Yes, another blog post on Bali.
I feel like I am a bit of a local, seeing this was my fifth time there. And I will go back. Again and again, because somehow this island has a hold on me. And that is lucky for you, because I can give you all the hints and tips for your next trip. We have previously stayed in numerous different types of accommodation: in luxe villas, in luxe hotels, but also in some more reasonably priced accommodation – always in the Seminyak/Legian areas.
This trip was a two week “girls” trip. My daughter and I, met up with my sister and my niece, who live in Holland. We figure Bali is half way. Sorta kinda.
The plan was to have fun, catch up, do loads of relaxing and shopping of course. As I am starting to collate photos and thoughts, I realise that I have to break up it up in two parts. So here is Part One – where we stayed, our favourite places to eat and drink! And make yourself a cuppa because this post is HUGE. Part Two will be about shopping, and some general tips that makes your holiday just a little bit easier on beautiful Bali.
The first week we mainly stayed in a funky hotel in Seminyak – Tijilli – on Jl Drupadi
Reasonably priced, the decor was bright and colourful, with the staff very attentive. Close to Double Six Beach. Breakfast wasn’t too bad, and I had been looking forward to Nasi Goreng for breakfast all year! The pool was in the shade most of the day, as it is surrounded by the hotel rooms, so if it is sun baking you want to do, you may have to take the free little shuttle bus to the beach. Still, it was quite refreshing in the heat and lovely to have a toasted sandwich for lunch around the pool. I can not praise the staff enough, they were courteous and so helpful! Even down to checking we had not left anything behind in the taxi that dropped us back to the hotel. Every single time!
(a tip: there is a laundry across the road and your clothes come back beautiful and fresh and ironed. Also, the hot stone massage in the spa across the road was one of the best I had in Bali)
Half way through the first week, we went to Gili Air, a small island near Lombok, about a 3 hour boat trip away. Sleepy, primitive, with no cars, just bikes and horses and cart – it has a real hippy vibe, complete with Magic Mushrooms for sale! It is particularly well known for surfing, diving and snorkelling. It may have been the time of the year (European Summer Holidays), but we found that the tourists there were mainly European. The young Aussie party travellers got off the boat at Gili Trewangan (Gili T). We stayed at the Mola Mola Resort on the (quieter) west side of the island on the waterfront. About a year old, it has some obvious teething problems. The pool was not in use and the rooms could definitely be cleaner. But, this is a laid back island and the staff is more than happy to fix if you tell them what needs fixing. Rooms and beds were comfortable and the outdoor shower was heaven. There were free bikes for everyone to use, which we did to ride around the island. Great fun. The restaurant on the beach is a great place to watch the sunset, but the food is average. We ended up going to Mowies on the Beach for most of our meals. Healthy, beautiful meals, with the best smoothies ever. By the way, my sister has stayed at Mowies in their accommodation before, and loved it. They do book out very quickly because there are only a few cabins available. They are building some more accommodation however, and are in the process of building a pool as well.
Some tips if you want to head over to Gili Air/T:
- Organise the trip including pick up and drop off at your hotel. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: will explain why later.
- The boat trip is about 3 hours, add to this an hour to two hours from Seminyak, depending on the traffic to get the the port to get “the fast” boat.
- Try and ask for a boat that has an open deck on top. We were stuck inside for the whole trip with a couple of rickety fans and nowhere to go. It was HOT. The way back was horrific, the seas were so rough and there were a few green faces. And with not being able to go outside… you get the picture.
- Take a backpack or a very small bag to take with you, you don’t need much, and you will thank me when you see how you have to climb into the boat. Store your suitcase at your hotel if possible, that is what we did.
- Take some travel sickness pills.
- There is no soft sand on Gili, the sand is crushed coral and bloody hurts when you walk. Some jelly shoes will come in handy.
- Whatever you do, when you land back in Bali, do NOT pay extra to get a taxi back. No matter if how convincing the taxi drivers are that there is a lot of traffic and it will be quicker if you pay. They will even produce the same ticket that you have. Head back to the area where you received your tickets when you left, because that is where there will be a driver waiting for you. Do NOT pay extra.
Our second week was spent at Room Sweet Room, a new boutique hotel, offering only 4 rooms in the hotel, and no other facilities. The entrance was tucked away in a small lane way, and from our breezy terrace (many a gin and tonic were consumed there) you can look out over the hustle and bustle of the Seminyak Oberoi Flea markets. I liked staying here, it was surprisingly quiet at night and everything was so close and in walking distance. There were no breakfast facilities, but it gave us the opportunity to explore different places for breakky. The rooms were beautifully decorated, with very comfy beds. Right next to Room Sweet Room is the sister guesthouse Room & Vespa. A more luxurious boutique guesthouse with a pool out the front and the option of a scooter included in the price of the hotel. Very cool, beautifully furnished and it couldn’t be more central to all the hustle and bustle. For us, we ended up walking 5 minutes up the road to Ku de Ta ‘s pool and beach for the afternoon, and watched the sun go down with a great cocktail.
