Great views with benefits
Some marvellous rooms are available in Sidemen, and top-range Surya Shanti Villa is up there with the best with the greatest range of facilities in the area.
Along with two infinity swimming pools at either side of the hotel taking advantage of the splendid views in either direction (you could move with the sun), and a fabulous poolside bar near the larger pool, there’s a wonderful authentic traditional-style kitchen set up for cooking classes. It’s $50 per person, for a minimum of two people, and it’s also open to non-guests. Free mountain bikes are available to explore the area, and a twice-daily guided hour-long ricefield trek is included. For the more spiritually inclined, twice-daily yoga classes and the opportunity to join the hotel staff at early morning prayer are part of the deal. You’re also welcome to have the run of adjoining traditional-Balinese-style sister hotel, Subak Tabola Villa, so there’s an extra restaurant and pool for a change of scenery.
Deluxe valley view rooms are in double-storey thatch-roofed villas (one up, one down), and the views don’t get any better than the upstairs rooms; the downstairs rooms though have better bathrooms and direct pool access. Smart contemporary styling won’t offend with its neutral tones, and includes lovely locally made tiles. Mosquito-netted beds centre the room, with a sofa that can turn into a kids’ bed if needed. Linens are crisp and clean too. A freestanding air-con unit is possibly not as effective as a regular wall one, but probably not really necessary in the cooler evenings here — we’d leave the glass doors open to cool down anyway. Take in the view from the furnished upstairs balcony or wider downstairs terraces. Access to the upstairs room is past the open-style bathroom, which is a little odd. However, bathrooms are spacious and include a tub, and the bottom floor rooms add an outdoor shower. Two family rooms are in similar style mezzanine villas, with the adults’ room upstairs and the kids’ down, but with one bathroom.
The Agung suite rooms are worth paying the extra $10 for, and offer extensive views in either direction, and much larger outdoor bathrooms. All four can be booked together as a private villa, and then access to the second pool is restricted to villa guests.
Surya Shanti Villa is towards the end of the long road that meanders through Tabola, where most Sidemen accommodation is found. Climb up the very steep stairs for the rewards, and you may not venture down again until you check out. The owner of Surya Shanti Villa and neighbouring Subak Tabola Villa runs a local children’s foundation, and staff mentioned that the hotels were run as a fund-raising vehicle for the foundation. The nearby foundation centre also provides on-site accommodation.
For a better value sleep, we love the rooms a little more at Samanvaya, but it’s the added-value extras at Surya Shanti Villa that gives it an edge. Do check online for deals. Surya Shanti Villa charges in US dollars, which is odd given they are located in Indonesia.
By Sally Arnold
Last updated on 5th July, 2016.