Travel notes, reviews and useful tips

We Will Rock You: The Rock Bar Bali

This is not about sunset at one of Bali’s most iconic bars, the Rock Bar at the luxury AYANA Hotel and Resort. So much has been written about watching the sun set on this unique outdoor cocktail lounge that it makes one want to write about something else: the Rock Bar at night.

The Rock Bar at night.

The Rock Bar at night.

Decidedly much less busy late at night than early evening, the Rock Bar is an open-air structure made of ironwood, stone, glass, reinforced concrete and beach sand, built along a rocky cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean. The views from this perch are breathtaking, and travelers the world over flock to AYANA just to have a sip at this bar while gazing at the incredibly gorgeous Bali sunset.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, earnings-wise from the bar’s point of view), the Rock Bar is way too famous that it’s a struggle to get in. At least that was what we experienced during our stay there. Despite the fact that we were booked at the AYANA hotel, the so-called “priority line” for hotel guests was non-existent. People mobbed the entrance where an ingenious inclinator took would-be drinkers in groups of eight from the top of the cliff to the bar down below. Everybody’s aim was a glimpse of the fabled Rock Bar sunset–and after waiting a (subjectively) long time and eventually getting there, it was standing room only with camera-wielding customers frenziedly taking memento snaps of the stunning horizon.

View of the lighted bar.

View of the lighted bar.

But after the sun has long set and the ocean pitch black, with only the sound of waves rushing to shore reminding you that down there is a beautiful beach, the Rock Bar becomes a glimmering feast for the eyes. Paper-like lanterns are lit, candles in glass bowls decorate the tables, and the tube-shaped glowing menus give off just the right amount of light for each guest to enjoy the nightscape. Friendly and sexy waitresses in little black dresses serve up an array of your preferred alcoholic beverage. Even the bartenders wear form-fitting black t-shirts. The music is deliberately loud; it is well into the night but couples and groups are drinking and laughing and perhaps recounting the day’s Bali adventure.

The bar was designed by the Japanese interior designer Koichi Yasuhiro, known for his ultra-chic F&B designs in luxe locations around the world. Curiously, it does not appear in Koichi-san’s list of projects on his “Design Studio SPIN” website. At any rate, the bar is signature Koichi–sleek and blending splendidly with its surroundings. Wicker love seats with dark green throw pillows–and on an extended part of the bar outdoor sets with white linen table cloths and chair covers–encourage guests to just sit back and relax. The sparkling, illuminated glass bar is by the famous Japanese glass artist Torige Seiki. Yes, it looks all the more magnificent deep into the night.

All sorts of cocktails.

All sorts of cocktails.

Because of its unrivaled location, the Rock Bar at night has an unearthly feel. Needless to say, the more drinks you down, the more heightened this sensation becomes. As “after dinner” customers we got terrific seats; we contentedly watched the twinkling lights of the port across the sea and left the bar a little after midnight. Just as we were about to reach the hotel a tropical squall came pouring down. Talk about great timing!

Some people grumble that the Rock Bar is overrated. Perhaps a tad so, especially if it that’s rare gray, cloudy day, and the sunset you’ve been queuing for an uncomfortable period of time turns out to be a bit of a disappointment. Otherwise, I’d say the Rock Bar is indeed the “it” bar in Bali, maybe not entirely living up to the hype yet still totally worth the visit.

Recommend? Yes

For people like me who believe they have better things to do than stand in a queue to get into “it” places, best to watch the amazing sunset at the nearby Kisik Seafood Grill and Bar where you can make reservations and get great seats, and then stroll over to the Rock Bar at night when there aren’t hundreds of people jostling for the perfect spot.

Related Link

Spectacular Casual Dining: Kisik Seafood Grill & Bar – my review of the outdoor dining paradise.
How to Get the Most Out of the Ayana Resort’s Pools and Beach – Tips on pool maximization.
Artistic Lobby: AYANA Resort & Spa – Tour of the fabulous hotel lobby.
Noteworthy Room: AYANA Resort & Spa – Review of the room we stayed in.

External Link

The Rock Bar Bali – visit the official site for highly impressive photographs and the latest schedule of live performances.

Travel Guides and Books on Bali


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2 comments

  1. krissw /

    ah, very informative. will try it out (twice, sunset and late night, haha) when i go to bali next time. i like ‘view of the lighted bar’ though my fave is ‘psychedelic snapshot of the bar from the moving inclinator’ ;)

    • I think going there twice is a good idea! Or perhaps you can go to the nearby (stone’s throw!) Ocean Beach Pool and stay there till sunset, then just stroll over to the bar to get a good seat before the people coming from the top of the cliff arrive. :)

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