Overall Rating: 8.30

We were instantly won over by the mesmerising views and laid back tropical vibe at Villa Cempaka. And despite being on Bali’s quiet, rural south-east coast, we found plenty to do: after exploring the reef in front of the villa courtesy of the villa’s masks and snorkels, taking boat trips, and visiting the nearby beaches at Padang Bai (10km) we still managed plenty of down time to chill out at the villa and enjoy ‘the good life’. Nature, with its changing moods, treated us to a kaleidoscope of vistas, from misty mornings, to vivid blue afternoon skies scattered with fluffy clouds, and views over the rocky hulk of neighbouring island, Penida with the shadowy silhouette of Lombok in the distance. Villa Cempaka isn’t huge, but with the wide expanse of ocean stretching before us there was a genuine sense of spaciousness and flow. We enjoyed glimpses into local life as fishermen headed off in their colourful jukung (fishing boats) or net fished in the shallows, while easy strolls down the shady lane revealed cows meandering through the coconut groves and kids playing soccer. There are no direct views of the sunset, but dusk is still a beautiful time, bathing the villa and the ocean in a soft glow.