Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 3 November 2014 • Destination
On my way back from Ubud to Jakarta, I took a detour to Lombok. As a fan of Tugu properties, how could I refuse the invitation to stay two nights at Hotel Tugu Lombok for free?! All accommodation and services were complimentary, and I only needed to add a few more dollars for plane tickets compared to flying back directly from Bali to Jakarta. A fellow blogger slash architect, Indri, came along, flying in directly from Jakarta.
Located in Tanjung Village, Hotel Tugu Lombok’s bungalows are spread on the land bordering with the quiet Sire Beach. I arrived when the day just turned dark. A bellboy quickly escorted me to my room. As expected, I felt a little spooked out by the hotel’s antique architectural elements, though I knew it was mostly my mind playing tricks on me.
The next day, after our sweet breakfast on a boat, we were given a tour around the hotel by Mbak Hani. As usual, the more I know about the story behind something, the less I’m scared of it. The property occupied a 6-hectares land, so there was so much walking involved. Thank God for my comfy flip-flops!
What’s in a lobby other than a place where you check in and check out? Oh no, no, not in Hotel Tugu Lombok. It may not look too special, simply traditional, but it is, in fact, a reconstruction of someone’s real house in the old city Ampenan more than 200 years ago.
It was a house of a Malay before the Dutch came and applied the devide et impera strategy to bring the diverse tribes into conflicts. Since then, people resided based on their ethnicity, and the house was then occupied by a Chinese family. Pak Anhar, the hotel owner, had everything discharged (I guess after buying the property), then reconstructed and modified it as the hotel’s lobby.
An interesting thing I learned from Indri was that the teak woods used for the building are still standing strong because people used to build things with old enough teak woods. Nowadays, it’s the other way around. With higher demands, people tend to grow the trees for production purpose and cut them before they’re old and strong enough. Now I understand why some people are so crazy about old furniture.
We were staying at one of the five Kampong Lombok Bungalows. Upon my first entrance, I was stunned by the beds’ twining wood headboards; I’ve never seen anything like it! The room is rich with natural touch. Other than the wooden beds, headboards and tables, they use bamboo for the wardrobe and towel rack, and the bathroom is partially open-aired. The wind breezes in, and when it’s not too hot out, there’s no need to turn on the AC.
Then we were taken to Bhagavat Gita Suites and Aloon-Aloon Garden Villas. Each one of them is spacious and equipped with vintage furniture. Mosquito nets drape down from the bed masts, huge mirrors with carved wooden frames and statuettes accentuate the antiquity.
Some villas have their own back doors that open to small private swimming pools and face the Sire beach. Some have their own dining tables, indoor or outdoor. Some villas have their own yard and gates. I swear to God, these little bungalows and villas, that probably measure around 5mx7m at the least, are as big as most houses in Jakarta and around!
Walking eastward in the property, we were taken to the other bungalows; Alun-Alun Rama Sinta and Ampenan Rooms. Size-wise, these rooms are perhaps about the same with the villas we previously visited, but they are less luxurious. Even so, most of these antiques that are put in the terrace of Ampenan Rooms have interesting history. They were the remains of a Chinatown in Ampenan old city that was burned down in 1894. Pak Anhar decided to gather the remains and placed them in the hotel.
This hotel is basically a museum, ladies and gentlemen!Alun-Alun Rama Sinta and Ampenan Room.
The Presidential Suite was crazy. Luxuriously crazy, I mean. The gate to the suite is about 3.5 meters (about 11.4 feet) high. The also tall red door opens to a huge room with a reclining statue welcoming in front of the royal bed. What really caught my attention was the meticulously carved sofa; it’s wooden, painted in golden. The back door opens to a dedicated swimming pool and spa house, with Sire beach in the background!
I didn’t pay a penny to stay at Hotel Tugu Lombok, but I do have some information on the prices.
Currently, the published rate of Kampong Lombok Bungalows is USD 235/night. The price ranges up to USD 750/ night for the most expensive suite, including the Shang Hyang Nirvana or the Presidential Suite.
Bale Kokok Pletok is the main restaurant, connected with a bridge from the lobby. Its high roof is supported by big pillars in the shape of a woman with cropped arms. Turns out, she’s Dewi Sri, the goddess of fertility. She was married to Shiva god, one of the Hindu deities. At the end of the restaurant was a swimming pool in the shape of Shiva trisula! A fig tree was standing tall across the pool, with a grinning face attached to it, which turned out to be Shiva’s. So he was sort of just hanging there near his lady. So sweet, even with that scary look of his, especially when lighted dramatically at night.
