Top 10 budget beach hotels, villas and bungalows in Bali and Lombok


Good Karma Bungalows

A long standing local legend on Bali’s north-east coast, Good Karma sits at the foot of the sacred volcano Gunung Agung, the island’s highest peak at 3,031 metres. The sand here is volcanic – in fact the beach in front of Good Karma is of smooth black pebble. The draw is the snorkelling and despite being one of the lowest priced places to stay in Amed, Good Karma boasts its own private little cove, with a nice reef right off the beach – big schools of bumphead parrotfish often feed here. If you’re lucky, Balinese owner Baba will be around – he’s an ultra Zen character who likes to work out in the homemade gym he’s built in a cave just behind the resort. The airy beach huts are surprisingly cool once the fans are whirring, and hammocks invite reading marathons. Baba’s Japanese wife takes care of the day-to-day running of the place as well as serving up a killer katsudon alongside Balinese fare. Drive half an hour up the coast to Tulamben and you can scuba – or skin-dive the famous Liberty shipwreck. Selang Amed Bunutan Karangasem, Amed.
+62 877-6275-6444 (not always switched on), no website. Standard bungalow from £27

Mu Bali

Mu Bali

Not strictly on the beach but 60 metres above it on a limestone clifftop, Mu Bali harks back to Bali’s bohemian roots, with thatched roundhouses, airy pavilions and a penchant for activities like yoga, surfing and petanque (the owners are French). It’s laid back to the point of nonchalance, considering the jaw dropping Indian Ocean panorama, with some of the best surf breaks in the world. Bingin beach, with its famous barrelling right-hander, is a 10-minute walk away, while legendary waves Uluwatu and Impossibles, which rival Hawaii, are both within walking distance. Couples should grab the secluded bungalow built into the cliff face – not least for the magnificent loo, which is strategically positioned to take full advantage of the view. Book way ahead.
+62 361 895 7442,, bungalows from $90 (around £55)

Gaia Oasis Retreat Resort

Gaia Oasis Retreat

It’s worth heading to the little known village of Tejakula on Bali’s north coast for the drive alone, which takes you through the heart of Bali’s breathtaking highlands – past iridescent rice terraces, mossy stone temples and almost certainly a traditional ceremony of some description. Gaia Oasis itself has beachfront and mountain properties, a 15-minute free shuttle ride apart. Visiting teachers lead retreats in everything from yoga to biodynamic breath work to raw foodism. The beach is vast – more than a hectare of black volcanic sand and igneous rock that gives way to cool tropical gardens sheltered by tall coconut palms. The little cottages are built from coconut wood, native stone and thatch and feature comfy four posters and open-air bathrooms. The emphasis is on wellness, healing and community – you’ll be likely to happen across a retreat taking place that you can drop in on.
+62 8289 7030065,, Pantai beach bungalows from £37.50 including five free yoga classes a week

Pondok Pitaya

Pondok Pitaya

Pitched squarely at surfers, Pondok Pitaya occupies a prime stretch of beach in the quiet village of Balian on Bali’s west coast, with one of the island’s best breaks right on its doorstep. Balian has long been a favourite bolthole for expats and board riders looking to escape the crowded south of the island and it’s still satisfyingly somnolent despite a spate of new developments. Pondok Pitaya houses its guests in traditional wooden joglo houses imported from Java. They’re perfect for groups, each joglo catering for up to five people with a choice of twin or king-size beds. The pool area is a bit of a sunset-gathering ground and the restaurant is probably the buzziest spot in town – though Deky’s Warung up the hill is the place for good local fare. It’s not all about surf either – there are two resident yoga teachers and a spa to boot. And don’t miss the famous buffalo races in the nearby town of Negara, which happen every second and fourth Sunday of the month from July to November.
+62 819 99849054,, special surfer rate from £15pp, bungalows from £35


Alam Gili Bungalows

Alam Gili Bungalows, Lombok.

Gili Trawangan is one of three tiny atolls just off Lombok, Bali’s easterly neighbour. Swish villa resorts now jostle with the budget beach cabanas that were once the norm here. But Gili T retains a castaway vibe, thanks as much to an embargo on motor vehicles and dogs as to its coconut palms and white sand beaches. Those in the know head away from the bustle of the main drag, opting instead for the quiet north coast and Alam Gili, a serene little oasis with six bungalows and a deluxe suite for families. Vernacular Balinese architecture – volcanic stone cladding, intricately carved teak doorways and artful decor – give the place an opulent feel. And the Balinese food is excellent – if you need a change from the incredible pizzas served just down the beach at Coral Beach II. Rent bikes for around £3 per day, or take a traditional cidomo horse and cart for a night on the town. There’s great snorkelling off the beach, with green turtles and occasionally white tip sharks cruising among the corals.
+62 361 9746,, doubles from £40, Fish Suite £78 (sleeps four)

