Raja Bar & Restaurant Salim Cottages

Your Magazine Guide to Gili Islands

Raja Bar’s Revamp is Fit for a King…

 

We met with Agung, owner of Gili Air’s beachfront Raja Bar, to discover the secrets behind their recent refurbishment. Having originally visited the Gili Island back in 2005, Agung made regular trips back to the island every couple of years. His mountain hiking took him all over Indonesia, but there was something about Gili Air that kept drawing him back. 

Agung realized very soon that he was actually in love with this island when buying his first patch of land, right on the beach, almost 10 years ago. Unsure of what to do with it, he consulted family and friends, as well as tourism experts, and they all agreed; they told him to keep the land or in his words “They told me that I would be stupid to sell this land!”. And no regrets since then, listening to them is one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

Raja Bar features a fully stocked bar, along with an international restaurant. The menu is packed with delicious drinks to satisfy any holidaymakers dreams, along with all the Western food you can imagine. Of course, there are plenty of local delicacies available, too, ranging from Indonesian dishes to Thai-inspired cuisine.  

The year of 2015 marks one of the most important one in Raja Bar’s history: the year they added a live band to their already popular bar. The band changes every couple of days, with live entertainment every day (bar day on Thursday, as per the island’s rules). The bar offers the perfect place to grab some dinner, treat yourself to fantastic drinks and rock the night away. If you’re looking for a calmer atmosphere, you can sit on the beach and still hear the band playing. 

After years in the business, he clearly knows the island’s guests incredibly well. He describes the island as a romantic one, an island of love. Agung is definitely keen to cater to all types of tourists, from backpackers to the growing tourist demographic of over-30s. Tuesdays and Wednesday evenings, they play smooth acoustic – with violins. This quirky mash-up brings guests from all over the island, as do their Friday and Saturday night ‘old top 40 music’ nights. 

Their renovated interior with wooden train tracks have been repurposed into slats around the bar, 1940s-style tiles decorate the walls and stained-glass windows cast a rainbow of light across the restaurant. Raja Bar offers different styles of stay, from 4-bed villas to cottages right by the beach, there’s a full range of accommodation options, along with an in-house spa. The accommodation is beautifully appointed. Fifteen bungalows have garden or pool views and four traditional Joglo teak house have been added. Each Joglo has four rooms and can house an entire family quite comfortably. 

The vibe of the place, however, stays unchanged, which explains why Raja Bar is more popular than ever. This is the place where people come to talk, to look for friends, which is why their motto is, “Come as a guest, leave as a friend”. We will probably be hanging there if you’re looking for new acquaintances.