Hilton HHonors is a popular rewards program and they frequently advertise that you can get a free night for only 5,000 points – yet those category 1 hotels are the unicorns of the reward world – very rare, only 1% of all Hilton Group hotels. So, when I saw that a new Hilton Garden Inn was opening on Bali as a category 1 hotel, I had to try it. And it turned out to be the best Hilton HHonors rewards bargain ever!
This hotel review is of most interest to Hilton HHonors reward program members. If you are not a member, check out my review of the Hilton HHonors program and the associated rewards credit cards to see how you can easily earn points and stay at the Hilton Garden Inn Bali at bargain prices.
Location: The Hilton Garden Inn is located right across the Bali airport, advertised as 500 meters away. While that is true, due to the street design, fences around the airport and lack of sidewalks, it’s neither pleasant nor safe to walk. They offer a free airport service, which is operated by my favorite Indonesian taxi company Blu/Silver/GoldenBird. You present yourself at their lounge, I was assigned a private car and driver, who escorted me to his car and drove me in less than 10 minutes to the hotel. This was the smoothest Bali arrival I’ve had, allowing me to avoid the taxi desk and touts, making it quick and hassle-free (read more about How to get around Bali).
The downside of the location is that it is far from the beach, shopping or restaurants of Kuta. While there is a one-way shuttle to Kuta once in the morning and once in the afternoon (also by BluBird), you’ll still have to deal with taxis on the way back and there is no convenient way to walk to the beach (over 30 minutes on city streets) or much else.
Service/Rewards: The staff at the Hilton Garden Inn was not only friendly, but well trained and professional. My first interaction was to request information about their airport shuttle – a service not advertised on their website. Staff got back to me quickly that a complimentary pickup is available and with detailed instructions how to do it. Once at the resort, the check in was quick and equally friendly, and staff took the time to provide me with all the hotel information. They recommended to arrange for the complimentary Beach shuttle in the morning, to ensure it’s available as planned. Restaurant staff was equally friendly and competent, providing menus and orders quickly. They served not only the indoor restaurant and outside patio, but would bring food to the poolside loungers and to the rooms. At breakfast, the hostess even took the time to show me the buffet and explain all the things available – that was a first!
While I usually encounter friendly service all around Bali, the staff at the Hilton Garden Inn was well trained and professional, standing out from similar category hotels on the island!
As a Hilton Diamond member, I was offered a complimentary upgrade to a Deluxe room as well as free breakfast at the main restaurant. There is no lounge available at the hotel. Currently, the Hilton Garden Inn is one of a handful of Category 1 hotels worldwide, available at only 5,000 points (worth $25)! That makes it a points-bargain and great Hilton HHonors redemption. You can stay here for 10 nights at the price of one night at the Conrad Nusa Dua on the other side of Bali!
Room: As a Hilton Diamond member, I was upgraded from the standard room to a Deluxe room. They are slightly bigger and face the pool, while the standard rooms face the busy street and airport. They also have bigger family rooms and suites available, in case you need extra beds. The room is of good size and very modern, held in grey-brown structured wood-laminate furniture and wood-look floors. There was some tasteful art work over the bed. The color palette is very current, think Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware. This is a brand new hotel, opened a few months ago, and everything looked like new! In addition to the king-size bed, there is a large work desk with work chair, a regular chair, a luggage bench and a closet. You’ll find a flat-screen TV and coffee/tea facilities as well as a laptop size safe and iron/iron board in the closet. My room was overlooking the pool and lush greenery through floor-to-ceiling windows, covered by black out blinds for full darkness at night. The bathroom is also very large and held in modern grey-tones with large format tiles. The shower has a partial glass wall and a combination wall-mount/hand-held shower and ceiling mounted rainfall shower. The water mixer was ill labeled and installed with hot/cold reversed. It took me a shower-and-a-half to figure out that there is indeed warm water! The other irritant also emanated from the bathroom, a faint smell. Not enough to foul up my stay, but maybe more of an issue for people with a sensitive nose, like my much better half!
The free WiFi internet was reliable and reasonably fast at an average speed of 2.2Mbps. It seemed to be capped at that amount, making little difference between morning and evening.
Overall, this room is large stylish and functional, making for a very comfortable stay and delivering much more than you’d expect at this budget!
Amenities/Restaurant: Despite being a select-service brand hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn delivers a lot more than you’d expect from this category. From the bell boys at the door to the full set of amenities. The pool is by far the nicest I’ve seen in this category of hotel anywhere. It’s a beautiful resort-style pool, with lush, fully grown greenery all around (despite just having opened) and plenty of loungers with comfortable padding and large umbrellas. This is a winning feature for anybody who prefers the pool over the beach!
You’ll also get a freakishly large gym with a good selection of weight and cardio machines and enough space for a dance class or two. Surprisingly, there is even a laundry room next door with several washer and dryer – an unusual offering in Asia.
Next to the front desk, you’ll find the “Pantry” – a little store with snacks and toiletry items you might need. There are also desktop computers and a printer available for guest use.
The second winning feature of the hotel is the very good restaurant – also important for “resort vacationers”. The breakfast offered a good selection of croissants, pastries and breads of much better than average quality. You also find slices fresh fruit and a fruit salad, as well as different kinds of yogurt served in individual glasses, cereal and fresh juices. There are some cold cuts and cheeses for European tastes as well. The second part of the buffet offers a selection of Asian and Western hot dishes, including eggs and meats as well as made-to-order eggs and omelettes that tasted much better than your standard scrambled eggs from a warming dish! Last and favorite item is the German-made automatic coffee maker with a touch-screen to choose your perfect coffee – I’ll have a cappuccino, extra shot, please! I love that about brand-new hotels in Asia – they have the latest, high-end equipment!
Because of the location away from the beach and town, the onsite restaurant is also very handy for dinner. I had dinner there twice and it was good and reasonably priced, offering a mix of Indonesian, Asian and Western food. Due to my food allergies, I stuck with a burger and a sandwich – both were better than what you’d typically expect – great ingredients, tasty and enough for a full meal.
Recommendation: At a rate of 5,000 points, including free breakfast for Gold/Diamond members, the Hilton Garden Inn on Bali is the best value in the Hilton Hhonors program I’ve found and even by low Bali prices a great deal. Its location makes it especially attractive in the following cases: It’s a great option when arriving or departing from Bali airport. The proximity to the airport and great, free car service making the transfer hassle free and the start or end of your trip very pleasant. It’s easy to go on to Ubud, Gili Islands, Lombok or many other destinations further afield.
It’s also a good choice for resort vacationers: If you prefer a beautiful pool over the beach, want to relax with a book/ipad in hand and a cocktail at a wave of your hand and don’t mind to have your meals at the hotel restaurant, the HGI gives you a resort vacation on a budget! At a fraction what other Western chain resorts charge, you get a resort style pool and good food! You can always take the shuttle or a taxi to explore the beach or town and book tours to see more of the island.
And lastly, it’s a luxurious alternative for anybody planning a longer stay on Bali – instead of staying at a basic guesthouse or hostel, you can stay at a much more upscale hotel with great pool, amenities and breakfast – and rent a scooter to explore the island from here!
If you are coming the first time from far away to Bali for the beautiful beaches or to find your own Eat, Play, Love – there are better hotels for you to see all that Bali has to offer! You can find an independent or non-US chain hotel for under $50 that’s a short walk from the nicer beaches of Legian or Seminyak and the plentiful restaurant, bar and shopping option. Check out my Where to Stay on Bali and Bali on a Budget for alternatives!