Bricks and palms trees, a mixture that seemed strange until now, a mixture that somehow doesn’t seem to fit to the Indonesian island of gods Bali. And a mixture that has created a true idyll with great attention to detail and a lot of devotion, located in the heart of Bali’s Seminyak. The long walk from the busy street Jl. Petitenget doesn’t give you any hint of what may come next. High concrete walls border the corridor from neighbors. Gravel sand fills the path and second after second it becomes quieter and quieter. The hustle and bustle of the traffic disappears and with it a feeling of warmth disperses, which in turn fits perfectly to Bali and its peculiarity.
That’s it, the Katamama Hotel Bali. Its dark red bricks shine from afar and the concierge’s laughter at the entrance is so warm it makes one grin on his face alone. “Welcome home”, the well-dressed ladies and gentlemen welcome guests on entering the bar, which in fact is the lobby. A home is what it is, the Katamama Hotel and it does not take long for this feeling to be dispersed.
Katamama Hotel Bali: First impression
A sweet smell is in the air, one that feels warm and comfortable. It smells of a flowering blend of the typical Bali frangipani tree and something that smells quite new and yet familiar. A fresh breeze flies through the Katamama Hotel even though it’s 30 degrees outside. Ventilators turn at full speed and from time to time flit a short gust of air through the well-thought-out spaces of bricks – and thus the façade of the hotel. Relaxing lounge music fills the room. The atmosphere is so dignified and relaxing that even the absolutely packed restaurant, which is located directly at the entrance of the hotel, can barely be heard. Katamama Hotel resembles a hip oasis of tranquility in the shade of the palm leaves overlooking approaching waves of the wide sandy beach of Seminyak.
The essence of Katamama has been thought out well.. The idea behind it is to present the culture and art of the world’s largest island nation Indonesia. This vision itself is rooted in the creative mind of the Indonesien architect Andra Matin, who was born in the city Bandung in Java. He is considered to be a representative of the tropical architecture, an architectural style that has reached its absolute climax right here in the heart of Bali’s Seminyak.
In Bahasa Indonesia Katamama means “Mommy says …” – a symbolic term for all, which is passed down from generation to generation, starting with mum. Katamama Hotel Bali has found a unique balance between tradition and modernity and shows how easy it is to implement centuries-old craftsmanship in such a way that it fits to the hip zeitgeist.
From the very top to the very bottom, Katamama was built not only by local worksmen but also with local material only. Doing so, the Indonesian art and craftsmenship is presented in a super decorative way. From the employees’ attire to the coffee they serve, from the brickstones that hold the building to the soap in the bathroom – wherever you look, the hotel is full of wonderful things that come out of and are made in Indonesia. No wonder that the Katamama has become a true center for Balinese art and culture and thus the centerpiece of Indonesian hospitality.
From soil to bricks: The characteristic features of the hotel are bricks that form the framework of Katamama Hotel Bali. As much as 1.5 million bricks were used to build the hotel. Each one of them was hand-made. This process alone lasted three whole years. It was performed as accurately as it once was for the sacred temples that are still found on almost every corner of Bali today: hand-pressed, hardened and air-dried over an open fire.
From the fabric to artwork: The small village of Pejeng is not far away from Bali’s spiritual centre Ubud. Here, Tjok Agung and his wife have been hand-dyeing fabrics in beautiful natural indigo colours for years. The dye is made by Agung himself and thus transforms every single piece of cloth into a real work of art.
From the fiber to the ceiling: As soon as you enter a room, it becomes clear that there is a unique piece of art in every single corner, just like table runners or blankets. These are manufactured near Ubud, in Blahbatuh, in the workshop of the small company called Tarum. Bapak Made, the founder of this workshop, has set himself the task of dyeing fibers with natural colors to pare down on synthetics and chemicals. The result are unique carpets that are being knotted by hand and consist of fibers in colourful tones.
From trees to the bed: The teak wood, which is used in numerous places in the hotel, also comes from Indonesia and mostly from the island of Java. It is produced for Katamama sustainably and without chemicals.
From rattan to basket: At Katamama Hotel each hotel room is equipped with those necessities that you need for a day at the beach, such as a hat and a backpack. Both are not made in an usual way, but hand-made out of rattan coming from Borneo. There, the Dayak tribe has been making rattan products for generations and generations. The rattan pieces were once intended for ancestors and religious purposes and today, however, they form great bases of accessories or furniture. It takes a couple of days until the Dayak finish their rattan piece as the rattan strands are intertwined until they can be used further.
Katamama Hotel is located in Seminyak, in the southwest of Bali, right on the beach. It is far from the traffic of busy streets of Jalan Petitenget, but close enough to shops, bars and restaurants.
Made is waiting at the entrance of the hotel, wearing a Balinese basket and a batik jacket, which combines such beautiful colors that it may as well be directly on the shopping list of numerous hotel guests. Instead of a check-in at the entrance, you go through narrow corridors of the hotel directly into your room, in which the hotel video is already running on the flat screen TV. Katamama does not really have a reception. The lobby is actually called the “Akademi Center of Mixology” and is a bar, serving locally brewed spirits. The check-in is done in your own hotel room. Made opens the door to the room. “Welcome home,” she says with an unplayed grin.
