Nyepi, or Bali’s day of silence can be a wonderful day of quiet and relaxation, but with 2 kids aged 4 and 9 it can also seem like an endless day of whinging about being bored. Before kids it was all about reading a book and snacking the day away, now breaking up fights, tidying up and making endless snacks takes up most of the day. So…this year we decided to get ourselves a comfy room in the Hard Rock Hotel Bali to ensure there would be zero boredom for the whole day!! Yaay!!
Getting There and Checking In
Because of the Hard Rock Hotel Bali’s prime position on Kuta Beach (and the one way traffic system), I always worry about traffic. However, because it was the day before Nyepi and most Balinese people were at home, it was very quiet and took us no time at all to get there. From the airport the Hard Rock is only about 15-25 minutes depending on traffic.
Check in was easy and efficient and the staff were great, despite probably being short staffed and having a million people checking in and out. I really give them props for their calm and friendly attitude under pressure, especially with a ton of families with kids! We had to wait a couple of hours for our room to be ready because we were early so we explored the hotel and had lunch at Starz Deli. The kids got menus that had activities on the back and crayons and the usual sausage and chips/mashed potato that they were both happy with.
We also had a peek into Tabu Teen Club, which has comfy gaming chairs, a fabulous little cinema with a bean bag pit, a pool table and other games and books. Kids under 13 must be accompanied by an adult, but that was fine with me because I had fun in there as well!
Our stay at the Hard Rock Hotel Bali was in a Deluxe Premium Room, which came with a queen sized bed and a day bed that we had set up as 2 single beds. I had heard the rooms were smaller than expected, but I was pretty pleased with the size (although we were only there with small bags for a 2 night stay, so with suitcases it could be a little less spacious). The only strange thing about the rooms is that the balconies are so small you can’t sit out on them. It’s a shame because sitting out in the evening with a beer if the kids have already gone to sleep is always a treat.
The bathroom was a good size and the kids are always ridiculously excited about amenities, which always makes me laugh. I searched and searched for somewhere to hang our wet swimmers and didn’t find that there is a retractable line in the shower until we were packing up (you can actually see it in the picture below..duh). It wasn’t fancy, but it was clean, everything worked and the whole family fit in at the same time. Is this a positive or negative…I don’t know.
There were some nice details like the bowl of tropical fruit with an explanation of what it was, teeny little guitars embroidered on the pillows and plenty of tea and coffee options.
The Hotel Area & Pools
At first I was totally confused by the layout of the Hard Rock Hotel Bali, but once I figured out where our room was in relation to the main pool it was no problem. Some people complain that it’s a hike from the further rooms to the pool or kids club, but we didn’t find it so bad at all because we spent most of our time by the pool anyway. The changing rooms, showers and toilets by the pool are more like those for a beach club so there is no need to go running back to your room everytime someone needs the toilet or to rinse off.
The main pool area is the real star of the resort. The pool is enormous, has a beach area and even sand on the bottom of the pool in the middle area. There are cabanas surrounding the pool, a sunken bar, slides and a kids water play area for the smaller kids. I counted at least 3 lifeguards on duty at all times and you can rent floats, and get free life vests for kids.
My son hates the buckets that fill up and dump water like the one in the kids area, so we didn’t spend much time there, but other kids were having a great time. It has lots of trees surrounding it so parents can watch from the shade and the water is nice and shallow for the teeniest kiddos to splash around in.
It was pretty crowded but we expected as much as it was Nyepi and no-one could go out. I can imagine in school holidays and in the peak season it can get pretty wild. The cabanas are a great idea if you want a little peace, but book in advance especially if it’s a busy time of year.
I enjoyed it for a couple of days, but I also loved having the option of the chill out pool, which is available to guests staying in Deluxe Premium Rooms. This is something I would definitely pay the extra for if we stayed again. A pool access room on the ground floor here would also be a great option.
The hotel is just a minute from Kuta Beach and we went down for sunset, which is always a treat. This area of Kuta Beach isn’t my favorite because it’s so busy, but it was relatively quiet and clean when we were there. It’s also a really easy walk from shops, markets and even to Waterbom water park just about a 10 minute walk away.
Kids Club & Activities
Roxity Kids Club is open to kids 4-12 and is strict about this policy. No adults are allowed in the club, so kids below 4 can not join the kids club even with a nanny. I was happy for this policy as my son often wants me to hang out in the kids club with him, but I suppose I could understand that some parents would see it as a negative. It is also a paid kids club (Rp200,000 per day including lunch or discounted for longer stays).
