The serene atmosphere, incredible beach views and impeccable service felt like an avalanche of luxury.

If you keep up to date with me on Instagram you’ll already know I recently came back from a week’s vacation in Bali.  It was my first time there and we filled it to the brim by visiting 3 different regions and staying in 2 separate hotels and 1 Airbnb.
Bali is one of those places where you can make it as relaxing or jam-packed as you like.  For those who want to busy themselves, there’s plenty to enjoy including wide-ranging cultural sites, incredible surfing and diving and a lively party scene.  Alternatively, you can relax by the beach and indulge on delicious food.  Regardless of how you plan to spend it, getting the accommodation right is key. 
If you’re thinking about planning a trip to Bali I thought it’d be helpful to share my experiences and the differences you can expect when staying in a hotel or Airbnb.

Hotel – Anatara, Uluwatu

The Room:

First off, I have to say I absolutely loved this hotel.  From the moment we arrived, it took my breath away.  The serene atmosphere, incredible beach views and impeccable service felt like an avalanche of luxury.  

We had booked a Garden View Pool Suite which was bigger than most London apartments. There was a living area with the largest, most comfortable sofa which we made full use of when ordering desserts and cocktails to the room.  The bed didn’t disappoint either, it was like sleeping on a giant cloud! 
The private pool was sufficiently secluded to swim and sunbathe without interruption.  Even though it wasn’t a pool you could do lengths in, it was perfect for splashing around and cooling yourself down from the 30-degree heat. 

My favourite part of the room had to be the bathroom which again, was massive, with his and her sinks. I adored the walk-in shower which actually had decent water pressure, a rarity in Bali. The shower gel, shampoo and conditioner smelt divine and I really appreciated that they came in reusable ceramic bottles rather than disposable plastic.  The towels were fluffy and I spent an abundant amount of time lounging around in the oversized bathrobes.   

The Food:

There was a choice of 3 restaurants in the hotel, ranging from Indonesian to Japanese to Italian cuisine. We tried the Indonesian on the first night which was excellent and had a private dining experience on the second night. 

Overall the food was delicious.  The private dining on the deck was so special and something I’ll remember for a lifetime but I think my biggest highlight was having lunch and cocktails in the Sea Fire Salt restaurant which sits on a clifftop looking down on the beach.  The insane view and cool breeze was simply perfect. 

Other Luxuries:

I couldn’t forget to mention the spa at the Anantara.  The prices are at least a multiple of 3 compared to what you’d pay outside the hotel. However, much like everything at the Anantara, it was magical and the experience, in my eyes, was worth every penny.  My boyfriend and I both agreed it was by far the best massage and we indulged in quite a few on our trip!

Also, the private beach was breathtakingly beautiful.  There was hardly anyone else on it.  The water was crystal clear and the perfect temperature for a dip.  

The Not So Greats:

It goes without saying everything is significantly more expensive inside the hotel (the spa being a perfect example of this).  However, I only ever felt begrudging of the OTT pricing once.  

Every stay at the hotel comes with a complimentary 30-minute photoshoot with the onsite hotel photographer.  As the property is so beautiful it seemed silly not to take the offer up. 

After the shoot is over, the photographer takes an hour to go through the photos and edit them. Then you get to look through them yourself and select the prints you want.  

With the session, you get one complimentary printed photo and then there are various paid-for packages to choose from.  We went for a mid-tier package which included all the photos on a USB with no printed copies.  After we left, we did the currency conversion and realised we’d spent over £250 on these damn photos! Although they are lovely (example below) and we’ll keep them forever, it was such an extortionate price.  Believe me when I say I’ll be putting these photos everywhere in our house to get our value for money out of them!

Price Per Night:

We paid just under £200 a night including breakfast for our suite which was a fantastic rate and by far the cheapest I’ve seen. We booked via Agoda which was considerably less than any other website. I’ve read some horrendous reviews of Agoda but our experience with them was (thankfully!) seamless. Also, worth noting we booked our other hotel in Seminyak via Agoda and didn’t have any issues with that either.

From the research I’ve done, room rates seem to vary anywhere from £200 – £450 per night depending on the season. If you can find a rate at the lower end of that range I think it’s pretty good value and well worth snapping up!

Airbnb – Villa Nico, Canggu

The Room:

Our Airbnb had 5 very spacious bedrooms.  My boyfriend and I stayed in the master suite which was absolutely beautiful and the whole aesthetic was exactly my style.  The white walls and pitched ceiling made the room light and airy.  
All the bathrooms were outside which meant you needed to be mindful of mosquitos.  However, the incredible bath made up for any unwanted bites! 

The Food:

We were at the villa for two nights and didn’t use the kitchen once.  However, we were prepared breakfast by the onsite staff which was much needed after a couple of drunken evenings.  Breakfast included eggs of your preference, bacon, fresh fruit, croissants and noodles.  Having a cooked breakfast every morning in an Airbnb was such a great extra and offered much more of a hotel experience.  I’m not sure if this is typical of Airbnbs in Bali or if we just got very lucky with ours.

Other Luxuries:

The most notable luxury in our Airbnb was the ample space and open plan layout.  It made it really easy to interact with one another as we were able to pop in and out of each other’s rooms. This create a relaxed, home from home atmosphere.   
We also got our beds made and towels changed each morning which was an unexpected bonus.

The Not So Greats:

This is probably a problem associated particularly with our Airbnb but I still think it’s worth mentioning.  We were located in a part of Canggu which was quite remote.  Calling taxis was an absolute nightmare, partly because of the location and partly because the road kept being blocked off.  We were fortunate enough to have someone in the group who grew up in Indonesia and knew how to navigate their way around but had we all been first-time tourists this would’ve been a huge issue.  
The other very small thing worth mentioning is the towels were rather threadbare which detracted from the luxury of the villa.  Although in the grand scheme of things, I’m nit-picking here! 

Price Per Night:

Obviously staying at an Airbnb is always going to be the more cost-effective then a hotel, especially if you’re travelling in a group. This particular villa housed 12 people across 5 bedrooms. The villa is £272 per night, so price-wise it’s comparable with the Anantara. However, as we were in a group of 6 by the time we paid our equal share it worked out at £45 each or if you have maximum occupancy staying, it’s only £23 each per night. Considering you receive a cooked breakfast, have your bed made every morning and more space than you need, it’s pretty amazing value!

So Hotel or Airbnb?

Taking everything into consideration, if I was to recommend staying in a hotel or Airbnb in Bali I’d probably lean towards an Airbnb just because you can still get that luxury feel without the cost implications of a luxury hotel. Having said that, if you’re looking for a truly magical experience, for example, if you’re going on honeymoon or to celebrate an occasion, then a hotel like the Anantara takes your vacation to that next level.  

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