Seeking the ‘Muses’ of Bali

Short Stylish Break: Bali

A Wedding ceremony at Courtyard by Marriott Seminyak

Bali is often referred to as ‘the Island of the Gods’, and while the Gods are eternal and unchanging, Bali has seen much change and growth in recent years.

Nowhere is this more so than in tree-lined Seminyak, the upscale, quality-focused alternative to the congested party town of Kuta. With its blend of beachfront beauty, boutique shopping, luxury resorts, decadent dining, and high concept bars and clubs, it’s no surprise that Seminyak has become the first and last stop for a short stylish break in Bali.  During our short break, we checked out what all the buzz is about at some of the exciting new developments, renovations, and word-of-mouth hotspots in Bali’s hotel, food, and beverage scene. 

After indulging too much in the glitz and glam, you can choose an escape to the quiet town of Ubud, where life is slow and Balinese traditions abound behind grandiose ‘door to heaven’ and mystical temples. 

Hot spots in Seminyak/Petitenget:

Stay at W retreat Bali Seminyak to be at the center of Seminyak’s hottest spots.

With the hotel slogan being: ‘A place where magic comes alive’, the fairytale consists of 229 rooms, suites, and Villas, all designed with W signature chic and innovative touches, offering spectacular ocean or garden views. This five-story hotel built around a lagoon pool on one of the best stretches of Seminyak shoreline, with an emphasis on natural woods and gray volcanic stone, offers lunch and dining options to choose from; between different world-class restaurants before socializing the night away at Woo bar, where the party starts pumping after 10pm. We recommend Starfish Bloo, primarily a seafood restaurant with a range of fresh fishes and catch of the day, from Lombok oysters to lobster and blue crab.  There is also a Sunday Brunch with free flow drinks. The gorgeous beach views, the sound of pounding surf and the signature design elements of W retreat Bali make this a worthwhile visit. The prime location is within walking distance of many of the island’s best new restaurants and bars. Either by taxi (opt for Blue Bird metered taxis only) or by walk, all of Seminyak’s trendiest places are just minutes away. For the best hotel rates in Indonesia – Bali, follow this link:

Eat at Mama San

Recently renovated, Mama San restaurant is a foodie’s dream on the Seminyak scene.   This two-floor loft-style venue with dinner seating below and a cocktail lounge above attracts a fancy international crowd who likes to eat in style. Cross-cultural star chef Will Merick – the mastermind behind the legendary Sarong Restaurant, also in Seminyak – has created an eclectic modern Asian cuisine that combines street food-inspired dishes from across South East Asia with gourmet artistry and classical touches.  Try the Crispy salmon with green mango, the Red duck curry with lychee, or the many kinds of dim sum dumplings. Upstairs the cocktail lounge serves a creative list of elegant tapas and drinks including Passionfruit Martini and a selection Margaritas.  Meanwhile, the newly reworked interior is a feast for the eyes.  High ceilings, dark wood and brick walls, vintage accents with Balinese decorations, artwork, and photography, make Mama San an unforgettable dining experience. With no room left for Merrick’s celebrated desserts such as the Pavlova crispy meringue or the Deep fried ice cream, we moved on to our next stop.

Chef Will Merick

Drink cocktails and watch dance performances at Opium

Opened in December 2016, Opium is the newest nightclub in Seminyak and is located on the “gay” street Jalan Camplung Tanduk nearby Courtyard. Opium serves a mixed, predominantly LGBT crowd with a capacity of about 400 pax.  Lit with swank glowing panels and featuring live international DJs, Opium gets going after 10pm with an underground vibe and impressive interior that includes colorful neon poles with dancers, acrobatic acts from the ceiling, a private lounge area, and the club’s centerpiece, a big mysterious screen where nude silhouettes perform sultry dance moves. With the strange neon lighting we could not figure out if these silhouettes were live or recorded, and so we challenge you to solve the mystery for us!

Address: OPIVM Bali Obsession, Jalan Camplung Tanduk No. 7, Seminyak, South Bali

Interior artwork at OPIUM Obsession

Party away at Jenja

Our next clubbing destination was Jenja, a recent addition to the Bali nightlife scene that offers one-stop evening entertainment with its restaurant, bar and club on two levels. Located at the arcade of the TS Suites on Jalan Nakula, Seminyak, Jenja reaches critical mass by midnight with a pumping Jakarta style intensity.  The restaurant opens at 6pm and presents an inspired menu of exotic Asian and Middle Eastern dishes created by the winner of Top Chef Middle East 2012, the elegant Selma AbuAlia. The nightclub opens from 9pm Wednesday to Saturday. The club is managed by Michael Vanneque, son of expat nightlife mogul Daniel Vanneque who opened the celebrated The Living Room restaurant in Seminyak in 2000.  Jenja has a spacious foyer with six chill out lounge areas, a dance floor seething with energy, VIP sofas, and impressive décor aesthetics with walls comprising a mosaic of hexagonal jade tiles.  But the real attraction are the club-goers themselves, a youthful mix of ex-pat and Indonesian socialites who don’t want the night to end.

