Bali Hotels › Best Places To Stay
Updated: September 1, 2023
My Favorite Hotels in Bali
The Best Areas to Stay in Bali
Bali is truly paradise, with rice terraces cascading down verdant volcanic slopes, flaming sunsets dripping over powdery-white sands, and a unique and omnipresent culture that dominates the island and its people despite the continued growth of tourism. The island is appreciated by some 3-4 million Indonesian and foreign tourists each year, almost doubling the population at times. Some savor the surf, shopping, and clubbing in Kuta, while others relish spiritual and cultural pursuits in Ubud. Many come specifically to enjoy one of Bali’s best 5-star hotels and others to explore some of the best beaches in Bali. There are water sports and scuba diving, mountainous landscapes, and millennium-old temples.
Bali is compact, so it is possible to day-trip to just about anywhere on the island from your base. But traffic south of (and including) Ubud can be appalling, and most roads north of Ubud are mountainous. So, to avoid too much unnecessary travel, choose your base carefully (see below) and don’t be tempted to move between bases more than once every 4 or 5 days.
Public transport in tourist areas is often non-existent and always crowded, but privately-owned shuttle buses are plentiful and comfortable. It is also easy to find taxis (except in Ubud) and charter a car with driver for only US$50 per day – this is great value and the driver will act as a personal travel guide (albeit, with imperfect English). Intense traffic, absent road signs and narrow potholed roads are three excellent reasons why you should never rent a car and drive yourself.
The Best Places to Stay in Bali
- Best New Hotels in Bali
Raffles (Jimbaran) • Andaz (Sanur) • Ecozy Dijiwa (Canggu) • Buahan (Banyan Tree Escape) (Ubud) • Tribe (Kuta) • MAMAKA (Kuta) • Aloft at Beachwalk (Kuta) • PinkCoco (Padang Padang) • Potato Head Studios (Seminyak)
- Best Luxury Hotels in Bali
Four Seasons at Sayan (Ubud) • St. Regis (Nusa Dua) • W Bali (Seminyak) • Four Seasons Resort (Jimbaran) • Padma (Legian) • Raffles (Jimbaran) • Laguna (Nusa Dua) • Ritz-Carlton (Bukit)
- Best Cheap/Midrange Hotels in Bali
Dasa Warna (Candidasa) • Ganesh Lodge (Candidasa) • CalmTree (Canggu) • The Palms (Canggu) • D’byas (Nusa Lembongan Island) • Song Lambung (Nusa Lembongan Island) • Akaya (Sanur) • ARTOTEL (Sanur) • Klumpu (Sanur) • Nick’s Pension (Ubud)
- Best Hotels in Bali for Couples
Tandjung Sari (Sanur) • Viceroy (Ubud) • Alam Indah (Ubud) • Tugu (Canggu) • Ecozy Dijiwa (Canggu) • Jimbaran Puri (Jimbaran) • Poppies (Kuta) • Aquaria Eco Resort (Candidasa) • Tamarind (Nusa Lembongan Island)
- Best Hotels in Bali for Families
Padma (Legian) • Andaz (Sanur) • Hard Rock (Kuta) • Mövenpick (Jimbaran) • Sofitel (Nusa Dua) • Westin (Nusa Dua) • Hyatt Regency (Sanur) • Anantara Vacation Club (Legian) • Grand Mirage (Tanjung Benoa)
Best Place in Bali for Couples or a Honeymoon: Jimbaran
Most resorts in Nusa Dua promote romantic holidays, with packaged deals for newly-weds and honeymoon suites, but your hotel may also be inundated with noisy families. Considerably more tranquil and romantic is Jimbaran, where hotels don’t really cater to children and parts of the elongated, curved and sandy bay are empty and ideal for sunbathing and strolling. Each afternoon the beach becomes packed with tables and chairs as seaside cafés offer romantic candlelight dinners at sunset, with fresh seafood, as well as fireworks, wandering musicians and traditional dances.
Best Place in Bali for Sightseeing & Outdoor Activities: Ubud
With its vast range of places to stay and eat and surprisingly vibrant live music scene, Ubud is a perfect base for exploring the delights of central Bali. It’s easy to charter a car with a driver for day trips to the extraordinary sights nearby, such as the cliff sculptures at Gunung Kawi, the UNESCO-listed rice-terraces at Jatiluwih, the sacred temple and mountain springs at Tirta Empul, and the volcanic lake areas of Bratan and Batur. Minibus transfers to organized rafting, hiking, and mountain-biking tours are shorter and cheaper from Ubud than the southern beach towns. But Ubud is not, obviously, that convenient for surfing, snorkeling, and diving.
