A great hideaway
Bingin Beach T: (0361) 743 4424, (081) 2388 6024
One of the advantages of travelling with a four-year-old boy is he tends to leave a steady trail of toy matchbox cars on beaches here and there. On our recent travels through Flores in eastern Indonesia, the boy in question happened to leave a firetruck in the sand at Seraya Island. A day or so later, a couple of Canadian travellers we had met there stumbled upon it and dropped us an email a few days later saying they’d be in Bingin in south Bali and if we could face the drive over we were welcome to come visit to pick it up. What better excuse does one need to visit Bingin, one of the top surfing locations in Bali?
We’ve stayed at Bingin a couple of times over the years and we have a very soft spot for the cliff-face room at Temple Lodge, but at more than $100 a night, it’s not something we do often — to be honest, we’ve only ever done it once, but we tell everyone to go there. We’d sent our Canadian friends there as well, but the Lodge was full and they pointed them next door, to the charming and very reasonably priced Kembang Kuning Ocean View Bungalows.
The name is a bit of a misnomer, but in a good way. The accommodation is most absolutely “Ocean View” but the bungalows, if they ever existed are long gone, replaced with a series of two-storey buildings with simple but very clean rooms upstairs and downstairs. While all offer an ocean view to some degree, definitely angle for an upstairs one if you can — the views are superb.
Facilities are simple. Bathrooms are clean but no frills and the beds are firm, but the bedding and decor a little dated. In the scheme of things this doesn’t really matter as unless you’re on your deathbed, chances are you’ll spend precious little time inside your room. Why? Look outside.
The lawn grounds are pristinely kept, dotted with healthy frangipani and scattered with a bale here and there, and there’s a cliffside, really cliffside, restaurant — peer over the side and Bingin is laid out directly below you.
At the far end of the frangipani green though, nestled behind the final bale, is the real reason for staying here — a crescent-shaped horizon pool that quite literally drops right over the edge and has views across Bingin (and down to the eyesore once known as Dreamland). This isn’t the biggest pool on the block by far, and we’d imagine, when Kembang Kuning is full, it’s probably noticeably small, but when we visited our Canadian mates were the only guests in residence and boy, that pool was just perfect.
Staff are friendly and obliging, and pointed out that they also own Susie’s Guesthouse across the alley, which has backpacker-value rooms at 150,000 rupiah AND guests there get to use the pool here for free. Score.
It’s not perfect though. There’s no car parking (you’ll need to use the Bingin “car parking lot” a 10-minute walk away), so don’t bring a ton of luggage. There’s also no WiFi, but Temple Lodge (about 12 metres away) has it, so just hit them up for lunch — their food is excellent. These are very minor points and if we hadn’t been leaving the country two days later we’d have booked in, on the spot, just for the hell of it.
At 550,000 rupiah per night, Kembang Kuning Ocean View Bungalows isn’t for those looking for mod cons, chilled air-con and arty decor, but if you’ve been travelling on a budget and want somewhere for a final splurge, somewhere that is spectacular in an old-school kind of way, we couldn’t recommend this place highly enough.
Should you stay, we stashed the firetruck behind the last frangipani — feel free to invite us over to pick it up.
No email or website, make a reservation by phone and ask to speak to Nyoman.
By Stuart McDonald
Last updated on 14th April, 2015.