Spa-aaah! A guide to Bali's best spas and chill-out spots
Whether you’re looking for the royal treatment or a quick rub-down, Bali's spa options are seemingly infinite. Indulgent travellers could easily craft a full itinerary around day spas, and find themselves floating from oiled-up acupressure massage to flower petal baths and mani-pedis.
If this sounds like bliss, check out Bali's upmarket hotels first, almost all of which open their doors to the public for spa treatments. Plan ahead, as many of the best day spas are booked well in advance. Don’t forget to dabble in traditional Balinese treatments – they rarely disappoint. Here's your essential guide to seeking a bit of 'aah & aah' in Bali’s best spa locations.
Kuta and Legian
Part of the Padma Resort at Legian, this spa is all about spreading the wisdom and traditions of Balinese massage and healing. With spas in some 70 global locations including three in Bali, it seems the world can’t get enough of the Mandara. The Legian location’s signature treats include their frangipani body glow and a quartz lift facial.
Jamu spa at Alam KulKul Boutique Resort
Named after a traditional Indonesian medicinal drink, Jamu carries out its treatments using locally sourced products made of herbs, fruits, flowers, roots, spices, honey and essential oils - all enjoyed over the pretty garden courtyard of AlamKulKul Boutique Resort with a manageable price tag to boot.
The Spa at The Legian Bali
Have your body primed, polished and pampered in a tranquil spot overlooking the Indian Ocean. Make use of The Legian's hotel setting by dropping into the fitness studio, sauna, steam room or a yoga class.
Shine Spa for Sheraton
The Sheraton name is synonymous with trusted decadence, and the Shine Spa for Sheraton is no exception. There's an entire menu dedicated to couples and family treatments, as well as candlelit treatment rooms, rose petal body scrubs and champagne – a honeymoon must-do.
The Prana Spa is fit for an Arabian princess with its regal colour scheme, hot and cold plunge pools and decadent menu of spa options.
Bookings are essential at what is possibly the liveliest spa in Bali, with guests swanning in and out of the premises at all hours. But this won’t diminish your ability to unwind: infrared saunas, hair colouring, seaweed facials, 'Mandi Lulur' (an ancient purifying ritual) exfoliating massages and plenty more treatments unfold in Bodyworks' grand surrounds.
Weary of slow-paced island life? Your salvation is Spring (springspa.com), a self-proclaimed 'social spa' complete with a DJ station, iPads and a loft-style aesthetic. It comes as no surprise that Spring is the brainchild of Ina Bajaj, founder of the well-known East Day Spa and Derek Lockwood, worldwide director of design for Saatchi & Saatchi.
Acqua Perla Spa at the Double-Six Hotel
Futuristic and fanciful, booking in at the Acqua Perla Spa at the Double-Six Hotel is – as its website says – 'like accepting a VIP invitation to Alice in Wonderland'. Blue hues and clean glass artworks complement their vast menu.
Kerokoban and Canggu
This all-yellow, totally mellow salon is renowned for its world-class facial treatments. Being covered in leaves of gold may sound overly indulgent, but proponents claim it encourages a youthful glow. Gold Dust (goldustbali.com) is one of the only great spa haunts on the beach end of Batu Bolong; team your treatment with a nourishing meal from Betelnut.
Body Temple at the Canggu Club
If you like to feel a bit of pride and prestige while you’re being pampered, Body Temple at the Canggu Club has your name written all over it. Slimming rituals designed to tackle cellulite and fluid retention, and facials that aim to reduce loss of skin elasticity and pigmentation are some of the menu highlights. Once you’re hooked on Body Temple in Canggu, check out the second location at Semara Luxury Villa Resort in Uluwatu.
The offspring of the gorgeous Aliyah (aliyabali.com) bohemian bungalows, this is a cheap and cheerful set-up found on Jl Umalas I. Team your treatment with a colourful, preservative-free meal at the homestay’s restaurant, Sumac, for an afternoon of heart-warming bliss.
Kush Ayurvedic Rejuvenation
Created by the gurus behind Yoga Barn, Kush's yogic roots are clear. The walls are covered with Sanskrit affirmations and massages include pranayama breathing instructions. One session may start an addiction and see you checking in to the Barn’s guesthouse for a full rejuvenation retreat.
Not to be confused with the Seminyak spa of the same name, the Bodyworks Centre (ubudbodyworkscentre.com) of Ubud is the sacred space of famed Balinese healer, Ketut Arsana. This is not your traditional spa session: it’s a chance for deep individualised healing, which may include energy balancing, cupping, reflexology, therapeutic massage, chakra healing and more – all depending on your body’s requirements. An authentic experience to say the least.
Ubud Sari Health Resort
Enjoy a 'total tissue cleansing' with organic and natural ingredients at Ubud Sari Health Resort (ubudsari.com). Function definitely trumps form at this no-nonsense spa, salon and hotel, with a copious range of offerings.
The newest of Spa Bali's (spabali.biz) four island locations offers chocolate body scrubs, human hair extensions and Ayurvedic massages. Stroll in at 10am and leave when the doors close an hour before midnight.
Bukit Peninsula, Jimbaran and Nusa Dua
Jari Menari (jarimenarinusadua.com) might be known and adored for its ability to soothe clients into peaceful oblivion, but its good deeds earn the gold star. The establishment's entire premise is to give work to young local males with few skills and opportunities. Learn the Jari Menari art of 'dancing fingers' at a one-day workshop and book any visit well in advance: customers roll in as quickly as their awards. Swing between their centres in both Nusa Dua and Seminyak.
Spa on the Rocks, Ayana Spa
Its location, perched on a rock in the Indian Ocean, is just part of the Ayana Resort and Spa's appeal – though admittedly a very big part. The treatment catalogue is laced with black rice baths, volcanic lava body scrubs, jade stone ceremonies, diamonds, pearls and champagne. This is quite possibly Bali’s most indulgent spa splurge.
Temple Spa at The Temple Lodge
What could be more reassuring than a massage at the hands of a man known as Mr Tendon? The sanctuary of the spa at The Temple Lodge is the perfect drop-in for stiff surfers on the way home from Bingin beach.
Thalasso Bali at Grand Mirage Resort
There are many incredible resort spas in Nusa Dua, but Thalasso Bali at Grand Mirage sets itself apart with a 38-degree, 100% seaweed and seawater aqua medic pool, as well as a cave-like treatment room for shower massages.
In a place as relaxing as Bali, you don't need a spa to be soothed. These low-key hangouts make every day an indulgence.
Air Panas Banjar
At Air Panas Banjar, hot springs percolate down through a series of pools amid lush tropical plants. Soak in the top pools, or get a pummelling massage from the falling water.
This article was first published by Lonely Planet in November 2009, and was updated by Samantha Chalker in April 2015.