Bali. The name conjures up images of sundrenched beaches, poolside cocktails, staggering rice terraces, and balmy evenings under the stars. And it’s true – Bali is all this and so much more. It is one of those places that gets under your skin. We have visited Bali twice now, and every time I worry that it won’t live up to expectations, or I will regret returning to somewhere I have been to already. But I never do. Instead, I end up just not wanting to leave!
There are several different destinations in Bali, each offering a unique perspective of this paradise island. Many people swear by the cultural charm of Ubud, others by the white sandy beaches of Nusa Dua, or the staggering clifftop sunsets of Uluwatu. For me, my destination of choice will always be Seminyak. I’m drawn here by the chichi beachside cocktail bars, the fabulous fine-dining restaurants and all the funky little boutiques that line its dusty streets. And it’s just so hip! I am continually held in awe by just how stylish a small town on a tropical island can be.
So it came as no surprise that Marriott chose Seminyak for the location of their vibrant and modern design-led brand – the W Hotel Bali, which opened its swanky doors in 2011.
The hotel’s beachfront setting means the sound of crashing waves is ever-present from its tiered swimming pool and beautifully landscaped gardens. The rooms are comfortable but super-stylish at the same time, with cutting-edge features, and the restaurants are excellent. Another stand-out of the W Hotel Bali is the staff, who are all super-friendly and have always been so accommodating.
The W Hotel Bali has 237 retreats, suites and villas in total. The Retreats (that’s hotel rooms) are divided into Garden View and Ocean Facing. Given that the sun sinks into the ocean right in front of the W Hotel, I would definitely recommend the Ocean Facing rooms, although be aware that these can suffer from thumping soundtracks drifting up from the Woo Bar in the evenings.
At 64 square metres in size and featuring a large corner sofa, there is plenty of room to squeeze in children and cots, while sizeable outdoor balconies provide parents with the perfect space to enjoy quiet evening drinks while the kids sleep. If you’re looking for more space, and more wow factor, then a range of suites – aptly named Marvelous (1-bedroom), Wow (2-bedroom) and Extreme Wow (2-bedroom, split-level) are also on offer at the W Bali. The villas come with private swimming pools and sun decks.
But my favourite option with a family is a private pool villa, available as a Marvelous One-Bedroom, Wow Two-Bedroom or the uber-fabulous E-Wow Three-Bedroom villa. Here you are protected from the noise of the resort and you can enjoy a private pool and sundeck – perfect for quiet sunbathing if you have young children who still do daytime naps, or for a quick cool-off after sightseeing. Be aware that the sliding bedroom doors lead directly onto the pool deck though, a potential hazard for active toddlers. The two- and three-bedroom villas also include BBQ facilities for private at-home dining under the stars.
Regardless of whether you choose a Retreat or Villa, you can be assured of super stylish surroundings in which to slumber at the W Hotel Bali. First of all, the Signature W beds are amazing – the lavish 350-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets, pillow-top mattresses, plush pillows and goose down duvets ensuring you a good night’s sleep. They’re also enormous making sure you are not left shivering in the cold after your partner hogs the covers!
State of the art entertainment systems include 40-inch LED TVs with DVD players, while the BOSE sound systems (with speakers both inside and out in the villas) are pre-loaded with an Ibiza-esque soundtrack to get you in a holiday mood. We also love the MunchieBox, which provides you with lots of yummy goodies beyond the usual Pringles and Toblerone.
One of the most impressive services provided by W Hotels is the Whatever Whenever service. At the touch of one button they can respond to any request – bucket of ice, restaurant reservation, Balinese dance lesson – whatever, whenever. And in my experience they actually respond to it. Fast. You can even download the W Hotels app (or the Marriott app) to your smartphone, so all your needs can be taken care of without even having to speak to anyone!
The highlight of the W Hotel Bali is the beautiful tiered swimming pool, surrounded by palm trees and boasting views straight out over Seminyak beach to the Indian Ocean. The grassy lawn is dotted with four-poster double daybeds, big enough for the whole family, while the poolside terraces see couples lounging on chic circular sofas and squashy beanbags.
There are several bars and restaurants within the W Hotel Bali. A very generous breakfast buffet is served every morning in Fire. The usual breakfast offerings are complemented by a creative a la carte menu and breakfast canapés that are tray-served throughout breakfast – a nice little touch that sums up the W ethos of being innovative and progressive. There is also a good selection of gluten-free offerings, another unusual (and I’m sure welcome to many) touch. For lunch and dinner, Fire heats up the grill and pizza oven, while live cooking stations serve up a range of international dishes.
Starfish Bloo is the other main restaurant at the W Bali, and is closest to the beach. Seafood takes centre stage at this bright and breezy restaurant, with a particular focus on sushi and sashimi, alongside an innovative selection of Pan-Asian dishes. If you are staying during the weekend, check out the Sunday brunch at Starfish Bloo, where you can enjoy a fabulous spread of culinary delights, including a large sushi and sashimi station and decadent dessert selection (including plenty of ice cream for the kids), washed down with free-flow bubbly. Be sure to book ahead – the local expat population tends to descend here in droves.
For sunset cocktails at the W Hotel Bali, you have two choices – Ice, which is attached to Starfish Bloo, and Woo Bar. Both bars offer squishy sofas in which to kick back, and a view of the ocean to enjoy the sun dipping into the Indian Ocean. Woo Bar is where it all happens later on, with a revolving line up of international DJs spinning the decks into the wee hours. Free pizzas are served during happy hour at Woo Bar (Monday – Thursday, 5pm-6pm) – a great option for feeding the kids while you sip Champagne and Strawberry Martinis (buy-one-get-one-free during happy hour) and watch the sun go down!
As I’ve already mentioned, Seminyak is Bali’s most stylish neighbourhood and the W Hotel Bali is surrounded by trendy bars and restaurants. Right next-door is the famous Potato Head Beach Club, with its own grassy lawns and swim-up bar, and a walk along the beach will bring you to Breeze at the Samaya and Ku De Ta, both excellent spots for sunset cocktails. Seminyak has attracted some of the world’s most renowned chefs to its shores, and you are spoiled for fabulous dining spots. The W Bali is just a short taxi ride from the centre of town where you will find boutique shopping heaven. There are also several high-end boutiques within a short stroll from the W Hotel Bali entrance.
For entertaining the kids, head to Waterbom, a brilliant water park in nearby Kuta, or the Cubby House Kids Club at the Canggu Club. Further afield, there is the Elephant Safari Park or Bali Bird and Reptile Park in Ubud. With older kids you can white water raft, canyon tube, quad bike or trek through the rice paddies to your heart’s content.
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