Stay Here: The Open House in Jimbaran Bay, BaliBy Tom Stevenson
After two years of Powerpoint, sleep deprivation and competitive suffering, my best mate quit his job in Investment Banking. He sent me an email called ‘Gardening’ detailing his travel plans for his month off. I’d been wanting to go to Bali for years so I booked a flight with a couple of days notice. Malaysia Airlines aren’t pulling in the crowds right now.
We spent a couple of days on the beach in this Australian expat surfing nirvana called Echo Beach. Neither of us could stay on the board for more than a few seconds so we spent our time in deck chairs quietly mancrushing on the surfer spartans.
“He goes to the gym”
“Oh my god, look at that, he’s the best. The one in the yellow”
“How long do you reckon it would take us to grow our hair that long? And make it fall like that and spring and…”
“We need to leave”
The manager at the surf resort offered to drive us to our next destination, but I’d misread the name of the place in the guide and he drove us to the wrong place. Well, the right place, but it certainly didn’t have white sands or sparkly water so we just started driving south looking for a beach like the one in The Beach. “But with free WiFi” my friend added.
We drove for hours. My friend declined to help with the search because he’d reached a really good part in his book so I was getting very frustrated with this awfully kind man whose day we’d already ruined when we turned down a side street and there it was. A faux-shipwrecked open wooden gate leading to a patio with an open kitchen. My eyes swam down the length of the pool into an open library and an open massage area.
“It’s quite open here” I said
“That’s the concept” said the manager, pointing to the name of the hotel.
The Open House opened it’s gate on June 9th this year. It is a 17 suite boutique hotel a minute’s walk from the perfect beach in Jimbaran Bay. The ease of movement was my favourite thing about the Open House. Room to pool to restaurant to beach was seamless. The open plan with the water and the wind creates this fluency and guests seem to glide about the grounds.
However, part of the conceptual ideology of the hotel is that the openness should flow into the local community. The Open House encourages visitors to fully immerse themselves in the Balinese culture by visiting the nearby Uluwatu Temple at sunset, snorkel, dive and visit the traditional market where the beach restaurants (warungs) bid for the best catches of the day. The restaurant at the hotel is wonderful. The light bites and lassees perfectly complement the ambience, but for dinner you must visit the beach restaurants. We went three nights in a row to watch the waves lap in and devour the best seafood I’ve ever had. Crab, lobster, king prawns, squid and clams piled high and priced down. It’s unforgettable.
Each night we returned from dinner to the comfort of the Open House suite. The shower and toilet cubicles opaque but open; the twin beds just far apart enough; the WiFi signal strong. It was everything we had hoped for.
Whilst my friend searched Jimbaran Bay for treasures on Tinder, I sat in the library area and read a book on Indonesia. The book told me that Indonesia has over 13,700 islands. If a man were to visit each of the inhabited islands for a day, he would be island hopping for 8 years. I don’t know if I could do that with places as beautiful as this. As much as I love moving, sometimes it’s nice to just stay. And if you do just stay, you should stay here.