When one think of accommodation in Bali, sprawling Balinese villas with lush frangipani trees would come to mind. We decided very early in our trip planning that we would like to include a night or two’s stay in a Balinese villa in our Free & Easy ‘Bali for Kids’ itinerary so that we can chill and explore Seminyak at leisure. When Roomorama, whose motto is: “Quality accommodation for the discerning traveler” offered us a chance to do a media review, the timing was simply perfect!
Step 1: The Search
Roomorama was founded in 2009 by entrepreneurs Jia En Teo and Federico Folcia out of their Manhattan apartment. It is now Asia’s fastest growing short-term home rental website, geared towards travellers seeking unique alternatives to the generic hotel experience.
Roomorama offers quick, easy and secure bookings for 120,000 properties in over 5,000 destinations worldwide. Already established in the US and Europe, Jia En and Fede moved Roomorama’s headquarters to Singapore in 2011 to tap into the massive potential of the Asia Pacific region.
It is really easy to search for properties on Roomorama using their filters. You can search by price, location, number of bedrooms, amenities, and/or conditions (e.g. non-smoking, child-friendly, pets allowed etc). Each property listed has actual photographs, a detailed description, and sometimes traveller reviews. The property manager’s information is also displayed so you can contact them prior to booking.
For example, I did a search on Seminyak, Bali and found out that depending on budget, we can rent either a bedroom (in a host’s home), an apartment or a villa (in our case) for as low as S$64 per night! The cost of staying at in a superior room (which sleeps max 2) in decent 4-5 star hotel in Bali averages S$200-300 per night, which makes renting one of Roomorama’s villas that is twice (or triple) the size, sleeps anywhere between 4-12 persons, with amenities such as a full kitchen and living room a more enticing alternative!
Step 2: The Inquiry
Before you can book an apartment on Roomorama, you need to sign up for a free account (which can be done in a matter of minutes). After searching and compiling a list of your favorite places, you can check the availability of these lodgings with the property managers via a one-click ‘Contact Host’ button on the website. The property managers’ average response time is indicated to help manage your expectations. In case the property manager is not responding quickly, you can use the ‘Live Chat‘ service or contact Roomorama (via email) for help to speed up the process (which was exactly what we did).
Step 3: The Booking
Once the property manager confirms that the apartment is available and you are agreeable with the booking conditions and price, you make payment via as secure online credit card payment through Roomorama. Once the payment is accepted, you will be charged the amount of your booking in full. You will then receive a confirmation email with your trip details and a payment code (you have to give the payment code to the property manager upon check-in so they can claim the payment from Roomorama). The entire booking process is fuss-free and straight forward. Anyone who is comfortable with internet bookings of flight, hotels and tours would find it a breeze to use Roomorama.
Part 4: The Stay
We contacted the property manager of the Seminyak Villa to confirm our arrival time before we departed for Bali and received his email confirmation after two days. He was helpful in giving us some recommendations of nearby restaurants. However, we soon realised not many local taxi drivers knew the exact location of the villa as there were too many small alleys in Seminyak. Not anyone’s fault but a more detailed map (or instructions on how to get to the villa) would be helpful especially for first time visitors.
The caretaker of the villa greeted us upon arrival and gave us a quick tour of the villa before handing over the keys. The villa is spacious; it comes with two large bedrooms and two open-air en-suite bathrooms. There was a elongated pool, a gazebo for lounging, free wifi, a TV (pity about the fuzzy reception though), a large dining table, and a simple kitchenette for us to do light cooking if we want to (which we didn’t as we were on holidays!). Included in the fee was a house-cleaner who would come daily to spruce up the place.
What we would loved to see included would be: firmer mattress, cleaner bedlinen and bath towels (those that were provided were overused, thin and had stain-marks), a land-line telephone for us to make local calls, more cable channels, greater accessibility to the main thoroughfare of Seminyak, basic toiletries (like soaps, toothbrushes, toothpastes etc) and perhaps breakfasts and a bathtub thrown in for good measure. Apart from these ‘first world’ gripes, bigger families might actually enjoy this economical option for full privacy to enjoy uninterrupted family bonding time which the villa provides.
Part 5: The Photos
The best part about renting an apartment or home with Roomorama is that you instantly live like a local. We were woken up every morning by the crows from the industrious roosters next door and we walked on foot to dine at the nearby warungs. If you want to, you may even send your soiled clothes for washing and pressing at the little laundromat located right opposite the villa. The extra space of the villa is a huge plus for bigger families (or bigger groups of travellers) at fraction of the price of staying in a hotel. Although I felt this villa which we stayed in could have been better maintained (as clean towels are a MUST in my choice of accommodation), I believe there are other wonderful properties among its 120,000 inventory and we would not hesitate to book with Roomorama again for our future Free & Easy holidays.