To escape the freezing Edinburgh winter, my other half and I booked a last minute trip to Bali for the end of January 2020. We only really wanted to go away for a week to save on holiday entitlement from work for the year so it was a bit of a long way to go for a short time but we managed to squeeze a fair bit in!
Flights: QATAR Airways departing from Edinburgh: £750 each – booked directly from QATAR website which I would do again because you got to choose your seats straight away – got to have that aisle seat!
Hotel: Marriott Autograph The Stones Legian: £650 total including bed and breakfast – booked as always through booking.com https://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/travel/dpsak-the-stones-hotel-legian-bali-autograph-collection/
Transport: We were advised by the hotel to only use the Bluebird taxis as they have the most legitimate meter process
Hotel Review: When we booked the hotel, we immediately received an email from them asking us to provide our flight information as our booking included a return shuttle from the airport which was brilliant. As soon as we came through customs, we were met by our driver who was very friendly and swiftly took us to the hotel.
On arrival at the hotel, we had to go through a security check of the car (including armed security officers and gun/drug dogs) and then a separate body scan check and luggage scanner. This happened each time we re-entered the hotel – it seems to be very common in Bali and to be honest, it was a reassuring security measure.
We were greeted at the check-in desk with a scented face towel and welcome drink whilst the check-in process was under way. The person on reception let us know that as we had booked an Autograph package, we were entitled to one complimentary lunch, one dinner, one 60min spa treatment each and also a bucket of beer each day which was a brilliant surprise – this sort of thing never happens to me – I’m more likely to have been overcharged for a lower package – so we were thrilled. They also offered us a discount to upgrade to an executive room which gave us a balcony with a bath on it (our previous room had no balcony) which we took and I think it worked out at about another £150 for the stay.
The hotel itself was stunning – it is definitely more of a resort than a hotel with a large restaurant, a pool bar, cabanas, sunbeds (including some in the water itself), hammocks and a kids entertainment room.
Our room was very spacious with a massive king sized bed, good TV (for the afternoon nap!), a big wardrobe, separate glass sections for shower and toilet and a sink/vanity unit.
The balcony had view of the pool and also of the sea (a bit obstructed, couldn’t see the beach but could see the sea and sunset)
Restaurant: we had breakfast in the hotel restaurant each morning (apart from one when we had a long lie). The breakfast was a round the world buffet with a mixture of local Indonesian dishes, other Asian dishes (pho, dim sum), pancakes, egg station, British/European sausage, bacon beans etc., selections of meats, pasties and fruits – so definitely something for everyone!
For our complimentary dinner we were given a separate menu which is fine – it excluded things like steak, certain fish dishes etc. which is fair enough. I had bao buns and fish tacos. I ordered a separate side dish of chips because I didnt think the tacos would be filling enough and the waiter made a big deal of me ordering outside the set menu and that I better be aware that I would have to pay extra – I was well aware of this when I ordered – it was a bit annoying having to re-confirm everything over again just because I wanted a £3 bowl of chips! It’s this kind of thing that has always put me off purchasing deals from places like GroupOn because I’ve heard stories of people being named and shamed for having vouchers. Anyway, the food was lovely though and the staff were very attentive – never short of a Bintang!)
We had the same menu for our lunch and it was again very lovely!
We chose to eat at the restaurant on our last day before departing for the airport – the hotel was doing a Thai night and we had a set Thai taster menu which was amazing – it was served on a beautiful platter with each dish being explained by the waiter. The massaman curry was delicious!
Pool bar: we made great use of our complimentary beer buckets and ordered additional beers on top of this – service at the pool bar was great, the staff couldn’t do enough to help you! They gave out plastic glasses so you could take your drink in the pool with you – ideal! Gave it a real Vegas vibe. There was a DJ each day playing music to keep the party feeling going. Great atmosphere for a holiday!
Spa: we had a late departure on our last day so managed to book our spa treatment in for the afternoon before we had to leave. We both had a full body massage. We arrived at the spa and were treated to a cucumber drink with a refreshing towel and a foot soak and rub before the massage commenced. We were in the same room which was fine – they gave us little papery pants to put on which we both promptly ripped to pieces just by picking them up so we just stuck to our own clothes 😂 . The massages were so relaxing, just what we needed after a holiday and before a long flight home!
