Sanak Retreat in North Bali

'The boutique Sanak Retreat in North Bali by French philanthropists feels like revisiting the Bali I feared no longer exists' by Sheriden Rhodes

The 11 one and two-bedroom teak bungalows and one three-bedroom villa, are designed for simple yet elegant living with swathes of vintage batik and an eclectic assortment of antiques and classic collectibles hand picked by co founder Michele Gagnaire, French interior designer Delphine Leon and Australian hospitality and spa advisor Jane Quinn (co founder of Per Aquum Spas). The result is old Indonesia meets contemporary eco comfort.

As well as bespoke experiences aimed at immersing guests in Bali’s bucolic island life, Sanak offers a farm to plate restaurant with rice paddy vistas across the main patchwork pool so mesmerising you’ll be hard pressed concentrating on the traditional organic fare, served with a twist. All ingredients are selected by Indonesian chef Putu, who works with local foragers to offer guests authentic Balinese jungle cuisine. Try the black rice pudding, the sesame encrusted mahi mahi, the baby bamboo soup and decadent cocktails like the Sanak Garden, an herbaceous mix laced with Vodka 9 (also made in Bali). Or cap off another magical day exploring with a luscious strawberry martini, made with lush local strawberries sourced from Bedugal.

Another of the highlights of Sanak is the two-storey, chemical free day spa with its simple, pared back design open to the elements. With a chorus of frogs and crickets rising from the rice fields, there’s simply no need for a new age soundtrack. Male therapist Wawan delivers hands down one of the best massages I’ve had as a balmy breeze wafts through the open windows. Afterward I sink into a heavenly herbal bath filled with fresh sliced ginger, lemongrass, lime, clove and galangal with kaffir lime leaves, looking out over terraced emerald rice paddies, glistening under a cloudless blue sky.

Lyall Bedroom


by Sheridan Rhodes