I should start this article with full disclosure: I have watched the movie Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts at least 10 times. I’m especially smitten with the scene where Julia meets Javier Bardem at that sultry, sunset beach party in Bali, Indonesia–pure magic. I booked my flight to the “Island of the Gods” with this image completely occupying my mental, wanting a similar experience for myself: full moon in the sky, feet in the sand, arms in the air, body swaying to bossanova beats in a crowd of stunners.
My pre-trip dreams were slightly shattered when friends fresh from a jaunt to Bali relayed horror stories about nightlife in famed Kuta, the center of an extensive, tourist-oriented urban area in Southern Bali known for its party scene.With resorts, café’s and clubs along Kunta Beach, the area is home to a popular Indonesian punk rock band called Superman is Dead, most famous for its English song “Kuta Rock City.” A “sleazy backpacker haven,” my friends reported. “Oh, no,” I exclaimed.
While I have enjoyed test tube shots and table dances in my not so distant past, after months of roughing it in rural Cambodia, I wanted a more upscale escape, sans beer chugging. A preliminary Google search suggested Seminyak might be my place. A northern extension of the Kuta district, Seminyak is a quieter suburb where much of the expat crowd lives. With new fine dining and posh clubs, this was the nightlife I lusted. While Seminyak draws some of the Australian surfer crowd typically frequenting Kuta, most of the visitors here play it chic. The area has even attracted top acts like Ellie Goulding and Azealia Banks for live shows. Google got me going in the right direction, and if you check out my personal picks below, I’ll get you right where you want to be for swanky nights in Bali.
Potato Head (Go for the Sunset): Housed in a coliseum-shaped amphitheater comprised of 18th century teak shutters collected from across the Indonesian archipelago, Potato Head is striking from the start. The darkened ramp entryway opens up to an Eden of emerald lawn with an infinity pool where tanned revelers lounge and swim. Opened in 2010 with sister locations in Jakarta and Singapore, Potato Head is Seminyak’s sleek and minimal beach club for the young and chic.
Cocktails at sunset here are a must. The crowd arrives early. If you’re lucky, you’ll score a poolside cabana from a group that’s all sun-shined out. Order a round of appetizers–the tomato galette with black olives, goat cheese and basil was a favorite, but options like tuna tartar, crispy prawns and crab cakes are sure to delight, too. But the real star on Potato Head’s composition book-like menu is the Prohibition Iced Tea. Served in a tin tea kettle and on a wood slab, it’s mixology at its finest. Dry ice gives the illusion of a piping hot brew, and a mix of vodka, gin, rum, tequila, orange liqueur and actual earl grey tea, with a side of vodka-infused oranges make this drink the long island iced tea’s classy sister. Sip and soak up the last bit of sun as you watch it dip below the horizon.
At a Glance
Vibe: Young, fresh, relaxed
Best Time: 5pm – 7pm
Dress Code: Smart and stylish, think bright swim trunks and neoprene bikinis with oversized shades and breezy cover ups
Best Cocktail: The Prohibition Iced Tea
Address: Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak, Bali 83061, Indonesia
Web Address: https://www.ptthead.com/
Ku De Ta (Dress to Impress): After you’ve had a quick bite, put on your finest and head to Ku De Ta for after-dinner drinks. Not to be confused with Singapore’s Ku De´ Ta rooftop bar, Bali’s version opened in 2000 and is the type of place that’ll make your heart melt. Walk the long stretch through the entryway to the shore-side lounge, where candles dotting every table cast sultry shadows over red and cherry wood accents. Cozy up on one of the couches and listen to the waves crash in the background. To your left, you may find couples whispering sweet nothings. To your right, the faint smell of Cohiba smoke wafting over from a guy taking full advantage of Ku De Ta’s extensive cigar selection.
Ambiance is everything at Ku De Ta, but the drink menu is king. Get creative and try a Vanilla Passion Foam or a Watermelon Crush with honey, pink ginger beer and cinnamon. Or go for my personal favorite–the KDT Dark and Stormy, a tumbler of rum and a beaker of house-made ginger beer on the side for you to mix to taste, it’s all kept cold by a frozen, rum-soaked lime. You just can’t go wrong.
At a Glance
Vibe: Laid back and sexy
Time to arrive: 10pm – 11:30pm
Dress Code: Something slinky for the ladies, sharp for the men
Best Cocktail: The KDT Dark and Stormy
Address: Jalan Kayu Aya No.9, Bali, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Web Address: https://www.kudeta.net/
Jenja (Try it for theThrowbacks): Take a $ moto from KDT to Jenja, situated on Seminyak’s outskirts. Jenja’s location on the lower level of Seminyak’s ultra-modern TS Suites hotel is apropos, because on Wednesday nights, with resident DJ Yoga Yin spinning hip hop throwbacks like Truth Hurts and Rakim’s “Addictive,” along with Wu Tang and Fugees classics, you’ll think you’re at a basement party. Granted, the high ceilings and walls modeled after dragon scales make this place slightly cooler than any basement I’ve ever sweated in. But perhaps most striking is the diverse crowd of locals in traditional burkas and travelers from around the world, all gathered in the spirit of good music and a good time.
At a Glance
Vibe: Carefree and energetic
Time: Wednesdays, Midnight – 2am
Dress Code: Your fab fits from KDT will fit right in
Best cocktail: Stick with your standard highballs; ladies’ drinks are 50% off (Women can buy a round and pass them to their guys, I’m just saying…)
Address: Jl. Nakula no.18, Kuta, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Web Address: https://www.tssuites.com/bali/
La Favela (Dance ‘til Sunup): I happened upon this spot by chance. Prowling the streets looking for late moves on my first night, it was the only place where music was still blasting. At every night’s end, I found myself there again, chatting and dancing with expats drawn to Bali to surf, chill and make art. I was already a regular. La Favela felt like home. It’s the type of place that has collected a fascinating mix of followers who flock to the spot nightly to dance to samba, salsa, house and hip-hop. It was the place I’d been fantasizing about, minus the sand and moonlight. But that’s okay, because the inspiring decor at La Favela is half of the draw. It has a unique vintage flair with found objects like Virgin Marys, antique furniture, gas lamps and abstract paintings, all overlapped with ease. It’s a must visit and quite possibly one of my favorite spots in the world.
At a Glance Vibe: Effortlessly cool, eclectic and fun Time: 2am ‘til close
Dress Code: Anything goes
Best Cocktail: Indonesia’s tasty Bintang lager offers the best bang for your buck
Address: Jl Laksamana Oberoi 177X Seminyak, Denpasar, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia
SOHO Burgers(Go for late-night bites): A native New Yorker, this spot got me on nostalgia alone. It’s open 24-hours, which is pretty fitting for a restaurant named after a neighborhood in the city that never sleeps. Head here for the quesadillas when the late-night hunger creeps in. There’s bound to be a few characters in there doing the same, and, in that way, the party never really ends.
Address:Jalan Laksmana Oberoi 12xx, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia