Desert island retreat
The quintessential Robinson Crusoe desert island paradise is what awaits at The Calmtree Bungalows: dense tropical foliage; driftwood, bamboo and thatch huts; romantic mosquito-netted beds and an archetypal blue lagoon (ok, that one is a swimming pool).
Five double-, one twin- and two family-bungalows that sleep four and six arc around the pool facing on open-air restaurant pavilion. We viewed the smaller of the family bungalows—a double-storey hand-crafted straight-off-the-movie-set affair, but single-storey bungalows all follow the same essential design.
Wooden floors and woven bamboo walls with only shuttered windows, no glass, make them fairy dark inside when all closed up, but with doors and shutters open it’s bright and breezy, if a little on the warm side for some guests, as the bungalows are only cooled with a couple of standard fans, no punkah wallahs or air-con here (however, we thought the temperature was pleasant).
Bungalows are clean and don’t have the musty smell of some bamboo hurts, simply furnished with a wooden double bed downstairs and twin singles plus a small daybed upstairs. Beds are comfy and white linens are fresh. The treehouse-like stairs are constructed from twisting branches, and are very steep, so not so good for very young kids. Semi-outdoor hot-water ensuite bathrooms follow the same rustic aesthetic with mossy stone walls and driftwood towel racks.
We love the wide verandahs with the gnarled tree trunks growing out of the floor (the supporting beams), wooden furnishings and built-in daybeds—perfect for lazing the days away. A well established frangipani shades the decent-sized pool fringed with umbrellaed sun lounges. Included breakfast is served in the airy restaurant which doubles as the hotel reception. Also open for lunch and dinner, it serves local and Western dishes including that old Bali favourite, “chicken gordon blue”.
Friendly staff can arrange surf lessons, excursions and bike rental, and also mentioned that if you book direct with the hotel, they offer a ten percent discount. The Calmtree Bungalows is tucked down a quiet lane off Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong, and is less than a kilometre to the beach.
We love the rustic, lazy island charm, and think its a good midrange choice especial for families—kids will love it, but rooms may be too basic for some. If you like the rustic thatch style, but prefer an air-con room, consider slightly out-of-the-way Red Salt or United Colors of Bali, alternatively and centrally located, the more polished (no thatch), traditional wooden houses at Roemah Peranakan.
By Sally Arnold
Last updated on 15th March, 2017.
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