Accommodation in Indonesia ranges from a basic box with a mattress to the finest five-star luxury resorts. Costs vary considerably across the archipelago, but in general Indonesia is one of the better bargains in Southeast Asia.

Travellers centres have plenty of reasonably priced food and accommodation. In Bali and other touristed areas such as the Gilis, Labuanbajo on Flores, Danau Toba on Sumatra etc, you'll have a wide range of sleeping choices. Options diminish quickly as you get off the beaten track, although lavish resorts, surf camps and idyllic yet modest getaways can be found across the archipelago.

  • Accommodation attracts a combined tax and service charge (called 'plus plus') of 21%. In budget places, this is generally included in the price, but check first. Many midrange and top-end places will add it on, which can add substantially to your bill.
  • Rates quoted include tax and are those that travellers are likely to pay during high season. 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%.
  • Shop online and contact hotels directly to find the best rates. There’s no one formula that works across Indonesia.

Hotels

Hotels in tourist areas can be excellent at any price range. But elsewhere in Indonesia, standards quickly fall: slack maintenance and uneven service are common, although staff are usually cheery.

Budget Hotels & Guesthouses

The cheapest accommodation is in small places that are simple but usually reasonably clean and comfortable. Names often include the word losmen, homestay, inn, penginapan or pondok. Standards vary widely. You should expect the following in rooms.

  • Maybe air-con (in some rooms)
  • Usually wi-fi
  • Maybe hot water
  • Sometimes no window
  • Private bathroom with shower and sometimes a Western-style toilet
  • Often a pool (on Bali)
  • Simple breakfast

Midrange Hotels

Many hotels have a range of rooms, from budget to midrange. The best may be called VIP, deluxe or some other moniker. In addition to what you'll get at a budget hotel, expect the following.

  • Balcony/porch/patio
  • Satellite TV
  • Small fridge
  • Wi-fi

Top-End Hotels

Top-end hotels can range from international chains in Jakarta to beautiful resorts on Bali and lavish getaways elsewhere. You should expect the following.

  • Superb service
  • Views – ocean, lush valleys and rice fields or private gardens
  • Spa
  • Maybe a private pool

Hostels

Indonesia didn't used to have many hostels, mainly because there are so many inexpensive guesthouses. But now you can find backpacker-style hostels with dormitories in Jakarta, Bali, the Gilis and beyond, including Flores.

Staying in Villages

In many places in Indonesia you'll often be welcome to stay in the villages. If the town has no hotel, ask for the kepala desa (village head), who is generally very hospitable and friendly, offering you not only a roof over your head in a homestay, but also meals. Consider the following.

  • You may not get a room of your own, just a bed.
  • Payment is usually expected: about the same price as a cheap losmen (50,000Rp to 100,000Rp) as a rule of thumb. The kepala desa may suggest an amount, but often it is terserah (up to you), and you should always offer to pay.
  • While the village head's house sometimes acts as an unofficial hotel, you are a guest and often an honoured one. Elaborate meals may be prepared just for you. It's also a good idea to have a gift or two to offer – cigarettes, photographs or small souvenirs from your country are popular.
  • Homestays and village stays are a great way to socialise with families and neighbours, contribute to the local economy and experience life at a much closer level.
  • Villages on Baliem Valley trekking routes often have basic guesthouses for tourists.

Camping

Camping in national parks is popular among Indonesian youth, though formal camping grounds with power and other facilities are rare. Outside the parks, camping is unknown, and villagers will regard campers as a source of entertainment. Some Kalimantan and Papua treks may include camping as will some mountain treks such as Gunung Rinjani on Lombok. Guides or operators usually supply gear.

Villas & Long-Term Accommodation

Luxury villas are popular accommodation on Bali, although they are not without their environmental costs in terms of water usage and placement amid once-pristine rice fields. Many come with pools, views, beaches and more. Often the houses are staffed and you have the services of a cook, driver etc.

Rates range from less than US$200 per night for a modest villa to US$1200 per night and much more for your own tropical estate. There are often deals, especially in low season, and several couples sharing can make something grand affordable.

Enquire about the following when renting a villa.

  • How far is the villa from the beach and nightlife?
  • Is a driver or car service included?
  • If there is a cook, is food included?
  • Is laundry included?

For longer stays, you can find deals easily for US$800 a month. Look in the Bali Advertiser (www.baliadvertiser.biz) or search Facebook. If your tastes are simple, you can find basic bungalows for US$300 a month.