“Stay away from Kuta!”
That’s what we’d heard from a lot of bloggers. But then again, we were told that about Yangon (Burma) too, and we had a great time there. Everyone has an opinion. So, we wanted to find out for ourselves.
So, why all the bad press? Well, Kuta does seem to be a magnet for drunk Australians, roaming from dive bar to dive bar. Is it true? Almost certainly. Does that have to be your experience of Kuta?
*Spoiler Alert* – No it doesn’t.
In fact, we avoided that experience entirely. How? By not getting involved. By spending most of our 2 days enjoying international standard, rather than roughing it in mouldy guest houses and dingy bars. We are about food and fun. Kuta has that, if you know where to look…
Hard Rocking Fun In Kuta, Bali
We’ve visited Hard Rock Cafe’s all over the world. From Jamaica to London, Mexico to Gold Coast. But this trip to Kuta would be our first stay in a Hard Rock hotel. Actually, we don’t stay in resorts that often, normally we prefer boutique accommodation. But, as we are both Rock n Roll fans at heart, we were excited to see what Hard Rock had done with their resort experience.
“When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead” – Hemingway
And this is exactly what we thought arriving at Hard Rock Hotel Bali. Upon arrival you just know this place is going to be fun! Every single member of staff wishes you a “rockin’ day”. They are so welcoming you instantly feel you are at home – your new and slightly more rockin’ home.
In fact, it’s the details that really “sell” the resort. They have thought through everything. They’ve taken a concept, the world of hard rock, and run with it in every direction imaginable. From the Guitar door handles, to the guitar shape fried eggs at breakfast.
Everyone who’s ever seen a Hard Rock cafe knows they made their name through filling them with rock n roll memorabilia. But, Hard Rock hotel seems to have taken it to the next level. It’s branding on steroids – which could be interpreted as a bad thing, but it’s not. The whole resort is coherent. It’s not tacky. This exceptional attention to detail feels authentic. I really started believing I was going to have a “rockin’ day”.
Once we’d spent a bit of time at Hard Rock Hotel Bali, we realised why some people looove Kuta. When you stay in perfect isolation from the rowdy tourists outside, you really feel on vacation. You feel taken care of. That is the part of the resort experience that we have only recently started to appreciate.
You could spend your entire holiday inside Hard Rock Hotel Bali and not have to leave for a single thing. Dining options are taken care of. Cocktails at the swim up bar are exemplary. You stop worrying about… everything. You just relax.
They blend the local (We ate great Indonesian food at Splash Bistro – Saturday night’s BBQ Special included Babi guling, the local version of pig on a spit.), the tropical (hello, you are in Bali!) and the Hard Rock brand we’ve all come to appreciate, all in one place.
Did I mention the pool? It happens to be the largest free-form swimming pool in Bali! It’s amazing!!!
But more on the pool later…
A few other things around Hard Rock Hotel Bali to keep you entertained:
- Rock Spa – where you can be pampered like the diva you are
- Rock Body Gym – a fully equipped gym, sauna and steam rooms with hot and cold plunge pools. The sauna certainly got Tommo excited.
- A 5 metre rock climbing wall (just to keep the rock theme going strong) with instructors on hand to help both beginner and advanced climbers
- Boom Box recording studio (additional fee) with karaoke rooms plus a state-of-the-art recording studio for the aspiring rockstars out there
- Plus more than 500 pieces of rock n roll memorabilia from both local and international artists.
And this is just for the adults – you don’t want to know what there is for the kiddies to do – you’ll just get jealous. We certainly were!
We arrived later in the day than we had hoped so after checking in we made our way to Centerstage for a drink and to watch the house band. These guys were fantastic! Plus they took requests as well, so you could hear your favourite tunes right there live on stage. Centerstage is also broadcast on the TV in your room, so if you don’t feel like putting on pants (pants are so overrated) you can watch them perform in your room.
The music and the beer were perfect. The chili cheese fries were a super disappointment. We loved the other food we had during our stay, but we suggest avoiding those chili cheese fries.
We made sure we didn’t stay too late as the next day were booked in to have our very own poolside cabana all day – and we didn’t want to miss out on that!
Now I’ve already mentioned that the pool is the largest free-form swimming pool in Bali – but there’s more! The pool also offers a sand island and beach volley ball court (see what I mean about not having to even leave the hotel?)
The cabanas are the perfect place to chill out for the day, swimming as you like, ordering food or drink with ease, as each cabana has it’s own private phone direct to Slash Bistro and your personal waiter is always around ready to chat. If you’re a little hot and would rather your drink in the pool – that’s ok too as there is a swim up bar.
For the kiddies there’s a splash wonderland and waterslides. For the adults there’s peace and relaxation.
If you are looking for more private time spent in your room – you won’t believe what you can do there! Learn to play guitar – for real!!!
