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There’s a lot to love about Utamas Guest House at Keramas Beach. It’s spotlessly clean. The individual rooms are small at 23 sqm but the modern, clean design with painted brick and polished concrete is a world away from similar places at the same price point that are far too long in the tooth and badly in need of a water-blasting to clear away the debris of a thousand travellers.
The rooms may be small but they have everything you need and nothing you don’t. The queen-size beds are unusual at this price point – they are really comfortable, and the pure white, crisply laundered linen and four plush pillows are almost as good a quality as I use in my luxury villas.
The air-con works well and the blackout curtains add up to a great nights sleep. There isn’t a fridge, but there is fridge space you can use in the communical balcony and another downstairs at a service bar beside the pool.
The bathroom is modern minimalist and was clearly designed by someone who knew what they were doing. Painted exposed brick and polished concrete is relatively cheap to produce but looks good and most importantly they keep it spotlessly clean. The hot water in the shower doesn’t take long to kick in and there is plenty of it at all times of the day, a couple of new white bath towels and a couple of complimentary pool towels are among the included amenities.
There are some other basic too, and along with everything else the glasses are clean, a couple of complimentary water bottles are provided each day and the toilet has both a fire-hose and paper. Don’t ask unless you know how important this is for frequent travellers. Did I mention it’s spotlessly clean?
The small pool – around 4 x 2.5 meters – is outstanding, with a few sunbeds and the right orientation to soak up some rays during the day when the surfers are out surfing. It’s not a busy guest house, and therein lies one of the biggest benefits. It’s quiet, just right for a couple of days decompressing between hectic sightseeing and planning your last few days in Bali.
There is a small but functional deck upstairs with a couple of power points and, shock/horror, comfortable seats with benches that are just the right height to get a hard day’s work while slaving over a laptop. The stream that runs next to the property irrigating the surrounding ricefields is a bonus, and I have to say nothing beats the sound of running water when you’re trying to focus and get some writing done.
Utama Guest House is located on a stretch of road I never thought to stay before, but it really is great destination for a day or two. It’s strategically located both 20km northeast of Sanur and southeast of Ubud.
I would recommend staying here after a few heavy sightseeing days coming from Northern Bali or Ubud before hitting Seminyak for the last day splurge. Alternatively, it would make an excellent last stop if you’re looking for an inexpensive relaxing day before a departure flight, and the low cost means it’s also a great option to book an extra night if you have one of the dreaded late-night flights.
I paid IDR1.100.000 for 3 nights through Agoda, which works out to be around AUD$38 per night, which is excellent value.
It’s a few hundred meters from Keramas Beach, a black-sand haven for surfers, and while at first glance there is nothing around, for the independent traveller a couple of gems are close by.
Komune Beach Club is just around the corner, and for a resort in Bali, the prices are surprisingly affordable. IDR80k for an excellent chicken caesar salad, 90k for a vodka and tonic – plus the obligatory ++ which in this neck of the woods is 21%.
That’s a 10% local government tax and another 10% service fee, supposedly given to the staff, but as I have written in another post on the subject of service fees, it doesn’t really go to the staff.
The money you save by staying at Utamas can then be put to good use at the bar and restaurant over at Komune.
Utama’s Guest House is pretty basic when you get outside the rooms, so there are no local transport options. It’s a 1.2km walk to Kommune so you aren’t going to get a taxi or Grab driver for such a short journey. However, if you are on a motorbike (which I highly recommend) it’s only 3 minutes out on to the main road and taking a left after a couple of passenger aeroplanes parked up as a tourist attraction.
You don’t have to be a guest at the Kommune Resort & Beach Club to eat and drink at their beachside restaurant, which I highly recommend. You can get there two ways. Gou out to the main road and take the first left down to the beach, then turn right and walk on the beach 50 metres to the beach club.
Or when on the main road, go around 500 metres and turn left on the road marked with a Kommune Beach Club sign. Halfway down that road, you need to turn left to get into the main entrance of the property.
If you keep going all the way down to the beach there’s a rustic little beach shack bar/resto that is perfect for sundowners, listening to the waves and looking across to the lights from Lombok. When I say basic, I wouldn’t eat there, and their drinks list runs to beer and maybe Bacardi, but little else, but if you want a cold beer at sunset, it’s one of the best spots on the island. You can find it here.