I remember when I came to Bali, I heard about the island of Sumba for the first time. Before coming here, Sumba was never on my radar. But people keep mentioning it. And the more I heard about Sumba, one resort kept coming up over and over again. And that resort was Nihi.
For the past 6 years I’ve been hearing all these amazing things about this incredible Indonesian hotel on the island of Sumba. My interest and curiosity kept growing and growing. I really wanted to go and visit, and photograph this incredible one of a kind hotel. As a winner of Best Hotel in the world multiple times, I knew I needed to go and check it out with my own two eyes.
I kept wondering, what is so special about this hotel? Why does everyone rave about this particular five-star resort? The mystique intrigued me. Sumba intrigued me.
After years of wanting to visit Nihi, I finally got the chance, not only to holiday on it but also to photograph it. But before I get to that part, let’s start from the beginning!
When you arrive at the airport in Bali, there is a team of people waiting for you to take care of your check in. The VIP experience starts here. I literally handed over my luggage and my vaccination certificate and off they went to sort it all out. They did all of it for me! I thought to myself that I could seriously get used to travelling like this! They were there to help me right up until the moment of boarding without being intrusive at all. They came at the right times to notify me of everything, even when it was time to board my plane.
Once I arrived in Sumba, I got picked up in a cool safari style car that made me think, I’m in for an adventure (albeit a luxury one!). In the car there was a coconut and the most delicious brownies ever waiting for me. The trip to the hotel from the airport took about an hour and a half so the coconut and brownie came in handy. I loved that there is a bit of a journey to get to the hotel. I got to see a little bit of Sumba and the traditional buildings and village life.
Soon you arrive at the top of the hill and there it is – the beach where Nihi is located. A huge bay where you can’t even see the hotel, you just see this wild beach and palm trees all along it. It was a “pinch me” moment. I was here, at Nihi Sumba.
When you arrived at the hotel, they designate a person who will be your personal concierge for your entire stay. My concierge was Simson. He took care of me and anticipated all of my needs. I was in touch with Simson via Whatsapp and he helped with any enquiries, requests or anything I needed during your stay. This is for sure one of my favourite things about Nihi and I can see why it has been voted best hotel in the world. Their service was simply outstanding.
On my first afternoon at Nihi I was lucky enough to see the turtle release. I have seen some turtle releases before, so I wasn’t expecting anything too different. But the turtle release in combination with the magical sunset and the view of this extensive wild beach nearly brought me to tears. ( You can check it out here.)
Wow, within only a couple of hours of being here, I was starting to understand why this place has a magic that is hard to imitate.
The next few days I got very lucky with the weather, so I got to shoot 7 different villas. From one bedroom to 4 bedrooms. The cool thing about Nihi is that each villa is unique. And it’s hard to choose a favourite too. They all have their own features, style and location. One thing they all do have is a swimming pool, a view of the ocean and the most comfortable beds and pillows I have ever slept in. I love strong aircon and the villas have such good aircon. Some of them even have aircon in the bathrooms. I also love that they all have the typical Sumbanese rooftops and lots of typical Sumbanese ikat weavings, wood carvings and decorations. As well as shooting all these 7 villas, I also visited the tree house villa, in which is where the Beckhams stayed, and also the private home of the owner of Nihi. Both so different but incredibly cool in their own way.
The famous Nihi Horses
While I was there, I also wanted to see the famous horses and photograph them. Being an interior and architecture photographer is very different from photographing moving animals. In interiors, nothing moves, when you are photographing horses you got about 4 seconds before the shot is gone!
The problem is that the horses only come to the beach once a day, so you get 4 seconds a day to photograph them in all their glory. Let’s just say that I had to come back 4 times to photograph them! And I’m still not super happy with my results. Well, I guess I’ll have to come back and keep on trying!
But wow, what a scene to see these beautiful horses running along the beach. Those 4 seconds go quick but they are really worth the wait.
The Spa Nihioka
One of the most amazing things I did in Nihi was the half day Spa Safari in Nihioka. This is by far one of the most incredible facilities at Nihi and something that takes it to a whole new level of luxury and uniqueness. So unlike most hotels, where the spa is in the same location as the hotel, in Nihi, they have another private location. It’s about 15 minutes from the hotel, with its own private beach and palm tree forest just for the spa. Literally jaw dropping!
First of all, you trek to this beautiful palm tree jungle until you arrive at the reception where they welcome you with a coconut. Then they ask you what you would like in terms of treatments, etc. After this, you are invited to have breakfast at this secluded cliff private restaurant overlooking a deserted wild beach below. And that breakfast is both delicious and abundant! Then you are invited to swim on the swimming pool overlooking the ocean.
Once you are ready to start your treatment, they escort you to your own private open room overlooking the ocean and the 3 hours of massage bliss begin. I was in actual heaven. Never have I felt like a queen until that very moment! And by the way, if you book and stay at Nihi until the end of the year and mention Bali Interiors, you can get an upgrade from an hour massage to a half day Spa Safari. So you can feel like Kings and Queens too!
And of course, last but not least, was the food. All the food was included. I’ve had so many delightful dishes and wanted to try everything! Definitely one of my favourites was the Tortellini (pro tip – ask for double servings! You won’t regret it!). I do love a place where you don’t have to think about the bill. It makes your stay as stress-free and relaxed as possible.
So the verdict is in – Nihi is a unique incredible experience. A once-in-a-lifetime holiday that will live on in your memory. From the service and the villas, to the experiences and the spa, everything is just top notch. But what really makes it unforgettable is their exclusive and undisturbed location. 2 Km of beach with nothing but you, the divine sea and the wildness that is Sumba.