Canggu. In contrast to Bali’s hilly countryside, sitting on the western shores of the most popular Indonesian island for travellers from near and far; the island of gods, temples, terraced rice paddies, volcanoes, the lingering of incense and surfing paradises, that’s Canggu!
I had been to Bali before, but when I first came to Canggu at the start of 2016, roads were hardly crowded, neither were the waves and at the popular cafe spots you could still find a spot on Sunday morning. Truly, the quaint fisherman’s village of Canggu is growing up.
It’s growing up and it’s growing busier by the day. I have been back a few times since and I still love this place like no other in Bali. There is just something about it. The people. The different vibe.
Hidden gems in Canggu are starting to become more known. Good thing is, the more I like hunting for them.
And indeed, when I returned to Canggu in November 2016 for the fourth time in the year, I found a very special hidden gem.
Hotel Tugu Bali
Born out of one man’s love and passion for the romantic history of Indonesia, Tugu Hotels is a small collection of luxury hotels with properties in Canggu, Bali and Lombok and Java.
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Once upon a time, the founder Anhar Setjadibrata, a medical student and lawyer, envisioned to design these boutique hotels that house the biggest collection of Indonesian art and historic antiquities, to share his love of romantic stories and legends with the world.
Possibly one of the most authentic Indonesian experiences you can get in a travellers heaven like Bali.
Introducing Tugu Bali, a tropical boutique hotel that I have missed to see many time while driving down Batu Bolong road. Antique furnishings and historic art make you wonder if you walked right into a museum when you enter the hotel lobby. The mood is interestingly gloomy and highly romantic at the same time.
As I checked in later in the evening, it was still very hot and so I was greeting with a cold welcome drink and a few minutes on one of the couches in the extensive high-ceiling lobby. Those few minutes sitting here, I was already drawn into the amazing spiritual atmosphere of the hotel.
Welcome to the Art, Soul and Romance of Indonesia!
This luxury slice of paradise sits right on the shores of Batu Bolong beach and across the road from the infamous Old Mans Restaurant. Surrounded by the most beautiful gardens incorporating a lotus pond and wooded walkways, you’ll find one and two-bedroom villas. There is everything you could hope for at the room, including flatscreen TV, a minibar, air-con, free wifi and complimentary bottled water.
The Rejang Suites sit on the upper floor of the Javanese style houses and offer extensive ocean views. In contrast, the Kampong Suites is a two bedroom villa occupying the upper floor of a whole spacious villa, perfect for a family or if you’re a group of four.
I stayed at the Dedari Suite on the lower level featuring lush gardens against a turquoise plunge pool and an amazing canopy bed from where I could even hear the waves hugging the shore.
If you are looking for an even more romantic place to stay, try the Puri le Mayeur Suite, that floats over the lotus pond and looks out to the ocean. There is a unique private plunge pool to be found as well as a verandah from which you can watch the sun sink behind the Indian Ocean in orange and yellow colours.
One of the highlights of all villas are the luxurious outdoor bathrooms with huge rustic sunken spa tubs and antique day beds. You will be stunned by the love and attention as each room was individually created by the owner, blending together design, colour and atmosphere.
The Pool & Spa
Of courses there is a pool that offers tranquility under swaying palm trees. Find a spot on one of the day beds and order a cocktail.
Or if you’re feeling more active, head right out to the beach and catch world-class breaks right at your doorstep.
The spa at Tugu Hotel Bali offers both bath and body treatments, including massages and many other treatment packages. You could also join a Djamoe Class to take you back in time and learn about the ancient art of healing.
The Restaurant & Food
At Hotel Tugu Bali, the choice where you want to take your breakfast is yours. So you could be sitting under the wooden pavilion right on the lotus pond, lounge at the pool, in your villa or on at the beautiful beds right on the beach front (definitely my favourite pick!).
In the late afternoon when the sun begins to set, Tugu Hotels offers a complimentary Sunset High Tea to its guests. Choose from an extensive range of loose leaf tea accompanied by traditionally baked goodies served in banana-leaf baskets as you enjoy the views of the garden and ocean at the backdrop.
Don’t miss the Japanese restaurant and Sake Bar called Ji at Bale Sutra, which is housed in an reconstructed ancient temple from 1706. Stunning interior in all shades of red light up against the dark wooden features at night, celebrating the blending of Chinese and Balinese culture.
There is a 2nd and 3rd floor boasting Ji Terrace By The Sea, offering wonderful sea views and a DJ playing from set set until the late evening while you savour on Japanese and Asian inspired dishes and playful cocktails.
Yes, you can book a romantic candlelit dinner under the stars, dine like the kings and royals in one of the Balinese museum rooms, opt for a fooled moon BBQ or have a tasty meal with your loved one on the rooftop.
Cooking Class, Cultural Activities & Yoga Classes
It may not come unexpected that the cooking class offers a centuries-old authentic style class to expose you to old traditions specifically to Javanese and Balinese cuisine. I recommend you do your cooking class in the mid-morning so you can feast on you freshly cooked delicacies for lunch.
Every Thursday from 7.30pm, Tugu offers its guests the opportunity to join their Cultural Evening with performances including music and traditional costumes to preserve almost forgotten stories.
Of course, you will be served dinner and cocktails while you watch this spectacle.
If you love mornings as much as I do, Tugu Bali offers a variety of yoga classes no matter what level you are at. A beautiful way to start the morning detoxes and empowered for a new day in tropical paradise.
Staying at Tugu Hotel in Canggu was definitely something I had never experienced before, a once in the lifetime experience you should not miss.