I didn’t think much of Bali until I started travelling there regularly for work, but Bali once a month (sometimes even twice) has made me fall in love with the place. Now I get excited about working out where to stay for my next visit, even to the point that I get worked up over whether I should stay at a favourite or try new places. I figured though, since I travel to Bali often enough, it really doesn’t matter whether I go for the former or the latter.
It took me a while, but I finally came to understand Bali’s charm. The beaches, the restaurants, the food, the neatly ascending rice paddies of Ubud, the temples, the culture, the hospitality of the locals and most importantly, the affordability of Bali, all contribute to its charm. Indonesians can easily travel to Bali for a cheap, short trip because affordable fares on budget airlines are available throughout the year, while wealthy jet-setters can come from across the world and enjoy the same luxuries they would expect from a trip to Europe or even the Bahamas and still find Bali cheaper. Bali can attract all kinds of travellers, and what I find to be really great about Bali, is that the average person can afford luxury without paying a fortune.
This post is not about paying top dollar for hotels: it’s about how to get more out of what you pay for accommodation. If you choose to, you can pay US$ 8,500 for a 3 bedroom villa at the Bvlgari in Uluwatu and you could expect a personal butler, a private pool and perhaps the best unhindered views of the Indian Ocean at sunset. However, you can very easily find a nice villa with a private pool, for closer to USD 150 per night. Naturally, it won’t be 1,300 square metres in size like the Bvlgari, but for about US$ 150/night, you can get your own private villa in an area like Seminyak, and it would still be cheaper than a standard room at some luxury resort. Some examples include the Astana Batubelig Villa, the Dipan Boutique Resort, and the Bhavana Private Villas.
Honestly, there’s a lot of places on offer for around US$ 150/night, and the easiest way to find them is through a search on travel websites like Agoda.com. Agoda allows you to arrange results by location—if you have an idea of where you would like to stay—or price—if you’re working on a budget. You should just make sure to always read users’ comments or reviews before booking for yourself. The great thing about user reviews on Agoda is that people can’t submit comments about accommodation unless they’ve booked through Agoda’s website and have actually stayed there.
I have a strong preference for the Seminyak area and US$ 150 can definitely get you a nice one-bedroom villa with either a plunge pool or a decent sized private swimming pool. However, if you do insist on a villa with an ocean view and infinity pool and you’re hoping for the same price, perhaps you should set your sights on a less popular—though just as charming—area, like Amed, about 2 hours drive from the airport. There, a good friend of mine stayed at Villa Aquamarine, a two-bedroom cliff-top villa for US$ 100 per night, which came with an ocean view, infinity pool and private access to the beach. He even had a housekeeper who cooks and cleans up! While I haven’t stayed there myself, I have visited the place and was impressed.
Another option is a semi-private villa such as the Citta Villas. I use the term ‘semi-private’ because it’s a residency made up of 5 villas that share a rather large pool. The villas are spacious and the decor is Balinese with a modern touch. The price ranges depending on which villa you book, but for the Bouganville single-floor studio with a private en-suite bathroom and outdoor shower, my friend and I paid a total of less than US$ 150 nett.
It’s because of how strong the tourism industry is in Bali that hotels and accommodation providers are always competing to provide better facilities and services at affordable prices. This is especially true with the smaller or local providers. US$ 200 can get you a night in a standard room of a five-star hotel in Seminyak, yes, but in Bali, that same amount can also get you a one bedroom Seminyak villa with a private pool. For what it’s worth, I have taken greater pleasure in paying US$ 150 per night for a locally owned villa, than spending a night in a standard room at the W Seminyak for US$ 450++.
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