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Bali’s Oldest International Hotel

INNA Bali Hotel - Serving Bali Visitors Since 1928

Still standing in the very heart of downtown Denpasar next to the Governor’s official residence and across from the Puputan Field and Bali Museum is Bali’s first “international” hotel – the Bali Hotel now known as the Inna Hotel Bali.

First built in 1926 and opened in 1928, the Bali Hotel reflects a grand colonial style with high ceilings, private verandas, and surrounding gardens. Long before tourists developed a taste for seaside accommodation, the Bali Hotel was built by the Dutch Passenger Shipping Line - Koninklijke Paketvaart-Maatschappij (KPM). The KPM ships would drop anchor in North Bali at Celukan Bawang and guests would then travel for many hours, passing through the former capital or Singaraja, and over the Kintamani Pass before arriving in Denpasar.

Some have argued that the Bali Hotel represented an olive branch from the Dutch colonial masters to the Balinese, an apology of sorts for the massacre of the Puputan of 1906 that decimated and looted a Balinese Royal household, costing more than 1,000 local lives.

In any case, in response to the growing popularity of Bali as a tourism destination, the original 12 rooms soon grew to 70 surrounding a central garden that has now been bifurcated by Jalan Veteran. In 1956, the hotel was surrendered to Indonesian ownership when it was named the Natour Bali, becoming the Hotel Inna Bali in 1961.

Over these years, heads of states and glitterati visited Bali and stayed at the Bali Hotel.

In 1932 Charlie Chaplin and Noel Coward explored the Island where they were said to have been intriqued by the Island’s dance, music and theatrical forms. During that visit both men also noticed the nonchalance with which Balinese women went topless, causing Noel Coward to mention this situation in the following poem he penned in the Hotel’s guest register:

As I mention this morning to Charlie,

There is far too much music in Bali,

And altho’ as a place it’s entrancing,

There is also a thought too much dancing.

It appears that each Balinese native

From the womb to the tomb is creative,

From sunrise till long after sundown,

Without getting nervy or rundown,

They sculpt and they paint and the practice their songs,

They run through their dances and bang on their gong,

Each writhe and each wriggle,

Each glamorous giggle,

Each sinuous action,

Is timed to a fraction,

And altho’ all the ‘Lovlies’ and ‘Pretties’

Unblushingly brandish their titties,

The whole thing’s a little too cleaver

And there’s too much artistic endeavor!

Forgive the above mentioned Charlie,

I had to rhyme something with Bali.

Back in the day, the glitterati of the world filled the lobby, rooms, and restaurant of the Bali Hotel. Indonesia’s first President Sukarno was a frequent guest. Indian sage Mahatma Gandhi ordered vegetarian when staying at the Bali Hotel. And, Marlon Brando popped in after filming “The Ugly American” in Bangkok.

The Bali Hotel is now officially classified as a 3-star hotel, retaining much of its charm from a former era long before Bali emerged as a major tourism destination.

Part of the Bali Hotel’s history was its selection as the venue for the Denpasar Conference held there December 7-24, 1946. A total of 70 delegates attended the Conference with participation limited to provincial leaders from the eastern regions of Indonesia and minority groups (e.g. Dutch, Chinese and immigrant groups living in the Country).

The conference, led by the then Dutch Governor General Van Mook, discussed the formation of “Mahkota Commisson” to act as an intermediary between native Indonesians and the Dutch Government; the creation of a temporary legislative body (DPRS); the sharing of power between the Indonesians and the Dutch; currency and fiscal policy; the creation of an autonomous region in Eastern Indonesia; and the formation of an Eastern Indonesian Government.  In a move to establish a separatist movement for Eastern Indonesia the Conference elected on December 24, 1946 as the first Head of State of East Indonesia, Cokorda Gde Raka Sukawati, a post he held until 1950 when he negotiated the integration of East Indonesia with the Indonesian Republic under Sukarno.

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