Seminyak: we took a taxi from Kuta to Seminyak which took about 20-30mins but cost about £3. We got off at Seminyak Square which is a small shopping centre / market area in Seminyak. We took a nice walk down to the beach where we dipped our toes in the water and sat on some swings. Seminyak beach was much quieter than Kuta beach. We walked back into the town and stopped at a place called Neon Palms which was a cool clothing boutique with a bar/cafe upstairs. We sat outside and had a couple of cocktails. The cafe looked to offer great healthy food options as well – if we hadnt already had breakfast we would have definitely had something there – https://www.neonpalms.com/ – Afterwards, we took a walk around the shops and the surrounding area. We stopped of a Ku De TA beach club for a mooch about and ended up having some lunch (sushi and other tapas bits) before getting a taxi back to Kuta. https://www.kudeta.com/
Ubud: we really wanted to see the rice paddies and arranged a driver through the hotel to take us there. Our driver stopped us off at a few places on the way – a temple, a waterfall, the tree swings (I was expecting some natural rural tree swing but it is literally set up like an Instagram photo shoot where you can hire special dresses for that perfect Instagram shot and it costs £25 per person just to go down and get photo taken – ehhhh no.) We then went on to the rice paddies which were really lovely – cautionary tale, wear sensible shoes such as trainers or walking boots and not flimsy flip flops – a lot of stairs to climb but totally worth it to experience the rice paddies! Ubud is definitely somewhere we would want to go back to.
Sanur: after some research on Trip Advisor we decided to go visit the Sanur Night Market – Sindhu Market – https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g297700-d1994602-Reviews-Sindhu_Market-Sanur_Denpasar_Bali.html . Sanur is about a 30min taxi ride from Kuta, again only costing a few pounds. The market is a mixture of food and drink stalls and market stalls selling souvenirs and clothing. We opted for a chicken noodle soup dish and a few beers which were incredibly cheap and delicious, made right in front of you by a local family. The atmosphere in the market was really welcoming and warm – a mixture of tourists, locals and ex-pats. Afterwards we wandered along the main street of Sanur and stopped off at a few bars for drinks before heading back to the hotel.
Uluwatu temple: we grabbed a taxi to Uluwatu which is about an hour from Kuta. The taxi driver stayed with us whilst we visited the temple which is right on a ragged coastline with stunning scenery across the water and in the woodland areas surrounding it. There are warning signs all over about the monkeys and cats who would try and rob you but we were never bothered by them. It is definitely worth a visit but again worth noting that you should wear sensible shoes as you are up and down hills and stairs. The views a breathtaking!
Kuta: we stayed in Kuta and this is the area we spent the most time in. A lot of people describe Kuta as Benidorm for Australians and I can kind of see where they are coming from with that – there is a strip of nightlife, a lot of bright flashing lights and tons of tourists. Nothing wrong with that!
Food: On our first night we went to an outdoor eating area with lots of small local restaurants for some Indonesian cuisine which was lovely.
Another amazing restaurant we tried is Crumb and Coaster which was a very trendy, modern designed restaurant just along from the nightlife strip – https://www.crumbandcoaster.com/
Nightlife: The nightlife was a bit quiet even on the main street which I think is because of the time of year – peak season in Bali is a bit later on in the year – but there were still a few good bars. We ended up drinking in the Hard Rock Cafe bar most nights because it was busy and their live band were brilliant – perfect mix of pop, rock, hard rock – they are called Splitfire, check them out on Instagram!
Although the weather was really hot, we were in rainy season so some nights it was too cloudy to see the sunset. On one night though the skies were clear so we headed down to the beach and grabbed a few beers at one of the pop up bars to take in the sunset – beautiful end of a day and start of nightlife!
Shopping: Kuta also has a brilliant outdoor shopping centre called Beachwalk on the main strip. The centre hosts a lot of international brands: Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Topshop, Zara, Stradivarius, Sephora etc and a number of coffee shops and restaurants. We spent a rainy afternoon looking around the shops – I love looking at shops abroad, especially Zara as it is usually better laid out and more interesting items! The rest of the shopping scene in Kuta is a mix of small boutiques and tourist souvenir shops.
Overall, I would say that 1 week is definitely not enough time to fit everything in and would recommend at least 2 weeks to spend time in different areas. However, in saying that, I do think we made the most of our time there and had a thoroughly good holiday!