Best Place in Bali for Nightlife: Kuta • Seminyak • Canggu
Some visit Bali just for Kuta’s nightlife. Among typically seedy (but lively) options are multi-story nightclubs along Jalan Legian street with international DJs and numerous sports bars, each fiercely competing with “cocktail specials”, ‘free BBQ’ and “girls drink for free”. A quick taxi ride to the north, Seminyak offers a more sophisticated blend of live jazz, soul and R&B in intimate settings, while further north in Canggu the décor and prices in clubs are comparable to those in Europe, but patrons would need their own transport or a chartered car or taxi on standby.
Best Place in Bali for Good Food and Restaurants: Seminyak
Kuta offers the widest choice and lowest prices, and places in Canggu can be pretentious and remote, so Seminyak wins this award. The twisted lanes are packed with alluring cafés and bistros offering cuisines from just about every country on earth – even Indonesia! Some directly face the sea, so early diners or pre-dinner drinkers can relish the sublime sunsets. Cafés perched on the beach scatter tables and beanbags across the sand each afternoon for guests to enjoy the sunset, cocktails and, later, live music. Chic beach clubs line sections of the shore where guests can order meals, swim in the pool, and relish the fiery sunset.
Best Nearby Island: Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan is more genuine and boasts more attractions than any of the three Gili Islands (off the coast of neighboring Lombok). Lembongan has minimal shopping and even less nightlife, but that’s part of the attraction for many. There are (almost) no four-wheeled vehicles, so it’s perfect for exploring the eerie mangroves, remote beaches and quaint villages on foot, by motorbike or on a bicycle (although the interior is hilly). Boats from Sanur only take 30-45 minutes, and hotels in all ranges are available in Jungutbatu village and the crescent-shaped Mushroom Bay, which is best for swimming and snorkeling.
Best Place in Bali for a Spiritual Visit: Ubud
There is no argument that for anything “spiritual”, Ubud is the place. Whether for meditation, yoga, “spiritual healing” or even traditional medical therapies, some tourists stay nowhere else on Bali – and never leave! The lofty village of Penestanan (part of Ubud) is dotted with yoga shalas (studios) offering casual drop-in or private classes, and even training courses, while some resorts nestled in the jungle nearby offer one- or two-week “rejuvenation” packages. In town, numerous cafés cater to the health-conscious with organic food and drinks made from locally-grown products.
Best Village in Bali: Padangbai
Often ignored by those rushing to/from the Gili Islands by speedboat or hopping on/off the ferry to Lombok, Padangbai is delightfully unpretentious, with a genuine village vibe. Facing a postcard-perfect arched bay and hemmed in by hills, it is spared the unrelenting hotel construction found elsewhere on the island. So, the cluster of streets is based around the school, market, and temples, rather than bars, clubs and bistros. A wonderful base from which to explore the east coast, Padangbai also boasts a 1000-year-old clifftop temple and Crusoe-esque beach called Blue Lagoon.
Best Place in Bali for First-Timers: Jimbaran or Sanur
Kuta, and its extensions of Tuban, Legian, and Seminyak, can seem overwhelming for some first-time visitors. Especially during holiday seasons, the roads are clogged with traffic and lanes packed with tourists. The crowds and noise, as well as the hawkers and heat, can be crushing at times, resulting in some first-timers vowing never to return. But, of course, Kuta is not remotely representative of Bali. So, to enjoy the best of Bali, without the worst of Bali, stay in Jimbaran or Sanur – both far quieter with limited nightclubs, surf and shopping and, therefore, smaller crowds, traffic, and noise.
