Many digital nomads and freelance workers who come to the island of Bali are looking for affordable accommodation. Like many places long term accommodation is easy to find and secure but that’s not always the case with short term e.g. under one month.
Securing a decent pay as you go rate for accommodation
I have noticed over the years that securing a good deal in the nomad hotpots around the world is not so easy these days. I recall being able to find rooms in Lisbon, Portugal for under EUR 20 a night. In the summer season that sort of rate would only get you into a shared dorm which is not ideal for most digital nomads.
The advent of the internet has helped the situation but it has also brought along some issues. Before booking online was widespread you could walk around your chosen destination and find a room. Once you were happy you could could basically pay as you go in the safe knowledge your room would be available the next day.
The internet has changed all that.
I stay in a particular hotel in Bangkok and I use to be able pay ‘day by day’. Now it’s on booking.com that’s not longer an issue. The hotel is so popular now that you have book in advance (little wonder with this roof top pool below!).
Why I never pre book accommodation for longer than a day or two
If you book accommodation with no refund for a week then you exposing yourself to being given a less than desirable room. Of course some hotel owners will give you a nice room but many will save the nicer rooms for walk in guests.
If I am heading somewhere that’s likely to be very hard to find accommodation e.g. Bali in August or Bangkok over Chinese New Year then I will often book the first night, maybe more under exceptional circumstances.
I figure that whatever the room is like I can put up with it for a night knowing I can change rooms in the morning if it’s not great. If I cannot change rooms then I’d walk away and find somewhere else.
What about finding somewhere cheap to stay in Bali?
Bali on the most part has more accommodation than it needs. The island is becoming ever more popular with tourists and that’s not likely to change particularly as it’s becoming popular with Chinese visitors.
For all the popular parts of Bali (Kuta, Ubud, Seminyak, Legian, Canggu, Sanur) there really is no reason to book ahead, even over the busy periods.
This is my strategy for finding the best hotel deal on Bali
Load up a popular hotel booking app like booking.com (that’s my go to app for booking – I have ‘genius’ status) and check the destination for your particular date.
I’d also check a future date (I usually do this because a certain hotel might be showing full on your date but many places still have rooms available.)
I then add the potentials to a booking.com list and walk around to the individual guesthouses.
So I found a room (see video below) for 250,000rp (about $16 USD). I check the room out and asked how much. The owner wanted 300,000rp a night.
I said I was not willing to pay that and what is the best price?
ALWAYS NEGOTIATE ROOM PRICE!
He went down to 270,000rp a night. At this point I loaded up the booking.com app and showed him the live price of 250,000. he couldn’t really refuse this so we agreed. He did not want me to book it via the app as he would have paid commission which is fair enough.
After a couple of days I usually ask if they will reduce the rate, particularly if I intend on staying a week.
I am not all about squeezing the hotel owner for the bare bones cheapest rate. I figure they would not sell you the room if it wasn’t worth their while.
I also use tripadvisor too to compare prices.
Here is a video I made about a recent room find in Ubud!