seafood on the sand at Kisik. Our tip? Head directly to Kubu Beach club for daybeds and tasty eats set into the cliff where guests will feel far away from the rest of the world – travelling companions included.
Prices from $557 per night for a resort view room.
Best for beach chic
Among the buzz of the Bukit Peninsula, Anantara Uluwatu provides the polish and convenience of a large hotel and the privacy of a cliffside villa; all while offering access to Bali's newest, fast-growing digital nomad hotspot.
Set back from the electric and evolving Jalan Labuan Sait, the calm compound offers welcome respite, with its picture frame-like lobby overlooking the ocean and lush bougainvillea and heliconia-dotted gardens. Each room's poolfront vistas have 180-degree views of the Indian ocean – so you can check the surf or perhaps spot a frolicking whale – and while most rooms are adjoined, each feels private. Anantara will also continue to make an imprint on the Island of the Gods, with the opening of the highly anticipated Anantara Ubud due next year.
Prices from $537 per night for an ocean view pool suite.