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Monthly Archives: March 2018

Bambu Indah’s Guest

The hotel is certainly one of a kind, evolving, in its early years, as more of an experiment than an entrepreneurial venture. During the years when the couple were building Hardy’s namesake jewelry company—which they sold in 2007—they purchased a block of land adjacent to their house, fearful it would be turned into another of the area’s luxury hotels. From that point forward, Bambu Indah has evolved from a place that could accommodate the couple’s visiting friends to one of the world’s most unique examples of sustainable hospitality.

Pragmatism, rather than any particular design vision, governed Bambu Indah’s early development. The couple began snapping up inexpensive Javanese teak wedding houses, built more than a century ago, and transporting them to the island. “In a very short period of time we had three or four gladaks and placed them randomly on the new land,” says Cynthia. “There was no name for it and there was no organization, they were just cute little huts where we put a few guests who we asked to leave $20 a night in tips for the staff who would take care of them.”

Bambu Indah has continued to grow significantly—the hotel now numbers 15 unique guest pavilions—but the project’s guiding principles haven’t changed. Rather than manicured lawns, the property’s grounds are covered with vegetable beds and local edible and ceremonial plants. There’s a natural swimming kolan (swimming pond) surrounded by large river stones; delicious, spice-laden local food is served in a spacious open-plan kitchen and dining room; and while each of the hotel’s houses feel private and secluded, most are sited facing the Ayung River and the lush rice paddies in the distance.

Adding to this sensation of sybaritic escape, the Hardys decorated the hotel with pieces acquired on their many exotic voyages. Among the treasures are traditional Persian carpets, crystal geodes discovered in South America, African furniture, and ikats and cotton throws and bedding from the Indonesian Archipelago.

The Moon and Copper houses, the newest structures on the compound, were conceived by Hardy and his daughter Elora, the creative director of Ibuku, a local architecture and design firm known for conjuring lavish structures entirely from bamboo. The Moon House resembles a soaring crescent-shaped basket, its otherworldy form typical of the company’s creativity and technical prowess. The Copper House echoes this curvilinear silhouette with a bamboo roof wrapped in tin copper. Of the new houses, John explains: “We looked at the view and it was sublime. But how do you build without blocking the view? So we left them open and built a netted sleeping arrangement so there would be the possibility of privacy and safety. I like to call one of them the Love Nest, and the other is called the Moon House because there’s a beautiful copper bathtub in the garden for moonlight bathing.”

Just getting to the new houses, accessed through a steep series of stone stairways or via the hotel’s bamboo-covered two-person mining elevator carved into the cliffside, feels like an adventure. “The hotel offers a connection to nature and a sense of wonder and possibility,” says Elora of the hotel’s quixotic character. “We believe that by opening up to a landscape, culture, and nature you can get more joy. I hope that being at Bambu Indah inspires excitement about how the future can be.”

Hotel with a Touch of Whimsy In Dijon

Like the rest of France, Dijon, the capital of Burgundy, has seen an explosion of refurbished midrange hotels. Housed in a renovated 1926 Haussmann-style building, this 42-room, five-story property in the city center was opened in 2015 by the hotelier brothers Bruno and Christophe Massucco. It is Dijon’s first Design Hotel member, and interior spaces are accordingly whimsical and contemporary, a refreshing touch in sometimes stodgy Burgundy. But at times, spaces are confined and overly designed. The lobby is cramped, the breakfast room is crammed with chandeliers and a D.J. station, and a small glass-floored elevator barely fits two pieces of luggage and seems to be the sole reason for the hotel’s name.

Location

Ideally located in Dijon’s ancient city center, the hotel is a flat eight-minute walk (or three-minute tram ride) from the train station and a 10-minute walk to sites like Les Halles Dijon, the city’s covered food market; the 13th-century L’Église Notre-Dame de Dijon; and many shops, restaurants and museums. There’s a bus stop just outside for going farther afield.

The Room

My Cocoon Room, the least expensive category, was soundproofed but tight quarters, even for one person. Tasteful Ligne Roset furniture, charcoal wool curtains and slate-colored walls clashed with more frivolous “design surprises” like an iPhone-shaped TV, a small black ceramic polar bear crawling up the wall, and an empty frame mounted askew on the ceiling above the bed. Maybe cool if you’re under 30; silly if you’re not. My window opened to a quiet courtyard, and the air-conditioning was powerful, a rarity in France. The minibar was stocked with salted caramel cookies, goji-berry juice, crème de cassis nips and jars of mustard sweetened with Chablis and morels. Beds had quilted headboards and quality duvets, but pillows were overstuffed. Wi-Fi was free and fast.

The Bathroom

The toilet was separated from the rest of the room by a sliding door that was heavily scuffed on the bottom. The shower featured a black-and-white tile mosaic and Missoni toiletries.

Amenities

Vertigo has several small leisure spaces. A subterranean spa features a narrow pool decorated with blue-lit disco balls and ergonomic loungers, a sauna and exercise and massage rooms. A cigar room, in a second-floor loft, is furnished with leather loungers. And at night, the breakfast lounge transforms into a clubby bar bathed in pink light, ideal for sipping glasses of rosé and Champagne. At midnight on an August weeknight, it was empty. Members of the staff were quick and responsive to in-person and email requests, but noticeably inexperienced and unpolished. The best amenity is the free use of an electric car, a BMW i3, for exploring Burgundy’s vineyards. There are also free regular and electric bicycles.

Dining

Breakfast was a whopping €20 for standard buffet fare like croissants, eggs and bacon. There’s no restaurant, but room service offers a limited menu of soups, desserts and precooked jars of local dishes like boeuf bourguignon and Alsatian choucroute garnie, priced steeply at €14 to €18 per jar. It’s available 24/7.

Bottom Line

This is a fun and welcome addition to Dijon. The hotel’s design, a mixed bag that’s more likely to induce claustrophobia than vertigo, is easy to overlook because of the excellent central location, affordable price, comfortable beds and quiet rooms.