The Gilis are a trio of islands in Indonesia, famous for their beautiful beaches, chilled vibes and stunning scenery. Each island offers something unique, and the accommodation options reflect that. There’s a lot to choose from, so if you’re heading to the Gilis keep reading – I’ll run through each island and the best Gili islands hotels and hostels available on each. Let’s go!
So what’s in the Gili Islands? First we have Gili Meno – a honeymooner’s dream, with secluded white sand beaches, total tranquillity and flowers draped across every pathway. For those after a livelier trip, Gili Trawangan (codename Gili T!) is the spot – host to an array of fun bars, beach-clubs and great music. Expect hostels teeming with backpackers ready for ‘gram-worthy nights out. Lastly, Gili Air offers something in the middle – serenity amidst live bands on the beach, all tied up with amazing diving and yoga.
Each island is car-free, making them little hubs of health and calm. There’s the occasional moped (normally driven by several children!) but the main method of transport are horse-drawn carts or bare feet! If you’re after a detachment from hustle bustle life, this is your spot.
This little island is probably one of the most romantic areas of Indonesia, with crystal waters, long stretches of white sand and stunning natural surroundings. It’s popular among honeymooners for this exact reason, and the slow-paced life offers an escape from it all. Expect total peace and quiet, flowers at every turn and utter relaxation. As such, there isn’t a huge backpacker scene, with most solo travellers heading to Gili T’s party vibes. For those travelling with children, there are options – head to the bigger hotels to avoid the swarms of couples.
For the Backpacker
Gili Garden Bungalows is somewhere between a little B&B and a hostel – full of friendly people, super cheap and very clean. Rent a little bungalow for a low-price and enjoy either fan or aircon (I’d suggest aircon as it gets very hot!) and speedy WiFi. You’re likely to meet other travellers here and will be in a great location for the island’s amenities. Enjoy nearby snorkelling, diving and, of course, eating…
Those after a more ‘natural’ experience should book a stay at Gili Meno Eco Hostel. This little homestay prides itself on being totally eco-friendly and has a really chilled vibe to it as a result. You can choose from dorm rooms or cheap privates while you’re here, but there’s always a chance to mingle and meet new people. Expect open-air dorms, bamboo showers and compost-toilets. It might not be everyone’s idea of luxury, but it’s perfect for any conscious-living travellers who fancy a break in the sun. This has to be on the list of dreamy Gili islands hotels for those travelling alone!
Turtle Gili Meno Bungalows is another great option for those on a tight budget who want a taste of paradise. Just a short walk from the harbour, you’ll be ideally-located for swimming, snorkelling and everything else that Meno has to offer. The bungalows are comfy, clean and feature aircon, which is so much more important than it sounds when you’re staying in a bungalow! Strong WiFi connection in every room is also a huge bonus for this collection of bungalows.
For the Budget Traveller
Hotel Villa Bagus is a fantastic mid-range option in terms of Gili islands hotels. Choose from their quirky bungalows and enjoy the calm surroundings of one of the cutest Gili islands hotels. Make the most of the pool while you’re there, or walk the short distance to the beach. Each room is kitted out with high-speed WiFi, aircon and a TV for your enjoyment. You’ll have access to an en-suite bathroom and, get this – an outdoor shower. Nothing says ‘romantic island getaway’ like an outdoor shower…
If you have an affinity to private balconies and terraces (with selected rooms, double check when booking!), Exotic House Gili Meno makes the perfect island getaway. Book yourself a bungalow and unwind. The natural surroundings are beautiful and calm, and you’ll be in a little den of fresh flowers, bamboo and stunning nearby beaches. You’ll enjoy a private bathroom and aircon in your bungalow, as well as optional bike hire from reception. Ask the staff to sort you out with a snorkelling tour, diving trip or horse riding excursion – all are well worth it!
As for those seeking a bit of a social life while doing pretty much nothing: head to Two Brothers Bungalows. Each bungalow comes with a private terrace, perfect for relaxing on after a beach-day! As always, great WiFi is available for those wanting to maintain some aspect of reality. Each bungalow features a private bathroom and comes with an inclusive breakfast. The beach here offers great sunset views, although you may want to explore more of the island if you fancy diving.
For the High Roller
Where else to splash out than in paradise? If you’re after something really out there in terms of luxury, you need to book a stay at Sunset House! Picture your dream Gili islands hotels – palm trees, huge pool, comfy sun loungers and roomy suites. That’s exactly what you’ll be getting when you check in at Sunset House. You’ll be in a great location to explore the island’s offerings, including diving, snorkelling and yoga. The hotel is around a 15-minute walk from the harbour, so try and arrive in the cooler mornings or later afternoons!
