I stayed at the Novotel Lombok hotel in June 2012 and was disappointed as I had read very positive reviews on another site and expected a lot more at the end.
I booked from Lombok an Executive room with terrace. In reality all these rooms are in the main building and on the ground floor. The terraces are microscopic, they are more or less 2 square meters of concrete, and you have just enough space to squeeze in two straight-backed chairs. I was assigned the first room at the entrance of the hotel. A modern feel, but very dark during the day.
So I immediately asked for another room to avoid having to contemplate the garbage containers located just opposite my bedroom. To move to a higher floor I had to agree to pay an additional fee to upgrade to a Suite on the top floor of the building, designed as a long rectangle with no special local charm.
Moving to a suite I was guaranteed a sea view: an angle room, this time very clear, only a little larger than the previous one, modern, functional but as charmless, and really not a suite. I discovered later that the mattress was good . Large bathroom with bath and shower, and a large window delivering a beautiful light, which I really appreciated.
Ocean view? … The employee took me by the arm in the bathroom and leaned over the bathtub and pointed me on the left to a sort of wasteland (which must be a marsh at high tide) assuring me that “from time to time during high tide the sea comes right down in there!“. I was speechless, and I seriously wondered if I was given a special treatment or if Novotel took the privilege to laugh at each of its clients. As a sea view I had a small stretch of water between a green field and the hill beyond.
I walked around the hotel, superbly located on one of the most beautiful beaches in the south of Lombok, a lovely sheltered bay with white sand (which is not the case everywhere this volcanic island). A dive center run by a French man, Guillaume Carnavele, which I met and interviewed (Scuba Froggy):unfortunately I had no time to dive in Kuta but his stories and his kindness made me think that I will come back to dive with him.
So I saw the bungalows that are the hallmarks of Novotel Lombok most of all arranged in a circle, in small groups around a small pool. Limited privacy outside your room on the terraces delivered as you are offered to the eyes of occupants of other “villas” but if you come with friends you may enjoy.
Kuta Beach: beautiful (photo above), and gently sloping, facing a beautiful bay, perfect for swimming. The hotel is only one to have access to this beach, but non-residents at the hotel are entitled to have an appointment with the dive center to be able to admire. Chairs are set back from the beach, unfortunately, and balé (small huts of wood, Indonesian) built in a row block the view. Unless you book one balé located on the front one you will see the back of the balé in front of you all day. As usual in such circumstances you will find the front row Balé reserved for the day early morning by customers just by dropping their towel and some magazines.
Restaurant: I refrained from eating there since it is not a strong reputation of the hotel, but I took my breakfast there. Proper buffet, but nothing sensational . Cakes and French pastries, omelets and fried eggs, etc. … Service not at the level of what you find on the island, the staff dragging its feet, forgetting to smile.
If you want to leave the Novotel for lunch or dinner you will need a vehicle (rental or a taxi). But taxis around Kuta practice the highest rates of the island, and significantly this significantly increases the price of your dinner. If you stay for a few days find in Kuta a motorbike or a bicycle for rent. You will find small local restaurants around, but choose well as hygiene conditions are rather random. During the peak season you will also find more beach restaurants serving grilled fish, feet in the sand. Perfect, but these restaurants may not be open in the evening apart from June to September. For my part I found in early December a restaurant said to be Asian,with a friendly service but no more, neon lighting, not really clean dishes and cuisine more European than Asian. I will not give you the name of this place having no interest.
On the other side of the beach from the hotel you can walk to another beach dedicated to surf and kite surf. There you can climb a small hill to enjoy a splendid panorama on both sides (do not miss) . However to get there you have to cross a bridge (concrete pillars) located less than a hundred yards to the left of the hotel. This bridge is in poor condition : portions collapsed wooden planks loose or broken nails naked, etc … Be careful with children, this bridge is dangerous for youngster and impractical for people with reduced mobility. This bridge is not located on the property of the Novotel Lombok – and even if ALL customers use it at least once (go and back) for a very nice walk – Novotel denies any responsibility. Disappointing, especially considering the low cost of labor and raw materials in Indonesia …
Belonging to a French hotel group it can reassure those of you who fear exotic Indonesia. It also seems that families spend a pleasant stay there, due to the huge beach and calm waters. Except if you can afford a private villa with pool, I recommend to book an upstairs standard room as they have the same size than the executive, but with more outside light, and more calm.
For the rest, I’d rather classify the Novotel Lombok as a 3* + star, and not a 4* with mention “can do better”. This hotel is perfectly located, standard rooms upstairs are beautiful, modern and comfortable (I have not been inside the bungalows), and it lacks number of things to deserve its 4 stars: a local atmosphere, a better quality food , and more important is a smiling Indonesian service.
Warning: as many hotels in Indonesia (a majority) it is not recommended to drink tap water (specially in the South of Lombok). A small bottle of water per person (33cl) is courtesy of the hotel each day, use it to brush your teeth.
A superb location on one of the most beautiful beaches in South Lombok. A diving center (on the beach) which some of my readers who have dived there highly recommended (Scuba Froggy). Standard and executive rooms comfortable, modern with bath products, TV and electric kettle. The hotel can be your base for 3 nights to explore the area. On both sides of Kuta you must discover the magnificent Mawun Beach and Tanjung Aan Beach. A good hotel for families with young children.
Obvious lack of charm in the premises (despite some traditional Sasak style constructions that seems coming out of Disney), no chairs for everyone on the beach facing the bay, and general lack of enthusiasm of the staff. Wi-fi difficult to capture in some rooms with very random quality, to be paid, (which can be improved, even in Lombok!).