Actually, it was hotel hunting, but at times I felt like we were the subjects of a HGTV episode of House Hunter International…”will they choose the family villa overlooking the rice terraces, or the large Balinese-style room with the pool and great price?” These were the questions that we contemplated when we arrived on Bali last Saturday.
After the early morning flight from Bangkok to Denpasar on the southern coast of Bali, we hired a taxi to take us to Ubud, a hillside village about 40 km inland. Ubud is the artistic and cultural heart of Bali, and since we’re not doing this trip to hang-out on the beach, we chose Ubud over the surfer and resort areas on the coast. Vivian’s sense of adventure also included being spontaneous in terms of accommodations and finding a place to stay on arrival. “It will be part of the whole experience” Lillian declared. With 4 kids in tow, I was less than sure about this strategy but agreed to give it a go.
I can tell you that it worked out this time, but I’m not sure I would try this often. I started our hotel hunt from the bottom of the main drag, Monkey Forest Road, and worked my way north with Lillian, Audrey and Josephine as additional consultants. About every 10 meters or so there were signs for bungalows, villas, homestays, and hotels. At every place that looked promising we stopped, inquired about a room for 2 adults and 4 children, inspected what was available, and tried to negotiate a good price. Most places don’t have a single large room for families, so staying within our budget of 50-85 EUR per night quickly became an issue. It was drizzling when we started our hunt, but after about 3 places, it started to full-on rain. We had no umbrella or raincoats and the streets in Ubud quickly became a flowing stream. To make matters worse, we could find nothing within our budget (or perhaps I just didn’t negotiate hard enough).
Two hours and about 15 places later, and at a final attempt to secure something that would fit our needs, we found the Gayatri 2 Bungalows off a small alleyway off Monkey Forest Road. It’s what is known as a “flashpacker” accommodation (think slightly upscale backpacking). The room was basic but very large and allowed us to fit another mattress for lucky Lillian who was able to sleep by herself this time around. Given the number of kids we have, they NEVER get their own bed and so far they have not complained too much. I would characterize the bathroom
as average at best, but the room was relatively clean and had air conditioning. For the price of 65 EUR (including breakfast), this was by far the cheapest place we had seen and pretty much a bargain in our eyes. The guesthouse was done in true Balinese style with lush grounds and a swimming pool overlooking beautiful rice fields. With some updating, Gayatri 2 could probably charge much more for their rooms, but luckily for us, the ownership has not taken the initiative to go upscale from where they are at. We enjoyed a much deserved swim to celebrate our successful hotel hunt, but I’m not sure I could recommend this strategy anytime except during the low season and in a place like Ubud where there are a lot of choices in relative proximity to each other.