I had read about Gardena Hotel being one of the nicest budget places in Labuan Bajo, and recommendations from travellers I met along my journey across Flores reinforced this view. Gardena is well-located in the centre of the town, but with its wooden bungalows perched on a hillside surrounded by trees and gardens, it didn’t feel busy and I was able to relax.
My bungalow was a detached structure, though some of the others were in pairs. It had a small veranda with a table and two chairs, from which I could glimpse the sea between the trees. There was a double bed with foam mattress and mosquito net, a cupboard that was missing its door, a fan, and my own bathroom. There was a sit-down toilet and a shower as well as an Indonesian-style water trough. Although there was only cold water, Labuan Bajo is quite hot so it was refreshing to cool down.
Throughout my bungalow there were many signs warning guests not to leave items outside on the veranda, not to leave mobile phones near the window and more. This made me think they may have had theft problems in the past, but I didn’t hear about any current issues like that.
I paid Rp. 130,000 per night which included a breakfast of eggs, bread rolls and spreads with tea or coffee, on a self-service basis in the terrace below. There is also a restaurant at Gardena which served tasty, though somewhat pricey, dishes, and a selection of Indonesian and Western foods.
Staff were helpful throughout my stay, and laundry was very cheap. I was also able to leave my suitcase at the hotel when I went to stay on Seraya Island (which has the same owner as Gardena) for one night.
The one negative element of Gardena was the noise, from the harbour, the nearby school and the mosque, which permeated the flimsy bamboo bungalow walls. In fact this is the only hotel where I’ve ever been kept awake by the next-door guests having noisy sex.
Overall Gardena felt a little dilapidated, like not much had been renovated or repaired for a long time. But it was adequate and the greenery of the terraced gardens created a pleasing atmosphere. Compared to the tales I heard about other Labuan Bajo hotels, Gardena seems a good option.
You can find out more and make a reservation via the hotel’s website.