Hotel Tugu Bali is not just ‘another hotel in Bali’. Despite the fact that the hotel is located at (most probably) the prime area in the island – Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong, Canggu – Hotel Tugu Bali is much more than just that.
Owned by Bali’s largest collector of Indonesian fine art, Anhar Setjadibrata, Hotel Tugu Bali is basically a museum that preserves a lot of antiques and artworks with so much history and culture. Every corner of the hotel has its own story and offers a unique experience to the guests. Follow me and my friend, Andre Binarto, wandering around Hotel Tugu Bali to find out why I called this place a ‘romantic art’.
Checking-in at Hotel Tugu Bali is an interesting experience by itself. We arrived there just after sunset. We wanted to arrive earlier but unfortunately got stuck in some traffic jam in Ubud on the way there. But anyway! The hotel has a small drive-thru area (where you can have valet service if you bring your own vehicle) and you can just go directly to the lobby… which is a huge one. The lobby area is called Bale Agung. It houses an exclusive collection of Balinese artworks and cultural artifacts, and one of them is the 4.9-meter Garuda made of timber – carved from a 120-year-old tree!
The whole decoration of the lobby is just as impressive. We were seated at one the sofa areas, and offered welcome snacks and – guess what – generous options of welcome drink! Not many hotels serve welcome snacks, let alone options for the drink. I got myself a glass of wine – white, of course, my favourite.
Not long after, a friendly staff offered us his help to carry our bags and walk us to our room. Hotel Tugu Bali has 21 villas, suites, and bungalows that reside around the lush tropical garden and wild lotus ponds in the property. You can expect to see different designs with amazing details that create distinctive ambiences in each and every room.
Andre and I were booked for Rejang Suite, a room that is located on a second floor of a beautiful Javanese house. This suite has a really big bed, spacious working desk area, separated bathroom and toilet, huge closet, and most importantly – a private spa area next to such a uniquely-designed bath tub (that totally looks like jacuzzi!) and a cozy dining area with big windows overlooking Canggu beach. Bonus point: you can see sunset straight from this room!
Just for your information, I’m a light-drinker. Having only finished a glass of wine upon arrival already made me feel a bit ‘light’, haha. As soon as I saw the bath tub in the suite, I waited no more! I put on my bikini, jumped inside the tub, and invited Andre to join me for an evening / pre-dinner hot bath! Funny thing is that because we both still needed to finish some work, we took our laptops to the side of the bath tub and just worked there while enjoying ourselves. Geez, I want a place like this on a daily basis in my life… can I?
We got way too comfortable in the bath tub that we didn’t notice it was already over 10PM! We took a shower and headed outside to look for a place to have dinner. We drove to Seminyak and ended up in some bar, having beer only – and did a little dancing 😀 Shame that the bar didn’t even serve snacks, so we headed back to Hotel Tugu Bali, feeling super hungry. Lucky that we still had a great option for midnight bite, which was S&V Fusion Burito – parked right in front of the hotel! How convenient. They have the best burrito in town by the way (my favourite is Tuna Mayonnaise!), and their food truck seems to be the place to go after party in Canggu. They’re open until 3AM!
Back in the hotel, we took another shower cause our hair smelled like smoke from the bar, and went straight to our giant bed. Resting and waking up in the morning in this particular bed felt so refreshing. Oh, and I think I haven’t mentioned that ‘oversized bed’ is a thing in Tugu Hotels. The first Tugu property I’ve been to was the one in Blitar, a small town in East Java. They have a special room for Soekarno, the first president of Indonesia. I visited the hotel 5-6 years ago, but I can still remember being amazed to see how large and tall the bed in the room was!
Finally I got to try what I had been waiting for in Hotel Tugu Bali since the moment I checked-in there… the breakfast! I had read a lot of great reviews for their breakfast, and just could hardly wait to try it by myself. The wait was totally worth it, though… just like their welcome drink and snacks, their breakfast was also exceptional.
The breakfast was à la carte style, and we ordered bread basket, fruit platter, smoothie bowls, bircher muesli, Spanish poached eggs, smoked salmon omelette, a pot of green tea, and a cup of hot Cappuccino. The breads came warm, the fruits were served super fresh, and even the Cappuccino just tasted rich. Andre was so into his bircher muesli, while I was obsessed with my big plate of poached eggs. We had all of these delicious stuff while sitting by the hotel’s garden, getting hit by warm sun ray and fresh morning breeze.
I think it’s worth to mention that Hotel Tugu Bali actually allows you to have your breakfast ANYWHERE you like in the hotel area. You want to have it in your villa? Can. You want to have it by the pool? Possible. Or you want to take the food to a hut in the middle of the lotus pond, or to the beach nearby? All you need to do is just inform them your idea. We did actually bring the remaining bread and fruits to our suite so we could finish them while relaxing, again, in the bath tub.
Before check-out time, we went for a little hotel tour to explore more of what the hotel has to offer. One of the most interesting areas we visited was Bale Puputan. It’s a Balinese royal dining room of the kings, dedicated to Balinese heroes. There’s a lot of antiques from the nineteenth century, heritages from Puputan War. Puputan is a Balinese term that refers to a mass ritual suicide in preference to facing the humiliation of surrender. This war happened in the early 1900’s when the Balinese were under the control of the Dutch.
After Bale Puputan, we arrived at Ji, Hotel Tugu Bali’s signature restaurant – but we decided to go back to our suite to check-out first before exploring the restaurant further. As soon as we had secured our luggages at the reception, we came back to this restaurant to admire the overwhelming art and history that are kept here.
Ji, which means ‘temple’ in Japanese and Chinese, is basically divided into 2 venues: Bale Sutra 1706 and Ji Terrace by THE SEA. Bale Sutra 1706 on the ground floor is a former temple from ancient Kang XI period in the year of 1706, while Ji Terrace by THE SEA on the second and third floors offers 180 degrees views over Canggu Beach and surroundings.
The restaurant serves contemporary Japanese cuisine combined with Asian inspired dishes. The menu was created by Japanese and Asian-trained chefs, led by Chef Colin Buchan – who is the former chef of Gordon Ramsay restaurants in London and personal chef to David and Victoria Beckham. You can also find Asian-inspired mixologist cocktails, fine wines, and sake at Ji!
Here are some of the most Instagrammable spots we found at Ji:
Hotel Tugu Bali is definitely a place to go if you’re into art and history and are/or looking for uniquely romantic accommodation to stay in Canggu. It’s obvious that the owner of this hotel really put his heart and passion to every corner of the property.
Even if you don’t stay at the hotel, you can’t skip Ji if you’re a dedicated foodie! The guys at Ji really know how to make tasty Asian fusion food. I personally think it’s one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been in Bali – and trust me, I’ve been to a lot of them… 😀
So tell me, have you been to Hotel Tugu Bali or any other Tugu hotels before? If so, how was your experience?