The restaurant’s roof is also something to look up to, literally. You’ll see a decorative shape of a chicken and snake, which derived from the tale of Dewi Sri.
The menu was mostly of traditional Indonesian food, mostly Javanese, Balinese and Lomboknese. Don’t worry, you can have your usual waffles and pancakes for breakfast, too. Our waffles, banana pancakes and porridge were all delish, and it was very relaxing to have breakfast facing the clear water of the infinity pool! I almost decided to take a nap there if I didn’t remember an article I had to write for a client. So sad.
If liquors and wine is your choice of poison, Lara Jonggrang bar, located next to Bale Kokok Pletok, can accommodate your need for it. Not unlike Hotel Tugu Lombok’s other corners, the bar is decorated with a number of statues, very old teak wooden furniture, and ornaments based on Indonesian legends and fairy tales.
Lara Jonggrang was a princess in Java, who turned down the proposition from Bandung Bondowoso, the man who had killed her father, by asking for an impossible favor as the sole condition. Bondowoso was in fact a smarter man than she thought, so he almost delivered with the help of genies, and Jonggrang had to fake the deadline to make him fail. The result of Bondowoso’s effort can be seen in Prambanan Temple, Yogyakarta.
The sneaky little princess is pictured with a black face above the bar, carvings of poor Bondowoso are hanged at some corners, and the genies decorate the lamps above the tables.
Remember about the temple that Pak Anhar was building in Hotel Tugu Malang? Well, there’s one in the Hotel Tugu Lombok. It turns out to be a spa house, which also accommodates yoga and meditation, but he designed it to look so much like a temple.
The Hening Swarga spa temple functions as a special dining area at night. Guests can reserve a table to be set up at the upper platform of the temple. They charge you an extra $10 for the set up. I was about to ask Indri to request for the dinner when suddenly we were informed that they were preparing a complementary Dinner by the Beach! Hooray!
As for the spa, we couldn’t get a treatment in the temple because it was fully booked. We were lucky to get a schedule at the spa hut on the beach, though. I’ll tell you more about it in a separate post.
What’s a life without wifi? Just kidding. Hotel Tugu Lombok suits best honeymoon couples or people who simply want to relax and recharge. But their wifi connection was a gem to me, as I needed to send some articles during my stay. The connection was fluctuated but it was generally good enough, and I used it in the bedroom and at the restaurant.
Tours to Lombok’s cultural villages, diving and snorkeling at the famous Gilis, horse-drawn bendi (horse cart) ride and a few other tours are available upon request. You can also book for activities like Herbal Drinks Class, Cooking Class, Dance Class and Pearl Cultivation Class.
To be honest, I didn’t experience any of these, since there were already so many things to do at the hotel for 2 nights! Yes, including taking a nap in the very sunny afternoon.
The tours cost range from IDR 300,000 – 2,000,000 / pax.
The classes cost range from IDR 200,000 – 850,000 / pax.
Two options between the airport and Hotel Tugu Lombok: via Senggigi road or Monkey Forest.
Take the Senggigi route when you’re not in a hurry because it normally takes 20 minutes longer than Monkey Forest route, or when it’s toward sunset because you could see the lovely sunset view along the way.
Take the Monkey Forest route early in the morning to see cute monkeys playing along the road between the trees or just sitting on the shoulder of the road. These are wild monkeys, so don’t feed them. This route has more twists and turns, make sure you don’t eat too much before taking the ride.
My trip via Senggigi route when coming to the hotel took about 2-2,5 hours. Both routes pass through Mataram, the capital city of West Nusa Tenggara province.
I don’t think there’s a public transportation that can take you directly to Hotel Tugu Lombok other than taxi. Blue Bird Taxi and other local brands are available in Lombok and they use the meter. I’m not sure how much it would cost, but a hired car would cost you about IDR 200,000 one way.
There’s also a DAMRI bus that serves airport – Senggigi route, which currently costs IDR 30,000 / pax. From there you could find a taxi or hired car to continue to Hotel Tugu Lombok.Hotel Tugu Lombok Sire Beach • Lombok • Indonesia Ph: +62 370 6120 111, +62 81 937 995 566 • Fax: +62 370 6120 444 email@example.com