“Bali is a great place to disconnect,” says Nicholas Van Messner, one half of Melbourne fashion label LIFEwithBIRD. He and co-designer Bridget McCall have been travelling to the Island of the Gods twice a year for the past decade. “We’ve been designing our collections in Bali and it’s been very successful for us. Being creative is draining so when you hit a rough spot, you can take half an hour off and enjoy the sunshine. Bali is a place where it’s easy to work and then rejuvenate.” Here, he shares the stylish spots the design duo return to.

Best place to stay

“Before we had our baby, Veda, we stayed at a great place, Uma Sapna [meaning ‘dream homes’]. The luxurious villas have private plunge pools and a stylish, comfortable Balinese fit-out. We booked the entire resort for our wedding, which was amazing and so much fun.”

Best restaurants

“You can get some of the best seafood in Bali at Sardine. The best dish I had on my last trip was the clams, which come in an incredible chilli and coconut broth. The restaurant is in a rice paddy and the outdoor dining space is stylish yet relaxed.

In terms of the hottest new restaurant in Bali, MoVida [which has just opened at Katamama hotel and serves Spanish tapas] has a buzz around it right now.

Mama San, hands down, has the best cocktails in Bali but the food here is the drawcard for me. Anyone who is familiar with Melbourne’s Chin Chin will love Mama San – it’s light, fresh and tasty Asian fusion.”

Best food and drinks with a view

“Old Man’s bar is great for a casual, family-friendly night. It’s so laid-back. Grab a Corona and fish and chips and watch the sun set over the beach. Another favourite is Italian restaurant La Lucciola for late-afternoon cocktails and dinner overlooking Seminyak Beach. If you don’t feel like pasta, they do an amazing pesce al cartoccio [fish cooked in a paper bag].”

Best homewares

“This incredible shop is known for its textiles, throws, rugs and woven crafts. It has a sort of tribal, Southern Asian flavour to it, though there are modern and French provincial pieces, too.”

Best fashion

“You’ll find the most interesting fashion at Escalier, which is at the entrance to Potato Head Beach Club. It stocks Comme des Garçons and Simone Rocha.

The pieces are unique and the jewellery is really cool. Rarely can you find interesting stuff for men, too, but Escalier always has some great options.”

Best vintage

“This eclectic boutique is a must. Bridget picked up a really great pair of vintage Dior sunglasses.” 

Best for kids

“Kidsagogo is perfect for simple, fun kidswear. They do lightweight cotton smocks in great colours and creative prints.”

Best massage

“Jari Menari is famous for only hiring male masseurs as their philosophy is stronger hands give better massages. You can have a massage alone or with your partner and choose the pressure.”

The real Bali 

“The Gili Islands [east of Bali] are kind of – or so I’m told – what Bali was like 20 years ago. There are no cars or motorbikes and it’s not overdeveloped. It has more of a backpacker vibe than the resorts and pampering in Bali.” 

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