A fun, eclectic restaurant, with fantastic cocktails and great food. Fabulous decor and a real party atmosphere. My niece is vegetarian and this was never a problem in any of the places we ate, Motel Mexicola similarly had plenty to choose from. If you have kids, go a bit earlier, as later on the music gets cranked up and some dancing on tables is expected! Book online to get your preferred time slot on the night.
I have been wanting to go for Sunday Brunch for years, but it was always fully booked. So this time I was smart and booked way ahead (couple of months) so we could finally attend. The Starfish Bloo restaurant is in the very glamorous W Hotel and the food is UNBELIEVABLE. Do not, I repeat DO NOT have breakfast this day. The food is plentiful, and every single delicacy you could wish for is here. We opted for the IR535K (about AU$54) buffet with unlimited soft drinks and a glass of bubbly on arrival. IR1.150K (about AU$115 ) gives you unlimited alcohol as well. None of us are big drinkers so what we chose was perfect. (We ended up having a cocktail later at the pool). There is seafood, including lobster, oysters, crab and much more, Japanese, traditional Indo food and roasts, so so much. Not exactly cheap, but worth the money. Wear something a little more dressy, you will not look out of place. After lunch with a full belly, we stayed at the W Hotel and used the cabanas and pool area. An absolute must.
La Laguna is brought to you by the team that brings you La Plancha (didn’t go this time) , La Favela ( we only had a drink there, but it is best described as a jungle courtyard inside a former grand mansion. Full of amazing antiques. Totally instagrammable for those interior addicts), and La Sicilia (best Italian, refined food ever. This was our last night and even though it was a little sad, we had a wonderful meal. The pizzas are to die for, as are the cocktails and the restaurant’s decor is opulent and rich. In my opinion though, this is a very romantic restaurant, and more suitable for couples). La Laguna is tucked away at the end of a lane way in Canggu. When you enter it looks like a gypsy camp complete with caravans, and cushions everywhere. I loved it here. We had tapas and tried many different cocktails, and some of us had their fortune read in one of the beautifully painted caravans. Unfortunately it rained on the night and we missed out on a big camp fire on the beach. A must go. The atmosphere, as is at all of the above restaurants, is a 10 out of 10.
A favourite for a no fuss, easy menu. Not a real extensive menu, but quite eclectic with a few Dutch things on the menu and nice Indo food too. Easy for lunch or dinner, and have never been disappointed. The mint tea comes with fresh mint.
Warung Murah/Warung Mina/Warung Made
A Warung or Waroeng is a local cafe with cheap and tasty food. It literally means “shop” but labelling it this way rather than a “restoran” will incur less tax. Our favourite cheap Warung is Warung Murah on JL Ayuna (Double Six), where we ate regularly, for around $5 including a drink. You ask for your preferred rice and get the staff to add whatever is cooking on the day. There is usually, loads of veggie type dishes and the meat usually chicken pieces in a few different ways. Just point and they will dish it out for you on your plate. The staff then hands you a ticket and you pay when you leave. This Warung is always packed, but be patient, a table is available very quickly.
Warung Mina was new to us, a friend had walked past and thought it looked quite nice, with its pond, and courtyard and gamelan music playing. The crispy duck “babek” is a speciality, and on the night there was some live music as well. A very enjoyable night.
Warung Made started as a traditional Warung, but has transformed into more of an upmarket. Certainly a little more expensive than traditional Warungs, but there is entertainment every night, including traditional Balinese dances. Worth a visit.
This is really an Australian cafe. The vibe, the food, it is all Australian. The decor is beautiful (go check out the bathrooms!) the food is fresh and healthy, and the coffee is excellent. The queues however can be very long and if you can’t wait: check out Grocer and Grind across the road. It has been there for a long time, and the food is amazing. (in fact, it is more peaceful and not so hectic!)
A totally instagrammable delight. From the bathrooms to the front of the building, this is an Insta Worthy Restaurant. We went for dinner, and I was a little disappointed. I chose the Poke Bowl which had way too much dressing. I also got really sick the next day, and it may have been anything: the ice in the drinks, or whatever, but I had the feeling it was the fish. Totally unlucky I guess. My daughter had Quesadilles and loved them. Next time, I will go for breakky, because they look amazing!
One of my favourite places to spend the afternoon. Chill music, chill vibe and yum cocktails. Unless you have children, don’t go on a Sunday – there is a kids club on that day. Reserve some nice beds around the pool and just laze away the afternoon until the sun goes down.
Apart from the most delicious of homewares all around this store (next to Sea Circus), there is a cafe attached to Kim Soo that has wonderful coffee and great cake. I had a craving for cake and coffee and Kim Soo obliged with a really lovely Hummingbird cake. Retail therapy and sweets? Match made in heaven as far as I am concerned!
There are so many places to discover and to see. We haven’t even started on Canggu yet, that is on the list for next time.
But really, the MOST favourite thing to do in Bali? Sit on the beach, with a Bintang (Radler yumm) and watch the sun go down. This is one of the times that I truly feel like I am on a holiday…
Will you share your favourite places below?
Sampai jumpa lagi,