Some of you may have known this, but just to make it official, Jakarta is actually a great city when it comes to indulging in all thing luxury. And I know ‘glamorous’ is not exactly the first word to pop up in your head when it comes to Jakarta, but hidden beneath the chaotic and boisterous surface are all the glitz and charms you could ever want and more.
Once I landed in the Soekarno–Hatta International Airport, I was completely underprepared. I knew Jakarta is an enormous city, but I had no idea just how difficult it was to reach from Point A to Point B. To summarise my journey from the airport to the hotel, I assumed it would be equivalent to having your soul suck out by a dementor. And just as I thought my vitality was slowly returning when I spotted the brand’s renowned fan logo from afar, the cab driver decided to take a wrong turn and we were back into the traffic. Life is cruel sometimes.
Located on Jalan MH Thamrin, the heart of Jakarta’s financial and diplomatic district, I understood the logic behind a supposedly 45-minute ride that took two and a half hours. Nevertheless, stepping out of the car was like stepping out of prison, the hotel, my blinding light. Though Mandarin Oriental, Jakarta opened its doors in 1979, it underwent a comprehensive renovation and reopened in October 2009 as the most luxurious and contemporary hotel in the city. I was fairly excited to be staying at the property. The lobby is grand, which I expected nothing less from a five-star luxury hotel. I assumed the staff are no stranger to weary guests who have just arrived. At the reception, everything went smoothly and within a matter of minutes, me and my comrades were whisked into our suite.
Inspired by Asian and Indonesian cultures, the Chinoiserie-themed suite was designed using a soft hue palette with a substantial use of earthy warm tones and embellished with Oriental accents in gold and plum. Mind you, for me to sink into the luxurious surrounding was not hard. It was as if I’ve returned home; not that my real home looks exactly like it, but the warmth, welcoming atmosphere really gave me comfort. Of course, when it comes to Oriental, one might assume that all the rooms and suites are gaudy or old fashioned. Rest assured, the spacious accommodation is designed to the highest standard of luxury, reflecting the Mandarin’s positioning and Oriental heritage. Featuring a large bedroom, a living room with separate study and dining areas, a spa-like bathroom with double vanity units, each furnishing blends sleek, modern style with impeccable Oriental touches.
After freshening up, all of us decided to check out some of the establishment’s eateries. There are several options: Cinnamon, a lively and contemporary restaurant, which takes guests on a journey through the Orient; The Mandarin Cake Shop, featuring the finest homemade pastries, breads, cakes and premium chocolate selections in the city; Li Feng, presenting us with a lavish Cantonese cuisine, which is a mixture of traditional dishes and creative rendition of classics; Azure, where guests can enjoy an assortment of American and Asian-style snacks, as well as a clean-eating menu; Lyon, a French restaurant, serving authentic dishes amongst a relaxed yet sophisticated environment; and last but not least, the MO Bar, a fashionable nightspot for guest to taste some of the best handcrafted signature cocktails with delectable bar bites.
Though all of them provided us with an amazing experience, Li Feng was exceptional. As Jakarta’s newest dining destination, you might think that being Malaysian, such cuisine would be monotonous. And truth be told, I don’t regret eating there. Helmed by two talented chefs, Chef Fei and Chef Loy, its menu presents a scrumptious blend of traditional dishes and a creative rendition of classics. Each exquisite culinary delight is masterfully crafted to bring guests warmth and visually stunning delicacies with a surprising modern twist, notably the Deep-Fried Swan Dumpling with Black Pepper Duck Meat and Imperial Kung Fu Soup. A simple luncheon has never been as satisfying as this; each mouthful is a burst of flavours and emotions.
During our three-day-two-night stay, I also managed to try out its fitness and wellness floor. Offering a relaxing retreat through its range of facilities and amenities, Mandarin Oriental, Jakarta presents more than one way to pamper and indulge yourself. From treatments in the specially designed wellness rooms to a dip in the beautifully landscaped pool or working out in the fitness centre, I almost forgot the catastrophe out in the streets. By the end of my stay, though I’m not proud to say that I’ve spent most of my time in the hotel, I would not have spent my vacation any other way. I guess, under most conditions, nothing beats kicking back in your own comfortable space and to have everything you desire within your reach.