It's like staying in a giant antique artwork. The owner of the Hotel Tugu in Canggu is one of the biggest antique collectors in South Asia, and the evidence is everywhere throughout this exquisite beachfront hotel. If you're looking for something unique and traditional, rather than your run of the mill Bali resort, this is it!
We arrived at Hotel Tugu the day before Nyepi (Balinese day of silence), during which it isn't possible to leave your accommodation, so we knew we would be spending a lot of time inside the hotel grounds. After having a quick look at the premises, I couldn't have been happier with that arrangement.
The hotel is owned by a Javanese/Chinese family, and the evidence of their heritage is everywhere throughout the property. On a tour of the hotel, we were first shown one of the private dining rooms, which is dedicated to past wars and war heroes. There's an enormous table in the centre of the room, featuring chairs that once belonged to the royal family. And sitting at this grand table, you feel like royalty too!
Next we were shown to another private dining room in traditional Chinese colours and with many Chinese artefacts, including 300 year old ornate wooden beams which were once part of a Chinese temple. I wasn't surprised to be told the room is often used for Chinese weddings.
As we wandered throughout the hotel, our guide pointed out many artefacts, statues, paintings and sculptures and explained where they were from. Particularly interesting was a glass case containing the first antique the owner ever bought (back in the 1950's), which we were told started his life long fascination with antiques.
One of the most impressive statues sits in the main pavilion (which doubles as the lobby) and is a giant wood carving of the Hindu Garuda.
Next, we were led along a stone pathway until we came to a set of antique wooden doors which opened up to our enormous villa. The room was filled with artworks and antiques, as well as a huge four-poster bed.
The windows slid back to reveal a beautiful little courtyard featuring stone walls, an emerald green plunge pool and even a swinging day bed to lounge around on.
The bathroom was amazing, again filled with traditional antiques, and was an inside/outside affair. It was certainly the first hotel room I've ever stayed in that has a big fish pond in the bathroom! It was kind of mesmerising to stand in the shower and watch the giant koi glide past.
On our first night, we reserved a private dining room attached to the main pavilion and I have to say, I felt a little like a princess being waited on in this intimate but still somewhat formal room. I was a little nervous when the waitress brought in a menu the size of War and Peace, but I stuck to the traditional vegetarian dish of nasi campur and it turned out to be a brilliant choice.
Since we couldn't leave the hotel at all, the Tugu organised yoga classes for us which we did in one of the beautiful day spa rooms. It was a serene experience doing yoga while looking out over the little plunge pool surrounded by greenery.
The next day, I decided to find a more traditional use for the day spa and booked in for a deep sea facial. It started with having powdered sea shells rubbed into my face (I have no idea what that's meant to do, but it felt lovely), and it was followed by having warm stones rubbed over my face (ditto). The facial was finished off with rose water and a massage and I floated out the door and back to our villa.
As with most Balinese hotels, the Tugu has exceptional staff and immaculate grounds. There's only 21 rooms, so while it is a large property in size, guest numbers are relatively small. Our villa had a little back gate, which we popped through to explore the magical gardens, including the villa next door which is surrounded by lily ponds and is set on its own 700 sqm of land.
Even Nyepi couldn't silence the sound of the ocean, which is a constant soundtrack to a stay at the Tugu. The hotel has its own stunning grassed area right on the ocean, which is the perfect place to hang out during the day...
And has a spectacular sunset view in the evenings...
Overall, I absolutely loved our stay at the Tugu and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone interested in a traditional Indonesian experience.
Info: Canggu is about a 45 minute drive from Denpasar airport (depending on traffic!). The best time to visit Bali is June, July and August when it is dry, however the shoulder season can also have great weather with a lot fewer people!
For more info see: www.tuguhotels.com