Bali’s Original Luxury Hotel in Seminyak

Inside a villa compound at the Oberoi Bali

The Oberoi Bali is the Grande Dame of Bali’s resorts, setting the benchmark for classic understated luxury in Seminyak.

Starting life as an exclusive private club in 1974, The Oberoi Bali was the first five-star luxury resort in Seminyak that has been continuously upgraded to maintain its superior standards. The hotel is such a landmark that the street outside the hotel is now known as Oberoi Street.

What sets the Oberoi apart from its many luxury competitors is its exceptional levels of service and genuine engagement by all the staff.

All the meals are also of superbly high quality as well as offering a very diverse range of cuisines including Indonesian, European, Japanese and Indian dishes.

Arrival and Location

The transfer to the hotel via luxury limousine takes no longer than 30 minutes.

The hotel is handily situated in the heart of trendy Seminyak yet as soon as we enter the property we feel as sense of calm amidst the secluded gardens. It’s a perfect combination. Its traditional Balinese village style buildings are set in 15 acres of tropical gardens directly behind the sweeping ocean beach. A large swimming pool sits underneath swaying palm trees.

Accommodation

Villa bedroom at the Oberoi Bali

Villa bedroom at the Oberoi Bali

The Oberoi Bali has 60 lanais and 14 villas built out of pinkish coralline rock with traditional steeply pitched thatched roofs. Renowned Australian architect Peter Mueller, who is also responsible for Bali’s Amandari Hotel, designed the buildings to evoke a strong Balinese cultural presence. The whole property exudes a real sense of authenticity and we later learn the Balinese believe that the Oberoi beachfront is one of the holiest on the western coast. The Pura Petitenget temple is located nearby.

The marble-floored villas are delightful with a teak four-poster Balinese bed plus a wicker couch and chair around a glass coffee table in the one room. While not exceedingly large, they are more than adequate given the huge private outdoor courtyard, where we spent most of our time. An umbrella shades day beds while an outdoor dining area in the raised pavilion is the perfect place for a private dinner. There is a telephone right there to call for room service. Nine of the villas have large private pools, which offer the ultimate extravagance.

The marble bathroom overlooks a beautiful private courtyard and features a marble sunken bath, two separate vanity areas and a walk-in closet that is accessible from both the bathroom and bedroom. There is also front deck overlooking the gardens to the ocean.

Even though we loved the space and privacy of the villas, I was also very impressed with the design of the lanais. Four lanai rooms share each thatched roof building and each have a deck and sunken bath in the bathroom overlooking a private garden.

Meals

The meals at the Oberoi Bali are fabulous. The superb breakfasts are served a la carte on the outdoor palm-tree-dotted terrace of the Frangipani Café, which overlooks the beach. You have an amazing choice of dishes and they are all beautifully executed.  Between us, my partner and I tried the Japanese poached barramundi with seaweed, a delightful nasi goreng, and an egg white omelette with fresh fruit platters. You can also request any combinations of fresh fruit and vegetable drinks.

The classy Kura Kura Restaurant in a breezy thatched pavilion bordered by lotus ponds serves up stunning modern European

Restaurant at the Oberoi Bali

cuisine (the German chef trained at a host of Michelin-starred restaurants throughout Europe) as well as elegant Asian dishes. The wine list is excellent, which is not always the case in Bali. We dined here on Valentine’s Day and it was interesting to see half of the Balinese expat community here for a slap up dinner. That speaks volumes for the quality of the cuisine.

We also enjoyed delightful snacks at the Kayu Bar overlooking the swimming pool. Particularly memorable was a cold avocado soup with tuna Carpaccio and Parmesan bread sticks.

At the outdoor amphitheater one night, we enjoyed a terrific traditional Balinese Megbung dinner with fresh barbecued whole fish and a host of spicy Balinese side dishes and salads. Our entertainment was a spectacular Ramayana ballet accompanied by gamelan music.

Activities

The Oberoi Bali gallery and shop

The Oberoi Bali gallery and gift shop

The Oberoi is in the heart of Seminyak’s fabulous shopping district and the concierge gave us a curated list of their recommended shops for clothes and home wares. They also arranged for a car to take us around, which was a huge help. Don’t forget to check out the Oberoi’s beautiful shop and Indonesian craft gallery, which has an inspired collection of locally designed clothes and jewellery as well as incredible folk art including a beautiful selection of puppets. It is a real cut above most resort shops.

The Oberoi also offer guests a whole host of terrific tours to see temples, volcanoes, rice paddies, craft villages, the monkey forest and the cultural centre of Ubud.

And don’t forget to go for walk along the expansive beach right out front. While the Oberoi cleans its beachfront every day, the rest of the beach can be dirty so it would be safer to stick to swimming in the pool. There is also a tennis court.

The library has a selection of books and DVDS as well as several computers for guest use.

While there is not a kids club, the concierge can arrange a host of fun activities for kids including Balinese dance classes, making gamelan rindik musical instruments, drawing classes, surfing, swimming and tennis lessons. Families can easily book adjoining lanai rooms and babysitting services are available.

Wellness

Villas are made from coralline rock at the Oberoi Bali

Villa Compound at Oberoi Bali

The Oberoi has a serene spa facility with indoor and outdoor treatment rooms. There are a whole range of massage styles, scrubs, facials and as well as excellent Ayurvedic treatments that befit the hotel’s Indian roots. There is also an airy teak-panelled gym with large windows overlooking the gardens.

Highlights

The classic understated design in beautiful bird and flower-filled gardens directly behind Seminyak beach. Being the first kid on the block, the Oberoi offers two fabulous intangibles which are key hotel assets: space and a great location.

The attentive and thoughtful service from all the staff members who always remember your name and even what you like to drink.

The exquisite selection of European, Indonesian and Indian cuisines.

Free Wi-Fi throughout the property.

Splitting Hairs

If you are after the latest hipster scene and cutting edge design, then don’t come to the Oberoi. It is very low key and some people might find it a little dull but there is plenty of atmosphere for romance. The age of the clientele tends to be older.

Musicians play traditional instruments at the Oberoi Bali

Musicians entertain guests at the Oberoi Bali

This article also appeared in The Lux Traveller, where I am a regular reviewer.

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The Oberoi Bali

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The Oberoi Bali -8.688069, 115.156007

Sue Gough Henly

Sue Gough Henly is award-winning travel writer and photographer whose bi-line has appeared in The New York Times, Travel & Leisure, The Guardian, The Toronto Star and all the major Australian publications. Her travel blog, Genuine Journeys, is full of insider tips on the best places for authentic experiences and luxury splurges. She is also the author of Australia’s Best Places travel app. When she doesn’t have sand between her toes or a pack on her back, she writes about food, wine and culture.
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2 comments to Bali’s Original Luxury Hotel in Seminyak

  • Fran Whistler  says:

    Really appreciate your frank advice on what to enjoy here. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sue Gough Henly  says:

      I’m glad you found this helpful.

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