Last summer, I enjoyed a wonderful holiday in Singapore and the Indonesian islands of Java & Bali. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Singapore Airlines A380 new First Class suite from London to Singapore
- Review: Marina Bay Sands Hotel (Singapore)
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
- Review: Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Ubud (Bali)
- Review: Amanjiwo, Borobodur (Java)
- Review: Amandari, Ubud (Bali)
- Review: Amankila (Bali)
- Review: Banyan Tree Ungasan, Uluwatu (Bali)
- Review: Bvlgari Bali Resort (Bali)
- Review: Anantara Uluwatu, Bali (today)
- Review: Singapore Airlines B787-10 Dreamliner Business Class from Bali to Singapore
- Review: Singapore Airlines A380 (old) Business Class from Singapore to London
Today (January 9, 2019): Review of Anantara Uluwatu, Bali (Indonesia)
Set on Bali’s secluded southern coast, Anantara Bali Uluwatu Resort & Spa is a sanctuary of modern design and rugged natural beauty that offers an affordable way to experience the Island of the Gods. Cascading down the cliffside, luxurious suites, pool villas and duplex penthouses blend innovation and indulgence with panoramic Indian Ocean views. Lazy days are spent at the cliff edge infinity pool or in the excellent Anantara Spa, where signature rituals are inspired by Indonesia’s spice islands. A surfer’s paradise, nearby Impossible Beach is renowned for its incredible waves, offering the challenge of a fast long ride along Impossible Break and the daring world-famous Padang-Padang Tube, as well as easy take-offs at the nearby surfing beaches of Bingin and Dreamland.
Have you ever stayed at Anantara Uluwatu? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Reviews of other hotels in Bali & Java
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Anantara Uluwatu is a breathtaking haven of tranquillity and rugged natural beauty on the tranquil western coast of Bali’s Bukit Peninsula. The Bukit is a magnificent peninsula that is home to the popular holiday destinations of Jimbaran, Uluwatu and Nusa Dua. Uluwatu is by far the Bukit’s most spectacular area, with towering limestone cliffs fringing golden sand beaches along the Indian Ocean. Uluwatu is world-renowned as a surfers’ paradise and the hot spots around the Anantara hotel boast some of the greatest surf breaks, especially during the months May to September. The famous Uluwatu Temple with its stunning vistas, heart-racing Kecak dance performance and cute monkeys is only 6 km (4 mi) away. The resort is approximately 30 minutes from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport.
- Anantara Uluwatu harnesses Bali’s pristine natural beauty and spiritual charm through an awe-inspiring cliffside location. The property sits majestically atop a cliff overlooking Bali’s famed ‘Impossible Beach’, aptly named after its rolling surf, wild waves, limestone cliffs and secret caves. The resort’s buildings ripple down towards the cliff’s edge in a series of upmarket villas, penthouses, pools and restaurants, most of them revealing sensational ocean views. The unending panoramas of sky and ocean are further enhanced by spectacular romantic sunset views since the resort is one of the few hotels in the area that faces west. In comparison, the Bvlgari Bali Resort, the new Six Senses Uluwatu, Banyan Tree Ungasan and Alila Villas Uluwatu feel more luxurious, but they are in the shade long before sunset.
- Opened in 2012, the resort features a breezy, contemporary design, created by Budiman Hendro Purnomo of Indonesia’s PT Duta Cermat Mandiri Architects. A modern interpretation of a vision to seamlessly blend in with its spectacular seaside location is achieved by inviting endless ocean views into living spaces. The property has the look of a hanging garden, with grassy-roofed suites and villas set along tiered steps that link the oceanfront swimming pool with the hilltop, black marble-floored lobby. The latter open-walled space features a minimalist decor with tree trump-alike chairs and colorful paintings, and is reached by a grand, stone staircase on both sides, flanked by large planters. The modern, white buildings and glass walls definitely feel more like Miami Beach than Indonesia, but they are visually appealing nonetheless.
- The resort features 74 ocean view suites, private pool villas & duplex penthouses. The lobby building on top of the hill offers one-bedroom suites, while two- and three-bedroom villas tumble down the hillside towards the pool at the cliff’s edge. The pool area itself also features a couple of one bedroom suites (some of them with direct pool access). During my holiday, I stayed in an ocean front suite on the main building’s 4th floor. Providing a panoramic overview of the resort grounds and the ocean beyond, the suite featured a large bedroom with seating area and a swanky ensuite bathroom. Its interior combined touches of minimalist design with colorful accents of indigenous Balinese art. The suite took full advantage of its prime sea view setting with full-length glass windows fronting the ocean, as well as an outdoor tub set on the balcony.