Party away at Jenja Club

Cure for a hangover; try the excellent filling breakfast at Seminyak Kitchen at Courtyard by Marriott resort, were we all fueled up for our first full day.  For excursions in the surrounding area, we recommend a motorbike rental (wear a helmet – prices start at 50,000 Rupiah/day) or the frequently passing Blue Bird Taxis.  Make sure your taxi says ‘Blue Bird Group’ on the windshield, as there are many imitators who insist on an inflated flat fee or use a souped-up meter that over-charges.  Nearby Double Six Beach is a very trendy area and can be reached on foot from Courtyard in ten minutes (the resort offers free buggy service during the day) or by taxi and motorbike in just a few minutes.  Mornings are the perfect time to visit if you like tranquility and fewer people.

For the best hotel rates in Indonesia – Bali, follow this link:

Courtyard by Marriott resort

Lunch at Tiger Palm

Interior detail at Tiger Palm

With lunchtime approaching, we motored over to Seminyak Village, a shopping mall with a highly buzzed new restaurant called Tiger Palm.  The buzz is understandable because it is the seventh restaurant in Asia opened by Will Merick the intrepid culinary genius behind Mama San. Tiger Palm furthers his reputation and serves up contemporary Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai and Indian dishes carefully crafted by the owner.  Merrick’s lifelong project has been to put Indonesian food on the world culinary map and at the forefront of Asian dining experiences.  To do so, he has traveled extensively along the spice route from Indonesia to India, discovering the indigenous styles and ingredients that would later inform his own creations.  Try the Indonesian rojak salad, the Siamese prawn curry, and the Malay signature Teo chow duck rice and your culinary adventure will have covered a lot of distance.  Tiger Palm makes a great lunch stop, bringing together the convenience of a shopping mall and surrounding street markets, and the opportunity to try the strong and diverse flavors of South East Asia’s rural heartlands all in one place.

Pool fun and sunset drinks at Potato Head Beach Club

Potato Head Beach Club

A sunny afternoon in Seminyak is best whittled away at Potato Head Beach club – arrive at least an hour before sunset for good seats and a great view.  Potato Head Beach club is the new hotspot beach lounge in Seminyak. Approaching the venue from the street, it makes a stunning first impression with a front façade like a coliseum made out of vintage colored window shutters and salvaged metal ventilator grates. The rounding passageway to the bar is a boutique arcade with curated shops and curious artworks.  Arriving at the beach club itself, one feels like one is in a luxury seaside resort with its infinity pool, daybeds, poolside bar, beachfront views, and fine dining, but without the need to check in.  The club is usually bustling with a young sophisticated mix of couples and groups on holiday.  They come not only for the sunset views and ambiance but for the already renowned creative cocktail menu, all crafted and named in house, each coming in its own designer glass. If you want something powerful, try the Barong Zombie, a big heady rum-based concoction with orange curaçao, cherry liqueur, a splash of absinthe and passion fruit – it will loosen you up in minutes.  With Bali as its flagship, Potato head has since opened up three more locations in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Jakarta. 

For the best hotel rates in Indonesia – Bali, follow this link:

Crave your appetite at Kaum

Launched in October 2016 just upstairs from Potato head and part of the Potato head Family, Kaum offers authentic Indonesia cuisine sourced by the chef from various regions of the country, gathering recipes from different tribes.  This small and cozy restaurant was hands down the best Indonesian food we’d had in a very competitive market. The emphasis at Kaum is on authenticity with fidelity to indigenous ingredients and cooking methods. The Kaum team traveled across the archipelago to source and put together a menu that accurately reflects the culinary flavors of Indonesia’s tribal communities and heritage.  An essential sampler is the Sambal selection presenting four of the finest sambals – a spicy Indonesian condiment accompanying most dishes.  If you fear to go too far afield try the Fried half crispy duck that has a taste as succulent and tender as duck confit. Authentic highlights like the Fried crispy pigeon, the Roasted quarter baby pig, and the Clear chicken, turmeric & Bangka island forest mushroom soup may tempt you to go native.

Pre-party drinks at Republic 45

On our way back to Courtyard, we decided to visit Republic 45 – a virtual arboretum of greenery with huge high ceilings, moody low lighting emanating from leafy chandeliers, and chill out music.  The venue takes its name from the year of Indonesian independence and prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients served “The Indonesian Way.”  With a varied selection of premium cocktails, chill out music, and special events, Republic 45 is on my list of places to return to.  A welcome addition to the nightlife scene.

