Seseh-Tanah Lot villas in Bali, Indonesia

A few kilometres to the north west of Canggu, a towering banyan—one of the ‘elders’ of the tree kingdom—heralds the turning to Seseh, a traditional beachside village approached via an avenue of coconut palms.

Seseh and the tiny neighbouring villages of Sogsogan and Cemagi still retain the customs and culture of old Bali. Here, you will see farmers in conical hats riding rusty old upright bicycles, as well as frequent, colourful processions to Seseh’s large beachside temple. There are no international restaurants here, but you might just see a barong (a high-spirited, benevolent beast representing the power of good; danced by two men inside an ornate costume) dancing on the street. The good news, for folks who want to immerse themselves in the customs and culture of old Bali, is that the villagers encourage and welcome congenial visitors. Although there are now many private rental villas in these three villages, they have seamlessly integrated without detracting from the simplicity and charm of the location. This is an ideal destination for those who want to get lost in the beauty of the countryside, and for those who want to engage with the local people and gain privileged insights into the Balinese Hindu lifestyle.

A little further up the coast is Tanah Lot, famous for its dramatic and venerated sea temple, which is perched on a craggy wave-lashed rock at the edge of the glistening black shoreline. It is probably the most photographed sight in Bali, especially in the late afternoon when its splendid profile is silhouetted against the setting sun. The Tanah Lot locale is also home to a number of private villas due to presence of the 18-hole, 72-par, championship-standard Nirwana Bali Golf Club, which is frequently voted the number one golf course in Asia. This is, however, still a far-flung area with few facilities other than the souvenir stalls and simple eateries within the temple grounds, and three international restaurants within Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort.

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Villas in Indonesia by region

Bali, Lombok
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Villa Matahari

Villa Matahari

Indonesia » Bali » Canggu area » Seseh-Tanah Lot

This wonderful spacious villa is situated just metres from a rugged beach, with views (from upstairs) of the ocean, rice fields and traditional village life. During our stay, we walked a few metres up the road to the temple and had a chat with the very friendly villagers, followed by a stroll along the beach to watch an amazing sunset. If you’re looking for nightlife and shopping, this is not the villa for you. Instead it is a place to relax with family or friends and immerse yourself in the local culture. Matahari is also somewhere you can hold dinner parties, events and weddings. The amount of space will astound you, and the staff are very willing. The villa operates a grocery system, so staff will do the food shopping for you with no extra costs thrown in.
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Villa Niloufar

Villa Niloufar

Indonesia » Bali » Canggu area » Seseh-Tanah Lot

Upon arrival at Villa Niloufar, our opinion about the modern architecture was initially divided. But over the course of 24 hours it became two very positive ‘yays’. This villa is refreshingly different in that it has thrown out any pretence to traditional Bali style (thatched-roofs-and-coconut-wood) by following a rule of its own. Despite its clean lines, nature is embraced by the design. Niloufar is also way more eco-friendly than most villas profess to be, with passive cooling techniques such as cross ventilation and rooftop ponds, an advanced ioniser filter system for the swimming pool, and a water recycling system that allows waste water to be reused in the gardens.  We first reviewed Niloufar in 2009, and on a recent revisit we were impressed with how well the villa has been maintained.

The staff are friendly and diligent; they are there when you need something, but also understand the importance of privacy. The infinity lap pool sits above the river valley with beautiful views, while the sun loungers at the far end are in the form of one large daybed with individual uprights, making for a very communal lazing space. Once installed in the gazebo with the drink of your choice, you can sit back and enjoy the scene in front of you: the river, banked with mature trees, giant bamboo and jungle, and a rice terrace on the far side. This is also a great place for a massage. Judging from the sights and sounds, there is an abundance of wildlife around the villa; we counted many swifts and kingfishers, and even watched a large monitor lizard lazily swim across the river. A dip in the river is fun, there are a couple of small rapids and the water is super-refreshing (but don’t swallow it). There is also a small temple and a holy freshwater spring on the river’s edge. It’s a thrill to stay in a piece of modern architecture that feels as though its roots are in the dwellings of the ancients.
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Shalimar Villas - Villa Cantik

Shalimar Villas - Villa Cantik

Indonesia » Bali » Canggu area » Seseh-Tanah Lot

Villa Cantik could not be more different from its neighbouring big sisters. When we visited, a couple with young baby had just stayed there and had clearly enjoyed the secluded privacy of the villa. Lounging in the sun or taking meals poolside at the simple table make this villa so casual and relaxing. The living room is less impressive but I suspect is little used, other than for watching a DVD of an evening or knocking up a quick drink. The whole focus of this villa is the stretch from bedrooms to pool. Shalimar is well set up for large groups, a special function or extended family – 12 bedrooms in total. Villa Cantik would be a perfect hideaway for, say, the grandparents or those needing a little space away from the main crowd. It also works perfectly well in its own right as a villa for a small family or a couple of friends. As with all the villas in Shalimar, the staff are excellent although you do have to search them out a bit at Cantik as they may assume you would rather have your privacy.
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Shalimar Villas - Villa Kalima

