An increasing number of Balinese families are opening the doors of their family compounds to travelers to supplement their income. How comfortable are they, and are they an alternative to hotels and resorts?
Homestays with Balinese families in traditional Balinese family compounds are an inexpensive alternative to hotels and resorts. They also offer travelers a chance to experience Balinese family life up close and personal.
I came to Bali to attend the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, and half-way through the festival I had to find a new place to stay.
A quick search on Hotels.com turned up a place called a place called Nick’s Homestay, and one room was available.
The price was right: Under US$11 a night, and that was for a room with a double bed and a private bath – not a bed in a dormitory or a room with a bathroom down the hall.
I arrived after dark, struggling with my luggage. A sign pointed me in the direction of a long walkway, at the end of which was a gate, which I opened.
When I walked inside, I was greeted by a sala – a raised outdoor platform with a roof – with an extended family sprawled about chatting, playing games, and watching television.
“OMG!” I thought. “This place is GORGEOUS!!!”
I didn’t know JUST how gorgeous it was until I awoke the next morning, opened the door of my room, and walked outside.
Little did I know when I made my reservation that Nick’s Homestay was actually a traditional Balinese style family compound with living quarters, temples, and shrines scattered amid beautifully landscaped gardens.
Included were one and two storey buildings, with 11 units for guests. All of them had front porches, with two chairs and a table, where simple breakfasts were served in the morning.
All of the units had ceiling fans but no air conditioning. There were also no telephones and no TVs, but that didn’t bother me because I don’t usually you either when I’m staying at hotels.
But free Wi-Fi was available both inside rooms and in the outdoor areas, and that IS important to me when I am travelling..
I had booked a room for 2 nights, but I was so happy with the place that I extended my stay by a further 2 nights.
I would have liked it even more if there had been air conditioning and a more comfortable spot to work at my computer. The stool was too high for my legs to fit underneath the dresser.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely. But there are many other similar homestays available in the neighborhood – though most of the ones I visited were smaller in scale.
But it would be best to stay at such accommodation during the cooler months when air conditioning is not needed – unless you have a higher tolerance for heat than I do.