Dates: March 10 — 12, 2018
Who Stayed: Sabrina & Her Best Friend
Just five minutes from the beach in the little surfer town of Canggu is The Slow — an art gallery as much as it is a boutique hotel and the brainchild of Australian fashion designer George Gorrow (of Ksubi) and his wife Cisco Tschurtschenthaler.
The hotel, described by its owners as an exercise in "tropical brutalism", was designed in collaboration with local architect Rieky Sunur of GFAB architects. Every detail at The Slow has been designed with intentionality, to coax bustling tourists into relaxation, and encourage guests to take full advantage of the beautiful space.
The check-in process at The Slow was surprisingly informal and began as soon as our car pulled up into their driveway. One thing I love about staying at smaller hotels is that with only a few people checking in each day, they seem to know exactly who you are when you arrive. Rather than awkwardly waiting at a desk for them to pull up our information, the staff were ready and immediately took us and our bags to our room, which they proceeded to give us a quick tour of, noting little details like how to control the volume on the in-room speakers and all the storage space in the bathroom.
The room itself was one of the most comfortable and spacious that I've ever stayed in. The polished concrete floors and vertically slatted windows made the room feel surprisingly cool despite the hot Bali weather outside. The room's aesthetic seemed to have a decidedly Californian influence— minimalist, modern, and airy but paired with more traditional wooden furniture and textiles. When we first entered the room the stereo was even set to Cali-based Reverberation Radio, which we kept on for most of our stay.
I loved the low platform bed and found myself curing up with the cozy woven blanket on top of the bed several times during the course of our stay. Another small, appreciated detail was the outlet set-up: an equal amount of outlets on each side of the bed with USB outlets included (perfect for those who forgot to pack an adapter). One other thing I have to compliment The Slow on is their in-room art curation. Normally I find myself unmoved by hotel art. It's usually very predictable, more often than not some kind of floral still life. Even at the nicest hotels! It was refreshing to see something different on the walls at The Slow, which tends to feature more modern art and photography from the Gorrows' personal collection.
The Slow only has two types of rooms: pool suites and non-pool suits (called grand suites). I initially wanted to book a pool suite but they were unsurprisingly all sold out for my travel dates. Even without a pool the grand suite still felt luxurious— and it's hard to complain when you're just a five minute walk down the street to the nearest beach.
Bathrooms at The Slow have a narrow layout but still managed to feel spacious like the rooms themselves. I loved the open shower, separated from the rest of the bathroom by a single pane of glass and from prying eyes outside by a full-length frosted window. The shower also comes with a handy bench, the perfect prop for shaving legs or hosting your toiletries, and plenty of hooks for hanging towels or clothes.
The bathroom also kind of serves as a walk-in closet with ample storage space, including tons of drawers or a platform perfect for throwing your suitcase on top of (if you're lazy like me and don't want to fully unpack). There's also a large full-length mirror at the opposite end of the bathroom from the shower which was *very* appreciated, because if there's one thing I always lament when it's missing in a hotel room, it's a full-length mirror.
While the rooms at The Slow are so spacious that it's tempting to hole up in there during your downtime, the hotel also has some beautifully designed common areas that are worth checking out. The upper level, where our room was located, has an outdoor deck. My only complaint was that it was way too hot during the day to really hang out there (and despite it being a fully booked hotel, no one was). Adding in some kind of shade or deck cover would definitely make this area more inviting for guests!
Downstairs at the bar and restaurant, things are a little more active. We spent a lot of our downtime just chilling at the bar with a glass of rosé, chatting idly with the staff and occasionally with other guests when seated on the two sofas in the lobby. The ground floor of the hotel also acts as an art gallery with a rotating collection of artwork on display there. While we were there they were displaying work by Brooklyn Whelan and Jose Mendez.
The service was one of the highlights of staying at the Slow for me. The staff were all so personable, it's kind of amazing how well they get to know you even over the course of a two night stay. The bartender was constantly giving us recommendations on where to go and when the staff would ask about our day plans they always had some good advice or interesting facts to impart about the places we were going. They were also helpful with getting us a car to take us to Tanah Lot, going as far as to call around to make sure that we got a good rate.
Breakfast at The Slow may have been my favorite of the whole trip to Bali. While it wasn't included in our stay, it felt reasonably affordable for the quality. If I'm being honest, a lot of my meals at trendier restaurants in Bali tended to look a lot better than they tasted, but the food at The Slow's restaurant actually tasted incredible. I ordered this jackfruit-bread with roasted bananas for breakfast and while I've had jackfruit many times before, I've never had anything quite like this. The bread was perfectly moist, with just the right amount of sweetness and jackfruit chunks baked in. They've also got a nice selection of juices and cocktails which are bottled on site. In retrospect I kind of wish we ate more of our meals at the restaurant!
The Slow is located in a neighborhood on Bali's southwest coast called Canggu (pronounced Chang-gu), which has a reputation for being a laid-back surfer town. It was probably my favorite area that we visited in Bali— a nice reprieve from the more tourist-crowded Ubud and Kuta. That's not to say there aren't tourists in Canggu, but it seems that most people staying in Canggu are there to simply experience hanging out in the area rather than to visit any specific attraction. There were more intriguing restaurants than we had time to visit and a surprising amount of cute clothing boutiques popping up on the main drag. The Slow itself was also located just a few minutes away from The Lawn, a dreamy outdoor bar on the beach and also next door to a gorgeous yoga studio, The Practice. The only thing which gives me a little pause about Canggu is how the town will continue to balance its growing western influence. Depending on where you go in Canggu, one might wonder if they're actually in Australia rather than Indonesia. Granted, this is an issue affecting many places in Bali, not just Canggu, but the western influence is more vivid here than even in Ubud. While it's not so bad now, I wonder how this balance will change as Canggu's popularity continues to grow.
While The Slow doesn't outright claim to be accessible, there are ground floor units available (the more expensive pool suites). The upper units are unfortunately only accessible by stairs. If planning to stay in Canggu, wheelchair users should be aware that the sidewalks in the area around The Slow can often be blocked with construction debris.
I would totally recommend The Slow to any art and design lovers planning a trip to Bali. The small size of the hotel will grant you plenty of attention from the staff, and the overall quality of the hotel is a great deal at its price point compared to most American hotels. This is not a drop-your-stuff-off and come back to sleep type of hotel, this is a place you'll actually want to spend your time at, to literally "slow down", if you will.
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