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Live Like a Local in… Bali!

Where to eat and shop or just get away from it all… Designer Stuart Membery reveals his top spots on the magical Indonesian island.

Australian designer Stuart Membery first visited Bali after he had retired from his clothing line in 1987. The effervescent Stuart recalls, “I just came for a little look. It was my first visit to Bali and as I was, at the time, turning my painting hobby into a career of sorts, I figured Bali would be a wonderful place to paint and have a studio. ”

Not long after, Stuart returned to build the tropical getaway home of his dreams. Thirteen years and one painting later, and having taken a journey from fashion to interiors, the Perth native has set up a studio and thriving business on the island. His eponymous Stuart Membery Home Collection, comprising furniture, accessories, rugs and lights, is much sought-after from home-owners all over the world.


Where can I find beautiful, quality art and crafts?

The area for arts and crafts is called Tegalalang, which is about 40 minutes from Seminyak. That’s where you can buy local home wares at cost price before they end up in the expensive tourist shops around Seminyak. Always get a car and driver (about USD 40 or 50 a day ). It’s so much easier knowing the fixed price for the day without keeping one eye on the meter.

Tegalalang is on the way up to Ubud. There are several roads to travel but as they say ‘it’s the journey not the destination’. After 13 years I still don’t know which road to take so I tell the driver to take me the ‘pretty’ way; it’s through the tropical jungle and villages rather than the highway.


What about shopping?

For her, there’s Biasa (Jalan Raya Basangkasa 47, Kuta, Bali 80361) for chic and relaxed clothes. There are loads of linen, and also some menswear items on the first level. Magali Pascal (Jl Raya Seminyak no.65 Seminyak) is also another favourite. The main shopping area for clothes is Jl Laksmana (also known as ‘eat street’ for obvious reasons. There are too many shops to name.


Where do you take your visiting guests for drinks?

I’m a bit long in the tooth for noisy crowded bars. La Favela is very popular with the fast set in the Seminyak area. The Bar at Mexicola has a great atmosphere and sensational Marguerites, but for me, most beachside hotels have gorgeous gardens that are usually open to the public. Wander around in the mature gardens at the Oberoi Hotel before settling into their beachside bar for a cocktail or two. It overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.

Where would you go for a good, satisfying meal?

La Luciola is de rigueur and equally as good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The atmosphere changes as day becomes night (imagine if Thurston and ‘Lovee’ Howell had opened a smart restaurant on Gilligan’s Island!). Sardine is a casual-posh restaurant with a sensational bamboo interior – it’s got a great menu and divine staff.

Sarong is owned by the very talented chef Will Merrick (ex Longrain Sydney) and is a must for dinner. It’s Asian fusion tucker with Will’s inimitable twist. I always ask the staff to order for me, so I don’t miss out on the treats. We tried Barbacoa the other night and were really impressed – Barbacoa is dedicated to barbecue, wood fire, charcoal and loads of smoke.

Sardine, Jalan Petitenget No. 21, Kerobokan, Bali 80361, Indonesia

Tel: +62 811-3978-333


What about a place to stay?

I suggest to friends that to really enjoy Bali at its most relaxed, try to rent a villa with a pool and be pampered by the gorgeous Balinese staff (no one does it better). We are just in the completion stages of building our first holiday rental villa (Pineapple Hill) where guests can enjoy our ‘plantation’ style, furniture and home accessories. Pineapple Hill is situated in the middle of all the action – near to the beach and close to all the smart restaurants.


How to get there?

International airlines including Singapore Airlines, KLM and Garuda Indonesia and several budget airlines, such as Air Asia, Tiger Air and Jetstar, fly direct from Singapore to Denpasar, Bali’s capital. Flight time is about two-and-a-half hours.


5 Must Dos

  1. Sign up for a yoga class to de-stress and energise. You can book a class or even organise a private yoga session at your villa, says Stuart. Contact yoga108bali@yoga108bali.com.
  2. If you like to be in the centre of activity, add Seminyak and Petitenget to your must-see list. “They are the most energised and sophisticated, with loads of shops, restaurants and bars. The feel is more Western than Balinese, adds Stuart.
  3. If you’ve got children, Kuta Beach is the destination. “It is definitely ‘spring break’ and for the youngsters,” shares Stuart. Hotels including Hard Rock Café, known for its fun-filled kids programmes, are located here.
  4. Take a walk on the beach at sunrise. Stuart reveals, “We like to go early while the locals are setting up their colorful beach cabanas for the day.”
  5. When you want to get away from it all, and slow things down several gears, head for Sanur. “It’s old school and moves along at a slower pace. It’s like Bali in the 70s.”

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