In-house art galleries, Balinese cooking classes and East Javan surfing expeditions set you up to explore Indonesia and its rich cultural traditions at these creative places to stay.
Indonesia’s arts and cultural traditions are among the most vibrant in Southeast Asia, from classical music and dance to a buzzing contemporary art scene. Every island and city has its own traditions, which is why we’ve put together this list of the top art and culture hotels in Indonesia, from exquisite Balinese spas to modern artist-led properties in Yogyakarta.
Combining the quality and luxury we’ve come to expect from Four Seasons with traditional Balinese stylings, this oceanfront hotel features gorgeous villas with private pools and sun terraces overlooking the golden sweep of Jimbaran Bay. If you can tear yourself away from your private garden and sun terrace, head to the Sundara Beach Club, where bamboo-cooked lobster is among the ocean-fresh seafood offerings. For Balinese culture of a different kind, join a class at the on-site cooking academy or charter a helicopter to take in East Java’s world-class G-Land surfing break.
Sanur is the relaxed, upscale face of Bali’s south-coast tourist hub and Artotel Sanur brings together the same blend of vibrancy and relaxation typical of the neighbourhood. Five local artists have designed the rooms along the theme of the Bali Kite Festival – held in July in the Padang Galak area of Sanur Beach – with beautifully colourful murals on the walls. There’s also a contemporary art gallery on site which showcases the work of Balinese artists on a rotating basis.
Viceroy Bali invites its guests to indulge in the serene location of Bali’s Valley of Kings. Gaining its name from the lineage of Balinese Royalty who lived in the area, this hidden tropical treasure provides a gorgeous natural backdrop and a relaxing yet awe-inspiring atmosphere. This resort is family-owned and run, not to mention filled with beautiful designs inspired by Bali’s culture and traditions. The hotel is close to Ubud, one of the major art and cultural centres of Bali.
Cutting-edge design inspired by the area’s natural majesty is at the heart of the Alila Villas Uluwatu in Bali. The hotel stands on the edge of a plateau, allowing visitors unbroken views over the ocean from a cliffside vantage point. The hotel was designed by the award-winning WOHA, the esteemed architectural firm behind the School of Arts in Singapore. The resort prides itself on its Weddings at the Edge of The World – ceremonies set in an overhanging cliffside platform with sumptuous views. For those seeking adventures, Alila Villas also organises tours that take visitors to the best natural and cultural spots around the area.
Amanjiwo Resort is a unique spot surrounded by vast nature and incredible culture. The resort faces the Unesco World Heritage Site of the 9th-century Borobudur Buddhist sanctuary and is surrounded by other spectacular sights such as Menoreh Hills and the Kedu Plain. Giving the sensation of leaving the modern world behind, the hotel is set in a stunning circular limestone monolith that blends in perfectly with its surroundings. Amanjiwo prides itself on organising expeditions to many of the culturally rich areas of Java, such as temples, villages and mountains.
COMO Shambhala Estate is a health spa retreat in Bali that combines a relaxing atmosphere, incredible food, stunning design and much more. The resort was brought to life through the architectural work of Cheong Yew Kuan and the design of Koichiro Ikebuchi. The aesthetics are a fusion of tradition and contemporary design, with both Asian and European influences on show. Throughout the estate, beautiful handmade furniture can be found in addition to Indonesian artefacts and artworks that encapsulate the aura of the area. Focusing on health, the estate offers a range of services and activities beneficial to visitor’s spiritual and physical wellbeing, whilst the restaurant serves food that is both nourishing and delicious.
Providing accommodation across four stunning Balinese rice barns (or Lumbungs), The Bali Purnati Center for the Arts exudes an authentic, relaxed aura. The mission of this organisation is to create collaborations between people, traditions and cultures through art residencies, with the intention of furthering understanding and artistic growth. Engaging in various art fields, past participating artists have created unique works that fuse Asian traditional practice with contemporary artistic thought. Guests can interact with the artists during their projects and at the end of their time Purnati puts on a display of their work for the local community. Visitors are also encouraged to take part in yoga and art activities during their stay.
Located on a jetty in the middle of a forest, Rimba Ecolodge can only be reached by boat. The lodge’s location is perfect for travellers who want to explore the surrounding rainforests and Tanjung Puting National Park either by foot or wooden boat (klotok). The lodge also organises many tours that allow visitors to meet the animal inhabitants of this natural territory, as well as conducting night tours showcasing the glowing mushrooms and fireflies of the area, while the feeding stations offer animal enthusiasts the chance to meet orangutans and other primates face to face.
A serene and secluded environment of immense natural beauty, The Temple Lodge is located atop Bali’s southernmost tip – the white cliffs of the Bukit Peninsula – with a thatched roof and tropical design that matches perfectly with the surrounding area. From its raised perspective, visitors can admire the waves that attract surfers from around the world whilst yoga courses, massages and a menu full of organic ingredients ensure body and soul are taken care of.
Andrew Kingsford-Smith has contributed additional reporting to this article.