One stay in and I’m in perilous danger of becoming an Aman junkie. The Aman junkies as they’re known are addicted to Aman hotels and resorts and travel around the world deliberately seeking out countries in which they can stay at an Aman.
A two night invitation to stay at Amankila in Bali has made me understand exactly why Aman junkies exist. Amankila cascades down a cliff top overlooking a black volcanic sand beach. Each level offers a new and unique view as you walk in from the open air pavilion which houses the reception and then step down to the restaurant and infinity pool.
This is Amankila so there’s not one infinity pool but three which cascade down into each other. There’s another huge 40 metre pool at the beach level as well and the exclusive nature of the hotel means it feels almost like every guest has their own pool.
Australian chef Shane Kelly heads up Amankila’s kitchen and the food is amazing. It’s the best I’ve had in Bali so far. The day starts with freshly squeezed vegetable juices like the zesty carrot, orange and ginger combination and the sort of breakfast dishes people queue for in Melbourne cafes: Mexican fried eggs served on tortillas with jalapenos and salsa and toasted banana bread topped with almonds, ricotta and a drizzle of honey.
Lunch could be served after a morning of snorkelling on one of Amankila’s private boats (a must do activity) or pool side. There’s poached shredded chicken tossed through peppery Balinese rocket and laced with chillis or Amankila’s take on Nasi Goreng with a mound of fried rice, tiny chicken satay skewers and fried egg served on a banana leaf.
Dinner in Amankila’s open air restaurant is magical as you look out over the Lombok strait with the lights on the boats twinkling in the distance. There are Indonesian dishes like the palem udang (200) which comprises prawns infused with coconut and smothered in a spicy red seafood paste or food with more far ranging influence like the delicate tuna panzanella (195) made from tuna just seared on the sides and finely diced tomatos, croutons and cucumbers.
A satay campur (360) Amankila style involves a tiny BBQ on your table with skewers of chicken, beef, fish and prawn. The satay sauce here is made from roasted peanuts rather than fried and forget the health benefits, the taste is so much richer and creamier. The highlight of the menu is the seafood option where you can choose any piece of seafood and have it cooked as you wish. Barramundi comes with its skin charred and crispy and flesh buttery soft and teamed with a salsa made from local ingredients.
At the sweet end of the meal there’s a towering chocolate soufflé served in its own covetable copper saucepan (I had to resist trying to pop it in my suitcase) with a scoop of smooth vanilla bean ice-cream. This is not hotel food, it’s destination dining.
After dinner each night we head back to our own private villa connected to the main part of the hotel by an elevated walkway through the frangipani trees. There’s a wide verandah and table and chairs for lounging around outside and inside a huge wooden four poster bed, the sort you could get lost in. There’s another two separate rooms one housing the toilet, bath and shower while the third room had two vanity units and a huge expanse of hanging space and drawers for unpacking.
Nice touches include a coffee machine and Bose sound system. Be prepared to unplug to an extent: the Amankila villas don’t have televisions and the wifi in our room was patchy (although fine throughout the rest of the resort). Sign me up Aman junkies. I’ve had my first hit and fear an addiction is fast forming.
Gourmet Travel Tips
- I flew to Bali with JetStar and my flight was $800 return from Melbourne to Denpasar. Remember to have $35 USD in cash with you at the airport for your visa for entry to Bali. Amankila is about 1.5 hours drive from Denpasar airport.
- Kids are welcome. I brought my almost 2 year old daughter and the Amankila team provided a cot, high chair, baby essentials pack including nappies and baby shampoo and even baby proofed our room. There are kids books and DVDs in the library and toys on the beach.
- I spent my time there lounging by the pools, building sandcastles and swimming at the beach, snorkelling on the boat trip, getting a massage at the spa and attending one of the regular yoga classes.
- For more Bali tips here are my guides to Seminyak restaurants, and Ubud eats.
Gourmet Chick was invited to review Amankila.
Details: Amankila, Manggis, Bali, Indonesia (Ph (62) 363 41333)
Damage: Budget breaking. Room rates start at $1,100.