Great for romance and seclusion in a traditional Indonesian setting.
What is it? Small resort
Will set you back: 230 – 890 USD p/n
If you have booked a holiday at Hotel Tugu Lombok based on its online presence, then you will know before arriving that you are about to enter a little haven of traditional Indonesian culture from which you are unlikely to leave for the remainder of your stay. Nestled on the most desirable part of Lombok Island on the north tip, Tugu is a twenty-minute drive from the small port of Teluk Kode if you are arriving from Bali (Sanur) by boat. The entrance to the resort is unashamedly rural and rustic, with a dirt driveway that leads you to the mostly understated entrance of the resort, with the exception of a magnificent white, decorative building on your right which serves as both a wedding venue and a restaurant. The check-in process takes place in what we quickly discover is a traditional 200-year-old Lombokian house that was airlifted and delivered to this corner of the island purely to house the resort’s office and welcome area. In this way, the hotel proudly transports its guests into what is often deemed the “lost culture” of Lombok right from the get-go.
Every room at Hotel Tugu has been designed and decorated by the owner, Anhar Setjadibrata, who is also the owner of the biggest collection of fine Indonesian art and cultural antiquities in Indonesia. It’s easy to see when you take a tour of the hotel and discover how unique every room and villa is. Every lodging has its own personality, curated by Setjadibrata, and proudly displays artworks (some of which he also painted), traditional Indonesian antique furniture, and building surprises such as bathtubs carved out of stone in the Bhagavit Gita Oceanfront Suites, where we stayed for five nights. These suites are the most popular rooms at Tugu, and for good reason – they each have a large plunge pool and direct access to the beach, a mere ten metres in front of the room – and this feature was our favourite thing about these rooms. Inside is a little dark for my liking, but this is in keeping with traditional Indonesian design and therefore with the feeling of the resort. The outdoor bathroom is extremely unique and we loved the open-air shower and bath, which is especially peaceful as well as romantic for honeymooners. The design of Tugu and the grounds themselves are very beautiful. We adored the design of the “Wedding Hall” restaurant with its dimmed red lighting, ambient and reminiscient of beautiful Chinese design, and the main restaurant, open for lunch everyday, is open-air and looks out across the deep green resort pool. The beach is the focus, but the architecture of the buildings come a close second. Behind both restaurants, the spa and every room there is a story that explains each unique design inclusion throughout the resort. Tugu is not your typical five-star hotel – it doesn’t adhere to the design rules that many hotels do. It has its own traditional, authentic and laid-back footprint and it will either be your cup of tea, or it won’t, but we definitely encourage you to have a taste.
Tugu is positioned on the groomed white sands of Sire Beach, and this seaside location has the advantage over many of the neighbouring island of Bali’s busy island resorts, where the beaches stopped dropping jaws a few decades ago. With its dining tables, hammocks and loungers strategically positioned on the long and secluded beach, Tugu’s outdoor ambience is simply gorgeous. Although the beach is not private, it may as well be given there are no other hotels in the area and only a few locals living nearby, and so it makes the perfect place to spend your days while staying at Tugu. All of the rooms at the resort are large, and as for the Bhagavit Gita Suites where we stayed, they are comfortable enough with a large four-poster bed, the aforementioned outdoor area, and a sitting area inside with a small table. The sitting area is not the most usable space with the tables and chairs being too low to eat at comfortably, and notably the TV is positioned perpendicular to the bed with no lounge in front meaning guests will need to lie in a counter-intuitive way on the bed to watch TV. However, the room centres around the gorgeous and quaint outdoor area and so this indoor arrangement won’t often be a problem for guests there to enjoy the beach. The hotel provides four small bottles of complimentary water each day, although in my opinion not nearly enough for a tropical location, and there is Balinese coffee and tea as well as a small mini bar in the room.
Tugu has a swimming pool and another large pool currently under construction on the beachfront which looks to be fantastic. There is a fitness centre and a traditional Indonesian spa, and the resort will happily organise a number of activities such as day trips to the azure waters of the Gili islands, boat day trips and traditional cultural experiences for its guests such as Lombokian cooking classes. You can also opt to release baby turtles into the ocean, have yoga and meditation classes, get a horse-drawn bendi ride, or go golfing.
Unfortunately, the service is one area that often let Tugu down during our stay. The wait staff came across as unenthused bordering on apathetic, and they seemed to struggle with communication amongst each other which lead to double the amount of staff approaching you or checking in on you while trying to enjoy a quiet meal. The breakfast service was the exception, and the staff during these hours seemed to be a lot more positive and attentive. The check-out process was rather disorganised and unprofessional however, with the oversight of our car having not been organised as requested for our extremely early departure of 3:30am and so it was lucky that we went to check on this the night before. We also discovered on checkout that the hotel charges for the brief car trip from the port to the hotel, which we found very unusual for a five star hotel and really, a little rich given the hefty price tag guests pay to stay at Tugu.
The reviews for dining at Trip Advisor are mostly positive, and so it was a shock to us that we did not enjoy the food while staying at Tugu. Food is a very personal thing and so many will disagree with me, but we had a few hits overshadowed by mostly misses during our stay. Also, the resort does not cater to dietary requirements with ease – it was a constant hassle trying to explain Mr T’s gluten intolerance to the staff, while also clarifying that I myself do not have the intolerance, and this will be a problem for many five star travellers or people who travel often and so need to be fussier with their hotel food. There are two restaurants with accompanying bar areas open for dinner on interchangeable nights, featuring Indonesian food, traditional Lombokian meals and some Western options as well, so guests staying for more than a few nights will get the opportunity to sample both. What we enjoyed the most though, was being able to eat our meals anywhere in the resort we liked, as well as the breakfast service, which could also be enjoyed at any time of day. We loved starting each day with a meal on the beach, and the spread was very good and very extensive. I especially recommend Tugu’s local yoghurt served with fresh fruit, and of course their omelettes, which I find are always excellent in South East Asia.
Hotel Tugu is positioned in a secluded area on the north side of Lombok island and so is ideal for vacationers that are wanting peace and quiet. If you are in the mood to explore the island, either do so by arriving by hired car or Hotel Tugu will arrange transport to the local attractions of Lombok including waterfalls and the famous volcano, Mount Rinjani, as well as local villages if you are wanting more of a cultural fix. You can also do a half-day or full-day boat trip to the Gili Islands which is a must-do for its snorkelling and crystal clear waters. Due to its seclusion, we suggest choosing Hotel Tugu if you are happy to spend plenty of your time relaxing at the resort and enjoying the view - which, let's face it, is a wonderful thing.
beautiful and romantic beach setting