Bali has a huge range of great-value accommodation for any budget. If visiting in the peak periods of August and Christmas, book three or more months ahead.
Homestays & Guesthouses Bali's family-run accommodation is comfortable and puts you right in the middle of fascinating local life.
Hotels Many of Bali's hundreds of hotels are located near the action and offer good deals.
Resorts Bali has some of the world's best resorts at prices that would be a bargain elsewhere. You can stay on the beach or be nestled in a lush mountain valley.
Villas Enjoy a sybaritic escape and private pool.
Pretty much every place to stay on Bali can arrange tours, car rental and other services. Laundry service is universally available, often cheap and sometimes free.
The cheapest accommodation on Bali is in small places that are simple but clean and comfortable. Names often include the word 'losmen', 'homestay', 'inn' or 'pondo'. Many are built in the style of a traditional Balinese home.
There are budget hotels all over Bali, and they vary widely in standards and price. Expect the following:
- Maybe air-con
- Maybe hot water
- Private bathroom with shower and Western-style toilet
- Often a pool
- Simple breakfast
- Carefree and cheery staff
International budget chains are making a splashy entry into south Bali, but note that a tiny US$9 room quickly hits US$40 when you add various extras such as taxes and fees for items included elsewhere, like internet and towels.
Older midrange hotels are often constructed in Balinese bungalow style or in two-storey blocks and are set on spacious grounds with a pool. Many have a sense of style that is beguiling and may help postpone your departure. In addition to what you'll get at a budget hotel, expect the following:
- Balcony, porch or patio
- Satellite TV
- Small fridge
- Often wi-fi
Note that dozens of midrange chain hotels have appeared across south Bali. Rooms are often small and the sites cramped, although standards are reliable. But beware of properties far from the beach and nightlife.
Top-end hotels and resorts in Bali are world-class. Service is refined and you can expect decor plucked from the pages of a glossy magazine, along with the following:
- Superb service
- Views – ocean, lush valleys and rice fields or private gardens
- Maybe a private pool
- Not wanting to leave
Feature: Hotels Too Far
When booking a south Bali hotel room, be careful where you book.
As tourist numbers on Bali have exploded, so have the number of chain hotels. The number of available rooms has more than doubled since 2005. The boom in the construction of large hotels in Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Kerobokan and Canggu is changing the area's character in fundamental ways, especially as the many family-run, cheap and cheerful small inns are pushed out.
While some of these large new hotels are appearing in traditionally appealing areas of south Bali, not far from the beaches and nightlife, scores more are opening far from the areas visitors consider desirable. Many chains have properties in both good and unappealing areas and it is easy to get misled about a hotel's actual location, especially on booking websites. In the tradition of real estate agents everywhere, 'Seminyak' is now the address used for hotels far into Denpasar.
So when you see that great web bargain for a midrange room for US$40, carefully consider the following:
- Anything west of the Jl Legian–Jl Seminyak–Jl Kerobokan spine will be close to both beaches and nightlife.
- East of the spine things begin to get inconvenient fast. There will be less to walk to, beaches can be far and cruising cabs hard to come by.
- Jl Ngurah Rai Bypass and Jl Sunset are both noisy major streets that lack charm and are hard to cross. Many new chain hotels are located right on these traffic-choked thoroughfares.
- East of Jl Ngurah Rai Bypass and Jl Sunset and you are deep into suburban Denpasar, where it will be hard to find cabs or much else you'll be interested in.
- In Sanur, which is also getting an influx of chain hotels, Jl Ngurah Rai Bypass should be the absolute western border in your room hunt.
- With careful shopping, you can usually find great room deals in the most appealing parts of south Bali, and often you can end up at a small or family-run guesthouse with oodles more charm and character than a generic cheap hotel.
Villas are scattered around south Bali and Ubud, and are now appearing in the east. They're often built in the middle of rice paddies, seemingly overnight. The villa boom has been quite controversial for environmental, aesthetic and economic reasons. Many skip collecting government taxes from guests, which has raised the ire of their luxury hotel competitors and brought threats of crackdowns.
Large villas, such as those found in the Canggu area, can be bacchanalian retreats for groups of friends. Others are smaller, more intimate and part of larger developments – common in Seminyak and Kerobokan – or top-end hotels. Expect the following:
- Private garden
- Private pool
- Air-con bedroom(s)
- Open-air common space
Villas will also potentially include:
- Your own staff (cook, driver, cleaner)
- Lush grounds
- Private beachfront
- Isolation (which can be good or bad)
Rates range from around US$200 per night for a modest villa to US$2000 per week and beyond for your own tropical estate. There are often deals, especially in the low season, and several couples sharing can make something grand affordable.
You can sometimes save quite a bit by waiting until the last minute, but during the high season the best villas book up far in advance.
Villa Rental Questions
It's the Wild West out there. There are myriad agents, some excellent, others not. It is essential to be as clear as possible about what you want when arranging a rental. Some things to keep in mind and ask about when renting a villa:
- How far is the villa from the beach and stores?
- Is a driver or car service included?
- If there is a cook, is food included?
- Is there an electricity surcharge?
- Are there extra cleaning fees?
- Is laundry included?
- What refunds apply on a standard 50% deposit?
- Is there wi-fi and is it free?
For longer stays, you can find flats for US$300 to US$1200 a month and much more. Sources include the following:
- Facebook groups. There are scores with rentals on Bali; Bali Rooms for Rent (www.facebook.com/baliroomsforrent) is one large board. You can also try looking for groups with names like '[name of town] Housing'.
- Bali Advertiser (www.baliadvertiser.biz)
- Noticeboards in popular cafes such as Bali Bhudda in Ubud and Umalas, plus the many Cafe Moka locations. Bintang supermarkets in Seminyak and Ubud are also good.
- Word of mouth. Tell your new Bali friends you're looking, as everybody seems to know someone with a place for rent.
Accommodation attracts a combined tax and service charge (called 'plus plus') of 21%. At budget places, this is generally included in the price, but check first. Many midrange and top-end places will add it on, which can substantially increase your bill.
Nailing down rates is difficult, as some establishments publish the rates they actually plan to charge, while others publish rates that are pure fantasy, fully expecting to discount by 50%.
Rates are almost always negotiable, especially outside the main peak season. In the low season, discounts between 30% and 50% aren't uncommon at midrange and top-end hotels. With a glut of new hotels, especially in the south, rates have remained stable.