Saturday, October 5, 2013

Where to stay in Malang?

Malang in Java Timur is a popular destination for locals and foreign tourists in Indonesia. From Malang you can quickly access the sea where you will find some beautiful beaches. The city itself has historical facilities and interesting temples. Malang also serves as access to the Mt Bromo area.
So it's worth a look at where you can stay the best in Malang.

Kertanegara Guest House

Kertanegara Premium Guest House, Jl Semeru 59, is a budget alternative in the city center of Malang, that offers good value for money. Rooms are small but tastefully decorated, with a flat-screen cable TV and AC. Wi-Fi is accessible for free in public areas. No pool available. Staff at the 24-hour front desk is very helpful. Other on-site conveniences include laundry and fax/photocopying services. Indonesian cuisine is served in a small restaurant, where guest can sit beside a little garden that includes a waterfall.
The central location and the good price/value ratio makes the Kertanegara Guest House a good choice in Malang. Directly in front of the guest house there is always a becak driver who will get you anywhere in Malang for very little money.
Price range starts at 20 per night.

Tugu Hotel

Hotel Tugu is a 4-star hotel and certainly the top end hotel in Malang. It is fitted and furnished with a range of fine Javanese antiquities. The owners of the Tugu rescued and relocated many splendid old trees here when property developers razed the old Malang botanical gardens. The hotel features an outdoor pool, spa and 6 dining options that even serve freshly-baked bread, a rarity in Indonesia. Hotel Tugu Malang is a 5-minute walk from Tugu Rail Station.
The Melati Restaurant is also part of the Tugu. Melati restaurant belongs to the best that Malang has to offer. In a great colonial atmosphere you can choose from Indonesian and Dutch dishes. And the bar is fantastic.
Price range starts at $ 150 per night.

However, when it comes to the question where to stay in Malang, my suggestions is to skip staying in Malang but to look for an accomodation in Batu. The city of Batu is only 15km from Malang city center and due to it's location at 800 to 1,100 metres above sea level, Batu's climate is pleasantly cool compared to lowland Malang. The surrounding area is characterized by hills and plantations, as well as several really big mountains like Mt Arjuna with 3,338 m. Also hotel prices in Batu are more pleasant than in the huge city of Malang.
Highly recommendable for example is:

Batu Villas

The Batu Villas is located 300 metres from Jatim Park. Featuring a Restaurant specialises in Indonesian and Western favourites, it provides modern accommodation with calming views of the surrounding greenery. Free Wi-Fi is accessible throughout the property.
And the price range starts at very valuable $20 per night.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"On the Rocks" Bukit Lawang

wodden jungle bungalow
Bukit Lawang in North Sumatra is a small Indonesian village on the edge of the jungle of Gunung Leuser National Park. On the weekends many locals tourists come here to party and splashing in the limpid waters of the River Bohorok. Foreign tourists come to Bukit Lawang to observe orangutans in their natural environment at a jungle trek.

The Hotel "On the Rocks" has specialized in these foreign visitors who come mainly from Europe. Accordingly, the standard of "On the Rocks" stands out of other lodging in Bukit Lawang. However, the equipment is simple. The hotel has 6 bungalows that are built entirely with natural materials around. The wood gives the rooms an earthy, natural scent.

What makes the "On the Rocks" unique, is certainly the location of the hotel. Guests can reach the estate via a long staircase, which leads up about 150 meters  the side of the river valley. Here, away from the ever-rushing river, and far away from the noisy bustle of Bukit Lawang, the hotel is built virtually into the jungle. Of each of the bungalows, guests have a direct view into the rainforest of SumatraThe lack of air conditioning and television, contributes for a relaxing and enjoyable jungle atmosphere in the "On the Rocks. This continues until one realizes that there in the jungle is only cold water for showers.
breakfast with jungle view
breakfast with jungle view

The hotel has its own small restaurant, which is built open on all sides, and so also gives the feeling of sitting directly in the rainforest. The menu Card offers typical Indonesian dishes as well as western food. And the banana pancakes with chocolate is just a dream. The service in the "On the Rocks" is very familiar. They help where they can. This is particularly noticeable when it comes to getting the luggage up the steep stairs up to the hotel and to get back down.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bukit Daun Hotel, East Java

Bukit Daun is the only holiday hotel in the Kediri area, East Java. As this is not a common tourist destination, guests are mainly from the Indonesian upper class. The hotel offers a large pool area, an international restaurant and rooms of different categories, from Standard until Deluxe. Tropical vegetation and plenty of seating accommodations spread over the estate. All in all, Bukit Daun tries to copy a Balinese hotel style. Although the hotel finds it difficult to reach a Balinese quality level in some categories, like service and cleanliness, Bukit Daun nevertheless is my preferred choice when I stay around Kediri.
sitting in lush tropical vegetation

Bukit Daun Hotel Pool
Bukit Daun Swimming pool
From the Bukit Daun as a base, Kediri offers several tour opportunities. My favorite is Mt. Kelud, one of the most active volcanoes of the world. However, they established a good tourist infrastructure at Kelude, including a tunnel through the cliffs around the caldera. Some years ago there was a nice crater lake inside. But after the last eruption in 2008, you see only a mountain of black stone from which still steam is rising.

