Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Amankila

Indonesia

Amankila has drama, beauty, dazzling suites, glorious swimming pools together with an ever-present soundtrack of crashing waves

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Amankila
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Amankila

Location

Amankila sits in Bali's most traditional regency - Karangasem

Travel Information

Amankila is an hour's drive from Denpasar International airport, whilst Amanusa is 15 minutes away, and Amandari a 45 minute drive

Top Tips

John Hardy's jewellery showroom

5-Star X-Factors

The breathtaking back drop of Mount Agung (peaceful hill) and the sea

Amankila - 'Peaceful Hill'

Fellow travel writer Jennifer, my daughter Bibi, and I, had already spent several days in Bali, enjoying stays at the wonderful Amanusa in Nusa Dua, followed by Amandari on the outskirts of Ubud. Amankila was our third and possibly most spectacular stay on this mesmerising island.

Amankila is outstandingly positioned on a hilltop on the East Coast of the island, with breath-taking views of the sea and Mount Agung, Bali's highest and most hallowed mountain, as its backdrop. Amankila has drama, beauty, dazzling suites, glorious swimming pools together with an ever-present soundtrack of waves crashing on the shore, courtesy of the Indian Ocean. With a private beach, a beach club and, quite honestly, a location that you usually can only conjure up in your dreams, Amankila has it all.

East Bali is often referred to as the 'old Bali' due to its deep-rooted traditional values and historical provenance. The way of life here has altered far less than the rest of the island, making it, for many, the most alluring destination to visit. The terrain around the resort is exquisitely lush and tropical, dripping verdant jungle foliage all the way down to the sea. Seen from Amankila's boat - a must while you are there - you realise just how exclusive this setting is. Mount Agung is not only Bali's greatest mountain, but resting on its slopes is the island's most profound temple, Pura Besakih.

The drive to Amankila from Amandari

We left Amandari with our hearts full of the magical spirit that prevails in Bali's hinterland around Ubud. The scenery on the drive to Amankila was never dull; a blend of rice paddies, temples, villages and jungle, with several opportunities for stopping and unravelling culture, or stopping and shopping. We did both. We went to perhaps the most established wood carver's home and workshop, Ketut Puja not far from Ubud on the road east. Even if you don't buy a woodcarving, watching the carvers at work, with their well-honed skill and precision is quite incredible. Once in the showroom, it is hard to resist a purchase. There are thousands to choose from. The prices range enormously depending on the type of wood, seemingly more so than the apparent effort that has gone into some of the intricate detail. Crocodile wood, or Jackfruit, is light in colour and more affordable, while the more exotic ebony, aromatic sandalwood and cedar carvings can be extremely pricey. There is always room for negotiation, of course, while the prized possessions are wrapped up well for packing and flying.

Glam Rocks - John Hardy's jewellery showroom and workshop

John Hardy is a well known luxury brand name around the world, and though he is better known in the United States, his distinctive pieces are also sold in Harrods in London. His original shop in Bali is a convenient visit from any of the Amanresorts. His collections are inspired by nature and art from around Asia, while he is now a keen environmentalist with an invested interest in preserving, growing, and promoting bamboo. As a result, much of his latest collection is designed with a detailing that resembles woven bamboo. There are some stunning pieces and once again, there is room for negotiation.

The Bat Cave Temple - Goa Lawah

Once you reach this important temple on the East coast, you are almost at Amankila. The temple itself, the most venerated temple on Bali for matters concerning the afterlife, is built in front of a coastal cliff cave, which, legend has it, stretches as far as Besakih temple on Mount Agung. The Balinese believe that the cave houses an enormous dragon, Naga Basuki, the mythical serpent of the universe and caretaker of the Earth's equilibrium. For nature-lovers, the sight and smell of the screaming fluttering long nosed fruit bat population is astounding and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

A cremation nearby

Cremations near to the Goa Lawah temple are much sought after, but expensive. After our visit to the temple we witnessed an elaborate cremation ceremony or 'palebonan' where families and village members were all gathered to share in what seemed more like a celebration of life than a mourning of a death. The Balinese believe that the body is a temporary vehicle for the soul on earth and, following death, the body must be returned to the earth's elements in order for reincarnation to take place.

Arriving at Amankila - suite surrender

We had the extraordinary opportunity of staying our precious night in Suite One and Suite Two, otherwise known as the Amankila Suite.

These incredible suites offer unrivalled views of Amuk Bay, with vast terraces and not one, but two extremely large 'bales', or thatched daybeds, situated either side of our generously-sized, mint-perfect, private pool. These bales convert into romantic beds for a balmy sleep beneath the stars, complete with 24-hr butler service, while the blissful soundtrack of the sea and teaming jungle life can be added to by a touch of the complimentary iPod; the bales are, of course, wired for sound.

We settled for lunch and an aperitif in the blissful bale closest to the lily pond. We wanted for nothing more than perhaps the rest of our families, and realised that these two suites would be perfect for us all.
In terms of paradise, this felt as close to 'it' as anywhere. You are never sure if you will improve on your previous experience with Aman, but the next one always comes up trumps. Each resort has a unique aura, beauty, landscape and situation that always exceeds your expectations, while the gracious service is consistently excellent; obliging, warm, welcoming and always undertaken with impeccable timing.

Our suites felt luxuriously spacious, benefitting from superb natural light from the double aspect wide windows with king-sized canopied beds and a resplendent writing desk in the corner. The covered outdoor terrace, just off the suite, came in extremely handy when we had a little tropical shower. We simply had our massages under cover but open to the elements.

A cruise from the beach below...

As our stay was all too brief, we relished the chance to soak up some of the incredible opportunities right before us. There was little time to explore the surrounding villages and countryside so we took to the sea. Our boat, The Aman XII, was waiting for us, anchored just off Amankila's beach-club. If ever there were a euphemism for the term 'beach club' it would be here. The palms soar to dizzy heights rising up from emerald green lawns while the mile-long pool with day beds are all set within a host of tropical flora. Then there's the private beach!

The Aman boats are classic, stylish, comfortable, well equipped and without ostentation. The crew were accomplished and extremely helpful, either holding Bibi while I pulled in a mackerel (we fished) or keeping us well satiated. We learnt plenty about this beautiful land from the sea.

Looking back at Amankila, with Mount Agung rising like a Titan behind, allows you to appreciate just how exceptional the setting really is. The sea was calm and we enjoyed a pleasant snorkel at a nearby reef, where we saw a plethora of reef fish including; angelfishes, trumpet fishes, trigger fishes, puffers and tobies, giant clams, colourful coral and plenty more. A cool drink or a tasty snack was on offer at all times.

If we had more time...

Amankila is ideally situated for exploring Bali's traditional eastern corner; rich in history and steeped in culture. Here you can discover the wonders of this region from the land, the air, and the sea. It seems that little is out of Amankila's capability in terms of resources and access and even if you arrive with no prior knowledge, or wish list of activities including, excursions, hiking or biking, Amankila's extremely helpful 'family' will soon enlighten you with what is on offer.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant


Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer