The One With Aman Gati Hotel Balangan – A Balanced Review

I had to start off this hotel review on Aman Gati Hotel Balangan in Bali with a pre-empt, if you like, that this is going to be a balanced review. As much as I enjoyed the serenity and service at the hotel (which I booked through Airbnb.com), there was also much to be groused about and I thought I should view the glass both half-empty and half-full, so that you – the potential travelers – know what you are getting yourself into.

My First Bali-day

Getting There

The hotel provides a pick up service (for US$25) so it was pretty much hassle free for us. A uniformed driver waited for us at the airport, and the drive to the hotel was uneventful and as illuminating as it was the fist time to Bali for everyone in my group. We marveled at the stone-breaking sunshine and seemingly endless blue sky.

My First Bali-day

Accuracy

To a large extent what you see on its Airbnb.com listing is what you get. Aman Gati is a complex of thatched hut-like villa surrounding a small pool, with a restaurant at one end overlooking the famous Balangan Beach. During our stay there, we had all our breakfasts at the terrace which was refreshing – there is just something to be said about having a meal by the beach, especially one with roaring waves like that.

There is also a small spa facility attached next to the pool. On our first day, after our red eye flight we decided to some massage treats which went pretty well all considering (IDR150K for one hour, and the masseuse is pretty good), but it was the miscommunication which took the wind out of our sail – see more below.

My First Bali-day

Cleanliness

Aman Gati is well kept place, generally clean and we were pretty much happy with it. Nevertheless I couldn’t help but a slight underuse vibe about the hotel – like the slightly dusty restaurant table, the creaking yet polished floor, and the pretty well stocked bookshelf which must have not seen that many a book lover. The hardware is there but it felt unloved for, and though the villas seem to be pretty occupied while we were there, we always feel alone and never ever crowded. Though the trip was meant for us to get away from the crazy city life of Hong Kong, we felt like we stepped into a parallel reality at Aman Gati. To this moment I can’t decide if I am happy about that.

On the first afternoon we were there we discovered to our dismay that there were no water! That wasn’t good as we were dripping wet from a soak in the pool. We were told that the water supply was being filled up, and I stared in disbelief. How could a hotel operate without proper water supply but rely on water tank? That would have explained the erratic water pressure in the room and the dodgy-looking water in the pool. I can’t imagine it being changed often.

My First Bali-day

Check-In

Check-in process was flawless. We just show them our Airbnb.com print out and we were shown to our room right away, with little fuss. The checkout was quick too, and it helped that Aman Gati was helpful to extend the villa for us for another half day (at additional charge) as we were not due for the airport until the evening of our last day. Everything was paid at the end, and all the services and food we consumed were tracked meticulously. The pain-in-the-ass was that we were told in the morning of our last day that we had to settle the payment in cash, as the card machine is broken. That of course put us in a slight panic, and it angered me somewhat. What if we already ran out of cash and had to settle for card? After all it was our last day, and it is generally fair to assume we would be low on cash by then. But as luck would have it we do have enough cash but seriously, a broken card machine is not our problem.

Communications

At the point of booking, Alex the owner the listing was quick to pre-approved our request, and right after we confirmed our reservation we were given detailed information about getting to the hotel etc. So there wasn’t any problem at all before we arrived at the hotel.

Communications with the on-site staff, however, could be a different story. Though generally acceptable, no little thanks to my smattering use of Bahasa Melayu and English, we usually get our message across, but there were some pointed moments, like when we were told that we can have couple massage sessions back to back, starting at 12 p.m., but instead only one therapist turned up and we had to look for her after 1 p.m. That thrown our plan for the day into total mishap and in the end one of us had to give up the massage. Actually it would have been two of us but the therapist insisted that we book for four. Four of us, one after another, in one day? The therapist may be well trained and experienced to do so under the scorching heat (the massage villa is outdoor), but we ain’t got four hours to spare waiting around for each other. In the end we settled for three, which wouldn’t be a lost to her since we tipped her IDR50K on top of the original IDR150K massage fee, so she earned the same anyway.

My First Bali-day

Location

For those whom are new to Bali, please be warned. Balangan Beach is far from everything else, and Aman Gati Hotel is very hard to reach for those unfamiliar to it. During our days there we traveled to Kuta, Ubud and Seminyak, and we spend more time on the road then actually enjoying Bali for the first time. This is no fault of the hotel of course, and if you love surfing and don’t mind being away from the usual spot, Aman Gati works perfectly well. Just a short walk away down the cliff you’ll hit the famous Balangan Beach with waves so impressive, it scared the shit out of me a few times. But not so to those surfer dudes – the beach was really their paradise.

But if you do travel out and then travel back to the hotel by rented car or taxi, be fairly warned that you’ll find the experience cumbersome – especially after dark – and not to mention more expensive.

My First Bali-day

Value

To give them credit, at the rate we were paying (HK$791 per night for a villa for two), it was pretty decent value for money. Our trip was last minute and we didn’t have enough to research everything, and we didn’t want to burn a hole going for top notch stuff. For its price range, Aman Gati is of good value.

Sleep Quality

I think this is a personal thing, but I slept more soundly here than I ever did in Hong Kong since the last couple of weeks. A few times I woke up in the middle of the night not knowing where I was, and my eyes can hardly opened even when breakfasts time come around. In Hong Kong I would have been up at the crack of dawn with some damning eyebags to match. Not here, not at my holiday.

My First Bali-day

Service

The staff at Aman Gati has been attentive and though communications can be fraught at times, they did their best to accommodate whatever that we needed. There were only a couple of familiar running around the places, and I am under the impression everyone wears multiple hats. For example, the driver we had on the first time became our breakfast waiter on the second day. The food which was average at best was served at snail pace though the four of us ordered practically the same thing. It got into such a routine that we gave a good two hours for our breakfast session. Well, it is not as if we were chasing for time, were we?

My First Bali-day

Verdict

Aman Gati Hotel Balangan is perfect if you are on budget and want to be near all that surfing action at Balangan Beach. But if you are new to Bali, stay away and try somewhere else.

Aman Gati Hotel Balangan
Jalan Pantai Balangan
Balangan beach, Jimbaran
Bali, Indonesia
Phone: +62 821-4488-7367

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