Apr 19 2011
So what do you do when you’ve got two friends and their two under-threes visiting Bali for a couple of weeks? Well, one option is to put your own two under-fives in the car and meet up with them to share a beachfront house for a few days. And so that’s how we found ourselves at Life in Amed*, a family-friendly beach hideaway in Lean village, Amed, east Bali.
Life in Amed has perched right on the beach for around six years now, running under the tutelage of Englishwoman Sarah and a gang of friendly Balinese staff. It boasts a half dozen cottage-style rooms along with two larger beachside “villas” and, the newest addition, a magnificent three-bedroom house that is, as we found out, perfectly ideal for two or three families with children. There’s also a moderately-sized free-form swimming pool, a large lawn area, lovingly tended gardens and a compact restaurant back towards the main road.
Of course there’s the beach out front — as with most of the beaches in north Bali, this is a jet black sand affair — and during the day much of it is given over to the dozens of jukungs resting after an early morning of fishing.
It’s easy enough to wander between them though and straight offshore you’re got some quite good snorkelling, with ample stretches of coral teeming with fish — the further offshore you go the better.
But more on the snorkelling later, let’s get back to the accommodation.
The house, or to be accurate the “Perfumed Garden Beach House“, has been modelled to an extent on a Javanese joglo, with two ground floor bedrooms (each with open-air en suite and a terrace veranda), separated by a broad common area that overlooks the lawn area to the beach (and will eventually hold a small kitchen at rear). Upstairs is the master bedroom, with its own en suite and veranda. When you’re booking this for you and your friends, don’t even bother drawing straws for who gets the upstairs bedroom, just grab it!
The house is cement and brick with a spirallingly tall alang alang roof that means only the most air-con addicted (for example our Bangkokian travel partners) will even need to turn it on. Come the evenings, just swing open the balcony doors and let the tall ceilings and sea breeze cool you down instead.
After the initial “Holy cow it’s big” upon arrival, the first thing we noticed was the tiling throughout. Soft and cool under foot, Sarah told us she picked the motif and colours herself. (She confessed: “I’m a bit mad about colour.”) The tiles were fired at a local tilers in Sideman, in central Bali. From the common area to the stairs leading upstairs into the master en suite, from earthern hues to warm reds and purple details, the results are enchanting.
Doors and windows are finished with wooden Balinese and Javanese accents — the doors into the two downstairs bedrooms are actually windows from a large old house. Much is antique, secondhand or from refurbished teak, procured after many, many trips to the myriad furniture shops in Kerobokan.
There’s precious few modcons, with no TVs and the internet is, well, a bit patchy, but this is fairly remote in Amed and it did work most of the time. Yes, there’s air-con and also a kettle (it gave one of our crew a nasty shock, truth be known, so do be careful) with coffee and tea-making facilities, as well as a large fridge that was stocked with soft drinks, but oddly not refilled during our stay.
But these were very minor blemishes on what we found to be a thoroughly enjoyable place to call home for a few days. (Sarah, please pass us the house plans to build our own place?!)
Crisp linen with fluffed pillows and over-sized mattresses stand high off the floor. Ample chairs and benches adorned with all manner of side pillows beckon (to those not travelling with four under-fives, obviously). The view from the open-air bathrooms back up the mountain valley behind the resort are spectacular, and out the other direction, glorious sunrises wake you with Lombok in the distance. The daily migration of the jukungs, all asail, will wake you just before dawn, but they’re a spectacular site if you get out of bed to have a look under moonlight.
With a large lawn area out front (a swimming pool is planned for the future) there’s ample space for the kids to go mad. They were equally comfortable playing on the terraces or just lazing around. There’s more than enough space to go around.
Sleeping wise, each of the bedrooms would comfortably fit a baby cot or another mattress so the house would easily fit three families with kids. As we had just the two families, we had more space than we knew what to do with.
Life in Amed has a half dozen more regular sized bungalows in the main grounds along with the swimming pool. These are quite cute affairs with a double bed downstairs and two single beds in a loft above the terrace veranda. Bathrooms are immaculate, spacious and well designed. If we were to return here without friends to share the costs, we’d opt for one of these rooms as the kids would be fine upstairs (as long as the stairs were blocked off during the night).
It’s also in this area you’ll find the two smaller villas, which, we’d have to say are a bit ill conceived as they’re a bit cramped and hog the beachfront area. Consider them a practice run for the main house — they nailed it second time around
When we were actually able to drag ourselves away from the house, our main activity was snorkelling. We tried it both straight offshore and also took two jukung trips — once east to the Japanese wreck and once west to the coral garden at Jemeluk. Both of these can be easily driven to as well — we just took a boat trip for the hell of it. We also grabbed another jukung for just a half hour float around for the kids and they loved it. (Note you won’t find kid-sized life jackets in Amed, and expect to be charged more if you want an adult one).
Life In Amed has a compact restaurant out near the road and we ate the majority of our meals here. The offerings are a typical mix of Western and Balinese offerings, along with a small children’s menu, with nutella jaffles! Breakfast (included in the room price) kept everyone happy, except the single person in our group who loves his big English breakfasts.
The good things in life often don’t come cheap and the same holds for Life in Amed. You’re paying a premium here for a lovingly designed and implemented resort. The beach cottages are US$65 in low season, $85 in high, the smaller villas are $120/$140 in low/high season and the Perfumed Garden Beach House is a substantial $290/$350 per night. Before you choke on the price of the larger house, bear in mind it comfortably sleeps three families, so if you’re looking for a hideaway with some friends, we’d class it as great value. Of the other offerings, the smaller villas are actually the worst value, and we’d say if you’re travelling alone the beach cottages are the way to go, but if you can rustle up a crowd, the Perfumed Garden Beach House smells pretty sweet.
Life in Amed
Lean village, Bunutan
T: (0363) 23 152
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