Jun 27 2011
You’ve got the fancy invitation and you just can’t say no to this relative: you’ve got to head to Nusa Dua, Bali for the wedding even though you can barely afford the airfare. You won’t find any budget rooms in Nusa Dua proper — the sterile, manicured enclave specifically created for five-star resorts. But just up the road, a short cab ride away in what is strictly speaking Tanjung Benoa, or Cape Benoa, you will find Pondok Agung Homestay: a cheap, excellent hotel/guesthouse that will possibly having your less well-researched relatives wild with envy.
This homestay has around nine rooms in several two-storey wooden/cement bungalows spread around a beautifully cared-for garden. About the only downside to this place is the lack of a pool, but you’re within spitting distance of Tanjung Benoa beach with all its wild water sports across the road — and won’t you have access to a flash hotel pool via your relatives anyway?
Our upstairs room among greenery shared a wall (and an adjoining door that would be unlocked if you come as a group) with our quiet Japanese neighbours, but they probably heard more of us, staying with a 4 and 2 year old, than we did of them.
The wooden steps leading up to the veranda set the tone for the interior: more warm woods, with something of a Swiss chalet feel to them thanks to wooden beams and a high ceiling. And funnily enough, the owners are a Swiss-Balinese couple who have been running the joint for about 20 years, though our room couldn’t have been anywhere near that old.
The quality of the design and fittings for this price range — we’ll let you guess what we paid for it for now — are completely above the norm for Bali or indeed anywhere in Southeast Asia. The decor is slightly dated, and the TV is NON-flat screen — the horror!
But otherwise, we loved that the locks worked smoothly, you could open the wooden framed windows with ease, plenty of lighting let you read at night (and had sensible switches), the bathroom shower sloped downward so the water drained properly, a live plant livened up the bathroom, the linen was clean, you could shutter up the place properly so it stayed dark to keep said 4 and 2 year old asleep until 07:00, there was free WiFi that worked (first go!), power plugs were in the right places, and there was a table outside for use when the kids were sleeping, plus two tables inside, plus a spacious cupboard, plus extra pillows, plus toiletries, plus a proper umbrella properly hung outside.
About the only thing that you could reasonably say might have been improved was lighting in the shower — and the second morning for some reason we couldn’t seem to get hot water, but were too lazy to ask the staff what the problem was. There was no fridge in the room, but you could keep your own food (or milk for the kids) in their fridge. Pffffft!
Staff spoke good English and were professional and friendly. There’s no on-site restaurant, but the price includes a light breakfast of Bali coffee or tea, fruit plate, and white toast with butter plus a selection of jams (for two people, though they threw in plenty of extra toast for the kids). It’s served in a few gazebos at the front of the house, which is fronted by a garden full of colourful flowers, from purplish lilies on the pond through to a riot of bougainvillea and other tropical standards. A small library and dining area suited to groups (perhaps ordering in?) was set in the garden too.
Despite the lack of pool, a few all-weather deckchairs and umbrellas are arranged in the main garden right at the back away from the road noise that would be great for a few hours’ peaceful reading time.
You’re a five-minute cab ride down to Nusa Dua proper, and within walking distance of the end of Jalan Pratama, where a few seafood restaurants are located right on the harbour.
The price? 300,000 rupiah per night, which we think is a rather fine deal.
Pondok Agung Homestay
Jalan Pratama 99
T: (0361) 771 143 F: (0361) 771 145
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