My kids spent the morning of Nyepi day in Roxity and had lunch with all the other kids before they wanted to play in the pool again. While they were in Roxity they played games, colored, were taken to the rock climbing wall and had slushies from the slushy machine, which was a big hit! It all seemed very organized and the staff are great with the kids. Sign in and out and the wristbands they wear make it feel nice and safe and like they are used to dealing with larger groups of kids.
If your kids don’t want to spend their time in the kids club, there are also daily activities by the pool that they can join in for free. They have races, team games, walking on water and the big ball that was loads of fun to watch but my kids didn’t want to do either. The kids are put into age groups and win gold, silver and bronze medals for all the competitions.
The Hard Rock has a number of food and drink options, The Hard Rock Cafe obviously, Starz Diner, Starz Deli, Centerstage, Splash Bistro, The Shack and Jamie’s Italian. We had a package that included breakfast and lunch buffets at Starz Diner; a special for Nyepi. My husband’s plate is usually a good measure of the food quality because I’m terrible when faced with a buffet and the kids tend to stick to bacon, sausages, pastries and pancakes. He seemed pretty happy with the selection, but I did feel like they could have done with more healthy options. There wasn’t so much fruit and the muesli was really sloppy and unappetizing.
On Nyepi day we also had a couple of snacks at Centerstage while we watched a movie. The French fries were delicious and I ate far too many of them. The kids (actually my daughter and I because my son had fallen asleep on the couch) had a milkshake, also delicious and my motivation to hit the gym the next morning.
We didn’t have the chance to try Jamie’s Italian, Hard Rock Cafe as they were both closed for Nyepi or Splash Bistro because it closed early, so I can’t really say much about the food there. The prices for everything seemed pretty reasonable for a Kuta hotel though and there were some healthier options on the Jamie’s Italian and Splash Bistro menus.
If you wander down to the beach there are lots of satay and corn sellers that are cheap and delicious. While we could get out the night before Nyepi we went and watched the sunset with some grilled corn. There are also tons of restaurants and cafe options within walking distance of the resort, so eating is never really a problem in Kuta.
The Pros and Cons of The Hard Rock Hotel Bali
We really had a great time at the Hard Rock and there are tons of Pros for staying there.
- The kids had a great time and were really well taken care of
- The pool area is amazing and extremely family-friendly
- Our room was really comfortable and had everything we needed
- The staff were fabulous and nothing was too much trouble for them
- It’s very easy to get around on foot in the area
- There are lots of food choices in and out of the resort
There were a few things that weren’t my favorite about the resort:
- I was freezing the whole time unless I was out in the sun. Even with no a/c on in our room it was arctic
- The food was pretty standard and could have been healthier
- There were a couple of areas of the hotel that needed a lick of paint
- When there is a band playing in Centerstage you could hear and feel it in the room
All in all, we had a great time and the kids were really happy and are asking to go back soon. It’s an extremely family-friendly hotel and also seems exceptionally well staffed. There are so many reasons to love the Hard Rock and for a family who likes a holiday packed with activities it’s an excellent choice!
Tourists from all over the world flock to the ancient Balinese temple of Tanah Lot, but very few consider staying in the area. Close to Canggu, but far enough from the hipster-ness of it all, is Pantai Kedungu and a scattering of villas and guest houses in between rice fields and world class surf. While we had my sister, brother-in-law and 2 nieces (4 & 6) in Bali to stay we headed down to check out a new villa called Silversand Villa. Our kids are 4 and 9 so it was a group of 4 adults and 4 kids in total.
It took us around an hour to drive to Silversand Villa from Ubud, so from the airport or Kuta area it would probably take around the same time. Canggu is about 20-25 minutes drive away and Tanah Lot temple is just 10 minutes up the road. The roads are smooth until you turn off the main Tanah Lot road but even then they aren’t so bad. Also Canggu can get crazily congested so if you can avoid driving on Jl. Raya Canggu go around! The scenery on the way is beautiful as well, especially if you’re driving from Ubud.
We arrived to a very smiley welcome from the villa staff, delicious fresh juice and a tour of the villa. We couldn’t have felt more welcomed into the villa and instantly felt like we’d arrived in a place where we could really relax…even with 4 kids.
Silversand Villa is actually split in 2 with 2 bedrooms on each side. It is rentable as a 4 bedroom villa or two 2 bedroom villas with a shared pool. We worried a bit at first about having 4 kids with us and disturbing our neighbors, but the way the villa is designed is really smart and works amazingly well. We were also lucky that the family staying next to us were lovely, out quite a lot and very understanding of a bunch of kids splashing in the pool.
