If anywhere epitomizes the authentic ‘Bali style’ that has enraptured so many over the past decades, it is Villa Batujimbar – a treasure-filled travel destination in itself. This sublime property, which sits on over an acre of beachfront land, was originally the home of long-time Bali resident and Australian artist Donald Friend who, in 1970, invited Sri Lankan ‘tropical modernism’ architect Geoffrey Bawa – celebrated for breaking down barriers and creating harmonious relationships between buildings and landscape – to collaborate in developing the beachfront estate. The Balinese palaces at Amlapura and Klungkung plus the famed water gardens of Tirta Gangga influenced his ideas – clearly expressed in the two-storey moat-encircled Lembu Balé that commands centre stage within the meticulously designed gardens.
The lower gallery of the Lembu Balé houses the current Australian owner’s astonishing collection of Balinese art – including the Donald Friend painting he bought from the artist himself on first visiting Villa Batujimbar in 1972. This private collection rivals the island’s finest galleries and museums and is a unique feature of the villa. Guests are welcome to view the collection on special request. Yet art is not confined to this space alone throughout the living and sleeping pavilions you’ll come across architectural treasures, rare artefacts, painted antique doors and windows, and heirloom paintings that reveal the owner’s passion for Balinese art and craftsmanship. And within the expansive gardens are myriad moss-encrusted statuary and intricately carved stone reliefs. Bali’s beauty shines in the materials used too – vaulted alang-alang thatched roofs, lava stone steps, coral walls, and terrazzo and teakwood floors.
With such a fascinating history, no wonder Villa Batujimbar has attracted celebrity guests over the years. Today’s guests are following in the footsteps of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall (who got married here), Sting (who gave an impromptu concert), Yoko Ono, and members of the Thai and Malaysian and British royal families. In such splendid surroundings, and pampered by a team of staff that includes a private chef, personal butlers and villa manager, you can look forward to royal treatment too.