Barefoot-luxe beach stays and serene rain forest retreats dominated this year’s list, as voted on by T+L readers.
For some people, travel to Indonesia may conjure images of shanty beach hostels and self-discovery trips à la Eat, Pray, Love — but this year’s list of our readers’ favorite resort hotels underscores the upscale side of the destination. Top-tier international hotel are creating an array of luxury travel experiences around the nation’s diverse charms.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.
Related: The 2018 World's Best Awards
All of this year’s winning properties can be found on the same island — except one. The outlier is Nihi Sumba Island, an eco-friendly resort set near a major surf break on Sumba, one of Indonesia’s southernmost islands. The property, which T+L readers have voted the best hotel in the world for two years in a row, continues to up its game after a rebranding last year by entrepreneurs Christopher Burch and James McBride. Guests can go spearfishing with locals, visit Stone Age sites and traditional villages, and, of course, surf the epic waves. Nihi Sumba’s success speaks to a larger desire for excursions and accommodations that go beyond the big-box beach resort experience, said one reader. “This is a hotel than cannot have been created by hoteliers. It was created by maverick individuals and honed by professionals.”
With the exception of Nihi Sumba, however, 2018 is very clearly the year of Bali. Its velvety stretches of sand and crystalline waters won over readers at two of this year’s winning properties, the Alila Manggis and the Mulia Bali, both beachfront hotels. But activities go beyond the sea: at Alila Manggis, staffers can arrange for you to meet a Balian healer or ride bikes down Mount Agung. At the family-friendly Mulia, kids can take Balinese dance or flower-arranging classes.
The other two resort hotels are located inland, speaking to Bali’s appeal as more than “just” a beach destination. They are close to Ubud, the cultural heart of the island, set amid the rice paddies and rain forests of Bali’s central highlands. Said one guest of this year’s first-place property, which also happens to be the No. 1 in the world: “We can find beach resorts in other countries, but this unique hotel, in a beautiful river valley in the jungle, is one of a kind.”
So what property is this year’s best resort hotel in Indonesia? Read on to find out.