It’s a night at the museum when you stay at Tugu Hotels, which is chock-full of Indonesian art, architecture and antiquities
Art, history and travel buffs will fall in love with Tugu Hotels, a small and privately owned collection of luxury hotels that transports guests to Indonesia’s yesteryears. Tugu, which means ‘monument’ in local language, reflects the museum-like surrounds of the hotels, which are home to the biggest collection of fine Indonesian art and cultural antiquities in the world owned by Indonesian Renaissance man, Anhar Setjadibrata.
We spoke with his daughter and Tugu Hotels MD, Lucienne Anhar, to find out what it was like growing up in the magical Tugu world and what’s coming up next… Psst, another trip to the past, perhaps?
Tugu Hotels are all about celebrating Indonesian art, history and culture—do you share the same passion as your father?
Absolutely. The first Tugu opened when I was just 12 years old and I remember it being as magical as a real-life fairytale. Tugu is ethereal, beautiful and timeless, and it continues to transport me to the most romantic and most exotic eras of the Indonesian archipelago.
Is your father still involved in the business?
He was actually never involved in the ‘business’, because Tugu is not a business for him—it is his life and dream. He’s always told us that a country is nothing without its roots, and his dream is to leave something beautiful for the next generations to enjoy and remember its history.
What makes Tugu Hotel a must-visit when in Bali?
At Tugu, guests are immersed in local traditions through our collection of Balinese antiques, artworks and architecture. Various near-forgotten cultural and spiritual experiences can be found at Tugu, from making jamu elixirs from hundred-year-old recipes to spa therapies with Balinese Hindu mantra, as well as Balinese dances and music from another era. As previous guests have observed: if Bali is the island of the Gods, then Tugu must be their home.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day doesn’t exist—but that’s what makes it exciting because there’s never a boring day. My roles include being a problem solver, co-antique/land hunter, co-designer, co-creator of ideas and experiences, brainstorm partner for staff of all levels and writer/editor of the hundreds of stories stored in my father through his life and antiques.
What’s the best part of your job?
Because of Tugu, I never stop learning new things about Indonesian history and culture firsthand. I love creating, designing, traveling, conceptualising food and drinks, experiences, and working with the beautiful energy of our amazing team.
Which room/suite would you recommend staying in at the Tugu Hotel in Bali?
It depends on your mood—the Rejang feels like a treehouse with a nice breeze and sparkling ocean view, while the Dedari has a lovely giant bathtub overlooking the lily ponds through a beautiful antique carved door.
The Puri Le Mayeur Villa makes me feel like a Balinese princess from the 20th century with romantic floating dining huts, but the Walter Spies is probably my favorite because of the nostalgic art-deco Java feel, the romantic round tub and antique dragons above the plunge pool.
What’s coming up for Tugu Hotels?
The Tugu Jakarta was slated to open this year, but has been delayed due to Covid-19. It will have four different food and beverage venues with different themes, and tells the history of Batavia (the former capital of the Dutch East Indies that corresponds to modern-day Jakarta).
Any secret hideaways in Bali we should know about?
I love road trips to Sidemen and the many hidden waterfalls of Bali, visiting Pura Luhur Batukaru, Tampaksiring and Tirta Empul, and going to La Lucciola and The Sayan House for beautiful views over lunches and sunset.
Your favourite thing about travel?
I draw inspiration from my travels—a few of my favourite trips include Rajasthan, southern Spain, Africa and Morocco. I love discovering new and exotic flavors, diverse landscapes, different cultures and admiring the creativity and innovation of the geniuses in different countries.
The next trip you’ll take once we can fly again?
Depending on when that is, I’d love to visit Norway or Iceland.
Get more insider tips for the Island of the Gods—shop LUXE Bali guides here: