Just like with my first trip to Indonesia, I capped off my most recent one with a week in Bali. It was sad to say goodbye to Gili Trawangan, however I can’t deny that I was excited for some of the finer things in life. The finer things in life being, obviously, warm water showers, a reliable power grid, and delivery McDonald’s.
Our first stop was to an area between Kuta and Seminyak that to be honest I had never heard of — Legian. I was here for two nights to do a hotel review for one of the booking sites that I freelance with at Ananta, and to do a tour review for Viator (which deserves a post of its own). And of course, Anders came along as my trusty assistant.
The hotel was a pretty standard midrange hotel room, but you would have thought it was the Four Seasons the way we marveled at the luxuries such as air conditioning and a sink that delivered a larger water volume than one tablespoon per minute. While my work responsibilities kept me busy most of the time, we did enjoy explore the area as much as we could and found two absolute gems.
The first was Sicilia Spa (remember to never judge a Southeast Asian attraction by the website) which was tucked away in a charming little alley and not at all seedy, like so many spas around tend to be. It’s a bit pricy for the area, but let me tell you — the $17US I spent on an indulgent four hand massage was worth every rupiah. Our other favorite find was Swich, a fantastic sandwich and juice spot that is well worth seeking out for lunch if you’re in the area.
While we certainly enjoyed ourselves we didn’t love Legian and I was excited for our next move. People give Kuta a lot of grief for being touristy, overcrowded, dirty, overrun with screaming Australians, whatever, but I really wanted to see it for myself. After all, it’s probably one of the most infamous beaches in Southeast Asia. I had splashed out and cashed in all my remaining SPG points — earned with my SPG AMEX — so that we could stay beachfront at the Sheraton Kuta Beach.
I was kind of skeptical if it would be worth it because to me the brand Sheraton kind of screams “ugly carpeted business hotel!” but as we sipped our welcome drinks and looked out over the pool and ocean I was ready to be proved wrong.
Despite an annoying holdup at check in (I recounted Breakfastgate in full in my SPG AMEX post), we were very soon all about this place. It was right in the heart of Kuta, and yet as the entire hotel was one story above street level we really felt like we were in an oasis from the chaos. Our room really was stunning, and we loved sitting on the balcony and looking out beyond the peaceful gardens to the ocean.
Kuta really pulses with energy as the sun begins to set, and we had the perfect vantage point to soak it all in. It was a little cheesy but sweet — every day at sunset by the pool, the hotel had live musicians played classic Indonesian music while traditional Balinese dancers performed.
But let’s be honest — our favorite part was that breakfast we had to fight so darn hard for. When we walked into the restaurant the first morning we were actually giddy and had to take a moment to quietly regroup in the corner lest we hyperventilate. But guys, they had everything! Hand rolled sushi, custom-made waffles and crepes, an omelet station, a beverage buffet with fresh exotic juices… even a gelato bar! I really can’t think of a more indulgent breakfast buffet I’ve had anywhere in the world.
We paced ourselves and did several rounds each before basically rolling out to the pool to reflect on the bad decisions we had just made.
Later, when we recapped some of our favorite moments from the week, most of them admittedly involved the crazy luxury resort that we we would head to post-Sheraton. But we both mentioned how much we loved those lazy hours lolling by the pool (with me answering emails on my iPhone whenever Anders wasn’t looking).
Most people who travel with me will reach a point where they go celebrity and start moaning and pushing the camera out of their face. Anders has found a new tactic for those moments when I won’t stop snapping — breaking out ridiculous “model” poses until I’m laughing so hard that I put the camera away. This is apparently his interpretation of a sexy poolside pose — look for it in a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition coming to you!
We loved the hotel so much that we actually didn’t venture out of it too much. We did have a great lunch at nearby Kitchenette, a fun dinner at Havana Club, did some last minute shopping for gifts and cheap clothes, and walked along the beach watching all the surfers fight for waves.
I generally found the clothing to be more expensive that what you would find shopping in say, Bangkok, and so I wouldn’t recommend Kuta as the greatest shopping destination if you’re just looking for cheap stuff to fill your backpack. However I did find a few gems I was willing to pay more for — each of these cost me about $10US after some bargaining.
By the way, these photos were originally intended to text to my little sister to invoke shopping envy (mission accomplished), not to post on the blog — so forgive the crappy quality and America’s Next Worst Model pose.
Kuta is famed for its nightlife and I was quite curious to see what all the fuss was about. And yet night after night we were both relieved when the other stated a desire to just go back to the hotel and watch movies in bed. Everyone needs a break sometimes, and for some reason, this week we just couldn’t keep our eyes open after dinner.
I was genuinely sad to leave the Sheraton — I wish I had had the points for one more night! But I didn’t have to mourn for long — we were about to head off to one of the most luxurious properties I’ve ever stayed at in my travels. Stay tuned!
Have you been to Kuta? What did you think — yae or nay?