- Most guests spend much of their time at the resort in or near the magnificent free-flowing infinity pool. Encircled by gorgeous wooden decking, the split-level pool seems to dangle at the edge of the horizon, hereby merging with the azure blue of the Indian Ocean. There are several terraces around the pool, with enough loungers for all guest, as well as a poolside bar, which offers a full selection of fresh fruit shakes and juices, sandwiches, pizzas and light snacks, as well as a dazzling array of tropically inspired cocktails to help you kick back and relax. In case you don’t like to lounge around the pool, the resort also offers other leisure activities to keep you busy during the day, such as bicycle rentals, surfing, diving, snorkeling, cooking classes, dance lessons, golfing and off-resort excursions.
- Designed to reflect a traditional Balinese rice barn, the hotel’s intimate spa is located next to main four story ocean view condominium building. It offers a tranquil sanctuary for relaxing, invigorating beauty and wellness journeys. Individual treatments and signature sequences are performed by highly trained therapists, to suit each guest’s needs and mood. The extensive treatment menu pays tribute to Indonesia’s spice islands, as well as ancient wellness secrets from across Asia and advanced western practices. The spa has four treatment rooms for single guests and one treatment room for couples. A Balinese High Priestess is on hand to help with energy cleansing in case you are in need of that. There’s also a gym, and yoga and tai chi classes are offered to complete the wellness offerings.
- The resort has an elevator that offers access to a narrow stretch of beach at the base of the cliff below the pool area. During low tide, several tide pools become exposed, providing fun moments for the little ones. For wide swathes of white sand, the resort provides complimentary transfers to nearby Padang Padang Beach. Locally referred to as Pantai Labuan Sait, this is one of Bali’s most famous surf spots, just one km (0,6 mi) southwest of the Anantara resort. This beach – which can only be accessed by paying a small fee – features a 100 m long (300 ft) stretch of sand that is accessible down a flight of stairs through a unique hollow rock entrance. A fun fact: Padang Padang Beach was featured as a romantic setting in the 2010 Hollywood adaptation of the novel ‘Eat, Pray, Love’.
- Anantara Uluwatu features three restaurants, all offering ocean views and al fresco dining:
- Situated on the top floor of the resort’s main building, the ‘360 Rooftop’ restaurant is the resort’s all-day dining venue. This wood-trimmed loft space with open kitchen serves up a array of Balinese, Indonesian and Western dishes. 360 Rooftop is also the place where you will start your day with an energizing breakfast buffet.
- Next to 360 Rooftop, also on the main building’s rooftop, is Sono Teppanyaki, which serves modern Japanese fare, including a live cooking demonstration, accompanied by the dramatic backdrop of the Bali sunset beyond the horizon and rolling ocean waves.
- Spash is the resort’s specialty restaurant, located adjacent to the cliff’s edge pool area. Splash serves light lunches during the day, such as Betutu duck spring rolls or chilled gazpacho. Dinner sees exquisitely created dishes from both land and sea, such as wild mushroom tortellini, Wagyu beef, or whole lobster from the charcoal grill.
- The resort also has a beautiful wedding venue known as the DewaDewi wedding chapel, a distinctive glass structure that projects outwards, commanding a panoramic view of the ocean. Flanked by two ponds, with water trickling from the gate stones, this modern venue is popular for weddings. A string quartet always plays in the background as the bride walks down the aisle strewn with frangipani petals, hues heightened by the setting sun.
- You may encounter monkeys at the propery. They belong to the group of monkeys that inhabit the area around the sacred Uluwatu Temple and are a part of the natural environment in this area in Bali. However, it’s not encouraged to feed or to interact with them as though they are generally placid they can be unpredictable at times.
- Anantara Uluwatu is one of the more affordable 5-star luxury resorts in Bali. Rates here (for the suites) are considerably less compared with what you pay at Bali’s high-end resorts.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
Anantara Uluwatu enjoys a great location with terrific views, modern rooms & villas, and an intimate spa. Unfortunately, my experience at the property was mediocre and IMHO, there are much more luxurious hotels in Bali (which is a pity since the place has so much potential). Here’s what you need to know before considering a stay at the resort:
- Whilst beautiful, the beach is very narrow (almost non-existent) during high tide; at low tide, the sea is not swimmable since it’s too rocky to enter. As mentioned above, the resort provides complimentary shuttle service to nearby Padang Padang beach, which is much better (although a small entrance fee is charged here).
- During my stay, lift access to the beach was broken, and from what I read in other reviews of this property on the internet, it has been broken for quiet some time (at least a year). It’s still possible to access the beach though, following a steep path (with many steps) just outside the property.
- Although not run down, there is a lot of waer and tear when you look around, so the hotel is definitely showing its age. From the broken beach elevator to rusted door handles and worn out day beds by the pool, it all looks a bit tired and is not maintained by Anantara standard quality. On a positive note, the resort is gradually undergoing refurbishment and renovation in many areas including all facilities, villas and suites.