Best Place in Bali for Families: Nusa Dua
The dozen or so upmarket resorts in Nusa Dua are all family-friendly, each with a children’s pool (often with water slides) and kid’s club offering engaging activities all day, as well as extensive children’s menus in the restaurants and child-minding services. All resorts also feature massive gardens and almost all face an exquisite beach with calm waters, while Nusa Dua itself is clean, quiet and devoid of crowds and traffic. Just north, the resort region of Tanjung Benoa is a more affordable version of Nusa Dua, and is probably more appealing to teenagers because of its extensive range of inexpensive water sports. Read: Best Family Resorts in Bali
Best Beach in Bali: Pasir Putih
Bali’s best beach is still remarkably undeveloped. Only 6km past Candidasa along the east coast, Pasir Putih (which means “White Sands”) has no hotels and only a handful of laid-back cafés on the bleached-white sand – and hopefully it stays that way. The sea is calm, and the curved bay is flanked by rocky outcrops, which offer snorkeling and shade, and backed by coconut groves. And, amazingly, half of the beach is still used as a fishing village. This slice of heaven is at the end of a scenic, flat 1.5km-long lane from the main road.
Most Underrated: Candikuning
Halfway between Kuta and Lovina, Candikuning is nestled alongside the mighty crater lake of Mount Bratan. With some of Bali’s best attractions, it is worth staying a few days, if only for the cooler weather (which is often chilly at night). Must-sees include the (1) extensive botanical gardens, one of only four in Indonesia; (2) Bedugul lakeside recreational area, almost completely patronised by Indonesian tourists, with boat trips across the lake and water sports; (3) exquisite Pura Ulun Bratan temple facing the lapping waters; and (4) bustling produce market, specializing in strawberries and corn.
Most Unusual Place: Toya Bungkah
The village of Toya Bungkah – located inside the crater of Bali’s most active volcano, Mount Batur – boasts three places for wallowing in hot springs and cool-water pools.
The Best Towns in Bali for Visitors
The main tourist areas across Bali (including the Gili Islands) are all different, with delightfully dissimilar locations and range of facilities. It is vital to choose a suitable base according to your interests (yoga or surfing?), age/family (backpackers or with kids?), budget (resorts or family-owned hotels?), and length of stay (three days or three months?).
1. Kuta & Tuban
Many come to Bali for the surf, sunsets, shopping and clubbing, and see no need to venture any further than Kuta. However, with its ceaseless traffic, endless crowds, and relentless noise people either love or loathe Kuta, and it’s close to the airport. Within walking distance, Tuban (also called Southern Kuta) offers a number of sizable and family-friendly resorts. The beach disappears or becomes gray, and Tuban has a village vibe, with fishing boats on the sand and many shops and cafés catering to locals.
Within a short stroll of Kuta’s malls and nightclubs, with far more space and serenity, Legian is the next beach north of Kuta. The streets are less claustrophobic, the beachfront resorts face the sand and path rather than a busy road, and the sunsets are just as legendary. Further north again is the more sophisticated Seminyak, where restaurants become “bistros” and shops are called “boutiques.” Up the coast even further, the sand becomes increasingly gray, and streets have fewer places to shop, eat and drink, but rice fields are still visible.
Moving further north beyond Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak is Canggu, the general name for a collection of beaches (without villages) such as Batu Bolong and Echo Beach. Although becoming as trendy as Seminyak, Canggu is spread out and challenging to navigate by car, there’s no downtown area, and the sand is almost black. However, the surf and sunsets are just as magical as the southern beaches, and visitors enjoy the laidback lifestyle and array of coffee shops and beachside bars.
Sanur is a popular and serene alternative to Kuta and Seminyak. On the east side of Bali and only a short taxi ride from the airport and malls at Kuta, Sanur faces a long stretch of beach. The delightful beachside path lined with cafés, bars, and souvenir stalls is ideal for strolling and bicycling. Sanur is also the terminal for speedboats to the islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida (see below).
5. Nusa Dua
Nusa Dua offers a unique, gated complex of luxury resorts. The streets are clean and wide, and traffic and street sellers are non-existent. Each resort boasts substantial gardens and numerous swimming pools, and most face, or are within a short stroll, of a curved white-sand beach with calm water. The resorts cater to couples but also to families by offering a children’s pool, kids club, and engaging activities. Some newer resorts are outside Nusa Dua, either isolated several kilometers to the south but still facing the gorgeous beach or just outside the southern tip near more affordable facilities but within walking distance of Nusa Dua.
Based along the thumb-shaped peninsula in southern Bali, Tanjung Benoa is a more affordable and authentic alternative than its neighbor Nusa Dua, just to the south. It’s Bali’s water sports center for jet-skiing and parasailing, and it’s more affordable than in Europe, the US, or Australia. Numerous resorts face a long stretch of white sand and calm water, with many catering to families. The village at the peninsula’s tip has temples, a mosque, and a market.
