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Desa Seni yoga retreat in Canggu, Bali
Photos: Rebecca Davis

This retreat’s legit: Desa Seni

A tropical wellness sanctuary that'll make you want to stop partying and start relaxing.

by The Glassy | 04.23.2019

Vital Stats:

What: Desa Seni
Where: Canggu, Bali
Duration: Ranges from one night stays to four-week yoga teacher training courses
Cost: Cabins start at $150 a night, although there are special packages for longer stays
Frequency: Offered year-round

Vibe: A wellness-obsessed Balinese village that has the most thoughtful—and calming—touches throughout.

Vacation or nah?: Definitely. When you’re not blissed out during savasana, your healing treatment at the spa, or while enjoying a gourmealthy meal sourced from Desa Seni’s own gardens, you’ll probably be poolside among the palm trees, iced jamu (that’s a Balinese herbal tonic) in hand.

Desa Seni yoga retreat in Canggu, Bali
The view from the open-air yoga studio.

What You Need To Know

Although Canggu is a scene, you feel a million miles away from it the moment you pull up to Desa Seni.

Just off one of the main roads that winds through the surf town, this self-described “yoga resort” is more elevated-traditional than edgy-modern: think impeccably refurbished antique wooden houses, incense offerings made across the property every day, traditional Balinese healers stationed at the Merapu Svaasthya spa. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a luxe respite.

Start with the wellness studio—well, more like a multi-building area, since there’s the outdoor platformed studio, an indoor space for workshops, and then a garden nook with seats and tables for sipping on your complimentary ginger tea. Yoga and meditation classes are given throughout the day, plus special events on the reg (think moon circles and divine feminine groups).

Desa Seni yoga retreat in Canggu, Bali
Sip on an herbal jamu while lounging at the pool? Okay, fine…

Head deeper into the property and you’ll find their restaurant, which sources much of the mostly plant-based menu from Desa Seni’s own garden (plus other ingredients like fish from the nearby Jimbaran fish market).

Walk even further and you’ll find the aforementioned spa, which offers everything from traditional Balinese massages to chakra cleansing—all using their house made, all-natural beauty product blends. Add in a pool (that admittedly has wifi, so you can be as connected as you need to be) surrounded by palm trees and serviced all day by the kitchen, and it’s nearly impossible to find a reason to leave—even if the Canggu siren song is strong, the blissful sound of birds chirping (and…not much else) is stronger.

Desa Seni yoga retreat in Canggu, Bali
Indonesian antiques and ancient Balinese healing modalities are what you can expect at the spa (swoon).

Notes From The Inside

Our insider this week is Rebecca Willa Davis—obsessive traveler with a penchant for wellness who, hey, also happens to be the editor-in-chief of The Glassy.

It’s the ideal jet-lag solution
“After spending nearly 30 hours in transit, trying to get from New York City to Bali, Desa Seni was the absolute best place on the island to reset my body. It’s close to the airport without being Seminyak—which is all party, no peace, and definitely not what I was after. Usually I arrive somewhere and instantly want to go out and explore, but I could have spent a week at Desa Seni and never left the grounds.”

Think rustic-chic
“My guesthouse was a ridiculously charming wooden house, with one side facing the pool and the other a rice paddy field. The one-bedroom space was filled with antiques that probably go for a fortune back home, plus a mini fridge with healthyish snacks like ginger chews and a netted bed that I spent a silly amount of time lounging in. There might also be the occasional bug or lizard—again, you’re basically in a rice paddy field—but it’s not like you’re camping out in the wilderness.”

Desa Seni yoga retreat in Canggu, Bali
What’s prettier: doing yoga outside, or just looking at these class posters?

The yoga teachers are legit
“As someone who can be quite picky about my instructors, I was blown away with Bernd, who teaches a handful of classes a week (as well as the yoga teacher training). The Sunset Flow class is also worth arriving early to snag a spot for—it’s understandably a fave among guests and locals alike, with dreamy views of the lush tropical landscape bathed in golden-hour light.

You’ll eat local, and you’ll eat well
“I didn’t have a single bad meal during my stay at Desa Seni. A big part of that was probably because most of it was sourced on the property, from the eggplants to the greens. And do not skip the raw chocolate torte—it’s raw, vegan, and gluten-free, and was one of the best I had on the island (which is truly high praise considering how often they show up on menus).”

A do-it-your-way retreat
“If you’re someone who is generally turned off by the groupiness of retreats—you know, having to make new friends or stick to someone else’s schedule—you’ll be into Desa Seni. As a guest, there’s nothing that you have to do or any place you need to be. That means you can craft a healing itinerary that works best for you. My first day I literally spent it by the pool…and that was it. Other days I attended multiple yoga classes. In other words, there’s flexibility if you need it.”

Outsiders welcome
“If all of the guesthouses are booked up (very likely, considering how boutique it is), you can still come and chill: Not only are the classes, restaurant, and spa open to the public, but there are spa packages that basically amount to a day pass—think pool team, yoga time, and meal time all included.”

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