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Raffles Bali - Hotel review: Raffles Bali, Jimbaran, Bali – Iconic Singapore hotel expands into Bali by Traveller
February 21st 2023

Hotel review: Raffles Bali, Jimbaran, Bali – Iconic Singapore hotel expands into Bali by Traveller


Raffles, the grand dame of colonial hotels, known for its Singapore Sling cocktails and decadent hospitality, is still an iconic destination today. The brand’s long-held reputation for exceptional quality and immaculate service has been brought to Bali since private owners bought land here 39 years ago and opened the property at the end of 2021. Like the original suites at Singapore Raffles, each of the 32 villas on its sprawling 23 hectares has its own butler at the ready to chauffeur golf buggies, retrieve a left-behind phone (mea culpa) or organise cultural activities. That said, the resort emits more of a Bali villa vibe than one of high teas and hatted doormen. This is never more evident than when you’re indulging in a plate of lime-drenched tropical fruit, slipping into the cool waters of a private pool and lazing on a lounger in the humidity.


Jimbaran Bay is on the western side of south Bali’s Bukit Peninsula, known for its limestone cliffs, white sand beaches and cracking surf. The resort sits on a hillside at the southern end of the bay looking across the sheltered boat-specked water to Mount Agung rising behind. It’s a 25-minute drive to the big name tourist spots of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak, and 75 minutes to Ubud. Ngurah Rai International Airport is just 20 minutes away. In fact, the airport’s western runway is visible from the resort. You rarely hear the planes, so it can be a thrill seeing them touch down in the distance.

The resort is designed like a Balinese village with each of the 32 villas neatly placed estate-like around the hillside. They’re surrounded by lush greenery and ornamented walls with double entry gates that mimic those of traditional compounds. Heavy hardwood floors and walls, and dark-toned fittings and furnishings dominate the restrained Balinese interiors, a masculine ambience only marginally offset by lighter-toned rattan, beige fabrics and a surplus of sunlight. Blue batik tapestries behind the king beds in odd-numbered villas mark a rare (and welcome) stray from the muted colour scheme.


I’ve been upgraded to a “hilltop panoramic” pool villa – a palatial 375 square metre one-bedroom suite. These premium suites feature uninterrupted views of Jimbaran Bay, but if it’s space you’re after, the entry level “ocean” and “panoramic” pool villas are 470 square metres. The two-bedroom pool villas and presidential villa are a whopping 900 square metres.

In all suites, luxury, quality and attention to detail are where it’s at. Little Balinese culinary offerings such as dadar gulang and ginger and padan herbal tea are delivered to the room unrequested. The bathroom features a half-egg shaped bath, a toosh-warming Japanese toilet and bottom-drawer treats including eye contour cream and mini bathroom bags. The mini-bar has full-size bottles of quality gin and whiskey for self-mixing. Outside, it’s all about lounging around the private pool on umbrella-shaded recliners or the cushioned Bali-style gazebo.


Indonesia’s remarkable cuisine is often overlooked on a world stage. Newbies like Rumari, the resort’s signature restaurant on a terrace overlooking the ocean, might be championing the change. Chef Gaetan Biesuz has created a degustation menu that takes tastebuds on a regional journey around Bali. It’s exceptional. For more casual dining, Loloan Beach Bar and Grill, the guest-only beachfront restaurant overlooking a 25-metre pool, serves up the likes of grilled fish tacos and fresh rice paper rolls. Eating brunch poolside is a treat, but so too is breakfast on Rumari’s terrace. Indonesian dishes such as bubur ayam compete for your stomach’s attention alongside lobster omelette. The service is so efficient and generous, it’s easy to over-indulge.


With such a high-end price tag, guests might be more interested in getting their money’s worth by staying put at the resort. If you do leave, Jimbaran Bay is home to Kedonganan Fish Market, the largest traditional seafood market in Bali. It’s a feast for the senses with tubs of iced fish and crustaceans being bartered and sold inside and cooked on hot grills outside. Jimbaran Beach is another must-do. Its white sands are home to dozens of local seafood restaurants that serve market fish-to-order on beach tables as the sun goes down.


Raffles Singapore is famed for having unobtrusive service “like a soft breeze”. Those forking out the lofty price at Raffles Bali with a similar expectation might find the butler service wanting. But considering the pandemic’s toll on staff and training, Raffles Bali has done an exceptional job maintaining quality standards and luxury service during tough times. Honeymooners and anyone with an excuse to spend big on a luxury flop and drop, won’t be disappointed.


Villas from $1850 a night including breakfast. Raffles Bali, Jalan Karang Mas Sejahtera 1A Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia. Ph +61 800 1723 3537. See


The Writers Bar, adjoining a cosy library, is the perfect place to sample handcrafted Indonesian spirits including Balinese arak made from grape and aniseed.


The resort has big plans for its Emotional Wellbeing program but the seven chakras balancing treatment that I tried remains a work in progress.




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