Very near to the Bukit Daun hotel the Doloh waterfall is located. A very long stairway through tropical vegetation leads down to the 80m tall waterfall. But beware of the way back, as you have to this VERY long stairway up again in the tropical heat of Indonesia.

Kediri itself is a typical bustling Indonesian city, with an incredible traffic in the streets. The growing wealth in Indonesia allows nearly everyone to buy a motorcycle. As a result, all the taxi services in Kediri ran out of business. If you want to go on tour, ask the Bukit Daun hotel reception for a driver. They will also arrange a pickup service from the train station.

For pricing and more Information, see:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lombok special tip: Hotel Tugu Lombok

Beach of Sire, Lombok.
Here it is my Lombok sleeper. Hotel Tugu Lombok is located on the pristine, miles and miles of virgin white sand beach of Sire, on the northwest coast of the island. The hotel displays numerous artifacts from ancient kingdoms and the forgotten history of Lombok, which give the hotel a special, mystical atmosphere that makes it easy to forget daily workload and problems.

The Tugu Lombok offers also unique dining experience. You can eat anywhere - in the gardens, in a private cabin or even on the beach. Or get your most unforgettable experience by starting your day with having breakfast in the beautiful sunrise over the Mount Rinjani, on the traditional wooden dragon head boat. You’ll find your lounge and relax area at Lara Djonggrang Bar, which can be found in a traditional hut with hundred-year-old thick wooden benches and tables. Feel the atmosphere of a long old teak bar, oil lamps and semi-open bamboo windows and beautiful artworks. Enjoy sweet traditional tunes during the day and sensual lounge music playing in the evening with a brick-walled wine cellar.
The Spa at Hotel Tugu Lombok provides the ultimate experience to find bliss and wellbeing for the body and soul. A giant open-air temple spa room lit by oil lamps, with an extra-long spa bed for both spouses to enjoy treatment head-to-head, a giant jacuzzi bathtub with jets, hundreds-years-old relief of temples on display, a rooftop where yoga or meditation can be held next to the soaring tower of beautiful Singhasari and Majapahit statues as well as 180 degrees of oceanview, surrounded by palm trees. Don't dream about it, live it.

Expect a hotel that is different from Asian mainstream tourist hotels. Expect something special.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bintan Island Paradise

Far away from the nearest large Indonesian island Sumatra, but very close to the dynamic city and city-state of Singapore, the small Indonesian island of Bintan is located, as part of Pulau Riau. The short journey from Singapore, it is only 45 minutes by ferry, makes Bintan a popular haven for stressed city slickers from Singapore. Especially on weekends and public holidays in Singapore, be prepared to meet a lot of people at hotel pools and bar. But on regular working days in Singapore it might happen that you are not only at pool and bar, but also completely alone when walking along the many kilometers of glorious palm-fringed sandy beaches. Therefore I will present here three examples of hotels in different price ranges on Bintan:

Budget: Bintan Cabana Beach Resort, seen from 35US$


Bintan Cabana Beach Resort
Situated in 14 arc of tropical lush gardens and located directly at the beachfront, the Bintan Cabana Beach Resort offers simple but nice, many of them with panoramic view over the ocean.
The Bintan Cabana Beach Resort offers many activities, like kayak, snorkeling, bicycle riding, banana boat or fishing, to mention just a few outdoor sports.
Seafood lovers can also replete with delectable savories in alfresco dining style that sits above the calm, glistening waters—while you indulge in the panoramic view of a breathtaking seascape. 
more information
best price seen

Midrange: Nirvana Resort Hotel, seen from 71US$


Bintan Nirvana Resort Hotel
A tropical and romantic hub for honeymooners and couples with an array of recreational facilities guaranteeing an entertaining and relaxing holiday. Enjoy international and Indonesian cuisine from the restaurant’s themed buffets and later lounge by the outdoor pool and order cocktails from the poolside bar. 
The Nirvana Resort Hotel is one of five hotels that are nestled into huge tropical gardens of the Nirvana hotel compound. Enjoy the sound of the waves and the wind on your skin while you sit at one of the many palm trees, which spread along a 2km long sandy beach lined up.

Top End: Bayana Tree Bintan, seen from 278US$


Bayan Tree Bintan Hotel
The Banyan Tree Bintan is a top end luxury hideaway situated between the beauty of the South China Sea and natural. Each of the 61 luxurious Balinese-styled villas comes along with a private Jacuzzi and free wireless internet. The private talcum-white private beach is just a few steps away. The championship golf course and the Banyan Tree Spa make this 5-star resort is the most comfortable choice in Bintan.

