Whether you’re visiting Bali for the first time or a regular guest – a trip to Amankila on the island's east coast will take you straight to the authentic Balinese way. The five star resort, which is part of the Aman chain of super-high-end hotels that have a reputation for secret locations, impeccable staff and stunning surroundings (as well as super fans called ‘Aman Junkies') is located close to an indigenous village, atop a hill that overlooks the Lombok Strait to one side, and has views of Bali's sacred Mount Agung volcano to the other.
After being whisked from the bustle of the island's airport in a car filled with plump white pillows and freshly baked snacks, guests are first greeted by the hotel when stepping into the lofty Balinese lobby, which lies at the end of a meandering gated drive. Guests are greeted by charming young Balinese dancers who perform a traditional Hindu welcoming ceremony and place flowers in your hair. As the short ceremony draws to a close, it is impossible to not look yonder, and be immediately drawn to the view of the hotel’s highly-instagrammable three-tiered infinity pool. Serenity captured.
Guests are immediately then whisked off to one of Amankila’s 33 freestanding stilited suites. Each is traditionally Baliense style – decorated with Paras stone to offer a distinct rural exterior. Once inside, exquisite marble floors and immaculate wooden carvings provide a serene and tranquil haven. Each also contains all the trappings of any super-high end lux resort; coffee maker, jacuzzi bath, 24 hour room service and some, even, a private sea-view pool. Staff are just a phone call away, and there to make everything flow perfectly. Between each entry and exit from your villa, towels are changed, clothes are folded, cold water is replaced and candles are lit. Everyone also endearingly knows you by name (we suspect from circulated passport scans), meaning nothing has to ever be signed for.
Back outside, the resort stretches from hilltops to a black volcanic sand private beach – all linked by elevated stone walkways, but with a feeling of complete privacy. Down at hotel's exclusive beach, which has cabana-style day beds and tree top loungers, guests are served by linen clad waiters who clean your sunglasses and top up your drinks as you enjoy a swim in the azure waters. Watersports are also available for those seeking a thrill, from guide assisted kayaking and paddleboarding to diving, snorkelling and surfing Bali's famous waves.
The second of the hotel’s pools known as the Beach Club and can be reached either by a short picturesque walk through tropical palms and fig trees, or via a short buggy ride in the hotel's own customised off-roader. Just as as photogenic as the sea pool, it is nestled beneath an oasis of palm tree canopies and surrounded by lush, green lawns, hammocks and colourful, Balinese flora and fauna.
There, the hotel’s spa & fitness centre is also equipped with a treadmill, an epileptic trainer and free weights, while yoga sessions can be taken either in suite or at a tranquil beachside pavilion, while Massages can also be enjoyed from the privacy or your suite or hidden among foliage of the beach. For the more active, who wish to explore the wonderful highlights of the paradise island, guests can take in the surrounding villages and terraced ride paddies by opting to trek alongside one of Amankila’s expert guides. Balinese cooking classes, mountain biking and private cultural tours are also all on offer at this luxury retreat.
Back in the hotel's honeyed-stone main building, which is complete with traditional Balinese tiled roofs and pitched columns, is the hotel’s main fine dining restaurant – serving both exquisite European and Balinese menus. Diners can also opt to experience the cuisine from their own private pool-side cabana on the terrace or even on the hotel’s private beach; complete with your own private butler, and a menu curated to your tastes by the resident chef.
Breakfast is a regal affair, with a menu that covers everything from freshly prepared coconut, berry and chia seed pudding and detox juices to pastries and hash browns. And if it doesn't appear on the menu, they still seem to be able to make it. Taken leisurely (with as many courses as you can fill) it is easy to extend dining until the mid-morning, while reading the newspaper and admiring the views. Just hours later, lunch is perfect by the pool, where trays of fresh tacos and salads are laid before you.
Afternoon tea is on offer every day from the hotel’s library – a cool sanctuary furnished with oversized day beds overlooking that very same, jaw dropping, infinity pool. The library also contains a large selection of books, CDs, newspapers and games, should you struggle for things to do. Next to the library, is the all important bar, which has an extensive selection of wines whiskeys and cocktails – drunk in the evening surrounded by fire torches and live traditional Balinese music.
While Bali has never been off the tourist radar, in more recent years it certainly has shaken its backpacker reputation (in some small part thanks to Julia Robert's character finding true love here in the movie Eat, Pray, Love). What once was a party-place for dreadlocked youngsters, is now a haven for the young-spirited, older generation of high-end travellers who are looking for luxury off the beaten track – which is where Amankila ticks every box. The hotel's discreet location provides everything you want, and along with it's sister Balinese property Amandari, which is located in the jungle of Ubud, has the best of the island covered.
After visiting Amankila, it becomes evidently clear why this tranquil oasis of calm, on the stunning island of Bali, is top of the hit list of every self-confessed Aman Junkie. The setting, the staff and laissez-faire nature of the entire stay leave you feeling wonderfully relaxed, pampered and unwound. It's easy to become addicted.
Words by Alexandra Frances
Amankila, Manggis, Bali, Indonesia, with rates for private suites starting from £651 per night.