The Travel Diary: A weekend in Seminyak

Surf, spas and shops – what’s not to love about Seminyak? Among colourful frangipani trees and stone-carved temples you’ll find buzzing cafes, designer boutiques and world-class restaurants, and while its beachside bars are pumping come sunset, the town has managed to retain an easy-going atmosphere compared to the hedonistic excesses of neighouring Kuta.

Stay: W Retreat and Spa

The internationally renowned group’s modern aesthetic meets the island’s natural beauty with nearly all 237 retreats, suites and villas offering stunning ocean views, while communal spaces feature tropical gardens, lotus pools and a traditional wantilan (Balinese pavilion). To sample Indonesian street food without leaving your five-star surrounds, enjoy Sunday lunch at the Hawker House Street Feast, a delicious collaboration between in-house chef de cuisine Richard Millar and London’s Spice Market chef Peter Lloyd.

W Retreat and Spa is a combination of the signature modern aesthetic and the island’s natural beauty.

Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia, +62 361 473 8106,

Eat: MAMA San

Chanelling a 1920s colonial Britain in Shanghai aesthetic, a stunning mural of gentlemen’s club madam Mama San watches over diners at this strikingly modern two-storey warehouse. The old-meets-new theme shines through in a menu that features a modern twist on traditional dishes that span the continent – from an Indian lamb and chana dahl curry to a grilled Thai beef salad, roasted Peking duck and Vietnamese spring rolls. What unites this Asian culinary odyssey is the flavourful punch packed by each and every dish. Kick things off with one of five Martinis featuring local ingredients.

Mama San is a strikingly modern restaurant housed in a two-storey warehouse that follows a 1920s colonial Britain Shanghai aesthetic.

135 Jalan Raya Kerobokan, Br. Taman, Bali, +62 361 730 436,

Drink: Corner House

Casual café by day – serving a modern Aussie-meets-Asia brunch and lunch menu and coffees using beans sourced from local roaster Revolver – in the evenings, head up the large wooden staircase, past the sepia photos and old-school maps, and you will uncover an intimate drinking den. Beneath the high vaulted ceiling, the standalone white-tiled bar dominates with candlelit space. Grab a spot at one of the swivel chairs or sink into the colonial chic-style sofas and armchairs. Champagne and international wines sit alongside classic cocktails and pre- and postprandial whiskies, cognac and brandies.

The Corner House Bali is a casual café by day and an intimate drinking establishment by night.

10a Jalan Laksmana, Seminyak, Bali +62 361 730 276

Shop: Home Store

Seminyak might not be short on fashion boutiques and homewares shops, but none are as eye-catching as this fluorescent-filled store. Pick up pretty summer dresses and children’s clothes, striped slippers and floral bags and scarves – they are guaranteed to add a vibrant splash of Bali colour to your wardrobe when you return home. At the back of the shop, steps lead to a pumping vintage-styled coffee shop, the perfect place to regroup after your retail therapy.

While away your time in the Home Store and then head upstairs to the vintage-styled café to get ready for your next splurge of shopping.

3 Jalan Kayu Aya, Seminyak, Bali +62 819 9978 3994

Visit: Pura Petitenget

It’s easy to spend the day lazing by the pool, but for a cultural fix it’s worth exploring Pura Petitenget, one of the island’s Dang Kahyangan collection of sea temples that were built in the 16th-century to spiritually guard the island’s perimeters. Set just behind the Petitenget foreshore, this intricate red brick and sandstone structure comprises dozens of shrines and pavilions draped in Balinese chequered cloths, as well as a grand dragon staircase that leads to the temple’s vast courtyard. You might be lucky enough to visit on a festival day, otherwise local dancers can often been seen practicing at the pavilion next door.

Pura Petitenget is a great spot to visit on a festival day.

Do: Rip Curl School of Surf

If you want to get out on the water, this Kuta-based surf school has been in operation for more than 16 years and today holds classes across the island. Sign up for a session at the nearby Legian branch and try your hand at surfing, kite surfing, wakeboarding, body-boarding and stand-up paddle boarding. Classes cater for all skill levels, and who knows, you might end the day catching a wave as the sun sinks into the sea.

Take some lessons in surfing and kite surfing at the Rip Curl Surf School on Kuta Beach.

45 Jalan Uluwatu, Legian, Bali +62 361 701 888,

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By: Helen Alexander

Originally from London, freelance writer Helen Alexander recently relocated to Kuala Lumpur after four coffee-fuelled years in Melbourne. She writes about her favourite pursuits – travelling and eating – as much as possible, in addition to covering a range of lifestyle interests for a number of international publications. Her work can be found at