Villa Bulung Daya is located in Antap, a small village in the Tabanan Regency area of Bali. I had booked the villa through Airbnb and redeemed Barclay Arrival Miles for a 3-night stay. Villa Bulung Daya has since gone up in price, but it was a great deal at the time and I wanted to spend a few nights away from the touristy areas that I’d heard such terrible things about. The house is a 1.5 hour drive from the airport, which goes by very fast. The property is staffed and includes a 4-passenger car and driver but since there were five of us, we arranged for our own transportation through Made, who came highly recommended on Flyertalk.
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Upon arrival, we were immediately greeted by the entire staff, who handed us wet towels and lemonade served in carved-out cucumbers. We then got settled in before a quick tour of the place. Villa Bulung Daya largely surrounded by rice fields and you have to drive a mile before seeing any other homes. This level of seclusion may not be for everyone, but I found it very peaceful and relaxing. The villa is so remote that when we arrived in Antap, a local resident guided our car through the rice fields on his motorcycle!
Villa Bulung Daya consists of four structures. As you walk down the steps from the entrance gate, you’ll see one structure to the left, containing the master bedroom and bathroom. Across the shallow decorative pool is the living room, dining room, and a second bedroom with a bathroom. Behind that structure is a small outpost, which is where the staff spent most of their time. It’s attached to an apartment where the butler, Gede, and his wife, Putu, live. When we needed anything, a knock on the door was sufficient for getting someone’s attention.
The living room was where we spent most of our time. It had great views of the ocean (including some amazing sunsets) and there were books and board games to keep us entertained. I seem to have lost all photos of the second bedroom, so I suggest you check out the Villa Bulung Daya website for more comprehensive photos. Both bedrooms were spacious and offered beautiful ocean views. There was a nice seating area outside of the bedroom, perfect for enjoying the sunset.
The bathrooms were stocked with plenty of towels. All liquids (shampoo, soap, body wash) were stored in refillable ceramic containers.
The Pool House at Villa Bulung Daya
A third bedroom was set up in the pool house downstairs, which is where my brother stayed. It consisted of a sofa bed, a separate bathroom with shower, gym, and movie theater. We never did get around to using the theater, but it was well stocked with lots of DVD’s.
The Pool at Villa Bulung Daya
The pool at Villa Bulung Daya was massive at 100 feet long. I want to say it was the same length as the Conrad Suites pool outside of RIN, or at least it seemed that way. This was a saltwater pool, so despite the fact that I spent a great deal of time swimming laps in it, neither my hair or skin got dry or agitated.
The Beach at Villa Bulung Daya
Past the pool, there is a walkway leading down to the black sand beach. Walking down the steps, you can sometimes see cows nearby, living the good life, just hanging out in the fields or on the actual beach! The beach itself was mostly deserted. Occasionally, we’d see fishermen out there on boats or local children playing in the sand. Note, the water is rough and not suitable for swimming (hence the 100 foot pool). It was still very nice and peaceful to walk around the beach completely undisturbed, with nothing but the sound of waves crashing against the rocks.
The Villa Bulung Daya Staff
Villa Bulung Daya’s staff consisted of Gusti (the manager), Putu (houeskeeper), Made (gardner/maintenance guy), and Gede (butler). In general, the staff was easily accessible when we needed them and great about giving us our space. Gede was a true pro with a great eye for detail. When we were at the pool, he would drop off bottled water and towels. At meal times he would come by and explain to us what was being served (which was particularly useful on the last night, when a local dinner was prepared).
Putu provided a very nice turndown service every night and did a great job of doing our laundry and returning it to us quickly. However, maintenance could have been done better. There were two incidents that nobody told me about until after we left. My mom said there were mouse droppings in the drawers of the master bedroom. My brother reported that while he was in the shower on the first morning, a rat (not mouse) crawled out of a space around the drain. I understand this property is surrounded by nature, but rodents carry diseases and if hotels can manage to keep them at bay, there’s no excuse for a rental property to fall behind in that regard.
There was also the matter of the house manager, Gusti, who made repeated inappropriate remarks to us about the 2005 Bali bombings. Among various conspiracy theories involving the Malaysian government, he at one point said, “the bombers came from your country [Afghanistan]” which is untrue and beyond inappropriate. After that, interacting with him was uncomfortable at best, since he seemed to be harboring animosity veiled in an overly friendly demeanor.
The Food at Villa Bulung Daya
Guests staying at Villa Bulung Daya have an extensive menu to choose from, consisting of both Indonesian and western options. Breakfast is free for all guests and includes a main egg dish, fruits, cereal and bread. Food portions were always generous. We mixed it up during our three night stay, but the food was always on the bland side. I don’t know if this was because of the many food restrictions I reported (including overly spicy foods, which my dad can’t have), but after a while eating became a chore. The table was always beautifully set and the desserts were phenomenal, but other than that it got boring fast. Plus, it didn’t help that we were all required to order the same thing for each meal.
In the afternoon, Gede would come by to offer us tea or coffee, which we always took him up on. My parents are total tea snobs – they only drink loose leaf tea purchased from Afghan grocery stores in the Bay Area. To my surprise, they really enjoyed the tea served at Villa Bulung Daya. My mom, assuming it was some locally sourced tea, asked them where she could buy it. They brought her the box and I nearly died when I saw that it wasn’t some exotic brand but Twinings green tea with artificial lemon flavor.
The coffee served at Villa Bulung Daya was the most rich, delicious coffee I’ve ever had. Compared to the burnt, acidic coffee served at Starbucks, this stuff tasted like (highly) caffeinated hot chocolate. We had Gusti take us to the local market, where we stocked up on coffee. Since returning from my trip in August, I haven’t been to Starbucks much – I mostly just drink the coffee we brought back.
Issues aside, we did have a great time at Villa Bulung Daya. Would I return to this place? Probably not. I prefer the convenience of resorts, both in terms of amenities offered and a higher standard of cleanliness. If you want to book a stay at Villa Bulung Daya or any other Airbnb property, you can save $25 by using my Airbnb referral link to sign up. You can also save 15% by booking directly through the villa website and using A Luxury Travel Blog’s referral code. I’m not sure if the code is still valid, but it’s worth a try.
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