A good budget backpacker option
Beachfront Topi Inn has a distinct beach shack vibe — it’s a very relaxed, yet very basic, friendly backpacker pick. The three-storey eco-friendly bamboo building provides simple rooms above a busy restaurant. We’re guessing that the A-framed structure gives Topi Inn its name, as it resembles a farmer’s pointy bamboo hat (topi in Indonesian).
A range of sleeping options are available including the cheapest dorm beds in Padang Bai, for 60,000 rupiah. Four kapok mattresses are placed side by side on the floor of a large bamboo common area shared by other guests. They come with mosquito nets — that’s it, so you will get to know your sleeping partners! It’s more like camping than a regular hostel. If you’ve ever been a guest at a traditional longhouse, you’ll get the picture. Bags can be stored downstairs and valuables in a safety box. Most guests just leave their bags out in the open, beside the bed. Share bathrooms with funky organic-shaped lime green walls are cold-water only. Toilets are Western-style thrones, with bucket scoop flush.
Private rooms start at 150,000 rupiah and are fan-cooled, a few with cold-water ensuite bathrooms. Some rooms are tiny — one only has space for a bunk bed. Beds have mosquito nets — many with holes, so bring repair tape. One guest mentioned that the lumpy kapok mattresses sink a bit in the middle, but were still comfortable. We were told by staff that some roofs leak in the corners, and they offer a discount for those rooms. Paper-thin bamboo walls mean you will hear your neighbours, and they you. Be warned. It can be noisy — as well as the general comings and goings of Padang Bai life, they have live music and movies some nights in the restaurant below.
A relaxing and airy open common area (shared with the dorm) looks out to the beach and has hammocks and bamboo tables and chairs — it’s quieter and more private than the pumping restaurant downstairs.
The entire top floor is taken up by a huge family room, which was previously the owner’s house. Open to the elements at either end, it’s a creaky, dusty, enchanting, treehouse-like experience, with great beach views. Light (and wind and rain) floods in from the large open windows — bamboo shutters can be closed if it’s too much. A large bamboo double bed and two smaller beds all come with mozzie net canopies. A very steep staircase leads down to the basic bathroom — not good for small kids or less mobile adults. A warning sign in the room informs that a local cat comes to visit each night and demands food. The roof is traditional thatch, and floors have woven mats which help muffle guests’ footsteps. The atmosphere is of a secluded and romantic hideaway, but don’t expect luxury. We were offered 250,000 rupiah for two, or 300,000 rupiah for a family for this room.
There is free WiFi, but rooms don’t include breakfast. There are plenty of options available from the great restaurant — including house-baked grain bread. If you are choosing Topi Inn solely as a budget option, it may be false economy, as a pricier dorm with an included breakfast may be less expensive overall. However for ambience, it has a chilled, social vibe and staff are friendly and helpful.
Topi Inn offers a range of tours and courses including a tree-climbing class — “Duration: depends on your skills”. Have insurance!
Topi Inn is charming, but certainly not for everyone. For a more conventional budget alternative, Pondok Wisata Serangan 1 has private rooms for 150,000 rupiah and might suit some better.
By Sally Arnold
Last updated on 3rd March, 2016.