Close enough to the airport to see the planes but rarely hear them, Jimbaran is comparatively undeveloped and surprisingly under-visited. Though there are fewer places to stay, eat, and shop than other tourist regions in southern Bali, the beach can be virtually empty. The long white-sand curved bay has calm water and, to the south, even a few waves for beginner surfers. At sunset, tables line up on the beach for a romantic candlelit dinner with fireworks, wandering musicians, and traditional dances.
Bali’s spiritual and cultural heartland is an overgrown but intensely loveable collection of villages in central Bali. Many visitors come for the yoga retreats, art museums, cooler weather, or just to escape the comparative chaos of Kuta. Ubud also offers numerous temples, markets, and traditional dance performances. It is an ideal base for day trips (by a chartered car with a driver) to extraordinary places like the sacred temple and springs at Tirta Empul, crater lake of Bratan mountain, and rock sculptures at Gunung Kawi. Outdoor activities such as rafting, hiking, and mountain biking are easy to arrange in Ubud.
Lovina, on the northern coast of Bali, is 10 kilometers of seaside villages offering a decent range of hotels and restaurants – but little nightlife or shopping. It has a perfect combination of sunsets, sea breezes, and sea views (as well as dolphin tours), but the beaches are gray, often dirty, and generally unsuitable for swimming. Lovina’s infectious village vibe, dramatic mountain backdrop, and accessibility to sights nearby, such as the Banjar hot springs and Bali’s second city, Singaraja, make it unique.
10. East Coast
This region is getting more popular as it becomes increasingly accessible. Padangbai is a charming village facing a perfect cove and surrounded by hills. Nearby, Candidasa is a beach resort without much of a beach (which eroded decades ago) but has a pleasant setting, lack of crowds, and competitively-priced facilities. Further east, Amed is a collection of fishing villages with few resorts and almost no beaches. It’s quieter than the southern tourist regions, and the snorkeling and diving are world-class. However, reaching Amed and traveling around the far east coast can be problematic. If traveling to/from the Gili Islands or Lombok, these areas provide a nice stopover.
• Best Hotels: Aquaria Eco Resort (Candidasa) • Genggong (Candidasa) • Bloo Lagoon Village (Padangbai) • OK Divers Resort & Spa (Padangbai) • Ganesh Lodge (Candidasa) • Blue Moon (Amed) • Griya (Amed)
Nusa Lembongan island is just a 30-minute speedboat ride from mainland Bali. It’s more accessible and authentic than the three Gili Islands off the coast of Lombok. There are no taxis or private cars, but there are small vehicles for getting around. Most stay in Jungutbatu village with an extended beach or Mushroom Bay with a white-sand cove ideal for snorkeling and swimming. Other bases include the remote and laidback Mangrove Beach and Dream Beach, with lovely sand but no swimming. On the island are ghostly mangroves and photogenic beaches like Song Lambung. Far larger but less developed, Nusa Penida island (60 minutes by speedboat from Bali) is reminiscent of mainland Bali from the 1980s. Accommodations are limited, and transport is tricky, but it does offer enchanting villages, a remarkable cave temple, and one of the most perfect beaches imaginable: Crystal Bay.
Bali Itinerary – Where To Go
• 3 to 5 Days in Bali: Base yourself in Seminyak, Jimbaran, or Ubud and make day trips to eastern Bali and around the Bukit Peninsula.
• One Week in Bali: Stay in two places: at a beach region (perhaps, Seminyak, Jimbaran, or Sanur) and somewhere in the countryside, like Ubud. You will have time to relax on the beach, go for long walks in the highlands of Ubud, and explore areas around central Bali, like the two volcanoes and crater lakes at Bratan and Batur.
• Two Weeks in Bali: Spend four or five days in three places: a beach region (such as Seminyak, Jimbaran, or Sanur); somewhere in the countryside like Ubud; and splurge on a luxury resort in Nusa Dua or nearby Tanjung Benoa.
• Three Weeks in Bali: Follow the advice for two weeks. With the extra time, stay and explore Nusa Lembongan island, which offers the tropical island appeal, or Padangbai, a laidback and unspoiled village with decent tourist facilities on the east coast, or Lovina, an easygoing beach region along the north coast with far fewer tourists than the south.