THE TUGU HOTELS in Bali and Lombok are the most eccentric luxury hotels I’ve experienced to date. From the curious collections of historic antiques and statues to the spiritual vibe of the properties, there’s just nothing quite like Tugu.
I was sitting at the bar in the Oberoi Lombok one night when I noticed a pulsing light across the ocean on the other side of the cove. The next evening, I walked all the way around the cove from the Oberoi until I reached the dimly lit garden guarded by ghostly statues. I stayed for a drink before getting a car to take me back to the Oberoi; trying to decide what I thought of the place. A curious streak burned in the back of my mind and stayed there until the next time I was in Bali.
WHEN I ARRIVED at the Hotel Tugu Bali I turned into a kid again, impatiently wanting to explore the elaborately decorated dining rooms in the main building and pestering the hotel staff with all the questions that were racing through my mind, each requiring an urgent and immediate response.
You can’t help feeling that this hotel is important; preserving Java and Bali’s cultural heritage and ancient legacies from a time when the monarchy ruled.
Hotel Tugu Bali is a custodian of significant artwork, antiques and sculptures of a forgotten era, much like a museum. Only you get to interact with the artefacts of history in a much more intimate way – you get to live in it.
Another way Hotel Tugu Bali is passing down cultural traditions is through cooking classes. They even include an optional trip to the local markets to shop for groceries; a great way to learn about the herbs and spices that are used in the cuisine. Dining at Hotel Tugu Bali is superb. The authentic Peranakan inspired cuisine tastes and smells just like my own Peranakan grandmother would make it (if she were a 5 star chef).
Later that evening, a procession of about 50 villagers and dancers wearing ornate costumes performed traditional dances and rituals for the wedding party in the vast lobby. Anyone dining in the restaurant was treated to the spectacle and Gamelan music echoed off the gigantic statues as more dances and rituals took place. It was a sublime moment steeped in history, culture, and a spark of something else that’s hard to describe.
THE REJANG SUITES are on the upper floor of the Javanese style house above the Kampong suites, with pretty views of the village and beach from an indoor timber panelled alcove. A rustic metal sunken bathtub sits in the corner of the bright, airy suite, surrounded by the same eclectic décor that runs through the hotel.
The same day that I arrived, a wedding took place on the beachfront of the hotel at sunset. I watched over the ceremony from the dining table in the alcove. There were about 30 guests in attendance and everyone looked as though they were having a fabulous time.
I always thought Bali weddings were a tired cliché, but I could really see why people do it; Bali is a beautiful place to tie the knot and have a great time with the ones you love.
A three night stay in the Rejang suite with the Tugu Luxe Detox package is priced USD$1,623 for double occupancy. The Walter Spies Pavillion is USD$2,133 and USD$2,448 for the Puri Le Mayeur. Even though I was there during low season and was offered an upgrade, the view from the Rejang suite was too pretty to pass up.
The package included: A three night stay, airport transfers, daily breakfast, a two hour signature hot stone ‘Dadang Watoe’ treatment, a 90 minute massage and mandi rempah, one spa dinner and daily high tea.
THE OUTDOOR SPA is set in the garden, near the beach wall of the grounds. It’s as rustic and eccentrically decorated as the rest of the hotel with two heavy timber massage beds, a massive blue tiled bathtub shaped like a boat and an old barber’s chair in the corner.
I requested to swap the hot stone massage that was included in the package for a traditional Balinese massage and the spa therapist gladly obliged (it’s less hassle anyway). The massage was one of the best I’ve had in Bali, and the spice scrub and herbal bath that followed were just as heavenly.
After I finished, the spa therapist sat me in the barber’s chair and plaited my hair with a flower, then scented me with sandalwood smoke before sending me off. In the end, it’s all about the little touches – isn’t it?
Hotel Tugu offers a great selection of tempting offers. The three night Tugu Luxe Detox was also picked up by Robb Report USA in their World’s Best of the Best Edition. Find out more on the Hotel Tugu Bali website.
Nb: Prices don’t include government tax and service and are subject to change.