Many different architectural styles can be seen in Indonesia, which originated from ancient kingdoms across the archipelago. It is not surprising at all to find a hotel or resort with local architecture and cultural touches, such as mini Hindu shrines and sculptures, which you can find inside many accommodations across Java and Bali, as well as thatched roofs in hotels on Lombok and Sumba Islands. However, surprisingly, you can just as easily find a hotel with very classic Dutch architecture, especially in Java. One example of classical Dutch architecture is the 5-star Phoenix Hotel in the middle of Yogyakarta City.
It brings you back to the old times
I recommend staying in the Phoenix Hotel during a trip to Yogyakarta, as staying here makes you feel as though you are living in bygone era, when the archipelago was still a colony of the Dutch Empire. This hotel used to be a Dutch colonial mansion built in the early 20th century, but was then restored to be a luxury hotel, while preserving most of its architecture. More than an old-style European mansion, this hotel uniquely looks like a palace somewhere in the Netherlands or Denmark, but with beautiful Javanese artifacts in its interior!
Lobby with vintage furniture
When you arrive in the lobby area, you will know what I am talking about. The lobby is clean and air-conditioned (it’s a good thing, as most of the time Yogyakarta is hot and humid during the day). Every detail is impressive, from its motif-rich tiles, the large doors with ventilation space at the top, to the high ceilings, the wooden vintage furniture (most have traditional batik carvings), decorative lights and antique sculptures.
Taste traditional welcome snacks
Upon check in, you will be taken to a lounge full of artifacts (1918’s Terrace Lounge), which include statues of a man and a woman wearing a sarong. The lounge also has some black and white photos of Yogyakarta in the old times.
You will receive your welcome drink and snacks in the lounge, and this is the only hotel I know that serves traditional Javanese snacks. You are given a glass of warm and sweet ginger tea (it’s called wedang in Javanese). You will get to try various traditional Javanese snacks as well including Javanese mung bean pies named bakpia (this is what Yogyakarta is famous for among locals!), chewy jelly snacks made of brown sugar called jenang, as well as enting enting, ginger crackers. Interestingly, all of these snacks are homemade by the hotel! So don’t forget to buy these snacks for souvenirs before leaving Yogyakarta.
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Lavish room with Javanese details
The room is modern and very well appointed, with apparent Javanese details, such as wooden furniture and batik fabrics, but with a touch of European architecture on its balcony. There is also a batik tapestry behind the bed and a blanket with the same kind of art, making it feels like you are living in a house of one of the locals! However, if you go onto the balcony, you will find a spectacular view of the city (depending on your room type, you may get either pool or garden view).
There is a mini bar, and the fun thing about it is that everything inside (soft drinks and snacks) can be consumed for free. Complimentary coffee, tea, fruits and sweets are delivered to your room daily, and it includes snake fruits, a sweet fleshy fruit with a rough skin that has patterns like that of a snake! Other amenities include a safe, located in the wardrobe, and when you open the wardrobe, you will also find a beautiful batik robe and a pair of sandals.
Toiletries are complimentary and the bathroom is made entirely of marble. It sparklingly clean, with an artsy dressing table. You will also find that bottles of water are replaced daily, and you will find two sculptures of a man and a woman kneeling and wearing traditional clothes, adding a Javanese accent to the bathroom.
Authentic Javanese food
The free buffet breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant, Paprika, will be a highlight of your stay. This restaurant is as artsy as other parts of the hotel, and it is indeed the right place if you want to have a real Javanese breakfast. There are many varieties of Javanese delicacies, served in antique clay pots, including what Yogyakarta is famous for, gudeg, a side dish which is made of jackfruit and is rich in coconut milk. The restaurant also has a variety of sambals (chili sauce) for guests to add to their dishes, such as the sweet red sambal bajak, the savory green sambal hijau and the refreshingly colorful sambal dabu dabu.
Other than local food, there are also varieties of international foods, from sushi to waffles, pizza and pancakes. No matter where you come from, there will always be a favorite item!
Unique beverage options
They also serve fresh fruit juices (ask them to make juice from the fruits available in the buffet!) and traditional herbal drinks including the refreshingly sweet and sour sinom (wine options are available for a price). For coffee drinkers, try the very thick and sweet Indonesian coffee named kopi tubruk, and don’t miss the goat’s milk, which tastes similar to and has the same nutritional values as cow milk, but is a bit sweeter. For your coffee, there are different kinds of sugars (brown sugar, refined sugar or lump sugar), as well as cocoa powder and cinnamon to be added in.
In addition, during your meal you will be treated to soft, slow and resonating Javanese melodies (if you understand music, you will notice the absence of ‘f’ and ‘a’) coming from musical instruments named gamelan, a type of tuned mini gongs.
Your best hotel choice
The staff at Phoenix Hotel are fantastic. They know what you need and will do everything to make every guest happy. If you’re staying at the hotel for a special occasion, like a birthday or anniversary, you can inform the hotel and they’ll prepare something memorable for the celebration. If you need to leave the hotel early in the morning, you can ask for a take-away breakfast from the buffet.
The hotel is just less than 1 km (0.62 mile) away from Malioboro, a major shopping street in Yogyakarta, and about 2 km (1.24 mile) away from Keraton, the King Palace, which also functions as a government building. You can walk, but it is a great idea to ride an Indonesian trishaw (or becak in Bahasa Indonesia) to the district, and the trishaw can easily be found in front of the hotel.
The famous Borobudur and Prambanan Temples are about an hour away from the hotel, and it’s a lucky thing for you because you can book a tour from the tour operator in the hotel. Airport pickup is free. Other amenities include a large swimming pool, which is accessible from some rooms, a well-equipped gym and fast internet from most hotel areas.
The rates are a great value for money, as for all those amenities, it only costs you less than 100 USD or 1,331,800 IDR (it’s 972,891 IDR or 73.07 USD for a superior room). So make your booking right now because this hotel is simply your best choice for an authentic Javanese experience!