is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.



You’d be hard-pressed to find a hotel more bespoke than Katamama, the newest kid on the luxury Balinese hotels block, lying just around the corner from the Potato Head Beach Club.

The details are all handmade by artisans preserving Indonesian traditions – from the hand-pressed temple bricks of the striking geometric façade and the indigo handwoven throws and robes, to the cocktails made from seasonal Balinese ingredients served in locally-made ceramics and the handmade Javanese tiles.

Beyond the 58 large suites – many with private pools and terraces, and decorated with Indonesian contemporary art and mid-century furniture – there’s a lush pool with an ironwood deck, and the chic Akademi bar and cult Spanish restaurant MoVida in the lobby.

From AUD$550 a night. See



A study in modern Indonesian sophistication, the Legian fronts directly onto Seminyak Beach. Pick between the 67 suites and Beach House at the Hotel, or the 14 one- and two-bedroom villas (all with private pools) at the Club. Whatever you choose, interiors will be elegant, with a palette of creams, whites and muted earth tones gracing the walls and soft furnishings, and accents of raw wood and rattan. The top-floor suites have the most spectacular ocean views.

Spend your days lazing by the three tiered infinity pools, or indulging in Balinese massages and the odd yoga class at the spa. Jump on one of the hotel’s bikes for a spin around Seminyak’s chic cafes and boutiques, or chill out under a palm tree at the Pool or Ocean bars, mojito in hand.

From AUD$775 a night. See



As far as locations go, the Istana might have nabbed Bali’s best. Perched on a cliff in Uluwatu, a slice of paradise on Bali’s southeastern tip, you get 260-degree views of the Indian Ocean, which also happens to be one of the island’s best surf breaks.

The elegant H-shaped main building, home to five luxurious suites (including the master suite with its own pool and sun deck), overlooks the infinity pool and ocean beyond. It’s the perfect spot from which to watch the sun drop into the ocean each evening.

Once night has fallen you need only shift to the cliff-edge pavilion, where your personal chef can whip up a seafood barbecue for you and your guests. No surprises, really, that ‘Istana’ means palace in Indonesian.

Rates – including all five suites, your own spa and bar, and a seven-seater chauffeur driven car – from AUD$3,325 a night. See

By Nina Karnikowski



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