Biggest Bali Challenge: Deciding Where to Stay

Enjoying the pool at Calma Ubud

The hardest thing about traveling in Bali is deciding where to stay - there are so many amazing options! Bali was just a stop on a two week trip throughout Indonesia, but I could easily have spent my whole two weeks just staying in various places on the island. One of my goals was to stay in treehouse, and while that didn’t happen (this time) we did manage to find other unusual and luxurious options.

Our first stop was the Calma Ubud just outside of Ubud's city center. It was peaceful and beautiful, the infinity pool was a highlight with its view of the rice paddies. The small hotel bar and restaurant were also located poolside. Our booking came with free breakfast, that included fresh watermelon juice – yum! They also easily accommodated my vegan travel companions.

The room itself was located on the second floor of one of the buildings. It was spacious and light-filled. Instead of numbers, all of the rooms are given a Balinese name, ours was hard for us to pronounce, which made for some funny and awkward exchanges with the staff when they asked which room we were in…

We arranged taxis for day trips with the front desk and it was also easy to find a taxi back from town in the evenings after dinner for around 50,000 rp (less than $4 usd).

I was in heaven 

After Ubud we headed to the Shunyata Villas in Seraya, a tiny town on the east coast. This place was incredible. Owned by a German couple and staffed by locals. It’s a small place, only three fully constructed villas and they were currently building two more. Neither of the other two villas were booked when we were there, so aside of the staff, we had the whole property to ourselves. After being so busy earlier in our trip we were ready to relax, and this was the perfect place to do it in. From our bedroom, double doors looked out onto a deck and massive infinity pool with views of the ocean and Lombok beyond. You could hear the waves crashing against the cliffs below and it was heaven.  

We also had a separate building next to the pool that housed a living and dining area long with a kitchenette, second bed, and second bathroom. Off of the master bedroom we also had a wardrobe and a large semi open-air bathroom with an awesome shower and bathtub.

The villa was so amazing we barely left, we had all of our meals served in our private dining area instead of the main dining room at the opposite end of the property. Breakfast was huge and both lunch and dinner were three course meals – yes they accommodated our dietary needs. There was also a housekeeping team that kept the rooms tidy and provided turndown service in the evenings. Everyone on staff referred to me as “Madam” which felt odd and lovely at the same time.

Our infinity pool doubled as a two-tier waterfall with steps beside it leading down to a massage tent and then the rest of the property beyond. We couldn’t resist getting Balinese massages.

The rest of the property was equally amazing, another large pool that would normally be shared by all guests, but because we were the only ones we also had that to ourselves. Have I mentioned how incredible it was?

Around the corner from the pool there were some steps leading down to the waterfront. It was not a place to swim but it was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. The shoreline was full of large stones, smooth and round from the ocean waves. When the waves hit the shore, the rocks would move and clink together making an unusual sound that’s hard to describe. A perfect spot for mediation.

We stayed here for two unforgettable nights but I’ll be dreaming of it for years to come. 

Relaxing in our private beach bubble

From there it was on to what is possibly the most unusual place I’ve never stayed, an inflatable bubble on the beach, booked via Airbnb. Located on the southernmost coast of Bali, there wasn’t much around, a couple of villas high on the cliffs and four bubbles on the beach which formed the Bubble Hotel. We stored everything we didn’t need in a garage space at the villas and then hiked down to the beach with only our necessities for the evening and following day.

The hike down to our bubble was longer and more intense than we thought it would be, down a very steep cliff to the beach and then along the beach for quite awhile before arriving at our bubble, which incidentally was the furthest away and thus the most secluded. When we first arrived, it was low tide so the beach wasn’t as picturesque as we’d imaged nor was our site as green as the Airbnb photos (probably because of the season). The only other noticeable difference was the trash washing up on the beach, which is a well-known problem plaguing the entire country – and the world. The bubble was outfitted with an air mattress (yes, it did deflate by morning), a portable air conditioner, a lantern, and LED lights. One unfortunate thing is that the machine keeping the bubble inflated and air circulating was quite loud and high pitched, so I had to use earplugs to sleep.

There was hardly anyone else round, it was so peaceful. They had a little campfire area set up for us along with lounge chairs. Tucked into the bushes there was a salt water shower and a - believe it or not - a standard toilet that flushed, the TP was thoughtfully placed inside a plastic bin, safe from bugs. We were able to pre-order dinner and breakfast (unfortunately, they were less able to accommodate vegan options but they had plenty of vegetarian choices). We also pre-ordered a kite that Joel had some fun with on the beach. We amused ourselves by taking silly photos in and around our bubble. Then the evening was all about peace, tranquility, the sound of the waves, and the stars above.  

All and all, I absolutely loved each of these places and I look forward to returning to Bali someday to see what other amazing accommodations we can find - though it will be hard to narrow it down. For those reading this and planning a trip to Bali, I hope this helps you with your search!