- The property enjoys an isolated location and if you don’t have a car, it will take you about 15-20 minutes to walk out to the local cafes and shops (note that it gets pitch black at night). The property does offer complimentary transport though twice a day to Padang Beach and in the evening to the Uluwatu Temple for the fire dancing. That said, if you want to explore some of Bali’s famous sights in the Ubud area, you’ll face long drives due to the island’s notorious traffic jams. So I suggest you first stay a few days in the Ubud area to explore Bali’s cultural highlights, before retreating to the Uluwatu area for some relaxation.
- Due to its hillside location, the property features many steps and ramps. For example, there are 50 steps from the entrance driveway to the lobby and another 120 steps from the lobby to the pool down the hill (and there aren’t any alternatives). So if you aren’t very mobile, don’t stay here.
- The terrace around the main pool is quite small and features only a limited number of loungers. And you need to get in early to secure a seat especially as families often try and reserve them before they go to breakfast. Also, most loungers are not in the sun until noon.
- The bathroom towels do not have the usual freshness you experience in 5-star hotels. In fact, during my stay, the towels smelled unpleasant and I was reluctant to use them. In addition, the sunbed covers and towels at the pool are tatty with holes and rips.
- Due to its modern architecture – with white walls and glass structures – the property lacks an authentic Balinese ambience. IMHO, the hotel design feels a bit weird and out of place. The hotel’s imposing main building doesn’t really blend with the rustic Balinese surroundings. Also, there are no undercover walkways between facilities, so if it rains (and it rains a lot in Bali) you will get wet when walking to/from the main facilities. The lobby’s marble floor looks sleek and chic but becomes very slippery in wet weather. Finally, the decor of the rooftop restaurant is rather dull and uninspiring, and doesn’t really feel compatible with a high-end dining venue.
- On the service level, not everything is running smoothly and it’s the combination of small details that pick up on. During my stay, I noticed a complete lack of service by the pool: it was always a mission to get a towel (one day, I had to wait 30 minutes for a towel) and no one was around to take orders for drinks or food. Service was much better in other parts of the resort.
- Food at the restaurants is generally ok, with the breakfast buffet being the highlight. Unfortunately though, on the first night of my stay, I suffered from a stomach upset and food poisoning after my dinner at the rooftop restaurant. It was a bad gastroenteritis, which only lasted one day, so nothing to worry about but inconvenient nonetheless. The wonderful hotel staff took this very seriously and was as helpful as possible, which I greatly appreciated, but the whole thing put a real damper on my stay, although I believe this is an anomaly that can happen at any 5-star resort. Never think that high-end resorts are immune from the bugs and diseases that affect tropical locale!
- Location: 8/10
- Design: 7/10
- Pool: 8/10
- Rooms: 8/10
- Food: 8/10
- Breakfast: 8/10
- Spa: 9/10
- Service: 7/10
- Value for money: 8/10
- Overall experience: very good 8/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Anantara Uluwatu (and/or receive many free perks).
- Room tip: If you are not spurging on a villa here, the ocean view pool suites are the best but if you are keen on privacy, ensure you get a suiet on the top floor.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
REVIEWS OF OTHER HOTELS IN BALI & INDONESIA
- Review: Anantara Uluwatu, Bali (Indonesia)
- Review: Bulgari Resort Bali (Indonesia)
- Review: Banyan Tree Ungasan, Bali (Indonesia)
- Review of Amankila, Bali’s best luxury hotel
- Review of Amandari (Ubud, Bali)
- Review: Amanjiwo, Borobudur (Java, Indonesia)
- Review of Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve (Bali, Indonesia)
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan (Ubud, Bali)
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay (Indonesia)
- Hotel review: Villa Sungai, Bali (Indonesia)
- Hotel review: the Viceroy Bali (Indonesia)
- Review: Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali’s most spectacular hotel
- Hotel review: COMO Shambhala Bali (Indonesia)
- Hotel review: Soori Bali (Indonesia)
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Located close to the equator, temperatures in Bali hover at a balmy 30°C (85°F) year-found. Temperatures in the Ubud area remain fairly constant throughout the year, although some cooler evenings can occur due to its location in the mountains. The frequency of precipitation is the only concern for travelers seeking to visit Ubud. The rainy season lasts from October to March, and the heavy humidity and torrential rainfalls make this period more unpredictable for adventures and exploration. The dry season lasts from April to September, and the weather during this time is warm and pleasant, so this is generally viewed as the optimal time to experience Bali at its finest.
HOW TO GET THERE
Anantara Uluwatu is a 30 minute drive from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport. Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Bali.