3 Must Stay Hotels in Bali
You don’t have to be in love to love Bali. It’s a magical place all by itself and these three hotels are some of my favorite accommodations on the island, whether you’re traveling alone, or with someone you love. However, if you’re looking for places to stay that particularly lend themselves to romance, then you can’t go wrong with any of these. They may not be the least expensive hotels on Bali, but they’re not even close to being the most expensive either. None should break your budget and with a little investigation and good seasonal timing, no way you should have to pay anything near rack rates at the bigger hotels anyway. Besides, sometimes love and romance demands a little splurge now and again.
I have purposely not included any of the better known, or lavishly priced hotels in more touristy locales such as Kuta, Denpasar, Nusa Dua or Seminyak. Not that Ubud doesn’t get its fair share of tourist traffic too, but maybe it still feels a little more spiritual in general. Besides, my choice there is quiet and (just) off the beaten track. I have also chosen three geographically dispersed locations for this short list. If your objective is romance or a little tranquil solitude, I think these might fit the bill. *Note – click hotel names for links to their respective websites.
The hotel is situated on a terraced slope just outside the main part of town, so it feels like you’re out in the jungle somewhere remote, even though well trafficked roads are close at hand. The way things are laid-out here provides an extra sense of privacy and adds to the feeling of intimacy. An almost labyrinthine collection of paths winds up, down and through beautiful Balinese sculptures, exotic plants and gorgeous flowers. A word of caution here is that navigating the grounds does require walking up and down reasonably steep paths, so this venue may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
The rooms are large with well-appointed modern amenities, which still blend well with local cultural and artistic traditions. There is a nice restaurant and bar at the bottom level that serves very good food in a comfortable, mostly open-air setting. I think it’s wonderful place to begin the day and meet fellow travelers. There is a pool close beside it with a swim up bar, that may or may not be staffed depending on your timing. If you don’t feel like going anywhere at the end of a full day walking around Ubud, then room service is a great option and we availed ourselves of it on more than one occasion. The staff is all super friendly and go out of their way to ensure you have the best time possible.
Because the hotel is not in the center of downtown Ubud, you’ll have to walk there or take a car, but thankfully it’s not far. The hotel can arrange transport, which is either free, or inexpensive depending on where you want to go. Personally, I really loved the short walk through a picturesque neighborhood and the through the famed Monkey Forest to access downtown. The monkeys are fun and there are some very cool areas in the park to see as well, but mind your belongings. The monkeys are smart and resourceful thieves. Over the course of many visits there, I’ve seen them liberate all kinds of stuff from tourists, right from water bottles to cameras.
This is a fairly large complex that doesn’t seem huge. In fact, I think it can actually feel quite intimate depending on your seasonal timing and room location. Our room wasn’t exceptionally big, but neither did it feel cramped at all. Décor and appointments were tasteful and traditional without being over the top. Our balcony was set back a bit, but still provided great views of the beach and pool. I think the surprise most guests have here is its lengthy distance from the airport, and quite frankly most everything else you might want to see or do in Bali. But there of course, also lies its charm for romance. Everything you’d want in the way of food, beverage and pool or beach amenities are (mostly) available on premises.
However, while the pools are standard resort-quality nice, the beach is protected by a breakwater, so it’s very limited in terms of most traditional beach activities such as surfing, snorkeling and playing in the waves etc. The full buffet restaurant serves an incredible and varied array of food, but sooner or later you’ll probably want to try somewhere else, and therein lies the big potential drawback for this hotel.
If you’re like most people staying here for a few days or more, you’ll soon find this self-contained oasis a little isolating and want to go exploring. In most cases, this will require hiring a car to get you most anywhere else. The hotel can arrange these, although you can easily find other drivers in the town of Candidasa proper if you want to shop around. Rates are pretty darn reasonable, even if you want to drive back into Denpasar or Kuta. Just ensure you budget plenty of time, because it’s a pretty long drive each way through traffic. If you’re looking for a fun beach experience not too far away, you might try White Sand Beach. They have Warungs (like little family-run cafes) right at the beach and will bring food and beverages straight to your towel or lounge chair (which you can rent for a modest fee). Other hawkers will also come to you selling all manner of trinkets. There is great scuba diving in the area and I’d recommend Bali Bubbles in Candidasa for dive trips to Padang Bai for example.
Don’t let the term “home stay” dissuade you from thinking this place isn’t romantic, because it most certainly is. It also doesn’t mean your room will be inside someone’s house. It won’t. This is not a large hotel with dozens or hundreds of rooms, but it is run by Mr. Taruna and his incredible extended family. In all my travels around the globe, these are some of the warmest and friendliest people I’ve ever met. They truly make you feel like family, but are in no way nosy or intrusive. In case it’s not clear, I really love this family. Rooms are large and decorated with beautiful local art. In fact, I bought several pieces from the little art gallery in their office and shipped them home.
The rooms are plenty spacious with high ceilings and the canopy beds are just beautiful. Whoever makes up the room each day will probably leave you wonderful little messages and designs in flower petals on the bed. I found that quite touching and romantic too. Maybe the best part is the showers and bathrooms located outside the room proper and open aired. Before you freak out, know that it’s completely private and showering under the open sky with water pouring forth from a wonderful Balinese sculpture is just one of the best experiences you can have. Seriously.
Permuteran is pretty small, but has a nice and very safe beach. There is a wonderful coral restoration preserve going on just down the road and fun place to snorkel. Grab a nice cold Bintang beer after you exit the water and watch the world go by. There is world-class scuba diving just down the road and a short boat ride to Menjangan Island. Mr. Taruna and his family will help arrange this if you’re a diver. West Bali National Park is here as well and you’ll find no shortage of wildlife to photograph. There are lots of things to see and do in the area including the Monkey Temple, within walking distance down the road.
I have to say, that of the many places I’ve stayed around the world, this is one of my all-time favorites. You won’t find buzzing nightclubs and glitzy shopping anywhere in the area, but you will experience a quieter, peaceful and more romantic part of Bali than almost anywhere else.
A quick side note here about Balinese art and wood-carving in particular: I think the Balinese are among the very best carvers anywhere and I’ve met some pretty incredible artists working in wood around the world. If you’re thinking of buying up more than a few things to hand carry on the plane back with you, then you might want to consider buying a part of a small shipping container box (no, not those giant metal warehouses you see on freighters and in ports). It might take a while to get back, but it’s more affordable than you might think and beats arriving home and finding bits of kindling in your luggage in place of those delicate sculptures you so carefully packed before launching out at the airport. If you do decide to got this route then shop around, because prices on both art and shipping can vary quite a bit in my experience.
I would LOVE to hear about your favorite hotels in Bali, romantic or otherwise. For that matter, I’d love to hear what your favorite places and accommodations anywhere are. Safe Travels!