In a spiritual and magical land of Bali, situated on the silky stretch of sand in Canggu Beach, Hotel Tugu Bali is a testament to the traditions and the love stories of Bali.
Some hotels provide a comfortable stay, some take it further and provide a relaxing stay, some change the way you think about a hotel and some inspire you – Tugu Bali does all of it.
Owned by Anhar Setjadibrata, who began his career as a collector while working for an international pharmaceutical company in the early 1970’s – owns a group of hotels in Bali, Lombok, Malang and Blitar – with a central theme of bringing back the forgotten traditions and culture of the land to the people who are curious-travelers. Each Tugu hotel is designed, built, and managed personally by the owner’s family without an outside architect or interior designers, so they can own the experience from start to finish and transport you to a world of ancient kingdoms, mythical creatures, warriors and quixotic legends that they have studied intensively.
Anhar, was a poor medical student who was assisting a Hindu Mythology professor to earn additional income. He once accompanied the professor to a place to meet a man who gave the professor a 16th century ‘stone bowl’ – the bowl was used to store holy water that healed sick villagers many centuries ago. The place they met the stranger was the first time Anhar has seen such a spectacular sunset, with miles of paddy fields cordoning the ocean on one side and an old temple standing in the middle of the fields. Later in life Anhar became a successful antique collector and was on an extensive search to find that ‘stone bowl’, called the Cupu Manik. After many years he got his hands on the Cupu Manik, and now, it is displayed on the grounds of Tugu Bali, the same place, where the magical sunset and the old temple can be seen.
Tugu Bali is a place that carries this passion. It’s hard for us to call it just a ‘hotel’, it houses the most impressive collections of Indonesian and Dutch colonial antiques and artifacts, that it is a part museum.
Welcoming you in the grand room, is a 16-feet tall Garuda, the national emblem of Indonesia. Garuda is a large winged bird in Hindu mythology, that symbolizes knowledge, bravery, wisdom – starts your journey of tales at Tugu. The music in this grand room, long flow-y curtains surrounding on all sides, breeze of the ocean waves and the warm greetings of the staff (who are actually waiting in line to welcome you), gives you the assurance that the long-flight you just took was beginning to make sense.
It’s pretty evident that Tugu did not want to crowd the place, and to provide you the best experience and attention, there are only 21 luxury suites in the hotel. Our favorite ‘Rejang Suite’ was located on the upper floors of the Javanese houses with timber interiors, hand-crafted four poster beds, large living spaces and separate sitting areas, wooden paneled windows that overlook the ocean. And if that wasn’t enough, the hand hammered oversized sunken tub and the massage bed will win you over.
If you are celebrating an occasion and don’t mind paying a little more, you should go for the uber romantic ‘The Puri Le Mayeur’ (article opener photo) – the house floats above a natural lotus pond with a lush setting surrounding it. There are exquisite hand-carving details throughout the house, with a private plunge pool, a dining pavilion, a verandah and an outdoor bath – fittingly enough, the house is dedicated to a 1930s love story of a Belgian painter (who moved to Bali) and a Legong dancer.
Food at Tugu Bali
Unmatched with other resorts in Bali, Tugu is the only place where you can experience the different culinary nuances of Indonesia.
The owners have researched the food and ingredients of yesteryears and present to you in a format that is novel and unique. To start with, Tugu Bali does not have any restrictions on the time or the place where the food should be served. You can pick any spot in the resort to have your meal, giving you the opportunity to explore the unique areas in the hotel grounds and be mesmerized in all the beauty and the stories, while being served one of the most memorable meals you will have in Bali.
You will even find chewable dried leaves and spices in your room, as apparently it was a common practice for the village folk to mix these ingredients and chew ’em on a daily basis.
Whether you fancy a humble Javanese village cuisine or the Royal feasts, or the from the Chinese Peranakan family to the Dutch colonist – the choices are rich and we must say, unlike other resorts we usually stay in, we found ourselves hurrying back from our day excursions to indulge in Tugu’s restaurants. Starting from the top choices, our favorite ‘Bale Sutra’ is an authentic reconstruction of a private 1706 Kang XI Chinese temple. Experience the theatrical Forbidden City dinner, enjoying the Chinese Peranakan meals served by the merry ‘eunuchs’.
‘Bale Puputan’, is another notable dining chamber that is surrounded by royal antiques, ‘Puputan’ war artifacts and statues from Balinese mythology. Fancy sitting in a regal armchair and dining on a 19th century white marble dining table? – here is where you can!
The daily ritual, ‘Tugu Afternoon Tea’ is a replica of the Indonesian Tea ceremony – where you can watch the cooking process of frying local snacks, and pick from an array of colorful local traditional delicacies in banana leaves and woven baskets. Enjoy the serene and tranquil time between lunch and dinner, celebrate the day you have had so far sipping on a cup of tea slowly – feeling that this vacation is more legit than you had imagined!
Other requests we recommend are the Picnic in Bed on the Beach, and a private dinner in the Lotus Pond Pavilion.
Take a Surfing lesson or enjoy the sunsets at Canggu beach, listen to the prayers humming in the background in the nearby temple, treat yourself to an ancient treatment in “the Waroeng Djamoe Spa’, swim in the pool or simply walk around the water channels and feed the fishes. You have pretty much the whole space to yourself to wander around – make use of it.
People at Tugu need a whole lot of mention as well, they embody the spirit of the place – warm, friendly and are always smiling (which is true to the whole region of Bali though), they are ready to help you with anything you care to ask and are adorably loving to you – elevating your stay to a another level.
A work of love, an exotic hotel (if we still want to call it a ‘hotel’), Tugu gives you the satisfaction that you spent time in a place and around objects that mean something to someone. You vicariously live through the owner’s collections of stories, giving you a golden opportunity to stay put in one place and immersing yourself in the romantic tales of Indonesia.
Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong