The Jakarta Post
The front view of Hotel Tugu Malang in East Java. (Hotel Tugu Malang/File)
Boasting a classical-style building with two large “sacred” trees out front, Hotel Tugu Malang in East Java may exude a haunted atmosphere at first glance. However, the property, situated in the heart of the city, offers many stories about the past through its antiques.
Founded by Anhar Setjadibrata, the hotel is heavily decorated in antique items starting from the entrance to its rooms. But instead of giving one goosebumps, these objects offer a precious glimpse of the past, especially the period that is close to the owner’s ancestors and family. Many of them come with information explaining the story behind the piece to educate the guests.
Each room is decorated in a different theme. The most exclusive one is the Apsara Residence, which was inspired by the chamber of a Javanese prince who fell in love with a dancer to the gods of kings, known as the Apsara dancer. The residence has its own butler service, an outdoor bathtub and a massive 3.5-meter bed.
Apsara Residence's outdoor bathtub. (Hotel Tugu Malang/File)
During my stay at the property, I was booked in one of the hotel’s Executive Rooms on the second floor, painted in dark blue and with a balcony and large-sized furniture. The bed was so high that I needed to use a wooden trunk to climb into it. The room was also equipped with modern elements, such as a French press and flexible bed lighting.
The hotel recently introduced a new restaurant, SaigonSan. Anhar's ancestors, the family of Semarang-born Oei Tiong Ham, were said to have brought artifacts from Indochina to the Dutch East Indies, as Indonesia was then called. SaigonSan also pays tribute to Ham’s last son who spent most of his life in Bangkok, Thailand, and passed away years ago.
The interior of SaigonSan at Hotel Tugu Malang in East Java. (Hotel Tugu Malang/File)
Read also: Jakpost explores Mount Bromo
Connected to the Royal Angkor Room, a restaurant that commemorates Jayavarman II as the founder of the Angkor kingdom in the early ninth century, the place serves modern Vietnam and Thailand dishes. Among the food highlighted are the refreshing Pla Tod Yam Mamuang salad that consists of green mango, pomelo and soft-shell crab, and Banh Xeo, which is a Vietnamese crispy pancake with sliced chicken and prawn. SaigonSan also offers different types of pho and the Classic Pho Local is arguably the most recommended dish.
The Pla Tod Yam Mamuang salad consists of green mango, pomelo and soft-shell crab at Hotel Tugu Malang's SaigonSan in East Java. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)
While dining, guests can marvel at the many historical objects featured in SaigonSan, including photos of Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihanouk, former Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh and the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej. It also provides private rooms and a special area for couples seeking some privacy.
Other than restaurants, the hotel hosts Roti Tugu Bakery, which serves fresh breads, traditional snacks and coffee. It also has a wine shop and bar as well as an accessories shop where people can buy traditional fabrics, clothes and jewelry.
Roti Tugu Bakery always provides freshly baked bread daily. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)
Those interested in touring the city can purchase the property's many tour package options, which include the Romantic Dinner in Mount Bromo and an eco-tour of the Tugu Kawisari coffee plantation. (kes)