Gili Trawangan, nicknamed Gili T, off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia and the biggest of the Gili islands, is everything a tropical paradise should be, with palm trees and endless white sands. Plus motor vehicles aren’t allowed – everyone gets around on bicycles and horses – so it’s a very relaxed place. There’s great food, friendly locals and it has the perfect balance of vibrant nightlife in a tranquil setting. Here’s our guide to the best places to stay.
You won’t be able to miss the bright pink exterior of PinkCoco hotel. This Balinese chain is popular for its colourful interiors and top beachside locations. Drink cocktails at the seafront restaurant or tuck into small plates at the tapas bar. If you opt for a Grande room, you’ll get an outdoor tropical shower. Book the Sweet Air for living-room space and your own private balcony. They’re committed to sustainable tourism too – opting not to serve beef, saying no to palm oil and recycling and reducing all plastic usage.
Martas is a family-run affair and it shows. The food here is delicious, authentic Indonesian cuisine that you’ll struggle to find in western places elsewhere on the island. Families, or large groups, will enjoy the two-storey bungalow, which sleeps five. It’s in a perfect location, too – set far enough back off the beach to mute the thumping music at night, but still only two minutes from the sea.
Trailing off towards the quieter south of the island, Ponte Villas is a new kid on the block. Despite the fancy rooms and private nature of the site, it’s very reasonably priced. The two-bedroom villa with private pool is a draw, but the real highlight is the warm and welcoming staff who are always on hand, ready to help solve any issues and answer your questions.
If the term “hidden gem” makes you recoil, why not try a hidden pearl? The breakfast here is superb, perhaps made even better by the sea view from the open-air restaurant. All the rooms embrace the rustic charm of Gili Trawangan, with freeform bamboo roofs and suar wood furnishings. Choose from a wide range of options, including Lumbung suites with private sunbathing terraces or Ocean View rooms with large rain showers.
The Trawangan Resort offers stylish rooms and villas that are tasteful and elegant. Like Ponte Villas, it’s towards the south of the island and therefore a little quieter. Families wanting more privacy can book a villa. Rooms are beautifully decorated with traditional Indonesian artworks. You can take it easy lounging by the pool all day and bathing in the sea – which is quite literally on the doorstep. That’s what Gili T is for.
Ko-Ko-Mo Resort is a chic villa resort that boasts luxurious boutique accommodation. While the sea views and private pools will draw you in, it’s the bed linen that wins the day – and night. Honestly, the Californian king-sized beds are truly sumptuous. Enjoy a breakfast on the beach of banana pancakes with honey and lime and berry coulis. Book a boat trip, through the resort, to one of the neighbouring islands for a snorkelling session or even a romantic picnic.
It’s hard to find accommodation that isn’t on or at least within two minutes of a beach on Gili Trawangan. However, it doesn’t get any more beachfront than the Natya Hotel, with white sand and clear blue sea practically at the end of your bed. It’s also situated in the busiest part of the island, something to bear in mind if you want to avoid the nightlife.
At the top of the island – far from the crowds – the mission here is simple: a luxurious stay, coupled with a low-impact, sustainable footprint. The palm tree-lined freshwater pool has sun loungers submerged on the edge, so you can dip your feet in the cool water. Perks here include a free floating breakfast, as well as complimentary use of the snorkelling gear and GoPro Hero 8.
Gili Nyepi is another small, family-run business with four private bungalows set in a tranquil tropical garden. It’s just a minute’s walk down to the popular Gili Trawangan night market – the one place you simply must eat while you’re here. The food carts offer delicious, cheap and authentic cuisine including ikan bakar (grilled seafood), pecel ayam (fried chicken) plus much more.