Overall Rating: 8.60

The 1.7km approach to Villa Melissa from the main road, passing nothing but rice field after rice field, dotted with farmers, cows, and scarecrows, reinforces the message that this is going to be a ‘sense of place’ experience. The beach is wild and exciting: great for exploring and extraordinarily clean thanks to the Pantai Lima staff who scour it each day to keep it this way. Being a long way out of town, (besides being in such a beautiful place), we had no desire to venture out for dinner, and why would we with a genuine French chef on hand to indulge us with his exceptional talent. We had supper at the water’s edge in the open-sided dining pavilion, and discovered that the fading light and the illumination of numerous fishing boats on the horizon was the perfect accompaniment to the perfect meal. And for afters? The living room has a video projector and a massive pull-down screen for some larger-than-life escapism. It wasn’t difficult to amuse ourselves in the daytime with two pools no less, and we loved the hammock-like sun loungers, which were unlike any we had encountered. Even if you aren’t staying in the master bedroom, find a way to beg borrow or steal your way into its bathroom and enjoy a soak in the outdoor tub. It’s covered with its own little thatched roof, is surrounded by a koi pond and is the most romantic thing this side of a Pablo Neruda poem.