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Hot HotelAmankila, one of the Aman Group’s first hotels may now be in its 25th year, but its still as hot today as it was when it first opened. Designed by Ed Tuttle and Danilo Capellini back in 1992, the property embodies Balinese culture and architecture.

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Unlike the other five Aman properties in Indonesia, Amankila is situated on the pristine East Bali coast and commands potentially one of the best views found in Bali. Because Amankila is situated high above the shoreline (Amankila means ‘peaceful hill’) guests can see Nusa Penida and on a clear day the island of Lombok too.

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East Bali is relatively untouched by tourism, and when we visited in October – basically off season – we felt as if we were the only visitors in the entire region. The area is steeped in culture, and away from the more touristic areas such as Ubud where everyone is getting their fix of Eat, Pray, Love.

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This means if escaping from the masses of tourists, embracing a slower way of life and enjoying true Balinese hospitality is your thing, then Amankila will be the perfect paradise for you.

Balinese girls

However, for those wanting to explore the island, the property focusses on wellbeing, with treks, walks, cultural experiences aplenty, meaning the fleet of hotel cars are on hand to allow guests to see everything from 500-year-old nearby villages to treks through the surrounding forests with spectacular views.

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On entering the property, the absence of any piped music and formal stuffy reception formalities totally encapsulates the Aman philosophy, where it should feel like you are being welcomed into a friends home. With 230 staff catering to just 30-something villas, the service is exceptional, and delightfully relaxed.

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The reception and main area is by far an impressive, and symmetrical affair. With barely a wall to be seen, Ed Tuttle has cleverly brought nature right inside the resort, and the impressive view from the whole property of the crystal blue ocean certainly is an instagram-ready feast for avid selfie lovers.

Mt Agung

Guests can’t help but feel as if there were in a James Bond film, with the grand staircases leading down to a three-tiered pool acting as the centrepiece to this grandiose boutique property.

Enjoy cocktails and sundowners adjacent to the main swimming pool

Either side of the pool is a restaurant and a bar, where the sea breeze keeps guests cool throughout the day. The impressive stone staircase feels like an anchor, holding this fortress of luxury together.

Elevated walkways

While the architecture of the main property is impressive, the simplicity of the elegant staircases that interconnect the villas is equally as jaw-dropping. Throughout the labyrinth of the staircases are a variety of villas. Our recommendation is our villa, 26. A pool villa that delivers one of the best sea views.

Suite entrance

The villas are well appointed, and certainly aren’t showing their age. The grass roof is constantly maintained, as is the terrazzo finishes and limestone detailing that reflects the ornate carvings found across Bali.

Pool Suite

The pool for a private villa is substantial and perfect for soaking in after a long day sunbathing. Each villa is also very private and turned down every evening with candles lining the pool. The housekeeping is invisible, we never saw them while we stayed at Amankila yet their attention to detail was impeccable.


Every night a story and treat is laid out on the fantastic king size bed, explaining the culture of Bali and helping guests identify with the subtle references to the Balinese design of the entire hillside getaway.

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While there is no spa, there is a converted villa turned massage pavilion for guests to use, and the Amankila massages that we experienced in our own villa were extraordinarily good.

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The good news after speaking to the general manager is that the next few years will be exciting. There are plans to slowly introduce a whole new spa area by the beach and introduce new villas which will be able to be purchased, expanding the amount of villas, but not extensively enough to ruin the magic of the hotel.

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By the beach, described as ‘black sand’ due to the now-globally-famous nearby (but not too close) Mt Agung, is the property’s secret weapon – a beach club with a 41 metre pool and second restaurant.

Views across the Lombok Strait

Bales and sun beds align the private beach, which also offers complimentary non-powered water sports. The water is crystal clear, and the beach so shallow it is perfect for even the most nervous sea-goers.

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In the beach club, and served by the beach, is a wonderful array of more relaxed fare, including tacos, pizzas, asian salads and Indonesian specialties such as Nasi Goreng. However, for those wanting for a more fine-dining experience, head back up to the main restaurant situated in the hotel – a minute’s ride up in a buggy.

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The dining is sublime, with both Indonesian and European options getting an equal level of quality. The market fish is a signature offering for the restaurant, and while not exactly cheap, it’s no more expensive than most capital city prices.

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The staff on hand go beyond to learn about their guests and are happy to recommend dishes, some even not on the menu, to give guests a real experience of Balinese culture and cuisine.

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What we leave the property with is memories of a property that may have had 25 years of wonderful success, but with a timelesss quality that gives the impression of a brand new property, but with the time for the service, amenities and cuisine to improve with age. After all, almost all of the staff here have served for over 20 years, and most being here since it opened.


That for us, and for any seasoned traveller, alone should speak volumes.

The Big Picture

Posted by:Jonny Clark

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