“We really struggled to find the right hotel to stay at on the beach in Bali, after a three night stay in Ubud. We considered all of the top properties including the Legian, the W, the Oberoi, and the Alila in Uluwatu, but finally decided on the Tugu — a dark horse pick! We are not fans of most major chains, and really liked the idea of staying at an authentically Indonesian boutique property. We were not at all disappointed by our choice.
Firstly, with regard to location, I think we did the right thing by staying in Canggu over Seminyak. We enjoyed driving to Seminyak (about 30 minutes away) for evening drinks and dinner, but had no regrets at all about not staying there. Seminyak is pretty congested, very commercial, and the beaches can be dirty. I love going to the mall as much as the next person, but I did not want to be staying next door to one while on my vacation to Bali! Canggu, in contrast, was peaceful, had no huge high rise hotel developments and malls, and we were within walking distance of plenty of chilled out restaurants and bars.
The stretch of beach in front of the Hotel Tugu, despite being fully open to the public, was spotless. The hotel has a private garden area that overlooks this beach, which has sun loungers, beds, towel and food service. Bear in mind, however, that this is a surfing beach, with fairly large waves and strong currents. We are confident swimmers and went in for dips every day, but did not swim out far as the currents were very powerful. If you’re hoping for calm and peaceful seas, you may need to look elsewhere.
Now on to the hotel. We loved the traditional architecture and the beautiful gardens on the property — you really cannot get this kind of charm and character at any of the international chains. The hotel owner’s art and artefact collection is truly incredible, and we enjoyed exploring every nook and cranny of the grounds to gawk at his one-of-a-kind pieces. This is an all-suite hotel so both of our rooms were very generously sized, one with a balcony and the other with a little patio with a swing and plunge pool. One minor niggle though: the AC in one of our rooms did not work very well and struggled to cool the room.
Our stay came with complimentary afternoon tea each day, which was quite elaborate and enjoyable. Breakfast is also quite the affair, as the staff will bring it to you anywhere on the property — no crowded breakfast buffets here. The staff was always smiling and never failed to accommodate our requests. We must also give a special shoutout to the GM Jenny, who was so warm and personable throughout our visit. She was never too busy for us, and in fact, made it a point to stop and chat whenever she saw us around. Again, I know I sound like a broken record, but this kind of personalised service is just not seen at the international chains.
Finally, I also need to write a short note about the Tugu’s fabulous new Japanese restaurant Ji. Our family lived in Japan for over a decade and we are complete Japanese food snobs. We were quite skeptical about trying the restaurant, as we could not imagine that it would live up to expectations. Well, we were blown away. Our dinner at Ji was probably one of the best of our entire trip. Every dish was on point, from the tempura to the tenderloin steak. And the setting is just mind-blowing — the restaurant is situated inside a 12th century Balinese temple. Huge kudos to whoever was involved in designing and developing the restaurant.”