Think of Bali beach holidays and you’ll immediately think of Seminyak’s famed coastline – luxury hotels, trendy bars and fun-packed holidays. However, most people don’t know that in under three hours, a direct flight can take you to the undisturbed South Western coast, home to the super slick secluded 44-villa resort, Alila Villas Soori. So grappling with worries of pigeon holing ourselves as the middle aged (which we’re not, I hasten to add) couple missing out on all the fun, we decided to be brave and head South West.
Worries of self-enforced premature aging were eradicated upon stepping into Alila Villa Soori’s striking reception; the architects here have opted for a more modern city-style approach that won’t match everyone’s ideal of a beach retreat. The colour scheme is predominantly dark greys and blacks boldly painted onto concrete walls and ceilings, carefully aligned to create juxtaposing angles, sharp edges and mesmerising spaces. Balinese wood is also integrated in the form of astounding wall art and imposing archways. Rather than feeling minimalist, spartan and somewhat uncomfortable, it is indulgently inviting thanks to atmospheric mood lighting, hundreds of flickering candles and deep sofas with soft creams, greys and giant cushions. From the reception to the restaurants and the pool to the rooms, the modern approach to design is a constant at the heart of the hotel creating a funky and stylish vibe.
Our feeling of trendy youthfulness continued as we were shown to our ocean pool villa. We were in one of the fifteen top floor villas with an infinity pool overlooking the sea and in perfect seclusion (ground floor beach villas are less appealing as they are open to Peeking Toms walking along the shore). Our pool was large enough to do mini laps and beautiful enough to keep us room bound for our whole stay! It was neighboured by an incredible covered cabana with giant sofa and yet more mood lighting and candles, meaning we spent all day lounging around, reading and in the evening, sipping cocktails to flickering candlelight. The bedroom’s giant comfy bed looks onto the lounge with Apple TV preloaded with your favourite film choices.
The biggest wow factor comes from the floor to ceiling doors that slide open to give you direct access into your pool; a discreet side section of the pool leads you straight to your sprawling bathroom. We fell in love with the “his and hers” vanity sinks with affiliated his versus hers toiletries. The two person bath competed heavily in our washing rituals against the outdoor rain shower at the back of the villa.
Away from our four achingly cool walls and set slightly back from the beach, Cotta serves up an innovative tapas style breakfast but also a more traditional lunch and dinner. Chef Ashton’s food is impeccable and he seamlessly combines Indonesian staples with some Western favourites. Meanwhile, Ombak drew us in by its mesmerising setting. Encircled by tall lanterns, it evocatively overlooks the beach, and we indulged on a divine 5 course tasting menu whilst watching the waves crash down. The beach itself is unforgettable – sparkling black volcanic sand perfectly fitting with the hotel’s colour scheme. Unfortunately, the crashing waves make it somewhat redundant in terms of sunbathing but it is perfect for sunset walks.
Alila Villas Soori wants guests to experience their version of the true Bali. Over half the staff are from the local area, eight rooms (complete with private pool, of course) overlook the paddy fields giving a more agricultural feel to your stay and “journeys” are offered to immerse yourself in the culture – whether it be coffee tasting, rice tours or exploring the natural beauty of the island. We chose the culinary journey that involved a morning trip to the local market with two chefs, followed by a personal outdoor cooking lesson overlooking the beach. With the chef’s expert help, we whipped up lunch of chicken satay, prawn laksa, chicken curry and my favourite, nasi goreng… By far the best meal of the trip!
Should a cooking lesson seem too strenuous for you, fear not – the cavernous spa delivered the most relaxing massage I have had in a long while. Whilst the husband wanted to explore the local area on the Segways that are available to hire, I cajoled him into opting for bicycles instead and we spent our final morning pedalling around watching the locals tend to their rice fields as the sun rose.
Alila Villas Soori managed to meet our aims of relaxation and seclusion, but without making us feel like aging bores. A sneak peak at the astounding 10 bedroom villa made me consider “renewing our vows” here at some point down the line… perhaps when we truly are middle aged as a hark back to our more trendy youthful years! It is simply the coolest beach hotel I have ever stayed in whilst still delivering a much-needed isolated immersion into Balinese beach life.
Alila Villas Soori, Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia, +62 361 894 6388