If being a real life rockstar has always been a dream of yours, you can give that dream a kickstart with Hard Rock Hotels “Sounds of your Stay”.
Picture this: A choice of 20 different and authentic Fender guitars to choose from, plus a couple of bass guitars if you wanna “slappa da bass”, delivered to your room FREE. Plus, a brand new Fender Mustang floor amp and a pair of Soul by Ludacris headphones to make sure you don’t *ahem piss off your neighbours.
I know what you’re saying “But what use is this kick-ass guitar if I don’t know how to play it?” Never fear! All you need to do is change your TV to channel 3 and there are continuous lessons being broadcast for your Rockin pleasure.
I have to admit Tommo got a bit carried away……
All in all, Hard Rock Hotel epitomises fun. It’s what they do. Every element of the hotel is put together to make sure you enjoy yourself. And we certainly did.
If you can manage to drag yourself away from your private cabana, we do have a more high octane fun suggestion too…
A Wet and wild adventure at Waterbom Waterpark, Kuta
When we heard the 2nd best waterpark in the world is located in Kuta, we had to try it out.
We believe vacations should be fun. And we totally support releasing your inner child and going wet and wild. I don’t care how old you are. Waterparks are fun.
We tried most of the rides. I have to admit we both wimped out of “The Climax” – a ride which sees you hit 2.5G’s and 70KPH in the space of 7 seconds. We’ve been skydiving, and yet this one was not going to be on our list.
At time of writing there are 13 major water rides, and some other smaller attractions. Those main rides are included in the ticket price. Wait times on the most popular rides were 10 to 20 minutes (In June 2016), on less popular, but still awesome rides, like twin racers, we literally waited less than 1 minute.
Our two favourite rides from our visit to Waterbom:
You can’t tell from the video, but when you hit the big drop after coming out of the tunnel, you literally take of. It was a “Oh S!*%” moment and we loved it. Then you shoot all the way up the other side to near perpendicular to the ground, before firing down the exit ramp in a spin.
Swinging around this huge waterslide is like riding up and down a watery half-pipe. You feel like a snowboarder, just one sitting in a little rubber lifeboat. Plus, the start of the ride is pitch black and you lose complete sense of what direction you are facing while flying down the tube.
Beat the heat and pump some adrenaline doing it. Waterbom Waterpark is not just for kids, but they will love it too. As one 7 year old proudly exclaimed to us after riding The Climax, “That was my third time!!!”. You’re braver than us, little man.
In high season the park gets very busy. So book your tickets in advance to avoid long lines.
Buy Your Day Pass HERE
Want to skip the lines all day as well? Then get your pass HERE
World Class cuisine in Kuta
When we travel we love to try the local food. But we also love to have the option to try cuisine from all over the world, made right. Yes, you may see carbonara on every menu around Bali (Like, seriously, you will), but how many of those places are going to give you the authentic flavour? Rather than a bowl of scrambled egg spaghetti…
It’s one of the main reasons, for example, we love Hong Kong. You can get incredible Cantonese food, but also any other cuisine imaginable is available at a world class level.
So, when you go on your short vacation to Bali, you may not have time to also pop over to Italy to eat Italian food. Or get brunch that’s better than you’d get at home. Or, even, combine the two…
After a big party night out in Kuta, a proper brunch menu is going to blast out the cobwebs. That’s what we got at Jamie’s Italian. In fact, the big breakfast was so epic it will satisfy even the most intense hangover.
The ingredient combinations are a real fusion. Pancetta from Italy, Asian mushrooms, ciabatta bread (made locally though!), organically sourced eggs. And the plate is the size of my torso, covered in mouth-wateringly inviting breakfast fare – hash brown and baked beans included. Not your usual breakfast mess, the addition of some herbs on the plate gives it a real visual edge and you can tell the placement of every item has actually been though out.
It tasted even better than it looks. I promise.
If you need more than just breakfast, you could opt for a “healthy” juice… The Lombardi Bloody Mary packs a serious breakfast punch. The chilli is actually imported from Lombardi, Italy. It’s a devilishly spicy alarm clock in a glass.
If you fancy something a bit stodgier to soak up last nights tequila shots, just go classic pancakes. Once again, a giant plate full of oversized fluffy pancakes with sweet syrup, yoghurt and banana. The mint leaves make the whole flavour profile really pop.
We also tucked in to the smashed avocado and pancetta toast. If you want the real healthy option, this is it. Rich avocado, salty and crispy pancetta. It’s a lower calorie winner for those having a more “sensitive” morning.
We didn’t get the chance to try the dinner menu, but brunch showed attention to detail and quality ingredients that suggest Jamie’s name is being well represented here in Kuta.
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Disclaimer: We received our stay at Hard Rock, admission to Waterbom Waterpark and meal at Jamie’s Italian complimentary – all opinions remain our own. This article contains affiliate links – thanks for supporting our blog by using them