Mary Gostelow goes for history in Jakarta

Here's why Girlahead recommends Hotel Indonesia Kempinski

There are many pundits who say new luxury is city-free and rural-dependent, it is vital to remember and support nations that are doing what they can to support businesses. Indonesia, for example, launched a sovereign fund this February – Indonesia investment authority INA – with one of its stated goals to build up the country’s business-friendly culture.

Honestly, asked to recommend somewhere to visit ‘in Indonesia’, just like that, I would either go for ultimate exclusivity, say galloping over kilometres of beaches at the amazing Nihi resort on Sumba Island, a 20-minute flight from Bali, or stay right in the heart of the capital, Jakarta.

Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta facade

Anyone with business intent should consider Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta, opened 5th August, 1962 by President Soekarno for the fourth Asian Games and, the following year, declared Indonesia’s cultural heritage #475. At the same time, this 289-room treasure has been kept remarkably up to date, thanks partly to one of the owners’ daughters, Grace Katuari, and hotel GM Sjefke Jansen.

Diplomatic Suite, bedroom - Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, Jakarta

Try to stay overlooking Bunderan Hi, the city’s iconic turning circle surrounded by a constantly-busy flow of traffic (you always have something to watch, night and day. Will that Honda Beat eSP bike beat that Mitsubishi Xpander car around the circle or not?).

Dining at Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, Jakarta

I was in #830, a 128 square-metre Diplomatic Suite, on my last visit to town, and very satisfactory it was. I looked straight down to Bunderan Hi and actually found it so mesmerising it was difficult to tear myself away.

But no-one should miss a trip up to the L-shaped building’s 17th floor rooftop. There, in the apex, is the air-conditioned Technogym fitness centre, open from five in the morning and offering a much-needed workout. Then, head down to ground level to join regular locals, the cream of Jakarta’s elite, for breakfast (my favourites include nasi bami goreng, with fried noodles).

Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta, Grand Ballroom (Bali Room)

Later on, meal alternatives include an authentic brewhouse with Jakarta’s only master brewer, and suitable filling food, or Japanese. At some point too, take time to tour some of the 3,500 artworks, which include wall-set photo displays of past VIPs: one of my favourites in this gallery is a 2009 Budiyana work in the lobby walkway, showing two ample gentlemen.

Try to get into the nationally-iconic Bali Room too, an oval function space dominated by nine, nine-metre-high columns along both sides. Indonesia’s presidents, and other rich and famous citizens, tend to get married here. If you are still wondering what to do, well, try a facial from Maria in the Kempinski Spa, after which you could wander into the adjacent shopping mall to watch happy families spending.

Mary Gostelow publishes the daily girlahead.com and a unique weekly 15-minute industry Mary Gostelow Girlahead Podcast, both part of Almont Global.

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