How to get there:

Bintan is not reachable by air. The resort area can best be reached by ferry from Singapore. There is a regular ferry service operated by Bintan Resort Ferries to travel between Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal in Singapore and Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal in Bintan. The journey takes about 55 minutes.
From Indonesia, there are regular speedboat services running between Telaga Punggur Ferry Terminal in Batam and Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal Bintan. The journey takes approximately 45 minutes.
And a Pelni cruise ship sails to Jakarta weekly.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Melia Pursosani Hotel in Yogyakarta

Hotel lobby with coffee shop
The island of Bali has certainly the best and most luxury hotels in Indonesia. Hotels like the Ubud Hanging Gardens, or the Giri Giri don’t need to be afraid getting compared with any other hotel in the world. However, my personal favorite hotel in Indonesia is not in Bali but on the island of Java.
The Melia Purosani in Yogyakarta offers a level of comfort, which the overland traveler in Java would not expect. The rooms are large, extremely clean and the beds are just a poem. I've never slept in any other place in such a wonderful beds. The breakfast is a significant step better than anywhere else, in the lobby there is a real cafe with wonderful cakes and real coffee. The later is a rarity in Indonesia by the way. And this is completed by low-cost but high quality cigars called Dos Hermanos. The only smokable cigars manufactured in Indonesia.
Among the facilities is in addition to a spa, a gym and a few shops, also a pool area in the courtyard of the hotel. Shielded by the six floors of the building, located in the courtyard of a beautiful tropical garden with a large pool, several Asian stone figurs, small waterfall, water slide, etc. Here you can relax from the hectic shopping and sightseeing tours in and around Yogyakarta.

Prambanan Temple in Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta is considered the cultural center of Indonesia. One of the main attractions of Yogyakarta is Kraton, the palace of the sultan. Also a must is a trip to Borobudur Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the whole of Southeast Asia. And the Hindustic Prambanan temple is located next to the city. Yogyakarta is the center of classical Javanese art and culture and is primarily known as a center for batik art.
But the city offers more than just culture. Yogyakarta is a very vibrant city and a shopper's paradise. On the main street of Malioboro Street travelers can choose among a variety of souvenirs from Jogyakarta: batik, traditional wayang puppet, sculptures, pottery and cutlery.
So far I’ve been to Yogyakarta for three times and for each visit I stood in the Melia Purosani. So, I am not able to compare with other hotels in Yogyakarta. But next time I will again step in the Melia Purosani. And maybe you can see me then, sitting on the terrace to the garden, drinking some coffee and smoking a Dos Hermanos, and letting my thougts wandering here and there. Until then!

Smoking on the terrace: see you there!
Tropical gardens with pool

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bali hotel architecture

The art of tropical living
Many hotels in Bali bribe with their beautiful architecture. Upon entering the hotel facilities, the traveler emerges into another world. All thoughts of everyday life at home and the stress with the boss are blown away abruptly. Thereby, this Balinese style of architecture becomes increasingly popular all over the world. Stone carvings, relaxing space, and open living rooms that invite the outside landscaping in are major parts of Balinese architecture.
Open living space benefits from lush tropical gardens, which are as much a can not be overlooked component of modern Balinese way of life. Mossy walls, handcarved statues, and watergardens, combined with tropical plants, palms, the beach and and lots of space.
See this small selection of very luxury examples for hotel architecture in Bali:

The Balé combines traditional Balinese architecture with contemporary design. The hotels offers a wide range of pavilions with direct sea view, which gave the name, as the word balé translates in Western terms as "pavilion". Each pavilion comes with a large day bed where guests may enjoy ocean breezes and a massage.

A well kept secret is the Komaneka Resort near Ubud. The guest villas of this quite and unhurried hotel are open and invite the tropcial gardens into the living rooms. The Balinese-styled rooms feature dark wood furnishings and offer a private terrace with views of rice fields or landscaped gardens.

Ubud Hanging Gardens Hotel
Overlooking the Ayung River, the luxurious Ubud Hanging Gardens offers villas with a private infinity-edged pool. Recline in these private plunge pools and you are totally enveloped by nature: jungle-covered mountains, exotic flowers, and an exquisite temple on the opposite cliff. This is the pinnacle of luxury.

Several writers and photographers have been busy with the trend of Balinese architecture. Some interesting books and picture books were created, two of which are on my bookshelf. Many a holiday has been replaced with a glass of red wine and browse these two books:

Living in Bali
Balinese homes in harmony with nature. Loved by travelers for its lush, tropical scenery, and charming people, Bali is considered to be one of the most magnificent places on earth. When it comes to Balinese houses, walls are not compulsory, wood is everywhere. This title takes you in a world without walls.

Bali Modern: The Art of Tropical Living
Shimmering pavilions, open verandas, living rooms that invite the outside landscape in--all part of the Balinese tropical experience.