Special themed party at Metis (Chinese New Year party)

While MÉTIS Lounge has been around for years as a restaurant and chill-out venue, it has recently reinvented itself, turning this elegant location into one of the premiere ‘secret’ hotspots in Bali. With the introduction of theme parties and DJ nights, Metis is the place where the ultra chic of Bali go to unwind in style.  The oriental designer interiors by the famous Artalenta Indonesia and the huge beautifully lit garden draw an elite crowd who know the Seminyak scene too well and want to enjoy their own secret hangout.  A new top-notch sound system and local and international DJ line-up make MÉTIS the go-to place for the crème de la crème of Bali.  The dress code is chic but the vibe is casual with lots of mingling on the dance floor once the party starts.

Fine dining at La Boheme

Opening late last year, this French-Italian restaurant with haute cuisine located on Raya Kerobokan offers luxury dining at reasonable rates and attention to detail foodies will immediately recognize.  Daniele Salvia, an Italian chef with a passion for exemplary taste and presentation, personally crafted all the recipes.  La Boheme’s open kitchen on the first floor is Salvia’s studio, professionally equipped and immaculately kept. The owner, Michele Amorotti, a notable fashion designer and artist, has turned the second-floor dining area into a visual treat.  The décor combines classical charm with kitsch. Large portraits of 80s pop icons brighten the walls, while custom upholstery and carefully arranged lighting make for an intimate setting.  Be sure to ask the Chef Salvia to your table and buy him a drink. His stories will keep you on the edge of your seat while his culinary creations keep you on the edge of your fork.

Loco Loco at Motel Mexicola

A short break in Seminyak is never complete without a little bit of wild and crazy, and that is what Motel Mexicola, the most popular party spot in town delivers.  Located on Jalan Kayujati, this colorful and kitsch, high capacity taqueria y tequileria restaurant-bar pulls out all the stops bringing you creative twists on traditional Mexican fare, along with premium tequilas, frozen margaritas, and Cuba Libres that can be enjoyed al fresco.  The food hit all the right notes, especially the tostaditas– tortillas topped with raw tuna or crab and mayo, delectable quesadillas, shrimp ceviche, slow roasted pork ribs, and beef with chimichurri.

The vibrant almost surreal décor will instantly transport you. Decked out with melted candles, shrines, cacti, pop art paintings, and colored tiled tabletops, it’s enough to unleash the Latino spirit in everyone.  The festive Mexican-flavored dance music gets people moving and before you know it guests are dancing on the tables while a Mexican bartender goes around with a bottle pouring shots into random mouths. A variety of seating is available from dance hall style tables to big private booths, seats by the bar, and a cozy upstairs where you can enjoy the view below.

Mexican bartender goes around with a bottle pouring shots into random mouths

DJ and dance party at Da Maria

New on the scene in Seminyak is Da Maria, a modern Italian restaurant in the Osteria style, this venue stands out for its charming interior design and color palette.  Located on Jalan Petitenget, this upscale eatery is a great photo op. The walls, ceilings, tables are stripped or simply patterned like a 50s candy store in baby blue and white, while the seating upholstery makes a cool contrast in marigold orange and yellow.  Spacious with a bar at the entrance, big dining area with an open kitchen with state-of-the-art pizza ovens, and a back patio for smoking, Da Maria already has a reputation for some of the best pizza in town.  Music plays a very important role at Da Maria with a playlist mixed by Sydney’s DJ Kali and the restaurant transforms into a late-night party with featuring a live DJ after 10.00pm.  As owner Maurice Terzini expresses his concept: “Through the blurring of the lines between club-bar-restaurant Da Maria hopes to challenge all senses.”

After party at Hacienda

Like Da Maria, the newly opened Hacienda across the road blurs the traditional lines. It is a Mexican restaurant by day and crazy party venue by night with first-class DJs and an eclectic crowd.  The dance area has surreal touches, a very psychedelic painting hangs over the DJ station, and the funky mayhem spills out onto the open patio and garden bordering on a vast rice paddy field.  Hacienda also has a rooftop area with a bar overlooking the rice paddies, making this late-night hangout a great secret party place for those in the know.

The Southside of Bali has its many attractions like Seminyak and Canggu’s rollicking beach clubs, boutique shopping, and luxury nightlife.  But sometimes on a short break less can be more. If you have the feeling you’ve been there and done that, it’s time for a change of scene. On this short break we set out to rediscover the natural world, get in tune with our bodies and with the earth, undistracted by bright lights, dance beats, and crowds.  Our journey takes us to Ubud and Gili Meno for a 3-day trip away from the hubbub and back to nature, quietude and healthy living – but without sacrificing any of the comforts we deserve! 

Produced by Fluxus Agency

Text by Nigel D’Sa / Coordination: Vincent Sung

Photos by Sung studio