Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lombok, Days 4 & 5

The Novotel in Kuta Lombok certainly had a nice beach, but not much else.

Warning: Mini-rant follows...

For our final day (and two nights) in Lombok we decided to stay in Kuta at the Novotel. As soon as we entered the grounds I had a feeling that the hotel was the wrong choice. The drive from the hotel's entrance to the hotel itself took about 10 minutes, which put the town out of easy reach. (The hotel offers no shuttles to or from town.) This meant we were to a large extent stuck at the hotel. Don't get me wrong, the beach and sea here are gorgeous, and Kuta isn't exactly a thriving place (though it has some of the best surfing in SE Asia, and is also famous for the Bau Nyale Festival, held every February and attracting more than 100,000 people who come to celebrate the appearance of masses of sea worms), but the Novotel left a lot to be desired.

Like I said, the beach and sea here are incredible.

And sunsets are pretty nice, too. Of course, both restaurants open after dark, and most guests who come beforehand are herded into the beach bar for $10 drinks.

No complaints about the pool!

They nickel-and-dime guests beyond what seemed reasonable, and it quickly got annoying. For example, the hotel charges a premium ($30/day) for reliable Internet – the free Internet hardly worked while we were there, and didn't work at all from our room. Forget to return a beach towel? $15 charge. Food prices were jacked up because the nearest alternative to the hotel's restaurants (both of which only open for dinner at 7 p.m.) is several kilometers away, so you have no choice but to pay whatever they ask. For breakfast, the buffet is mandatory and costs $18/person – and the food items (when they'd actually been replenished) and serving spoons were often covered with flies and sparrows. In fact, the fruit had holes pecked into them by sparrows. I even saw one restaurant worker drop food on the floor and put it back on the tray for the guests to eat. What's more, the "authentic beach market" at night that the hotel touts sells nothing but junk and the sellers are pushy. you can tell, I was far from impressed with the Novotel here.

Again, the beach here is lovely, the rooms are adequate, and the hotel offers various diversions to keep guests occupied if they so desire, but for the rest...I highly recommend staying in town, even if there's not much to Kuta Lombok.

Is this plate of lukewarm, greasy food really worth $16?

After our stay here we headed back to the airport and transferred to Bali, where we overnighted in a hotel near the airport. After that, it was back to Saigon, and after a few days of seeing friends there we made our way back to Mui Ne. Lombok ended up being a great place to visit, and while I wouldn't necessarily rush back to see it again, I would definitely be interested in traveling to Sumbawa – the island to the east of Lombok – which is less developed in terms of tourist infrastructure but looks incredible. Sometimes staying in nice hotels leaves me wanting to rough it for my next trip. This was one of those times.

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  1. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Informative and helpful. Thank you again.

  2. Am staying at the Lombok Novotel today, agree with all of the above. Also, 4m in the afternoon and the kitchen is closed, no food or snacks available at all..........if you plan to stay at Lombok Novotel better bring some emergency food rations as it DOES NOT have 24 hours room service or food available....acid indigestion now and have to wait another 4 hours until food is available..................who gave this hotel 4 stars anyway?????

  3. Anonymous: Sorry to hear of your troubles at the Lombok Novotel. I thought I might have been too harsh in my post, but it turns out that I might have been on the mark after all. I wish I could recommend somewhere else to go for food, but the hotel exit is about a mile long – kind of a pain to go exploring off-premises! Good luck. I hope you can manage a celebration there for the New Year!