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The Sophisticated Side of Kuta, Bali

Like the Balinese tourist hub of the same name, Kuta on neighboring Lombok Island is a lightning rod for backpackers. But an emergence of sophisticated places to sleep, eat and be merry has elevated standards on this alluring half-moon bay. Story and photographs by IAN LLOYD NEUBAUER.

Published on Mar 13, 2018


After successfully launching Kuta's first yoga studio, Mana Yoga, in 2015, owners Evelien Beirinckx and Jono Williams decided to take it to the next level—opening Mana Retreat in 2017. The environmentally focused boutique property is set in a verdant tropical garden replete with thatchroof pavilions, hammocks, the sounds of birdlife and an inviting lagoon pool surrounded by beanbags and daybeds. Offering four daily yoga classes, a spa for Ayurveda and traditional Indonesian treatments, a vegetarian restaurant, indie cinema and accommodation options ranging from deluxe dorms to romantic bungalows, this environmentally conscious resort is as relaxing as you want it to be. Jalan Baturiti, Kuta;; drop-in yoga classes from Rp100,000; doubles from Rp1,200,000.

Mana Retreat
Mana Retreat hosts daily drop-in yoga classes.


Pizza joints are a common sight in Kuta, but only one has an authentic clay-brick wood-fired pizza oven: Sapori Italian Restaurant, a double-story 75-seat eatery on Jalan Raya Kuta. Using locally sourced vegetables and seafood plus imported cheeses and cured meats, Sapori's chefs make authentic Roman-style thin-crust pizza as well as handmade pasta tossed with ragù, pesto, marinara sauce and more. The tiramisu hits the spot for dessert, and there are live acoustic sessions four nights per week. Jalan Raya Kuta;; pizzas Rp70,000–Rp125,000.

Roman-style pizzas from Sapori's brick oven.
Roman-style pizzas from Sapori's brick oven.


One of Lombok's most elegant places to dine, Kemangi Bar & Kitchen wouldn't look out of place in Bali's fashionable Seminyak district. Alongside deluxe bed-and-breakfast accommodation, the property's dining room also has Kuta's first wine cellar, encased in glass. Holding court in the kitchen is chef I Made Suyana, former executive chef at the Amanjiwo super-luxury resort in Yogyakarta. Suyana oscillates between Western dishes like slowcooked lamb shank and Asian favorites like green papaya salad with prawns. Wash it down with a Kuta Breeze, a cocktail of vodka, bourbon and freshly squeezed juices, or a Kemangi Kolada, a house-take on the original recipe, which adds coconut and pineapple liqueur to the mix. Jalan Parawisata Pantai Kuta, Kuta; +62 361 725 000, mains Rp115,000–Rp230,000; doubles from Rp800,000.


From the team behind El Bazar, a Moroccan-themed restaurant consistently ranked high on TripAdvisor's top five places to eat in Lombok, and Krnk, Kuta's premiere burger bar, comes Kenza, a café, art space and barefoot boutique. In a whitewashed plantation house with candy-colored shutters and braided seashell lamps, the chefs at Kenza dish up hipster-style grub as well as gentrified versions of Indonesian staples—their nasi goreng is topped with a perfectly poached egg. Among ginger elixir shots, smoothies enriched with superfoods like hemp protein and maca powder, and smashed avocado on toast with applewood-smoked, cured beef, there's also their take on the traditional rijstaffel. The generous feast of curries, satays, vegetables, rice and tropical fruit is a spread best shared. Jalan Raya Kuta, Kuta; mains from Rp60,000.

Kenza's beachy interiors make it a relaxed spot.
Kenza's beachy interiors make it a relaxed spot.



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Mana Retreat hosts daily drop-in yoga classes.
  • The pool at Mana Retreat is surrounded by a tropical garden.
  • Fishing boats set out on Lombok's Kuta Beach.
  • Kenza's superfoods.
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