Manta Dive Gili Air

Manta Dive Gili Air

If you want to really kick back, take an outrigger across to tiny Gili Air. Without the attendant party vibe of Trawangan, Air is the perfect place to sink into a tropical torpor, sustained by the holy trinity of cold beer, wood-fired pizza and snorkelling. Manta Dive lets you do this in relative luxury, with its coconut wood cabanas, fashioned after traditional lumbung rice barns and set behind the resort’s restaurant. The deluxe cottage even comes with (hopefully redundant) satellite TV. Manta’s Anglo-Indian owners set up in Trawangan in 2000 and helped establish the Gili Eco Trust, which runs environmental projects – from waste management to one of the world’s biggest coral reef regeneration programmes. Diving’s obviously the draw – everything from mantas to morays can be found nearby, plus a rich mix of hard and soft corals. But Manta Dive works just as well for doing not very much at all.
+62 370 629366,, doubles from £30, deluxe with fresh water/satellite TV £46

Amber House Gili Meno

Meno is the smallest of the three Gilis and is overlooked by most visitors – but if time slows down on the other islets, here it flows like treacle. Go off-season and you might find the island largely deserted, save for a few fishermen and the odd couple looking as happily fuddled as you’ll feel – a state derived from snorkelling with turtles (Meno has them in spades), morning yoga and lounging for hours in bamboo pavilions. Though perhaps not partaking of the notoriously strong (and weirdly legal) magic mushrooms. Amber House is on one of the island’s prettiest beaches and there’s a coral garden teeming with fish right out front. The five beach huts are about as pared down as you can get and as with most budget places in the Gilis, the showers are saltwater (you can pay extra for fresh). Owners Aki and Li are both as laid back as they come and the whole place has that worn, loved, DIY island vibe that halcyon days are made of.
+62 8133 7569728 (not always switched on), no website, cottages from £13

Sempiak Villas

Sempiak Villas, Lombok

Kuta Lombok couldn’t be more different from its Bali namesake, which increasingly resembles an Antipodean Ayia Napa. By contrast, Lombok’s southernmost province still has a frontier feel, its powdery white beaches largely deserted save for fishermen and the odd crew of intrepid surfers. Things are starting to change – there’s little real estate left for sale down here and a new international airport nearby is spurring development. Sempiak Villas sits above Selong Belanak bay, a magical stretch of sand giving way to limpid indigo waters. The four villas have a five-star feel that belies the price tag, with big comfy beds, air-con, fully equipped kitchens and iPod docks. There’s a pool veranda high on the hillside with a magical view along the coast and the beachside Laut Biru Café serves excellent local specialties.
+62 821 4430 3337,, one bedroom villa with breakfast from £60

Madak Belo Guesthouse

Madak Belo, Lombok

If Kuta’s a frontier, then Sekotong is full on hinterland – a wildly beautiful peninsula of dry savannah dropping steeply to mostly deserted white beaches and electric blue ocean. The waters here are steadily grabbing the attention of hardcore dive enthusiasts – conditions can be challenging, but at the right time of year, big pelagic species, manta rays and even elusive hammerheads can be spotted in August-September. Sekotong has its own gilis – far less visited, they nevertheless rival their famous namesakes for beauty. Take an outrigger from Sekotong harbour to the largest island, Gili Gede and Madak Belo, a collection of bamboo and rattan beach huts on the edge of a fringing reef. Tropical languor will quickly set in – sunset walks, snorkelling nearby coral gardens (an island hopping boat trip costs around a tenner) and finally getting round to reading Shantaram should be the extent of your ambitions here. If you do want some evening excitement, Owner Henri is a DJ and throws the occasional Balearic style shindig.
+62 818 0554 9637,, beach rooms from £10, beach bungalows, £20

Pearl Beach Resort

Pearl Beach Resort

On Gili Asahan, you’ll find just one accommodation option – the aptly named Pearl Beach Resort (there are at least 10 pearl farms scattered off Sekotong). The resort has a mix of simple bamboo huts and plusher ocean facing villas; neither has air-con but they’re both airy and the fans are sufficient except on the occasional day during the monsoon swelter from November to February. The relative remoteness means the resort relies on a generator, which runs until 4am every night. The owners have pulled out all the stops to encourage lounging, and there are beanbags, pavilions and hammocks all over the place, not least on your balcony. There’s a dive shop right next door though there’s lots to be seen snorkelling off the beach – just don’t get too close to the lionfish. Ask Peter, the effusive English manager, about a kayaking trip among the surrounding atolls and the promontory that juts from the mainland. Food-wise you’re confined to the resort and while there’s ample choice for every meal, it’s worth bringing some favourite goodies along.
+62 81 907 247696,, bamboo cottage £24, beach bungalows £47 including breakfast and transfers