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The pool at Alila Manggis, Bali
Not so eagle-eyed readers will have noted in recent weeks that HotelChatter has a bit of a crush on Alila, the small chain which does a rather fine job at subtle, aware-of-their-location hotels and resorts around Asia and the Middle East.
Well, Alila isn’t quite so small anymore – it’s just been swallowed up by, and amalgamated with, Commune Hotels & Resorts.
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The pool at Alila Ubud in Bali is well known as one of the island’s best – an infinity pool overlooking the Ayung river and valley, it’s probably second only to Hanging Gardens in the jaw-dropping stakes.
But when we visited the hotel for a spa treatment last week, what we were far more excited about were the pool attendants. And we’re not talking men; we’re talking monkeys.
Here’s why you should stay at Alila Manggis:
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A heavenly pool, manicured grounds, the sea just beyond the grass, and yet totally affordable rooms. So what’s the catch?
This is the view from our room at the Alila Manggis hotel in Manggis, East Bali. As we said yesterday, Bali is chock full of luxury hotels. Alila is one of those luxury brands, with real bucket list hotels like Alila Villas Uluwatu and The Soori Estate.
But with prices well into the $600s for those bucket list properties, they’re not exactly affordable. But there is one “budget” Alila: Alila Manggis. Over here, in less popular East Bali, our room cost $153, including breakfast, an hour-long spa treatment of our choice, and transfers to and from the airport.
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With the hotel overload in Dubai, and to a lesser extent in Doha (Qatar) and Abu Dhabi (UAE), Oman has had a slightly lower profile among the emirates, but that seems to be changing: Four Seasons is heading to the sultanate, and so is Aman, and looking at the photos of recently opened Alila Jabal Akhdar makes us want to book a ticket to capital Muscat as soon as possible.
A two and a half hour 4WD-only drive from Muscat into the Al Hajar mountains, the hotel is built to fit within the natural environment, perched on a cliff overlooking the gorge below (Jabal Akhdar means “The Green Mountain” in Arabic). There are just 78 suites and villas, all with outdoor space like above to soak in the surrounding landscape and dramatic sunsets – more photos below.
We like to keep it fun but informative here at HotelChatter so our newest series, What is This? is devoted to odd-looking items in hotel rooms that upon first glance look as if they serve only a decorative purpose. But everything happens for a reason, right? And we're here to tell you what these things really do.
This is a sticker of an arrow, placed in the bottom of the first drawer inside the closet of a room at Jakarta's hotel Alila. What's is there for? You'd only know if you were accustomed to looking for them or, like us, you'd obediently read the guest handbook after arrival.
This arrow points to the direction in which Mecca is located. It's absolutely necessary for a hotel located in the center of a predominantly Muslim country.
When the muezzin's call to prayer awakes you just before dawn, think of how many guests then get up and open the drawer to see this arrow, and discover which way to pray.
So now you know.
When you check into a hotel and sit down to flip through the room service menu tucked into the back of the Guest Services binder, odds are good that one item will be the hotel's "famous" something-or-other, like a signature burger. At the Alila Hotel Jakarta, however, it's something a bit more local: the Nasi Campur 'Alila'.
For 80,000 rupiah ($8.70), you get a large plate of traditional Indonesian fried rice, topped with a fried egg. On the side are a few skewers of chicken satay, some prawn crackers and trimmings. It's a substantial, tasty meal for room service, and the price is definitely right. Alila Hotels is a Singapore-based hotel company, with all their properties in either Indonesia or India, so it makes total sense to forego a huge Western room service menu (though there are several solid choices).
We booked two nights at the Alila Jakarta on Jetsetter.com for $234 total, mainly because they have reliable, free WiFi. Little did we know that the room service was also part of the positives.