The cheapest and most basic form of accommodation in Bali is the guesthouse. These are alternatively known as home-stays (if they are in the compound of a local Balinese family) or losmen, a term rarely used these days. Guest houses tend to be tightly packed, cheaply built, offering a roof over your head, cold-water shower, ceiling fan, small porch and maybe a banana pancake for breakfast.
Anyone who has traveled around in Bali on a low budget has their fair share of stories about the odd aspects and pleasure of staying in the island’s many guesthouses, but these places aren’t for everyone. The price is low and in one sense you get what you pay for. When people say they stayed in a Bali guesthouse that cost around US$5 per night, you shouldn’t assume that the accommodations are similar to a cheap hotel, because they are not.
All the major tourist areas have an abundance of guesthouses with prices starting around US$5 per night, but some of the more luxurious ones can be as high as US$15 per night. Above that and you are now talking about a hotel or even some place that calls itself a resort. It can be tempting to find the cheapest room possible, partly out of the novelty of it all, but you shouldn’t automatically try to trim your budget on where you sleep.
Generally speaking, you get what you pay for among guesthouses in the same area. In other words, if one place is US$5 per night and the place nextdoor charges US$10 per night, chances are the more expensive one is going to be quite a bit nicer. If you want to spend $1,000 or more on a holiday and then try to save $5 on your bed, that’s fine, but it’s good to put it into perspective and then perhaps treat yourself to a nicer place now and again.
Guesthouses in Bali tend to be charming-but-barebones lodging. The hard and uneven bed might not bother you, especially after a few drinks, but combine that with thin walls, poor or nonexistent security, a scary bathroom, and a fan that has seen better years, and the frustration can mount. Maybe most important of all, Bali is almost always hot and it can be extremely humid during the wet season, even late at night. If you aren’t used to it you might struggle trying to sleep with just a ceiling fan, even assuming it’s working well.
This isn’t meant to put you off the idea of staying in a guesthouse, just prepare you for what it’s like if this is your plan for sleeping. Having a look at the room and testing the fan and bed is always a good idea.
Advantages of staying in a guest house:
• Affordable price.
• No booking needed.
• Extremely informal.
• Good chance to meet Balinese family / Balinese staff / other tourists.
• Often located in the center of town.
• If the place isn’t to your liking you only wasted a few dollars.
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Disadvantages of staying in a guest house:
• They do not have a reliable system for making a booking should you want to.
• The level of luxury can be very low.
• Not everyone enjoys a cold water shower, especially in the mountain areas.
• Tightly packed rooms with bamboo walls can mean unwanted noise.
• Rooms may not be very secure.
• A fan might not be up to the task during the steamy wet season.
• Bathrooms can be nasty.
• You may not enjoy staying downtown.
Booking a guesthouse in Bali
Locking in a reservation at a guesthouse usually means going there in person on the day and asking if the place has rooms available. Bali is filled with these lower budget accommodations, but almost none of them are on computerized reservation systems at this point. It’s very rare for everything to be sold out in a town and there are plenty of beds to go around on most nights, but starting your guesthouse hunting soon after arrival is still the best strategy and it will give you the most options.
Recommended guesthouses in Bali
The links below will give you many different options and plenty of additional information, but the island is filled with guesthouses so you might hear of great ones elsewhere that aren’t mentioned.
• Kuta guest houses:
Where to stay in Kuta Bali
• Ubud guest houses:
Ubud Accommodation: Plenty of options
• Padangbai guest houses:
Accommodation in Padangbai Bali
• Candi Dasa guest houses:
Accommodation in Candi Dasa Bali
• Lovina guest houses:
The coastal strip known as Lovina offers a good selection of accommodation. Unofficially Kalibukbuk might be considered the center of town, with a high density of places to stay, warungs and bars. The dolphin statue located next to the beach.
Central Lovina – where to stay
Lovina – Kalibukbuk – Nirwana Seaside
Nirwana Seaside has some older guest house type rooms as well as the more modern type.
Hotel Banyualit Quality Resort in Lovina Bali
• Batur Crater (Toya Bungkah) guest houses:
Accommodation in Toya Bungkah: Batur Bali
Accommodation in Tetebatu Lombok
Kuta Lombok guest houses:
Accommodation in Kuta Lombok