Luna2 Studiotel, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia.
Seminyak is up the stylish end of Bali's main beach strip, where the chaos of Kuta gives way to a more sophisticated, laid-back vibe. Five-star hotels dot the beachfront and down the tiny gangs (laneways) are hidden a multitude of luxury villas. Despite the jet-set vibe, Balinese spirituality is around every corner, the beach is the setting for daily offerings and ceremonies, even ritual funerals where hundreds of white-clad locals carry massive, swaying bamboo platforms, more than 30 metres high, bearing the ashes of a relative to be cast across the waves.
There is a dizzying mish-mash of pop culture references through this boutique hotel, unified by a love for the '60s (or the future as the '60s would have imagined it). Designer Melanie Hall refers to her style as "FUNked up modernism". Think James Bond, Sean Connery's Bond that is. The welcome drink is a Lunatini, Belvedere, Veuve and lime, served by staff in houndstooth minis and "cosmic crew" jumpsuits.
Space references abound – Luna2 was the first spaceship to reach the moon.
There is a recurring Monopoly theme: you enter through a sliding glass door marked go, stepping across a mosaic floor with all the stops on the board.
Downstairs is the Pop bar, an acid-inspired feat of turquoise and silver, where guests can party into the morning if desired; on the rooftop sits the Space bar, where you can witness the sun setting across Seminyak's beach. If you don't want to brave the waves, you can lounge around the Mondrianesque mosaic pool, or sit back in the private Lunaplex cinema.
It's high-tech Carnaby Street, '60s pop art sensibility infused with all the mod cons, from the Smeg maxi bar to the Bose speaker system, with more than enough space for a small-scale party. Tiny touches will bring a smile to your dial, like the life-size silver Monopoly pieces lurking in corners. A massive bed takes pride of place, and there are screens from the bedroom to the oversized bathroom.
The Orbit restaurant offers a sophisticated breakfast, refreshing snacks across the day – fresh crab on wafer thin toast, wagyu carpaccio with manchego – and fine dining come the evening from UK chef Sydney De Hart. Late afternoon sees Space on the rooftop offering champagne, caviar and oysters.
Just a few minutes away are the gastronomic sensations of Seminyak; Movida has just opened here, along with the older staples of the French-inspired Metis and the Asian fusion of Sarong, there's Mamasan, La Lucciola on the beach and many, many more.
Seminyak awaits, with the two funkiest beachside bars, Ku De Ta and Potato Head, a short stroll away – if you pop the 50 metres down to the beach that is, rather than navigate the circuitous gangs. Arrive mid afternoon, grab a day bed and watch the sunset while a DJ spins lounge tracks. If the mood takes you you can dance the night away at Jenja nightclub.
The less energetic can just soak in the sun along the Seminyak beach, or grab a surfboard and try your luck in front of Ku De Ta, one of Bali's better breaks.
For a more relaxed touch of Bali culture, take a day trip to Ubud, wander rich valleys and rice fields and experience the traditional art, dance and food of Bali. Ibu Oka's Warung is where the locals flock for babi guling, or suckling pig.
Pop art beside the beach? Sci-fi futurism next to an ancient Hindu temple? Luna2 just works, appropriating all cultures with affection. The service is impeccable and the end result is a new-age oasis.
Suites start from around $500. Call +62 361 730 402 or visit Luna2.com.
Plenty of hotels have personality, precious few have a sense of humour – entering Luna2 will simply lift your spirits.
It's impossible to avoid the chaotic gridlock of Bali's roads at peak times. Time your travel well, or make sure your car has good aircon.
Mark Forbes stayed courtesy of Luna2
Five out of five