For Milou Neelen, travel has her heart. She started her wanderlust-infused homeware brand after finding a golden piece of Japanese momi paper on a trip to Portland, which she painted with the words ‘Hôtel Magique’ to create some art for her Amsterdam living room. Many adventures and lots of hotel stays later, and Hôtel Magique is a fully fledged brand known for its prints and paper souvenirs. Now based in Bali and to celebrate the launch of her Papier collection, we asked Milou to share her best island suggestions.
WHAT IS BALI TO YOU?
Around the same time as launching Hôtel Magique, my boyfriend and I moved to his home country Indonesia and settled in Bali. Even though the company is still based in the Netherlands, where I am from, I am at home in Bali.
THE BEST TIME TO GO
There is never not a good time to visit Bali. You can even be lucky during the rainy season, which is from Nov/Dec until March. But as with all seasons, this differs every year. The sun shines almost every day of the year, the food is always great, and adventure is all around.
Sunscreen would be essential – all the fun happens outside. Your driving licence since getting around on a scooter is the best way to travel and the most fun.
An old phone! Purchase a phonecard with data as soon as you arrive which is very cheap but will only work on phones that are a few years old. And install Gojek, Gojek is your friend for ordering food, taxis and even massages.
Make sure to bring your driving licence because getting around in Bali is definitely the easiest and most fun by scooter (but please wear a helmet!). Be smart about where to take out cash, I recommend to pin inside a bank or another building like a supermarket. Stay away from those small roadside ATMs. Something for the ladies, bring enough tampons :)
WHERE TO STAY
For white sand beaches, turquoise waters, laidback surfers and healthy food shops – Airbnbs in Bingin in the South of Bali. A few favourites are Bandido which is walking distance from Bingin beach and the Island Houses, which is a small climb away from Impossible beach. And I love to stay at Carlos House, a painter has created this beautiful hidden gem and it's only a short drive away from some of Bingin’s beaches.
For an endless amount of restaurants, beach walks, sunset drinks and dancing, stay around the Canggu area. And don't forget to visit Times during sunset. Tips are endless, follow our friends of WeLikebali for many more!
WHAT TO EXPERIENCE
Keep a close eye on the agenda of Potato Head, the creative hub of the island. During the weekend we always take our dogs exploring in nature, a favourite is hiking at the Jatiluwih rice terraces. Book a sunrise track to Mount Batur for the most amazing view, and hunt down waterfalls, so many beautiful ones to visit on the island. The Indigo Workshop at Tian Taru in the mountains is also amazing.
VIEWS TO NOTE
Until this year we’ve never visited Dreamland beach before in Uluwatu because it was always too busy, but now we are hooked. Maybe not the prettiest on arrival, but walk down the beach for a little and lay your towel down on the little rock to enjoy the turquoise waters in front of you before taking a dip.
A favourite local beach is the black sand beach Pantai Pasut. I love coming there during the weekend around sunset for the green scenery (this beach is endless) and motor-racing school kids. And get lost in Jatiluwih (you will not literally get lost with the landmarks and maps) and look for waterfalls and epic views over the mountains filled with rice paddies.
FOOD AND DRINK
Yuki in Canggu for sushi, sake and their Off to Tokyo cocktail with wasabi. Breakfast or lunch at The Hula – try their Hula scramble. All the restaurants at Potato Head! Tanaman is the most epic restaurant with a vegan dining experience, Ijen for fish and a table at Kaum for traditional dishes from different islands.
Don’t forget to install Gojek! All the island's food is available here and will be delivered anywhere you are staying. Recurring restaurants where I order from daily are vegetarian warungs that are close to Canggu include Warung Mogan, Give and Local.
THE LOCAL LINGO
Hello: Selamat pagi (morning), Selamat siang (afternoon), Selamat malam (evening)
Goodbye: Da da (or more common – See you: Sampai jumpa!)
Thank you: Terima kasih
I love paper: Saya suka kertas
Notebook: Buku catat
Travel journal: Jurnal perjalanan
IF YOU WERE TO WRITE A LOVE NOTE TO BALI WHAT WOULD IT SAY?
You are Magique.
Dreaming of an adventure to Bali? Plan your trip on paper with Hôtel Magique's collection of travel journals and more.