It’s safe to say that I’m arriving in Bali with a clean slate. Untainted by the prospect of obnoxious tourists and Bali’s widely claimed tragic state of over-development, I steer my focus in search for my piece of paradise, heeding the call of Katamama’s contemporary charm.
Located in the sophisticated district of Seminyak, Katamama is Bali’s answer to modern architecture meets Indonesian culture. The design-driven boutique hotel is a refreshing extension to Bali’s already saturated upscale chain hotels and luxury villas, proving to be more than just Instagram-worthy at first sight. Brought to you by the same owners behind the world-renowned Potato Head Beach Club, Katamama offers an understated luxury experience while embodying the spirit of handcrafted hospitality, further championing Indonesian arts and crafts.
Defying conventional formalities, the lack of a reception area proves to be superfluous, as I’m escorted directly to one of the Katamama’s 58 suites where a seamless check-in procedure takes place. The first thing I note is the inviting, well-stocked maxi-bar which upon closer inspection, I discover a generous selection of house-infused spirits and a complete cocktail kit to concoct my desired blend. I have my nightcap sorted out – lemongrass gin with coconut water topped with a squeeze of lime sounds apt for a beach getaway.
There is an odd sense of warmth and cosiness in the suite, unlike the sterile environment I have come to associate with most luxury hotels. The suite is reminiscent of an airy creative loft you’ll find in any hippie neighbourhood with a hint of luxe. The signature touches of renowned Indonesian architect and long-time PTT Family collaborator, Andra Matin, are apparent throughout the hotel, juxtaposed with strikingly gorgeous interior by Ronald Akili, CEO of PTT Family, as well as Singapore-based design company Takenouchi Webb.
Andra’s rule of thumb of utilising a single dominant material comes to life as Katamama’s exterior is composed of 1.5 million hand-cut terracotta bricks. The result is a dramatic multi-hued raw brick façade that strongly adheres to the Balinese culture. Sunlight streams into the suite at four in the afternoon, casting shadows around the curated vintage mid-century furniture courtesy of owner Ronald’s private collection. It’s impossible not to whip out your smartphone to capture the moment of architecture brilliance at its finest. Bespoke hand-woven rugs and original local artworks uphold Katamama’s pledge to champion Indonesia’s rich craft. In line with the hotel’s artistic endeavour, a stack of reading materials ranging from the intelligent Monocle magazine to a seasoned selection of novels is also placed around the suite, proving useful during a soak in the tub or bedtime reading.
I’m scheduled for a private mixology session at Akademi, an intimate cocktail bar which runs as an education initiative for rising bartenders. Created by award-winning mixologist Dre Masso, Akademi introduces inventive cocktails derived from unique local ingredients. Should I opt for pre-drinks before a night out at one of Seminyak’s multitude bars, a phone call to Akademi will summon a bartender up to my room to prepare a delicious cocktail according to my desire.
Though I am eager to satiate my babi guling cravings, a staple in Bali’s diversified cuisine landscape, I tuck away my list of cafés temporarily in favour of Katamama’s MoVida for a Spanish treat. Regulars who are familiar with the original dining establishment, which hails from Australia, will be delighted to savour the tapas-style menu, which offers an array of Spanish delights with an Indonesian twist. Don’t miss the soft-shell crab on squid ink bun, jamon and mahon cheese croquette and Sumatran spring chicken.
Breakfast is an ala carte affair at MoVida where you are bound to bump into the hotel’s friendly staff who will greet you by name. On my second day, I skip the breakfast at MoVida and opt for a healthy salad bowl at Alchemy, a chic raw vegan café and juice bar where yoga junkies and health enthusiasts congregate. If you’re pressed for time, pop over to Canaan next door where you’ll find a display of home trinkets waiting to be picked up as souvenirs.
As the sun sets and the crowd flocks towards the adjacent entrance of Potato Head Beach Club, I simply brandish my Katamama room key to be ushered past the queue, straight to the specially reserved day beds at the beachfront. While security turn away non-hotel guests who inquisitively enquire about the day beds up front (no doubt the best seat in the house), I settle in comfortably with a mojito in hand, soaking in the glorious sunset and revelling in paradise.