We savor a cup of Lombok coffee by the beachside bar, watching tiny raindrops disturb the calm green water of the main pool; surrounded by purple flowers and overlooked by the goddess herself. “This is an early sign of the daily afternoon showers”, we are told “Don’t worry, these will pass soon and you can enjoy beach again!” Ah! that beautiful beach in the horizon…
We were waiting for our room at the Hotel Tugu Lombok, where the journey from Bali seemed to have taken us straight into a chapter of the epic, Mahabharata.
On arrival from the ferry at Tanjung (read post here), we hired a taxi at the dock to take us to our hotel.The 30 min drive was on a dirt road through farms and small villages – nothing like the scenic pictures on the hotel site (what!) We were beginning to have doubts about our hotel pick and quickly reviewed backup plans in hushed tones, lest the driver might think we were these high-maintenance-tourists!
The taxi finally parked outside an old house lined with small sculptures at the entrance; Fernando walked out to greet us with a warm smile and offered to unload our bags, ushering us into the main room for a glass of refreshment (chilled lemongrass tea).
Stepping into the main room, the sight took us by surprise…
Sunlight streamed into this beautiful rustic room decorated in vibrant red and green, carved wooden panels hung from the ceiling and the area was filled with antiques from Indonesia and China.
Hotel Tugu was founded by one of the biggest collectors of fine Indonesian art and cultural antiquities. The Lombok hotel (along with its sister properties) was designed to house his antiques and share the romantic stories and legends of ancient kingdoms of a long forgotten (read thousands of years old) Indonesia.
We had booked the garden villa Aloon-Aloon, built in the traditional Lombok wood and bamboo colonial style. The villa had its own little garden with an outdoor dining and lazing area, a huge bedroom and a beautiful emerald-green bathroom with a large copper tub and equally gorgeous fixtures. THIS was to be our home for the next three days!
After a quick change, it was time to view that lovely beach we had been swooning over! Hotel Tugu is located on the pristine white sands of Sire, the northwest coast of Lombok. It also makes the hotel a very convenient location for a trip to the famous Gili islands.
The view from the beach overlooking Mount Rinjani, believed to be the home of the Goddess Anjani, was a sight of pure beauty and serenity!
Relaxing at this beach instilled a feeling of calm, an almost meditative state of mind…
But the rich spicy aroma of lemongrass and galangal (blue ginger) from the kitchens (behind) beckoned us towards the dining area…
Finally giving in to our grumbling stomachs, we walked back to our villa to change for our evening dinner.
Hotel Tugu has several dining options, each prettier than the next, with true Indonesian flavors that offer an adventure for the taste buds in a delectable sort of way. But if you want even more, then Tugu also offers to set up your dinner at any of your favorite romantic spots on the property; gardens, beach, temple, villa!
We chose a beach dinner for our first night and the view was magical! Surrounded by torches and candle lights around a decorated bamboo pavilion, the sound of gentle waves lapping in the background, twinkling fisherman boats in the distance, and an unobstructed view of the milky way up in the dark sky – like I said, MAGICAL!
They even went the extra mile, and had a cake made specially for us!
The hotel offers complimentary sunset high tea with homemade cookies, snacks and fruits. And this quickly became our daily evening activity in the main restaurant!
There are several excursions to keep one busy during their stay at Tugu Lombok. The most popular ones are trekking the Lombok waterfalls (avoid in rainy season), old city tour, and of course the Gili islands (next post coming soon!)
The hotel can help arrange for a private glass-bottom boat to take you to the three Gilis – Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan. The Gilis are a picture of heaven with superb clear water, brilliant coral reefs and brightly colored fish offering incredible snorkeling (and diving).
Tugu’s ideal location on Sire beach makes it a mere 20 min boat ride to the Gilis. The hotel also provides snorkeling equipment, towels, mineral water/soft drinks/beer and fresh fruits. (Full day trip also includes a basic lunch box). But more on this later! 🙂
The pristine white sands of Sire beach within a tropical setting and views of Mt. Rinjani make for an “insanely gorgeous” beach (quote Lonely Planet). The crystal-clear water with fine coral gardens is easily one of the most picturesque spots in Lombok.
And the best time for the walk along this fisherman’s shore is at sunset…
A golden lava-hued sunset envelops the Tugu property, and the sand turns molten gold against the shades of blue.
Soon, fishermen begin casting their nets and lapping the water with bamboo sticks guiding the fish towards the net. There is a low hum of music in the background, and a subtle hint of incense from the temple – Is this the Garden of Eden?
Behind you, the Hening Swarga temple rises high creating a sense of heavenly serenity. The priest is lighting the oil lamps for the evening prayer. Yes, we must have been transported to the old (Indonesian) Majapahit kingdom!
Hotel Tugu Lombok succeeds in what it has set out to do; an incredibly beautiful property that stands as a loving testament to the long forgotten, original culture of the isle of Lombok. This is a secret boutique hotel, a secret you want to keep to yourself and…
A secret we wish we hadn’t shared with you! 🙂
Hope you enjoyed reading! xo, – A&A