Serenity Eco Guesthouse-Canggu, Bali
In the spring of 2013, I lived at the Serenity Eco Guesthouse (Villa Serenity) for almost a month. I initially found it by Google search-I was looking for a place to stay in Bali that had a yoga studio and decent backpacker prices. After staying for a week, I moved into a home for the next six weeks but I eventually came back to spend a month before flying home to Toronto.
The story is that a couple started it in 2003, initially it was just their villa as well as a couple extra gust houses. By 2009, they were hosting yoga retreats in the shala and building dorms to accommodate visiting students.
What’s not to love about Villa Serenity? Daniel and Yatna, the owners, still live on site in the main villa and when they are not playing host to one of three yoga teacher trainings a year, the space is very sleepy and filled with smiling faces. There are daily yoga classes offered in one of two shalas, breakfast is included and you can order anything from the menu at the delicious Alkeline Restaurant to your room or on your tab at any time. They are very helpful with transport you can rent a moto or bicycle from them direct. Did I mention that there is a salt water pool and a meditation room? they’re also dedicated to sustainable building practices and recycling and reusing what they can from waste materials as well as bottle brick building.
The list above is what got me to book in the first place, but the two reasons I moved back in to Villa Serenity after having lived in Bali for two months are:
1. It feels like a home. Even though at any given time there can be upwards of 60 people staying there during a YTT, it really does feel like a home. The women at reception and in the kitchen called me by name and always had a cold coconut un the fridge for my late night calls down from my work stoop. I met incredible people there who were living on the island but just visiting Canggu for the weekend and always booked at Villa Serenity.
2. The location is the best ever! I am all about living in the middle of it all but in the secret spot no one knows about. The Balinese area of Canggu is like the Brooklyn/Queen West of Bali. All the “cool” expats live up there. It’s above Seminyak and Kuta which are the working and tourist areas respectively, and it’s only a 40 minute scooter ride to Ubud, the hippie and writer’s mecca on the island. It has the Canggu Club for swanky foreigners and Deus for hipster-surfers who like motor bikes and live music.
Villa Serenity is impervious to all this hoopla. They have been there since there since the early 2000’s before the term “hipster” was even coined. And they are on the only street that is filled with locals. Of the three roads that lead to the ocean in the area, theirs is known as the one you get robbed on. So there are NO TOURISTS. Also, I was never robbed there, I think it just happens if you leave your bag to go for a swim. which means that they are a ten minute bike ride from Deus for live music on Sundays and a five minute bike ride from Bettlenut (my favourite restaurant in Bali), a five minute drive from swanky upscale yoga space, Desi Seni, and ten minutes from the W Hotel in Seminyak. Everything a girl wants, just not in her house.
And the price for staying is affordable for all. Dorms are just under $10 a night and private rooms (I lived in OM) with ensuite bathrooms are $25 a night. You get breakfast and use of all the facilities although the yoga classes cost more.
Truthfully, I’m not sure why this gem has stayed hidden, but maybe it’s because only the right people ever really get called to it. They are jut busy enough without it becoming a circus (a regular occurrence in Bali of course). And even writing this piece, I miss it like home.