Now the Anjat baskets, that Made has been carrying around all the time, is coming into action.. It’s filled with everything you need to check in: a tablet, a pen, a notebook. But before you get started, there is a welcome drink, but not a usual one. Instead, there is a prompt ringing at the door and a bartender who enters the room and begins to mix a gin and tonic with a specially made gin at the hotel’s bar right in your room. This is what Made meant by saying “Welcome home” upon opening the door. Who can claim to have gotten a welcome drink mixed in their hotel room while the check-in is done on a comfortable couch?
Katamama Hotel breaks all standards of the hotel industry and has developed a new concept that takes an the general experience at a hotel to a whole new level. A lobby? Nobody needs that, especially if it has been replaced by a hip bar which during the day, thanks to coffee table books and Bali magazines, reminds you of an open library and, during the evening, is the perfect place for an aperitif.
A wonderfully fresh smell runs through the rooms, a smell that spreads throughout the hotel and is so special that it stays in the nose even after you check-out. Once you open the large balcony door, you will be greeted by the extended view over the sea, which can best be enjoyed from the couch on your balcony. You will be even more comfortable than you already are. A freshly mixed drink tastes particularly good here too. This is how you always imagined this thing called temporary home.
The 82-square-meter rooms of the Katamama Hotel Bali are a true masterpiece of contemporary interior art design. The centerpiece is the bed that stands in the middle of the room. Directly behind it is a teak desk, another inviting sofa and a coffee table with various picture books. An absolute highlight of the room is the bar, which is not just a typical bar, but a whole wall full of everything you need to mix long drinks, cocktails and other drinks: mixers, cocktail glasses, handmade porcelain cups, self-distilled gin and vodka, fresh juices, a French press and even roasted coffee. The coffee is roasted by the hotel itself and freshly delivered to your room every single day. Not to forget the freshly baked cookies that fit perfectly to your self-brewed afternoon coffee. There is also an ice-box, a large sink and a refrigerator with soft drinks.
The bathroom is also impressive as it ss decorated with handmade terrazzo tiles. The bright color combination is cozy and not only provides the perfect start to the day, but also the perfect setting for a relaxing bath at the end of the day. Small features run through the bathroom: from the wooden comb to small linen bags filled with all things that are relevant to a bathroom, such as organic soaps and shampoos, and hidden in teak boxes. Finally, wrap yourself in a handmade indigo bathrobe of the Katamama Hotel that you never want to get out of again.
The culinary art
Katamama Hotel is part of the Potato Head Group, offering guests not only an on-site bar and restaurant, but also on-site dining options.
A Spanish morning at MoVida: The day begins in a MoVida Bar de Tapas, where a refreshing breeze always blows and ventilators do the rest. The light is warm, a mixture of sunlight and paper lamps that are reflected on the ceiling. The furnitures surrounding you are made of teak, the ceiling is fully rattan and palm trees are pimping the corners and areas between the tables. For breakfast, parts of the Spanish cuisine are paired with local ingredients here in the MoVida Bar de Tapas. The result is a unique menu that is perfect not only in the morning but throughout the day.
A boost of energy at One Fifteenth Coffee: The hotel’s own coffee shop comes from Java and roasts coffee seeds on site. Every cup of coffee here is very special: with a full-bodied aroma and peppered with the concentrated expertise of the baristas who work here.
Evening atmosphere at the Akademi Center of Mixology: Whether it’s local Arak, homemade gin, specially created cocktails – at Akademi Bar no whishes are left unfulfilled. Massi, the Indonesian mixologist who has won several awards, always manages to create new cocktails that are absolutely unique. The design of the bar is classy, cozy and minimalistic.
The Indonesian feast at the restaurant Kaum: Time and again, the chefs and managers of the Indonesian restaurant Kaum travel through the country to search for the hidden recipes of families, villages and the people of Indonesia, in order to put them on the menu of this sophisticated but yet authentic restaurant. Thus browsing through the menue at Kaum is like travelling through Indonesia. Traditional dishes are prepared with local ingredients and served in an atmosphere that is so unique it can be barely put in words. At Kaum you eat small tapas, that are shared with the whole table. Doing so, the whole table can go on a culinary journey through Indonesia.
Katamama Hotel is not only a center of Indonesian art and culture, but also offers all guests an insight into exactly that. From ceramics courses to a visit at the Indigo workshop near Ubud, to museum visits, rice field expeditions, or yoga, the hotel’s program is full of activities that take you even closer to the culture and daily life of Indonesians.
The last impression
Katamama Hotel Bali is the successful concept of young Indonesian entrepreneurs and an experienced visionary. Together they have created something that unites Indonesian art and culture and let visitors get a taste of the whole country in just one stay. A hotel that is much more than a hotel, which is rather a modern museum that manages to be elegant and modern, traditional and typically Indonesian at the same time – without to an extent being overstated or arrogant. In Bahasa Indonesia you would say ‘sampai jumpa’ – in English it’s a ‘see you very soon’, Katamama.