If a private pool is your kinda thing, you might go for the Meno Suites instead. Your villa will come with an ensuite, TV, WiFi and, of course, a balcony onto your private pool. If that’s not enough, you’ll also have access to their stunning gardens. Take a slow wander to the nearby beach for sunset or rent a bicycle and venture further afield. You can easily book day-trips and excursions from the hotel if you fancy something a bit livelier…
Karma Reef is yet another billboard-worthy snapshot of honeymoon life. They offer a quiet, romantic slice of island life, with airy rooms and stunning backdrops at every turn. Enjoy incredible views from your beachfront room – there are just 15 rooms in this little collection, so there are opportunities to meet other travellers without it ever being too busy. There are sun-huts dotted alongside the beach, perfect for relaxing in during the hot days.
‘Gili T’, as the island is affectionately known, is the party hub of the trio. Expect the same beautiful beaches as Meno, just dotted with plenty more late-night bars and live music nights. This island tends to be most popular with solo travellers who want to meet other people, make the most of the cheap beer and party late into the night. Fear not, there’s a quieter side to the island for those who want the choice of a night in! There are heaps of low-priced hostels on the island for backpackers, as well as some luxury options if you’re here for the paradise-vibe more than the tequila. Whatever you’re after, here are my favourite Gili Trawangan accommodation destinations…
For the Backpacker
A few choices:
Happy Cocoon Homestay is a great option for backpackers after something simple and fun. Bag a bed in a dorm or book a cheap private room for a few nights. You’ll be a short walk from Gili T’s famous night markets, although bike hire is also available from this property. This hostel is a good place to meet other solo travellers, thanks to its spacious common areas and central location. Enjoy WiFi, aircon and secure lockers in the dorm rooms – just some of the things that makes this the best Gili Trawangan accommodation.
Hostels with pools are a bit like unicorns, really. It can be hard to find a little slice of heaven when you’re on a budget, but Jati Hostel offers just that. The tidy garden is home to a large pool area as well as plenty of space to relax and meet people. There’s also a bar in the hostel, so you don’t have to wander far to find a nice cold Bintang. The dorms are clean and each comes with a private bathroom. Jati offers an on-site restaurant, bike hire and tennis-playing facilities. What more do you need?
M Gili is a lovely choice for those who are travelling alone – there’s a great little pool with a seating area out back where everyone gathers for beers. For the super keen, there’s even an on-site fitness centre! Those in full-on holiday mode will enjoy the hostel restaurant and lounge areas instead. This hostel is high up on my list of Gili Trawangan accommodation options for its ease – M Gili is well-located and makes the perfect spot to sleep off a night out…
For the Budget Traveller
Giliran Ta Bungalow is perfect for those on a budget – the hotel comes with a fantastic pool area and is just five minutes from the nearest beach. Rent a bungalow among the stunning garden and enjoy the scent of fresh flowers as you wander down for breakfast. The rooms here all come with WiFi, aircon and, get this, hot water! Free bicycles are available to guests, too. Giliran Ta might be basic, but it’s still the best hotel in Gili Trawangan for those on a budget.
Uki Village is another great option for anyone who wants a bit of luxury at a low cost. Another hotel with a pool, your stay at Uki Village will also include breakfast, WiFi and housekeeping service every day. You’ll be in a decent location for exploring the island but can also easily take time to unwind at the hotel. The best thing is the open-air bathrooms – outdoor showers will rapidly become your new favourite thing!
Finally, if you’re all about room-service and luxe, book a stay at Gili Exotic Villas. This little collection of boutique villas are clustered around a beautiful pool, with spacious rooms and quirky bathrooms. This mini-resort is well-located, so you’ll be within walking distance from some of the best dive shops on the island, as well as your very own on-site spa. This has to be one of the best Gili islands hotels there is!
For the High Roller
Kaleydo Villas offers everything you could wish for from a paradise island hotel! Each little bungalow offers a view over the huge pool area and is spacious and airy. You’ll get a private bathroom, as well as access to the lounge and outdoor areas. For those craving a bit more, book a bungalow with a private jaccuzi and relax in total peace and quiet. Of course, WiFi, aircon and breakfast are provided, as well as tour-booking and an on-site bar, making it one of the best Gili Trawangan accommodation options available.
Ombak hotels have quite the reputation across the Gilis, and Villa Ombak Hotel in Gili T is no exception. This hotel is kitted out with all the modern amenities while sticking to traditional Sasak-style architecture, offering huge rooms and suites, as well as luxe lounge areas and a ginormous outdoor pool. There are plenty of sun-loungers around the pool, along with shady areas to relax in. Make the most of the on-site restaurant, shops and spa. These Gili islands hotels are worth looking out for, so keep an eye out for the Ombak name!
The best hotel in Gili Trawangan, however, is Coral Flora Villa Beach Front where all your island fantasies come true. Right on the most beautiful beach on the island, this villa is available to rent for people travelling in a group. With four huge bedrooms and plenty of space, it’s like renting out an entire hotel. The huge swimming pool is totally private to the villa and looks out across the beach. You’ll also have WiFi, aircon, plasma-screen TVs and a barbeque available to you. Oh, and a private bar (yeah, you’ll never want to leave).
