Stepping outside your comfort zone is a true escape from a chaotic world of constant noise. Forget hotel decadence; sometimes, a four-walled hut is all you need on holidays. A stay in a bamboo hut promises nights of sleeping under a mosquito net with a whispering breeze, waking to the natural rhythm of the rising sun, and a view to take your breath away.
Occasionally, a luxury hotel doesn't cut it when you run away from the real world. Exciting new destinations deserve to be given out-of-the-box adventurous accommodation treats, not predictable hotel offerings that can be had in any holiday location. I do love luxury, but there are times when the urge to go back to basics is more appealing. For example, I can do without sitting in a plush restaurant mulling over a menu of deconstructed dishes that appear like a Rembrandt on a plate. Likewise, sleeping in the confines of an elegant air-conditioned hotel guest room on Egyptian cotton sateen sheets intricately designed and spun in Italy can be overrated. The predictability of 5-star hotels can suffocate the run-away mentality.
Quirky beds appeal to me. I've slept like a baby in a mud hut on the outskirts of Morocco's desert of the Dades Valley. Snuggled in a worker's bamboo hut on stilts, vicariously clinging to rice terraces in Sapa, Vietnam. The rugged mountains of Patagonia gave me a chance to put my head on a pillow in a yurt. While the calls of wild animals sent me to sleep in a tent in a bush camp in the wilds of Tanzania. Some of my choices were beyond rustic, others had creature necessities, and a few gave you the feeling of going native while still providing luxurious pampering elements. Given my penchant for seeking alternative accommodation, I chased bamboo huts recently in Flores, Indonesia.
For eons, traditional bamboo huts have been built in South America, South Africa, and South Asia. It's strong, low-cost, and lightweight. Today bamboo is considered a super green building material for its non-polluting properties, earthquake resistance, and natural ventilation. You don't have to paint or polish it to make it look good. The appeal of bunking down in a bamboo hut is simplicity. Some bamboo 'huts' are so much more than others, but the feelings invoked are the same, being at one with nature.
The fishing town of Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores, known as the gateway to the Komodo National Park, surprised me with the array of accommodation options. From five-star waterfront Ayana Komodo Resort to a quirky budget offering Dragon Dive Komodo Hotel where the walls are splashed with dynamic art murals. And there are numerous live-aboard boats of varying accommodation quality for serious divers. But, for me, I chased bamboo huts!
Elang Hillside Bamboo Villas perch on a jungle-clad hillside above the township, giving its guests a front-row seat to a panoramic view of the harbor below. It's like being in an eagle's nest, but the downside is the steps required to reach such lofty heights. It's an easy walk downhill to town, but when returning, take a taxi unless you are into a bit of self-punishment. However, the rewards far outweigh this inconvenience. Comfortable bamboo huts with ensuites on stilts have ocean views from private balconies that become prime viewing platforms for blazing red sunsets at night. Spending hours reading a book on your deck with the world at your feet is easy.
Le Pirate Island is a cheeky experience of the barefoot variety. Looking at their website, you would think it is an under-30 private island playground. Definitely not in the under-30 bracket, I was pleasantly surprised to find like-minded 'older' souls enjoying the island, even if our sagging bodies were in the minority. Accommodation here is a beachcomber's dream. Glamping huts with outdoor ensuites are a bamboo/canvas combo. While long-legged bamboo huts litter the sand for those, who don't have over-active geriatric bladders at night. Going for a pee in the middle of the night would involve navigating the ladder down and walking to a communal bathroom. Snorkeling the reef beckons you from the moment you open your eyes each morning. Happy hour beverages appear well before the usual sundowner time. It's utter bliss, even if you don't have the body for swimwear of the g-string ilk.
Spend your next holiday in quirky accommodation that feeds your imagination and create your own bed of roses.