Breakfast à deux on board a dragon boat. A suite that tells countless historical stories based on Indonesian legends. These are just two reasons why one should consider Tugu properties when looking for a spellbinding experience in Indonesia.
It was love and respect for Indonesian art and culture that drove Anhar Setjadibrata, founder of Tugu Hotels & Exotic Spas, into collecting Indonesian antiques. He ended up possessing an overwhelming number of Indonesian artefacts, forcing him to come up with an alternative scheme for display and storage. That is how Tugu Hotel was founded in the mid ‘90s, in the middle of Malang (Central Java), kick-starting Anhar’s hospitality business.
Tugu Hotel Malang occupies a modern building, though packed with traditional Javanese and Chinese elements, from decor to furniture. Artworks and furniture in the dim-lit interior that dates back to the 1800s are foreign-tourist magnets, despite being seen as slightly spooky by Indonesians.
The most luxurious suite is the Apsara Residence, the design of which was inspired by the legend of the romance between the goddess Apsara and King Jayawarman.
Another Tugu property is located in the small town of Blitar, a scenic two-hour train ride from Malang, and the hometown of Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno. Upon arrival at Tugu Hotel Blitar, guests are welcomed with the graceful The Colony Restaurant and the Dutch colonial mansion, built in the 1850s.
Sang Fajar Suite is the most majestic bedroom with a Garuda logo hanging over the headboard, as well as another room that functions as a study and living room with decorations that breathe nationalism – an interior setting you don’t see often in Indonesia.
Respect for nature is shown in the spa room, where the building has accommodated a huge fig tree that has been there for aeons.
Nesting in a less-visited southwestern corner of Canggu in Bali is another Tugu Hotel, which consists of bungalows surrounded by leafy gardens.
The hotel truly represents the islands. A small road connects the hotel and Canggu beach, where guests can surf. Dining rooms display remnants of Balinese history.
One bungalow is dedicated to Walter Spies, the founder of the famous Balinese Kecak dance, resembling his old house in Yogyakarta; indeed, the original house’s front door is used as a headboard.
The youngest Tugu Hotel -- and the most stunning by far -- is in Lombok, at Sire Beach. Sitting on a 6-hectare plot of land, it comprises bungalows and dining areas with a lot of greenery and statues in open-air spaces.
Legends like Dewi Sri and Lara Jonggrang are depicted majestically as the design concept of the buildings and interior.
Located deep in the tranquil Sigar Penjalin Village, it is a great spot for a getaway holiday.
These four Tugu hotels offer not only accommodation among Indonesian artifacts, but also experiences closer to the traditional Indonesian life. They include activities like jamu (Indonesian medicinal potion) classes, traditional dance classes, tours on bikes and boats and treks through the countryside. Special dining experiences are also one of their specialties, like breakfast on a boat in Lombok, dinner at the Panataran Temple in Blitar and – the newest program – dining with a view of Mount Bromo.
Having a passion for cooking, Anhar’s wife and their daughter, Annete Anhar, have also developed Tugu’s culinary business. Five conceptual restaurants have now been established in Central Jakarta, providing diverse Indonesian food.
Lara Djonggrang’s menu is inspired by the Majapahit kingdom’s royal cuisine. Dishes like pecel (cooked salad), satay, soup and tempeh are served with beautiful and edible garnishes.
Lara Djonggrang was a mystical legendary princess from Central Java, said to be the reason for the building of Prambanan temple. A replica of her statue stands gracefully in one of the dining rooms.
Dapur Babah Elite
Dapur Babah Elite carries the spirit of peranakan (being of Chinese descendant) in its cuisine and interior design. Like all other Tugu restaurants, the menu has been researched to support the theme and includes lontong cap gomeh (rice cakes with accroutrements), rice with crab curry, and pecel pincuk (rice with chicken).
Dining rooms include Kwan Yin room with a huge statue of the goddess, the Megawati room named after the first female president of Indonesia, who is a regular, and Babah Garden located at the back, imitating the kitchen and dining room of a real peranakan house in the 19th century.
Shanghai Blue 1920 and Samarra
Shanghai Blue 1920 and Sammara are built side by side, each with its own character and taste.
Inspired by a diner in Sunda Kelapa owned by a Shanghai sailor married to a Batavian woman, Shanghai Blue 1920 relives that romance and provides cuisine that cater to both taste palettes.
Sammara, decorated in the Iranian and Syrian styles of the 9th century, features a menu heavy with meat –including the satay specialty and Arabic-influenced Indonesian food. Offering such a unique experience, it’s puzzling that these two restaurants don’t attract as many guests as the others.
Tugu Kuntskring Paleis
The newest restaurant, Tugu Kunstkring Paleis, has been a major hit in the almost two years since its establishment. It sits on a century-old Dutch colonial building that varies in function, from an immigration office to the Buddha Bar.
Derived from the Dutch term kunstkring meaning art circle, it is now back to its original purpose, promoting artistic events and performances.
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