I walk down the long driveway toward Villa Liang. It’s the middle of the day and the air is thick with humidity, my skin sticky. An orange cat with white legs runs across my path, pauses, meows at me loudly then expertly scales the wall in a single leap, watching me intently from the safety of a shrub. Everything around me is a lush green, with vibrant bursts of colour exploding from flowers lining the driveway. It looks like the villas have been here for centuries, with the jungle slowly growing back over them, you’d never guess you were a few hundred metres from a main road.
Villa Liang comes into sight and, from the outside, it’s modest and welcoming. It has an old-world charm to it, with creeping vines hanging off it, not giving away any of the wonders that lay inside. I push open the antique door and call out a big, cheery, “Hello!” I’m greeted with Adi’s huge, beaming smile and friendly, calming aura. He immediately makes me feel welcome. Adi oversees Villa Liang and a few other private villas in the area. He tells me he’s worked in the big hotels of Bali most of his life but much prefers working for private villas because he loves meeting people and helping them. He says he enjoys the personal aspect of it, providing better service by working with fewer guests at a time.
He grabs my bags before I have a chance to say otherwise, whisking them away upstairs, then starting the very grand tour of the villa. As I look around, I’m speechless. The only word I can really manage to say is a coughed-out, “… Wow,” repeated several times, much to Adi’s delight. This place is amazing and I can’t help but think, this is what it must feel like to be Rihanna.
In Balinese, the word ‘Liang,’ means happy. It’s a great name choice because the whole time I was at the villa, I felt happy! Villa Liang is located in Seminyak, a popular location in Bali, but it feels like it’s a world away from the busy streets and crowded beaches I’ve experienced before. It offers a peaceful oasis, nestled next to a river, with wild jungle next to it.
The villa is huge, it boasts three spacious bedrooms, one upstairs and two downstairs, all with their own en-suite bathroom, air conditioning and looking over the pool and garden. There’s a big kitchen, with everything you could ever need and an open plan living area with loads of places to sit and relax. A big dining table overlooks the pristine pool, begging you in for a swim, and a cool chill out hut sits just behind.
You’ll also find the villa offering some pretty great, free WiFi and other essentials, like bug spray and mosquito coils, a huge supply of drinking water in the form of your own fountain and heaps of spots to sit and bliss out.
Aside from all this, the villa also comes with private staff and 24-hour security. The staff do a lot of behind the scenes work, like spray the rooms regularly to take care of mosquitos, lighting mosquito coils in the evening and coming in regularly to tidy up and do the dishes. Basically, they do everything for you, so you can lay back and enjoy your holiday. Like I said, it’s a Rihanna level of luxurious privacy and relaxation. Yet, it’s in no way pretentious or uncomfortable and, shockingly, it’s incredibly affordable!
Staying at Villa Liang
Picture this; you and your partner, plus four of your best friends take a trip to Bali together. Instead of staying in an over-crowded hotel and paying a small fortune for the privilege, you roll up to your private villa in Seminyak. Each couple takes a room and you split the cost. With a kitchen on hand you stock up on cold drinks, put on your favourite playlist and spend every day by the pool, swimming, eating and drinking in the sun.
At night, you order food from one of the amazing local restaurants nearby and have it delivered, settling in for a feast and laughing about the day, then putting on a movie and chilling out, before retreating to your private room. When you wake up in the morning, breakfast has been prepared for you by the on-site staff and you’re ready to start another day in paradise. Nobody around to bother you, just your best mates and a whole villa all to yourself.
Now, it’s easy to think this kind of holiday will empty you out of your entire life savings, but it’s actually ridiculously affordable. Even if you book out all three bedrooms in the height of peak season, it’ll cost you $400US per night. Do the math on that! Divided between three couples or even six friends, it works out really, really good. Especially considering you get the whole villa to yourselves. During the low season, all three bedrooms will cost you $300US per night. (Note: prices may change over time, so be sure to check the website for latest rates).
Villa Liang is in a fantastic location. I was a bit worried that it’d be out of the way and hard for me to see or do anything. Truth be told, I spent the entire first 24 hours holed up in the villa, having food delivered, because it was so special that I didn’t want to waste a moment. But, when you’re finally ready to emerge, you’ll find the villa sits in a pretty wonderful location. If you haven’t been to Bali before, or even if you have, Seminyak is a great spot as it’s well-developed but not in the heart of party central and Bintang-singlet-wearing Aussies.
Tucked down a few side streets, it’s a couple hundred metres or so from the main street, Batu Belig. Here you’ll a string of fantastic restaurants, including a frozen yoghurt shop, fantastic cafes selling awesome coffee and great places for dinner, like Watercress, my personal favourite. There’s also a spot to drop off your laundry to be washed, a cheap DVD shop to stock up on $1 movies and a few boutiques to peruse.
You could quite easily walk to the beach, but I’d probably recommend you hire a scooter and drive yourself around to save getting really hot and sweaty all the time. The staff will be able to help you sort this out and organise helmets for you too (essential!). In fact, the staff can sort out just about anything you need. Adi explained to me they could organise really special dinners, like Balinese-style BBQ and even local musicians and Balinese dancers to come and perform.
Basically, Adi explained, anything you want or need, they can make it happen for you. All you have to do is pop your head out the front door and ask the staff and they’ll get it sorted for you. Adi even whizzed me around town on the back of his bike, helping me run my errands, like picking up laundry, snacks and DVDs for the day. The customer service here is amazing, to say the least.
I had the best stay at Villa Liang and it made me completely rethink how I’ll travel the next time I visit Bali. I’d imagined private villas to be too fancy and too expensive for me, just a regular ol’ person and definitely not Rihanna. After staying there, I’ve realised that they are still fancy, but not in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable and they’re definitely affordable, even for someone as broke as me.
The staff at the villa were exceptional, they took such great care of everything and were really attentive. Adi, in particular, was amazing. He really went the extra mile and was helpful in so many ways, including doing a run to the chemist to pick up supplies when Matt fell ill with a virus.
Waking up each morning and knowing the entire villa was my own private haven was an amazing feeling. I could swim when I wanted, work when it suited me, put on a movie or blast loud music without a worry in the world. There were amazing places to eat right on my doorstep and the whole stay was made even more peaceful but knowing the staff and security were on-site if needed.
I’d just like to thank the staff at Nagisa Bali, who organised the stay. Nagisa are the fantastic management group who look after a whole suite of properties in Bali, including Villa Liang. They reached out to me and invited me to stay at the villa and I’m so grateful they did, it was a way of travelling I’d never experienced before and now I’m absolutely hooked! If you’re planning a wedding, a private villa could be a good option for you. Imagine saying, “I do,” in a private cliff-side villa in Uluwatu, overlooking an endless stretch of ocean. Amazing!