Room reaction: Sexxxy up in Suite 303. A slick stone wall runs seamlessly from the entry door all the way to the balcony, while the other wall is all mirror, toned down with dark wood latticework. That platform bed had us at hello and the two bathtubs (one inside, one outside) made us reconsider our devotions to showers only. All in all, the style is best summed up as a honeymoon suite for the ideal "cool" couple.
Amenity madness: Not gonna lie, but one of the first things we did after arriving to the room was gasp as all the extras in the bathroom. Two different kinds of soap, individual "his" and "her" boxes with separate creams and shampoos, bath oil, bath salt, incense sticks...how would we ever fit what we didn't use into your luggage to bring home, because you know it has to come home. Additionally there's a sketch pad, fresh local fruit (passionfruit in our case), two types of sandals and more goodies to find around the room. Don't miss checking out the large stone Mancala board next to the outdoor bathtub.
Pool party: This is a resort in a tropical beach destination, so naturally much of the outside-the-room focus will be on the pools. There are three at the Anantara: one main infinity pool with towards the beach, one courryard pool that gets less sun but has more privacy, and one that's so private it's only accessible by guests of about 6 suites on the ground floor (their "balconies" have ladders right into the water)> And of course there's always Seminyak Beach, with the Anantara's "front yard" full of loungey beds for drying off.
WiFi Connect: Free and fast, all around the property.
What we liked: The sleek, modern design of the rooms that doesn't give into all that tropical frou-ha-ha, the location, little extras like a variety of sun creams and oils by the pool, the "lawn" which allows for discrete beach people-watching in comfort, the breakfast menu (go for the Mie Goreng!) and the bathroom layout, which actually seemed to do the trick of balancing the elements of "peekaboo" and privacy. And, OMG, the lemongrass & ginger soaps. SO HAPPY we made room in our luggage for that.
What we didn't like: There's not much of a lobby to speak of, and instead of a hotel bar all your drinking is best done either on the lawn loungers or up top, at the SOS Supper Club (more to come on this!). And, though you may daydream of naked baths in your balcony bathtub, the reality is that those tubs aren't all that private. Finally, the temptation of that semi-secret third pool almost proved to much. Next time, we'll give up a view for the special pool access.
Bottom line: We stayed in a nice variety of places in Bali, but this is the one we've been recommending to friends asking for Bali beach access. Bonus points for the guarantee of a large room, a private club-like atmosphere, the beachfront lawn and lots of little surprises. We'll be backthat sunset and those pools...sigh. Too bad we have to really save up to get the time in here we want.
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher for HotelChatter]