Bali is a very popular tourist destination where visitors are typically treated very well. Nevertheless, when planning your Bali trip, you may find that accommodations are not what you expected. Sometimes this is due to a willful intention to mislead, but it may also be a simple misunderstanding. In either case, it is a good idea to perform your due diligence when booking accommodations for a Bali vacation so you don't end up with unpleasant surprises. Here are some things to be aware of when booking Bali accommodations.
You May Not Get What You See
The internet is a useful tool when booking accommodations for a vacation on the other side of the world. However, you should look at online listings for Bali hotels with a critical eye. Photos of the rooms may have been altered to make them look better than they really are. Rather than booking based on the pictures alone, you should also pay close attention to the written descriptions of the mattress sizes, in-room amenities, etc.
Don't put too much faith in the online reviews, either. These are also sometimes tweaked in an attempt to attract more visitors from overseas. If there are no negative, or even lukewarm reviews available, you should be suspicious as the reviews may not be legitimate.
Know Your Options
There are plenty of hotels on Bali, but they are not your only option when you are looking for lodging. There are also hotels and home-stays that are family-run. You will typically find these to be affordable, clean, and run by friendly people. Airbnb is another option; these are typically operated by expatriates who rent out their homes on Bali when they visit their countries of origin.
Online Booking Isn't Always an Option
If you're frustrated due to a lack of availability or high prices on booking sites, you should know that they probably aren't telling you the whole story. Hotels may try to encourage people to book quickly by creating an artificial scarcity. They don't list all the available rooms on the booking sites, and then they give a scary message, e.g., "only one room left!" It is misleading but technically true because there is only one room left on the site.
Furthermore, many Balinese hotels are not listed on booking sites at all because they are not set up for it. These are typically budget hotels that are independently owned. These are more plentiful on Bali than hotels with online listings, so don't give up the search until you look into some of these.
Noise May Be a Problem
Regarded by outsiders as an island paradise, Bali still has its problems, and one of them is traffic. Motorcycles drone along major thoroughfares almost all the time, and frustrated drivers often sound their horns. You may want to ask specifically for a garden view room that faces away from the street. It may cost you extra, but it could be worth it. Other noise issues in Bali may include construction noise or rowdy, all-night parties.
Be Careful What You Drink
Arak is a local moonshine widely available in Bali because of its low cost. Multiple tourists in Bali have died due to methanol poisoning from drinks containing arak. Confirm what is in your drink before imbibing.
You should also know that a "welcome drink" offered at a homestay or hotel may not contain alcohol. "Drink" and "cocktail" are not necessarily synonymous in Bali.
Non-Smoking Doesn't Necessarily Mean No Smoke
People who are sensitive to cigarette smoke should make extra sure before booking that the room is truly a non-smoking room. It is common for people in Bali to smoke indoors, and a "non-smoking" room may just mean that no one is smoking in it now, not that no one has ever done so. There also typically isn't much effort put into preventing smoke from communal areas from reaching the rooms.
It is important to find out as much about accommodations you wish to book in Bali before making a commitment. Reservations are often nonrefundable.