My favourite of the Gilis, this island is the perfect blend of activity and relaxation. With excellent dive schools, Gili Air is a great place to get into holiday mode. This reef here is also wonderful for snorkelling, a good alternative for young children. In fact, the island itself is very family-friendly, with loads of outdoor pools, horse-riding and beaches that are safe to swim on. This island is home to some of the best Gili islands hotels! Spend your days barefoot-wandering and enjoying the sunshine before a night of fresh seafood and live music on the beach. The nightlife might not be as lively as Gili T’s, but there’s always something going on on this little island…
For the Backpacker
Captain Coconuts is probably the best hostel across the three islands, in my opinion. It’s set just back from one of the best beaches on the island, in a field of palm trees. There’s a large outdoor pool with sun-loungers and shady cabanas. You can choose from a cheap dorm room (picture hammocks, mosquito nets and a super airy wooden treehouse) or mini-bungalows with private bathrooms. There’s an incredible restaurant, too, offering vegan and veggie food – for the conscious-living travellers among you, book a stay here and be prepared to never want to leave…
Gili Air Hostel is suitably-named, offering classic dorms at low prices. The hostel itself is quite basic, but you’ll be a two-minute walk from the harbour (you’ll appreciate that when you arrive in 40-degree heat!) and right amongst all the best restaurants and bars. The hostel bar tends to be very popular with local expats and divers, so you’ll meet loads of people just by grabbing a beer. The best thing? You’re next door to the French bakery!
Another great budget option, Fantastic Gili Hostel is located right by the harbour and is home to several roomy bungalows that each feature dorm-style beds. The on-site warung offers delicious local food and cheap beers, as well as a friendly atmosphere. Hang out at the hostel for the great WiFi (Skype calls, anyone?) or wander down to the nearby beach. Again, you’ll be in the heart of the island next to great food places, shops and dive schools.
For the Budget Traveller
Oceans 5 Resort is the accommodation side of one of the island’s best dive schools. Not exclusively for divers, the resort offers standard rooms or quirky bungalows, as well as access to their huge outdoor pool. The resort is located right next to the harbour, among a busy street that’s bustling with food stalls, warungs and shops. If you do fancy diving, you’ll be a thirty-second walk from the dive school. Expect hot showers (a luxury here!), speedy WiFi and a fantastic little on-site cafe that serve up the best matchas on the island…
If you’re after something chilled and a bit out of the way, spend some time at Gili Air Escape. Located a short cidomo (horse and cart) ride away from the harbour, this little haven will have your heart in seconds. The stunning blue pool sits in the entrance, with a bungalow studio or traditional bamboo bungalows available to stay in. With fantastic reception staff and a huge choice of tours and excursions to choose from, you’ll find ways to make your stay here better than you could dream of. It’s a five-minute walk to a beautiful nearby beach, as well as great international restaurants and bars.
Mowies on the Beach quickly became my second home, mainly thanks to the staff and the delicious food offerings. The hotel is set just off the beach, with a large outdoor pool available to guests. The roomy bungalows are kitted out with speedy WiFi and TVs. Cross the sandy path to the restaurant and enjoy their huge menu – it’s packed with veggie, vegan and healthy options, as well as huge burgers! The main selling point of this hotel has to be the stunning views of the ocean from your window…
For the High Roller
Anahata Villas & Spa Resort has to be one of the most beautiful resorts on the islands. Each villa is tucked away behind flower-laced fencing, giving you a private entrance and total calm. You’ll be treated to a luxury villa, complete with a plunge pool and outdoor bathroom. The villas are located a short distance from the beach and nearby restaurants, although breakfast is provided. Of course, you’ll have access to WiFi and aircon, but you’ll probably be too busy lounging in your very own pool.
Another Ombak creation, Hotel Ombak Paradise offers a super-modern collection of rooms overlooking two pools. Again, these guys are offering the ultimate Gili island hotels, so book a few nights here to experience the real deal! There’s a small, kids pool flanked by jacuzzis, as well as a full-length outdoor pool. Don’t worry, you don’t need to swim far to get to the pool-bar… The hotel is huge, offering world-class food on-site, as well as an in-house dive school, private beach area and shop. Cross the road to the beach to enjoy their outdoor cinema, complete with very generous buffet, or have fun in their mid-ocean swinging chair!
Saving the best ’til last, Slow Private Pool Villas are every dream come true. Tucked down a shady, sandy lane just off the beach, this collection of ten private villas will have you weak at the knees. Stepping stones lead you across tranquil waters to the reception area, before you’re taken to your private villa, complete with swimming pool. The on-site spa is a stunning bamboo chapel-style building, offering the best treatments on the island. There’s an airy, outdoor yoga shala with regular classes, as well as an in-house travel agent service. Slow down and fall totally in love with the dreamiest Gili islands hotel.
Enjoy the islands!