We have been meaning to go back to Bali and stay in Canggu but have been hesitant due to the availability of accommodations. We prefer booking and staying at hotels instead of AirBnB and independent villas due to some of the issues we have had in the past and while Canggu has become overly commercialized, there isn’t a lot to choose from.
We’d considered staying at The Slow in the past but haven’t if only because the reviews are mixed; many of them cite that the music from the restaurant is too loud and since we like quiet and we are not partiers, we worry it would be hard to relax.
On our last trip to Bali, we decided to book 5 nights at The Slow and take our chances. In this post, we share a review of our experience at The Slow and in Canggu.
The Slow is a small boutique hotel in Canggu, just steps away from the popular beach stretch known as Pantai Batu Bolong. It is a project by husband and wife, George Gorrow, a former Designer and Cisco Tschurtschenthaler, a model. Built in the architectural style of tropical brutalism, The Slow is a hotel with a strong connection to the arts community; the hotel is home to pieces from George and Ciscos private art collection and exhibitions take place in a separate space at the hotel.
There are 12 rooms at The Slow; 4 of the rooms are on the ground floor and have their own private pool.
There is a restaurant, café, bar and art exhibition space on the ground floor for guests and non-guests of the hotel to experience The Slow.
We stayed in one of the pool villas on the ground floor. We loved our stay at The Slow and it ended up being one of the best parts of our stay in Canggu. Since we’d had just spent time in Tokyo and would be heading to Marrakesh and then Porto, we wanted to relax in Bali and The Slow did provide the right atmosphere for that.
We were worried it would be very noisy due to the restaurant and the music, but it was not; we didn’t hear noise from the restaurant at all. If anything, it was the noise from the motorbikes on the streets and the loud partiers that flock to Canggu that were the problem.
We spent a lot of time in the pool, especially since the weather was pretty hot and humid. Some people complain the water is too cold but we found it refreshing but not frigid (who wants to swim in bath water when it’s +30 Celsius? Not us!). The pool was actually quite big; it was more or less the length of the room and long enough to swim short laps for a workout. The one thing we did miss was having a place to sit outside as the room pretty much opens up to the pool and there is no space for furniture. We did end up sitting outside on the beach mat provided at times.
We were so impressed with the service at the hotel too, especially since it is such a small hotel. While there is no front desk, the staff who are responsible for guest services were very friendly and helpful. On our last day, we had to checkout on time at 12:00 as late checkout was not available which meant we had 6 hours before we had to take a taxi to the airport. Despite our best efforts to relax and stay cool, we were sweaty messes by the time we returned to the hotel to take a taxi to the airport. Without us even asking, they let us use a spare room to shower for 15 minutes, which was such a nice gesture since our flight was going to be close to 14 hours.
The housekeeping was also impeccable; it included a morning cleaning and turn down in the evening. In the mornings, they came in after we left in the morning and our room was always ready when we got back. The Slow is committed to sustainability and provides glass water bottles refilled twice daily which minimized how many plastic water bottles we had to buy.
We loved all the features in the room; the art, the design, the large closet in the bathroom that fit each of our carry-on bags, the lighting, the toiletries in refillable bottles (they smelled so good we wanted to buy some!), the Monocle book, and our favorite feature, the music that plays when you turn the volume up. If you read our 2019 recap, you may recall that one of our favorite unique features at a hotel was Reverberation Radio. Reverberation Radio is a series of podcasts that features unique music from around the world that we listened to in our room and the pool area. It really added to the ambiance and blocked out some of the street noise. The room doesn’t have a television which we fully support and appreciate because we don’t watch a lot of television and find it makes the room look tacky.
Other great features about The Slow are:
- The welcome drink; a refreshing coconut water based mocktail
- The mini bar prices for beer are very reasonable
- The laundry service is also very affordable: we only travel with carry-on and since we were only 1 week into an almost 3 week trip, we washed many of our the clothes we’d worn so far for about $10CAD. It was really nice not to have to go to a location off-site to have our laundry done at a reasonable rate.
- On some Tuesday nights, they play a move on the rooftop around 19:00 and drinks are available for purchase making this a nice way to spend an evening. The week before we arrived, they played “Lost in Translation”.
It costs about 300,000 Indonesian Rupiahs ($30CAD) to get to and from the airport. If you are arriving after 21:00, it is best to make arrangements with the hotel in advance for transportation as it can be difficult to find a taxi.
If you rent a motorbike, The Slow has free parking. They also facilitate renting one for you but we made arrangements on our own. The Slow is on the other side of the infamous Canggu shortcut and so if you want to head to Seminyak, or the other side of Canggu, you will need to make the treacherous crossing back and forth. We do not recommend walking as there are way too many cars and motorbike now which makes it quite dangerous. We also felt quite unnerved when we crossed with our motorbike; cars are not supposed to use the shortcut but they do and it has been causing structural damage to the bridge in addition to taking up so much space making it difficult to not crash or fall off. When it is not rainy season, you can walk on the beach to get to other side of Canggu or Seminyak, which we did twice; it takes about 40-60 minutes depending where you are going.
It is fairly easy to walk to things nearby so you could get by without a motorbike though. Walking in Bali though is always a challenge because the rules we are used to in North America don’t apply; motorized vehicules don’t stop so you have to make a break for it, there are no real sidewalks, and there are plenty of obstacles to avoid.
If you plan on using taxis often when you are staying at The Slow, it might be a challenge to get out of Canggu due to the local taxi monopoly. Technically, Blue Bird taxis is only allowed to drop off in Canggu and not pick up but you might be lucky and get one as they drop someone off. Some people have had success in getting Blue Bird to pick them up in Canggu using the app but it’s hit and miss and may take longer than expected to get one. There is essentially a “Local Taxi Mafia” that control the taxi service; you find them at a booth near The Slow and are know to charge high prices. You can ask the hotel for help with taxis and/or be prepared to negotiate and walk away. It is much easier to get a taxi coming back to Canggu as the recommended Blue Bird taxis are plentiful; we recommend downloading the app.
Overall, The Slow was the right choice for us and we would definitely stay here again. That being said, it is very unlikely we will be in Canggu because we feel the place has changed so much and we didn’t enjoy our time here as we have in the past; over tourism and over development is really taking away from what made Canggu so special. Canggu just feels like Kuta these days and as great as The Slow is in offering respite from that, it is just not our scene.
Have you stayed in a pool villa before? Have you been to Canggu? Do you find Canggu has changed? If so, for better or for worse?
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