Slow Gili Air

Gili Air Island, Gili Islands, Indonesia
Book from GBP Book from £175 per night

Slow Gili Air

Gili Air Island, Gili Islands, Indonesia

A beautiful, very private hideaway on tiny Gili Air Island, with rustic chic villas and a warm welcome

A beautiful, very private hideaway on tiny Gili Air Island, with rustic chic villas and a warm welcome

If you're looking for a chilled-out, desert-island experience, the Gili Islands between Bali and Lombok are as idyllic as they come. Three tiny islets fringed by coconut palms and turquoise waters, the archipelago is an easy fast boat from Bali, yet offers a totally different experience from the mainland. Car-free Gili Air, our favourite, is particularly special. Many people plan on just passing through, only to find themselves spending much longer here. Slow Gili Air's owner Julie is one such traveller. Having spent 6 years globe-trotting as a dive instructor, something kept pulling her back to the island's friendly community, and eventually she decided to stay and build something beautiful for her fellow travellers. A few years later, architect-designed Slow is fast earning a reputation as the Gili Air’s most fabulous hideaway. Just 10 enchanting one and two-bedroom villas wait beyond the antique Javanese reception, all housing original art and indulgent luxuries.

The antithesis of an impersonal resort, everything at Slow Gili Air is designed to work with the local community. Staff are from the island, villas display photography of local tradesmen constructing the resort, even the beach towels can be bought to help support a local children’s initiative. There’s creativity at every turn, and beyond that there’s pure luxury, too. We loved morning swims in our plunge pool, delicious breakfasts on our terrace, and relaxing Balinese massages in the beautiful spa. Our days soon fell into an easy rhythm of snorkelling from nearby beaches, then sunset cocktails and suppers by the sea. Pure island bliss.

Highs

  • Perfect for an easygoing holiday, be it romantic, family or with a friend. The villas are all very private with plunge pools, huge gardens and kitchenettes
  • Tucked away on a quiet part of the island, but a 5-minute walk or bike ride from white sand beaches and chilled bars and restaurants
  • You're made to feel like a welcome friend as much as a valued guest
  • Excellent spa treatments, yoga and pilates classes
  • Gili Air is seriously cool and laid back with no cars and less crowds than nearby Bali

Lows

  • Service isn't quite 5-star, but the team are very willing and Gili Air is all about a slower pace of life
  • No on-site restaurant, but breakfast is brought daily to your villa and you can order light meals (from fresh grilled fish to pizza) and Indonesian barbecues to your villa
  • Staff spoke limited English during our visit, but Slow provides lessons and assure us most of the staff now speak good English
  • Expensive for this area (but so worth it)
World Favourite Family Hideaway

    Best rooms for families

    All one-bedroom villas can hold an extra bed and baby cot. The Two-Bedroom Villa is made up of 2 separate buildings which book-end a private pool; each bedroom can be set-up with double or twin beds. Every villa also has a kitchenette and a large lawned garden; note there are no bathtubs, only showers.

    Parents should know...

    Swimming pools aren't fenced and the reception is accessed via a stepping stones over a decorative pond
  • Homemade bamboo baby cots
  • Bike seats
  • Toys
  • High chair
  • 2 baby bamboo chairs

Some equipment may need to be requested in advance

  • Coconut painting workshops
  • Child\'s bike to borrow
  • Beach within reach
  • Snorkelling
  • Watersports
  • Hiking in Lombok

Great for...

Romantic
Beach
Family
Eco
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10 rooms
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request); restaurants nearby
  • Children of all ages are welcome
  • Open all year
  • Plunge Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Babysitting
  • Creche / Kids Club
  • Car not necessary
  • Parking
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

The 10 villas hide behind traditional hand-carved wooden doors, off a central pebbled walkway. Identical in size and layout (but for the one 2-bedroom villa), each has a deck and rippling plunge pool, beyond which lies your enormous, private lawned garden with loungers. Inside, interiors are airy and beautiful; snowy-linen topped four-poster beds, waffle robes and wall-mounted flatscreens for music and movies. Gallery-white walls display captivating original photography by Serge Anton, depicting local tradesmen during Slow Gili Air’s construction.

Furniture includes solid wood tables built from old fishing boats, rugs sourced in Marrakech, and artisan ceramic vessels re-purposed as lamp bases. It’s an eclectic, autobiographical mix that reflects Slow Gili Air’s inclusive and creative ethos.