On the ground floor is a great open living room and kitchen with a small plunge pool in the decking area. This for us was an absolute stroke of genius because the kids could be in the pool when the adults were pruney enough and just wanted to hang out on the couch with a cold beer. There is also a downstairs bedroom with a massive ensuite bathroom and enough room for an extra bed or blow-up mattress like we had.
On the second floor is a small kitchen with fridge and water cooler (another genius idea) leading into a larger bedroom with a massive bathroom with a shower and tub, sitting area and a balcony with a lounger and bean bags. The other fabulous feature of this room is the daybed tucked behind the wall at the back of the bed. The kids absolutely loved this private little area and all wanted to sleep in it.
Up a small iron staircase is the roof terrace with gorgeous views over the villa, rice fields and the Canggu sunset. There are 2 lovely bales, one for each villa, both with a light so you can sit in the evening. The railing around the terrace is nice and solid and the gaps between the bars are small enough so we didn’t worry about the kids leaning on it or slipping through. The only thing we watched the kids carefully with was the staircase going up to the roof.
There aren’t too many other villas in the area and the closest resort is the Pan Pacific Nirwana (which will close for a change of management in June 2017), so views are pretty much unhindered and the quiet at night is wonderful.
The beach is less than 10 minutes walk down the road and it’s very much local with a minority of foreign surfers and plenty of roasted corn, satay and cold drink stands. There were kids in the water but we felt the current was too strong for our kids so they just splashed around in the waves while we watched and sipped cold Bintangs as the sun set. It couldn’t have been more perfect really!
On the Saturday we drove to Canggu but couldn’t wait to get back to the villa! It seemed so crazy there compared to our quiet little haven and the heat and crowds at all the Canggu markets were way too much for the kids. We did have a nice lunch at The Lawn and a quick look around Old Man’s market, but we all agreed our pool was calling!
Feeding the Family
Breakfast at Silversand was fabuous! Check out this amazing spread. We had an American breakfast the first day and then nasi goreng on the second. Both delicious but the nasi goreng really was one of the best we’d had, and there was loads of it to keep us going. The kids had toast, fruit, sausages and we loved that there were colourful plates, bowls and cutlery for them. It made us feel like kids were really welcome.
We knew we wouldn’t be close to much so made sure to hit the supermarket on the way. We brought enough pasta, pesto and snacks with us to keep the kids happy and also went out for dinner at the next villa along on the second night. The food was pretty average but cheap enough and did the job for the kids.
You can ask the staff to shop and cook for you and pay for the groceries and a small amount for their time. We probably would have done this if we were staying longer because they were great cooks!
Other Things to Do
One thing the kids loved was getting the local spa ladies to come and do their nails. There is a menu in the villa and the staff booked for us, so it was simple and very inexpensive (Rp80,000 for kids manicure or pedicure). It was a real treat, the ladies were lovely and the girls loved their nails and kept showing them off to everyone.
We also planned to go to Tanah Lot or Batu Bolong Temple but after a long hot day we were all far too lazy to pile in the car again. We were treated to the most gorgeous sunset right from outside our villa though, so we didn’t feel like we’d missed too much. However, I would recommend if you haven’t been to Batu Bolong Temple for sunset before, it’s very close to the villa and a special place to spend an evening.
Family Friendly Features
The owners of Silversand Villa have made sure families really are welcome with toys by the pool, a few games and books inside, plastic kids cups, plates and cutlery, bean bags and especially the nook behind the master bed. The staff were fabulous with the kids and understood when they were being picky with their food or made a mess. We loved that we could feel at ease and not worry too much about the kids trashing things because the simple decor and layout made it easy for us to watch them.
The Perfect Weekend at Silversand Villa
We really couldn’t have asked for a more perfect weekend than the one we had at Silversand Villa. We thought the kids might get a little bored being away from everything, but in fact it was totally the opposite. The pool, beach and garden were all we needed for them to play, be outside and enjoy being in a different environment. Amazingly enough, I don’t think we heard a complaint of being bored all weekend and they definitely didn’t want to leave!
I can’t recommend this beautiful villa enough and would definitely go back to stay with family or friends again. It’s a great way to see a quieter, more gentle side of Bali than the craziness of the south and is absolutely worth the drive.
For more information on Silversand Villa visit http://www.silversand-villa.com/