Widgets The Dharmawangsa Hotel (December 1-2, 2010) - A Round-the-World Travel Blog: Devil May Care

The Dharmawangsa Hotel (December 1-2, 2010)

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

In New Zealand, we learned a new word for our kind of traveller: flashpacker . I'm not sure that it's an entirely complimentary term: "flash" can be somewhat derogatory in British slang. But the general idea seems to be that flashpackers are long-term travellers with a slightly higher budget (and often a few more grey hairs) than backpackers.

That describes us pretty well. We stay in budget hotels and hostels, but we try to find private rooms. If we can, we get a private bath. We could probably get by paying considerably less for accomodation, but our budget allows for some comfort. We have a few gadgets with us, and in a pinch I could muster together a decent interview outfit. (Here's an entertainingly written blog on flashpacking, though I don't endorse everything in it.)

Then again, occasionally we'll splurge and go for something more than comfort, especially when a new experience is on offer. For our first two days in Indonesia, which I suspect will otherwise be filled with budget hotels and hostels, we luxuriated (surprisingly affordably) at the Dharmawangsa.

Dharmawangsa bed

A bit more than a budget bed.

Indonesia marks our return to relatively low cost-of-living countries. Although the dollar is not as strong as it once was, our money stretches at least twice as far as it did in Australia. Which means that a luxury hotel like the Dharmawangsa is pleasantly within reach, at least for a couple of nights.

And luxury it is, almost embarassingly so. We arrived in Indonesia wearing jeans, rough shirts and hiking boots, but when our cab pulled into the driveway the hotel lobby had been taken over by a wedding party decked out in colorful, stylish clothing. The reception desk is literally that: a desk at which you are seated while employees take your information and then disappear behind a door to make arrangements. And then a "butler" takes you to your room.

We were actually quite lucky to be here at the same time as the wedding party, as I'm pretty sure that why we were upgraded from the "executive" (standard) room to a deluxe suite larger than our New York apartment. The decor focuses on traditional materials and fabrics, including batik hangings and hardwood carvings, and does not feel like a luxury hotel chain. As for the bathroom, small naval engagements could be conducted in the bathtub.

Dharmawangsa minibar

The minibar

Both the front room and the bedroom have balconies overlooking the hotel's inner courtyard, dominated by a large pool. On the other side of the pool is a second building housing the hotel's associated restaurants, spas, gym facilities and an indoor pool. At night, the view of the Jakarta skyline gives a good first impression of the city's size and color.

Where the Dharmawangsa really excels, however, is in customer service. Each room is assigned to a butler responsible for the guest's needs. Upon arrival, the butler will press three garments per traveller. (In my case, this may be the first time my slacks have been well-pressed this trip.) These will later appear, some time after you've been out, nicely hung in your closet. In theory, the butler will unpack your bags and repack them upon departure, although we opted not to take advantage of this. Fresh fruit appears at regular intervals, and bottles of water are refreshed.

The Dharmawangsa's published rates (about $340 for an executive room) are quite high, although you'd pay far more for similar service in New York or Tokyo. However, their online booking tool has much lower rates, and hotel sites like frequently have steep discounts. (We didn't pay anywhere near the published rates.) If you're heading to Indonesia and want a few days of luxury, we highly recommend this.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:

1 Comment

Gorgeous! That sounds like a nice treat.

Grey hairs? I noticed during our talks when you visited that you seem weirdly hung up on age. We are not old. We are not even middle aged yet. We are young people. I don't know if it's a cultural San Francisco thing to see it that way - we're definitely a Peter Pan city - but I think it's a good thing. Put away the truss and accept that you have many hale, hearty years of energetic mobility and acuity left.

Leave a comment

Things We've Seen

Things We Like