It's comforting to note that despite the 2005 bombings, which tragically killed 23 people, European arrivals to this holiday island have only declined by 10 per cent since the atrocity. Those figures, and the fact that only Australia, New Zealand and South Korea issued travel warnings against travel to Bali after the attacks (far fewer countries than after the devastating bombings in Kuta in 2002), are a tribute to the resilience and charm of the Balinese people.

OutUK correspondent Robin Newbold reports on the appeal and charm of this beautiful part of Asia.

We found this lush island has diversified and is appealing to a more fashionable crowd with the numerous boutiques, art galleries, stunning restaurants and bars that have opened over the last couple of years, particularly in the Seminyak area. It has thrived at the expense of Kuta, since the drop-off in the Australian backpacker crowd. A beach bum and his "woodie", one of the commonest and most pleasant sights on Seminyak.
Photo:Robin Newbold.
Seminyak is the area that has really thrived at the expense of Kuta and the beautiful people are flocking here in their droves without a backpack to be seen, for this, without a doubt, is Louis Vuitton territory.

SEA AND BE SEEN

This being Bali, the beach is the place to be seen. On Seminyak the stretch of sand between the Oberoi Hotel and The Legian is one of the busiest but as the dimensions are so vast it never really seems crowded. The huge rollers often make it treacherous to swim but there are boogie boards (small surfboards) for hire and big "woodies" if you can handle them. If surfing is not your thing, however, just watching the procession of tan beach boys frolicking in the waves is a sport in itself.
A popular beach hangout by day and by night is the recently opened Ku de Ta restaurant and bar, which has gained notoriety for itself and featured in the pages of The Times and various other style bibles. This Australian-run venue may be cool but it couldn't be more relaxed; there are even sun loungers for the totally laid back. Bali's "beautiful people" enjoy a sundowner at Ku de Ta restaurant & bar.
And as the sun dips into the ocean, the candles aglow and the beach boys shower off, there's no better place to enjoy Bali's unique and magical atmosphere.

BRIGHT LIGHTS

Coming from Bangkok I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Bali's gay scene but after a couple of outstanding nights, kid in a candy store wouldn't be a bad description. Situated in Jalan Dhyana Pura, Seminyak, Kudos Bar & Lounge (no relation to the London-based institution, by the way) and Q Bar, Bali's first gay bar, just across the street is the axis of this fairly small but beautifully formed scene, though there are a smattering of other gay bars in the surrounding area. The boys are incredibly friendly - though some of the scene is commercial admittedly, there are plenty of genuine lads looking for fun not rupiah - and it doesn't take long to find out where people are heading onto later and where the party is.

Even in rainy season these venues were packed to the rafters with locals and tourists, particularly at the weekend. Kudos reaches a climax at midnight with a terribly amateurish cabaret show, which really sums up the very welcome lack of pretension here. The pace tends to slow between 1-2am when the more up-for-it crowd often head to uber club Double Six rather than going home. It's actually walking distance from Jalan Dhyana Pura, though taxis are very cheap if you're not sure of the way. This mixed club's open from sunset till sunrise and is the place for hardcore clubbers with the beachfront area often crowded with celebrities and models, though not always looking their best! For only a small entry fee there's also a swimming pool and bungee jumping facilities if you're looking for the ultimate come down, though the dance floor is the place to cruise those cute Balinese.

GET LAID

Situated a short cab ride away from Seminyak's nightly delights, The Legian hotel was designed in the early 1980s by one of Indonesia's leading architects, Hendra Hadiprana. You'll be hard pressed to find a more enticing setting, set in landscaped tropical gardens, with each suite offering stunning views across the Indian Ocean, this destination offers the best of Bali with all its attendant charms.
Studio Suites are spacious and comfortable, while service is friendly and efficient without being intrusive. The Legian is also walking distance from Ku de Ta, which is obviously an added draw if all the tranquillity gets too much and the section of the beach the hotel occupies is very, very popular for surfing, which makes for great eye candy! The dreamy outlook from the pool of the stylish Legian hotel. Photo:Robin Newbold.
Though you can get closer and join in if that's your thing, the hotel provides boards for free and a very accommodating lifeguard even offers instruction.

For something a little cheaper and a little gayer, though The Legian is a so-called "gay-friendly" hotel, check out gay accommodation website www.balifriendlyhotels.com. The website's a great resource providing the ability to book online at any number of gay guesthouses and hotels across the island while giving a useful snapshot of each. A particular favourite is Bali Mystique, airy bungalows, a pleasant beachside location - very close to The Legian - ensure it's always busy, as does the fact it's very reasonably priced for what is fast becoming Bali's most fashionable little corner.

Revised April 2015

OutUK's hotel partners Bookings also have a large range of hotels bookable online at special discount prices. Return flights via Bangkok are available through eBookers

Robin Newbold is now based in London. His debut gay novel Vacuum-Packed is now available.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Double Six, Jalan Pantai, Seminyak, 731-226
Ku de Ta, Seminyak Beach, 736-969 (Website)
Kudos Bar & Lounge, Jalan Dhyana Pura, Seminyak, 738-697
The Legian, Seminyak Beach, Jalan Laksmana, 730-623 (Website)
Q Bar, Jalan Dhyana Pura, Seminyak
(For calling outside of Indonesia, dial 62 361 first)

 

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