Shalimar Villas - Villa Kalima

Indonesia » Bali » Canggu area » Seseh-Tanah Lot

When you walk into Villa Kalima you just know you're going to have a good holiday. The living room will be the central hub of action (or inaction) and has a wonderful feel to it – so relaxing. In fact with so many beds around – sun loungers in and out of the water, sofas fit for a football team or two, a huge sprawling daybed in front of the TV – two of the master suites even have daybeds in the bathrooms – lazy afternoons with books and magazines (bring your own) will drift by all too quickly. We kicked off our shoes and were in the right mood within minutes of arrival, helped by some lovely staff who would not let us lift a finger and were only too keen to make our stay a pleasurable one. The food was delicious (you pay for the ingredients, the staff buy and cook. Prices are a bargain). Breakfast is prepared in the villa kitchen, which can be a bit intrusive, but most meals are cooked in the main kitchens for the whole Shalimar complex around the back. The pool is a delight and seems a natural extension to the main living room, and the master bedrooms are lovely although some might be a tad nervous about the semi-open bathrooms of the two ground floor ones. The basement bedrooms are fine – best suited to kids though.
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Shalimar Villas - Villa Makanda

Shalimar Villas - Villa Makanda

Indonesia » Bali » Canggu area » Seseh-Tanah Lot

When you walk into Villa Makanda you just know you are going to have a good holiday. The main room will be the central hub of action (or inaction) and has a wonderful feel to it – it so relaxing. In fact with so many beds around – sun loungers in and out of the water, sofas big enough for a football team or two, a huge sprawling daybed in front of the TV – two of the master suites even have daybeds in the bathrooms – lazy afternoons with books and magazines (bring your own) will drift by all too quickly. We kicked off our shoes and were in the right mood within minutes of arrival, helped by some lovely staff who would not let us lift a finger and were only too keen to make our stay a pleasurable one. The food was delicious (you pay for the ingredients, the staff buy and cook. Prices are a bargain). Breakfast is prepared in the villa kitchen, which can be a bit intrusive, but most meals are cooked in the main kitchens for the whole Shalimar complex around the back. The pool is a delight and seems a natural extension to the main living room, and the master bedrooms are lovely although it’s a shame you can’t walk straight out onto the lawns.
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Villa Tanju Bali

Villa Tanju Bali

Indonesia » Bali » Canggu area » Seseh-Tanah Lot

Staying at Tanju is a wonderful experience. The journey from airport to villa took us past some delightfully scenic rice terraces and through typical Balinese villages, keeping the beach hidden until the last moment when the road opens up to reveal a stunning panorama. Honeymooners and romance seekers will feel the magic: floating petals in a sunken bath; walks on the beach or snuggling up on a daybed to watch the sunset, this is your private patch of paradise. With plenty of space and ample creature comforts to keep everyone happy, Tanju will equally captivate families. We found that life slipped easily into a blissful rhythm: a morning walk on the beach (with stunning views to Bali’s majestic Mount Agung volcano) before a breakfast of fresh tropical fruits or a cooked selection of our choice; pool time until a relaxed lunch, then a siesta before more pool time or, for the energetic, a game of tennis at the villa or golf at the world class Nirwana course fifteen minutes’ drive away. Then it was time for drinks to accompany the daily sunset spectacular, then showers and the ritual application of after sun as we waited for the call of the dinner gong. Fresh grilled fish and seafood, wonderful spicy Asian salads and soups, all simply, deliciously prepared and presented. Children drift upstairs to doze in front of a DVD while adults sit chatting to the sound of the waves before another night of peaceful sleep, happy in the knowledge that tomorrow heralds another perfect Bali day.
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Villa Tantangan

Villa Tantangan

Indonesia » Bali » Canggu area » Seseh-Tanah Lot

As a child I always dreamed of living in a beach house; sleeping to the hypnotic sound of waves crashing on the shore and waking to more of the same, and at Villa Tantangan the dream briefly came true. Early each morning we would follow the garden path leading to an ornate Balinese door shrouded in foliage that opens onto the deserted beach. Here, black sand glints in the sun and the wide bay is littered with driftwood and coconut husks. Towards the end of the beach the banks of the Yeh Penyet river gives way to the ocean, and the revered sea temple, Pura Gede Luhur Batungaus, which rises from the dark craggy rocks. Taking a different garden path led us through a wild natural garden filled with pink hibiscus, banana trees and bamboo groves to a small temple, and beyond the Tantangan river.

We really liked the eco design features which were attractive as well as being smart! The gardens on top of the flat roofs helped the buildings blend with their surroundings, and you can forget any notion of ‘eco friendly’ equalling rustic; it was more a case of an undercurrent of luxury enhancing an outdoor experience. We enjoyed panoramic sea views from the bed and from our sunken bath tub, and we loved the aptly named infinity pool which truly had infinite views stretching across the ocean to the horizon The well-equipped kitchen also deserves a mention, because, as an avid cook, it was another dream come true: in fact it was so appealing that we sent the chef home so we could enjoy the experience of ocean-view cooking – it was an absolute pleasure.

Note: The approach road can be a little bumpy in places, but passes through beautiful rural scenery which, to our minds, just added to the enchantment. Guests wishing to make use of the complimentary car and driver during their stay can also walk a few minutes down the beach and get picked up on the main road to Nyanyi, should they prefer. . 


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