We’ve stayed in our share of hotels in Bali, but when we need space and a quiet place to work, our preference is a villa. Somewhere that feels isolated but is still close to restaurants and activities for our kids.
When you’re going to Bali for a few weeks or even a couple months, you can’t go past Ubud – Bali’s artistic and entrepreneurial hub.
We have friends in Ubud, we know our favourite restaurants and our favourite places to shop. We’ve also fallen in love with one special little path in Penestanan and it is on this path we have found our last 3 holiday villas.
How do we find these places? Well there are 4 ways to find a villa for your next Bali getaway:
1. Search Google for “Ubud villa by owner”
A bunch of small websites will turn up for you to peruse through. Photos can look good on a computer, but what does it really look like when you show up? Booking accommodation this way can be risky and sometimes more expensive. But at the same time you are usually dealing direct with the owner (or manager) and may have room to negotiate on price. Sometimes properties will ask for a direct deposit or payment for the property upfront. This is particularly risky if you haven’t seen the premises first. If things go pear-shaped, then resolving conflicts is very tricky.
2. Ask a local friend to help you
We have friends that live in Ubud so often they are keeping their eyes and ears open for anything that is available. This is a cheaper option for sure, but often we might not know what we are heading to before we get there. If you have friends who know your needs and tastes then this is a good, safe option. But not everyone has friends to scout out a holiday villa for them.
3. Wait till you arrive and walk around
A simple work around Ubud reveals the sheer volume of villas for rent. You can spot a small sign, walk in to ask questions or call the number. Certainly less risk than the previous option, but you will also need to be in a hotel for the first few nights while you pound the pavement for that perfect villa.
4. Use an aggregator to find your perfect villa
While using the smaller sites has it’s advantages, an aggregator acts as a third party. We love FlipKey because you still get to communicate directly with the owner/manager and negotiate on the price, but at the same time all money is held by FlipKey until both parties have met and are happy with the property. This adds considerable peace of mind to the holiday villa booking process.
We have found 3 properties we stayed in during 2015 on FlipKey:
Great location and wonderful staff. Breakfast included each morning as well as filtered water. Fast Wi-Fi. Air-conditioning in bedrooms and nice swimming pool.
Another great location. Spacious living area and super fast Wi-Fi (up to 20Mbps!). Air-conditioning in bedrooms. Private hut overlooking swimming pool. Semi-outdoor bathroom, no breakfast included (we negotiated a cheaper price) but included filtered water.
Good location, large property with ample living space and private backyard (very rare in Bali). Large swimming pool, trampoline, cubby house. Air-conditioning in master bedroom, good Wi-Fi, and reliable, friendly staff. Convenient built-in filtered water system at all taps. Comfortable desk and chairs for a workstation.
10 Things To Consider When Choosing A Villa
But what do we look for when searching for a villa in Bali? There’s so many factors, but here’s our top 10.
This is so important and can be based around a few factors. Do you want to walk everywhere? Will you have a car? We chose to get around by scooter so our path, which is not accessible by car, is quite lovely. It’s near restaurants and a mini market that we can walk to. Always check the location before you book. Just because Google Maps shows a road, doesn’t mean it is drivable. If in doubt, ask.
2. Internet speed
This is the next biggest factor for us. As we work from home we would really love to get a speed that allows us to carry on a Skype conversation. Thankfully parts of Ubud now have access to a fibre optic connection and our villas have gone from 2Mbps to 20Mbps.
The water in Bali is not drinkable so check if your villa comes with filtered water. Most villas should include a filtered water system or tank.
The importance of a pool is personal preference. Since Bali is quite hot all year round, we love having a pool. We’ve had small pools, but the big ones are best for the afternoons when all the neighbourhood kids come over.
Check to see what staff is included. Most properties will include a cleaner every day, every 2nd day or every 3rd day. Check what options are available to you and the times to expect them at the house.
We want 2 bedrooms for the 4 of us. We don’t mind if the kids share a double bed, but we do prefer them in their own room.
7. Air conditioning
I am a hot sleeper so for me air conditioning is a must. I can go all day with out it. I’m used to the hot days, but at night I want to snuggle under my blanket. Many villas may only come with air-conditioning in the bedrooms, but if you like to sweat, then don't worry about it.
The couches in Bali are pretty. Pretty wood or bamboo, but not very comfortable. This might not be a deal breaker for you, but if you are staying for a month or more you might want to check out the pictures of the couch to make sure you will be comfortable.
Most villas have a TV, but always check. Casa Raja does not. It never bothered us as we only watch movies on our laptops while in bed at night, but if a TV is important keep that in mind.
Most villas include breakfast at a minimum. Places like Casa Raja also offer an optional full time chef. Breakfast in Bali usually consists of fruit and toast/eggs or banana pancakes – yum! But if you want to make your own cereal in the mornings, you’ll find supermarkets near by.
Depending on your travelling style, there’s different ways to find the right holiday villa for you. We now mostly go with the aggregator option for the extra reassurance it offers in case things don’t work out as planned. After all, your holiday only comes around a couple times each year and you probably don’t want to risk it turning into a stressful situation.
What’s your must-have feature in a villa? One thing you could not live without?