We spent one glorious week at Qunci Villas, a boutique resort, which hugs the coast of Lombok, Indonesia. It was so brilliant that we only left the resort for one morning, which in the history of Friend Bartlett holidays, has never happened. I have never been to a place for an entire week and stayed in the resort the whole time – so that just tells you something.
Getting to Qunci Villas…
Getting to Qunci Villas was an adventure in itself. We got a fast boat from Padang Bay in Bali. In Ubud, we’d been looked after by Kadek, an excellent tour guide (You can reach him on WhatsApp +62 8123 653 3938), and he arranged our boat tickets because that was easy. I think it cost us around £50 return.
So I’m a Brit, I was expecting an orderly jetty – like getting the Clipper on the Thames from Embankment.
How wrong was I! There are many boat services between the islands, we travelled on The Golden Queen. Getting on in Padang is a bit of a mad scramble as you climb aboard through a sea of people clamouring on the gangplank. It’s a bit like the last scenes from Titanic as everyone scrambles for a lifeboat. I warily watched as the crew hoisted our (very over packed) suitcases on the top deck.
The boat was perfectly fine, if not a bit bumpy, and they did screen reruns of The Incredible Hulk. Coming back was equally exciting, Tom and I couldn’t have been more the British tourist if we tried. The two sunburnt Brits with their overpacked wheelie suitcases, dragging them across the sand to meet the boat.
Anyway, driving through Senggigi the nearby beach town to Qunci Villas, we decided that there probably wasn’t a lot that was going to interest us there. (We had just spent two weeks hitting up Singapore and Ubud). The other main activities to do in Lombok are snorkelling, diving or climbing Mount Rinjani. Well I wasn’t going to be snorkelling being frightened of fish and the hike was a three-day affair (and we were on honeymoon.)
PIN ME FOR LATER
So let’s get to Qunci Villas itself….
We were greeted with a wonderful welcome drink – something mixed with lemongrass which they have copious amounts of; they even use it as a swizzle stick (and it’s about 50p a go at home). We had apartment number 16. Importantly it was on the second floor of the traditional-looking houses, which meant it had an indoor bathroom. (Our previous digs had an outdoor loo, literally a loo in the open air, and it’s a bit disconcerting sitting there with a lizard running across your feet.)
The complex is filled with art, from artists based in Indonesia and further afield. There’s even a dedicated art corridor that travels the width of the complex filled with large portrait terracotta tiles of local staff by artist, Symon, who moved to Bali in 1978 from Detroit.
One of the many reasons we did not need to leave Qunci Villas was the fact it had three perfect restaurants onsite – a tapas bar (Nooq), an Italian (Quah) and a South Asian seafood restaurant (Quali).
Breakfast was made to order from a long list of some twenty different dishes and you could pick from an ‘Italian Affair’ – muesli, yoghurt and Italian biscuits, ‘Parisian Basket’ – as many croissants as you could eat or ‘Brazilian Breakfast’. We realised two days in, that you could even order more than one breakfast at a time! Each came with the first course of fresh tropical fruit. There were five or six tables on the beachfront, but you had to be up early to snag one – we managed it the day of my birthday.
The hotel runs cookery classes on the beachfront with one of their chefs. We spent a great morning learning to make Thai food – green Thai curry, chicken soup and a stir fry beef. It’s the perfect set up, all the chopping is done for you and all the clearing up afterwards. Tom did an excellent job of stirring!
Actually the only day we left the hotel was for another cookery class which we’d organised before embarked on our honeymoon with Anggrek Putih, based at a homestay just outside Senggigi. We were collected from the hotel by a greek guy, who seemed to have a monopoly on tourist excursions in the Senggigi area. We joined four others – a couple from Bow and a mother or daughter from Walthamstow (small world – that’s where my parents are from.)
The chef soon had us armed each with a pestle and mortar, grinding down a variety of sauces. We all had slightly different dishes. I was on corn fritters and spent what seemed like a lifetime pummeling the kernels. There was a small bit in the back of my mind that couldn’t help thinking it wouldn’t be quicker in a blender but I was assured that using a pestle and mortar adds flavour. We have actually made these dishes a few times since we got home, but with a blender!
I was lucky enough to spend my birthday on holiday. Tom organised our own candlelit dinner by the beach and this was preceded by a day at the hotel’s Qamboja Spa, which is shaped like the traditional Sasak houses. Apparently, a Lombok wedding ceremony is known for its pageantry, practised from generation to generation and on the day of the wedding the couple is known as the king and queen of the day or in Indonesian ‘Raga and Ratu Sehari.’
Our three-hour spa trip included pretty much every treatment going on the menu including a Jamu – herbal tonic for anti ageing; Siraman – milk bath; Royal Secret of Putri Mandalika – a deep tissue massage. We simply floated out the spa. This is probably one of the best places I have ever stayed. From here, we headed to Seminyak for our last few days.
Last weekend, the island suffered a 6.4 earthquake affecting some tourist areas, our thoughts are with the kind staff who looked after us, you can find the latest via BBC.