Bathrooms are open to the heavens and feel pristine and indulgent. We loved our drench shower, the solid stone basins and the locally produced organic products.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots available
  • DVD player
  • Hairdryer
  • In-room treatments available
  • Mosquito net
  • Plunge pool
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • TV
  • WiFi

Eating

Each villa has a well-equipped kitchenette that's perfect for light lunches and snacks (there are local grocery stores), but it would be just as easy to skip the self-catering altogether. You can order a range of home-cooked meals to your villa; staff can even prepare traditional Indonesian barbecues by your pool.

Breakfast is brought to your private terrace at a time of your choosing and we were blown away by the delicious offerings. Fresh juices, sweet tropical fruit salads and sunshine-yellow avocados atop perfectly poached eggs. The menu is creative and original, so there’s no danger of getting culinary fatigue during longer stays.

In the evenings, romantic Balinese barbecues can be served in the privacy of your villa, but Gili Air has a wealth of cool beach bars and eateries to explore. Julie has the inside track on the island’s best hangouts. Thanks to her we spent an awesome evening at sunset hotspot Mowies, where the food is fantastic and the cocktails are even better. Get there by 5pm, grab a beanbag and watch the sky turn pink to the sound of chilled Balearic beats.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Hob or stove
  • Kitchenette
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Embrace the ‘slow’ vibe. Wake up late, linger over breakfast, paddle in your pool and soak up the sun in your garden
  • Rent a bicycle or walk over to the east-coast beaches for swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing. This area's waters offer the best chance of seeing turtles and Slow Gili Air guests can sunbathe at Cabalitto Del Mar beach club
  • Alternatively, wander 5 minutes from Slow to the quieter west coast and swim in seclusion. At dusk, catch the sunset from one of the nearby beach bars
  • Gili Air is a diving hotspot and Julie is an experienced instructor; Slow offers various excursions and courses for all levels
  • Book a privateyoga or pilates session in Slow's studio and relax with a spa treatment afterwards - our Aloe Vera massage was outstanding.
  • Daytrip to Gili Meno, an even sleepier Gili island (regular fast boats)
  • The hotel can arrange excursions to Lombok and activities such as kite-surfing and horse riding

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Cycling
    • Fishing
    • Hiking
    • Kayaking
    • Nightlife
    • Private guided tours
    • Scuba diving
    • Scuba diving courses
    • Snorkelling
    • Swimming
    • Yoga

Best Time to go

Dry season is April to October; we visited in late February (technically rainy season) and had a great time thanks to plenty of warm weather and a quieter atmosphere on the island. That said, we did get some rain each day and there's a higher risk of choppy waters for the boat ride over. Christmas and New Year are very busy, perhaps best avoided.

Our Top Tips

  • Gili Air is the happy medium of the 3 Gili Islands: quieter than party central Gili Trawangan but more of a living, breathing community than sleepy Gili Meno. It's easy to island-hop thanks to daily fast boats.
  • After sunset, walk or bike over to the east coast. Many restaurants set up candlelit tables on the beach, and Chill Out was a particular favourite of ours, thanks to their delicious barbecued fresh fish skewers.
  • Kid Friendly:

    Location

    Slow Gili Air is located on Gili Air Island, between Bali and Lombok.

    By Air:
    Although Lombok International Airport is closer, Bali's Denpasar Airport is better served by international flights. You can also fly to Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, then travel overland or take a connecting flight to Denpasar or Lombok.

    From the airport
    Slow Gili Air can arrange a driver and fast boat tickets to take you from Bali or Lombok airport to Gili Air. Once on the island, it's an easy walk or horse-and-cart ride to the hotel.

    The fast boat takes approximately 1 hour 30 minutes from Bali's Padang Bai port, or just 30 minutes from Lombok.

    Getting around:
    Everything on the island is within walking distance but the hotel also offers bicycle hire and there are horse-and-cart taxis operating across the island.

    Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

    More on getting to Bali and getting around

    Airports:

    • Lombok International Airport 50.0 km LOP
    • Denpasar International Airport (Bali) 110.0 km DPS

    Other:

    • Beach 0.1 km
    • Shops 0.1 km
    • Restaurant 0.1 km

    Rates for Slow Gili Air

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