What are the things most travellers consider when choosing an accommodation? Aren’t they comfort, good service, a convenient location, as well as having affordable prices? Many times I wonder if I can get all of these amenities from a hotel, but it always turns out that I can’t get all of those at the same time. You normally don’t expect too much from a budget hotel, although a 5-star hotel may not necessarily be satisfactory either. Nevertheless, there is a hotel in the city of Semarang, Indonesia, that has all of those features and it’s the Whiz Hotel.
Close to train station and bus stop
It’s not hard to find this hotel. The relatively new 7-storey hotel looks skinny from the street, and if you drive, there is a small parking lot right behind the hotel (it only fits a few cars). If you take a train or a bus to Semarang from other cities in Java (trust me, all cities and towns are connected with railways), this is the right hotel for you as it takes only 5 minutes by public transportation to arrive at ‘Tawang’ Train Station and about the same amount of time to ‘Trans Semarang’ bus stop. Upon your arrival. you will find that this hotel is spotlessly clean, and you will be given two cups of iced tea and some crackers to welcome you.
Small but well-facilitated room
Rates start from 256,000 IDR (19.45 USD), which is a very good value with all the amenities that are available. Although rooms are pretty small (16 sqm, 172 sqft), there are comfortable beds with linen, a plasma TV with international channels (it has HBO too!), desks with a table lamp and reading light, AC, and also a private bathroom with toiletries (shower cap, towels, liquid soap, and shampoo) and a hot shower. You will also be provided with a bottle of mineral water everyday. Windows are big and horizontal, allowing for a better outdoor view, and try to choose a room on a higher floor (there is an elevator) as it has a good view of Semarang City where you can enjoy the sunset from your room. Room windows are made using a thick glass, so no street noise can be heard from your room. Most rooms have weaker Wi-Fi signal, so you can either ask for a room with stronger Wi-Fi or request for a LAN cable (there is a LAN socket in some of the rooms) if you need to work on something using the internet).
Surprisingly, for such a rate you get breakfast too! It’s a kind of buffet where you can have more than one type or even all of the dishes, but instead of taking your own food, you will have someone prepare it for you. There are several types of Javanese dishes and they are all delicious, especially their ‘nasi liwet’, a sweetened rice with chicken, and ‘krecek’, which is spicy beef skin! Interestingly, they make most of the foods hot by using the Javanese traditional way of heating them using clay pots with an additional mini stove in each of the pots. The breakfast starts as early as 6am and It also serves bread, fruit, coffee, and tea. The breakfast is for 2, but if you have more than 2 people staying, it’s an additional charge of 30,000 IDR (2.39 USD) per person for the buffet.
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Located in central location
Another advantage of staying in this hotel, is the fact that you are located in the heart of Semarang (Chinatown area), and you don’t need to travel too far to reach many locations. Need shopping? No fret as about 50 meters (164 ft) from this hotel is Paragon Mall, the newest mall in the city where not only can you shop but you can also see a movie or have some sips of coffee at Starbucks. The legendary ‘Toko Oen’ (Oen Shop), a snack shop selling Javanese snacks, such as the prawn crackers, or ‘krupuk’, has been open since the Colonial era, more than 5 decades ago, and is also within a very close walking distance.
It’s also pretty close to ‘Lawang Sewu’, (a thousand doors), an artistic European building built in the Dutch era with many doors. Nearby, you’ll also find the city square Simpang Lima, Chinatown, and the old Dutch town named ‘The Little Netherland’. To get to those places besides by a taxi, you can also choose to take a traditional paddled tricycle named ‘becak. You can easily find both taxis and becak in front of the hotel, and it takes around 20 minutes from the hotel to reach each of the destinations.
Many eateries around
Undecided on what to eat for your lunch or dinner? You can eat in Paragon Mall, but there are also many eateries at the house complex behind the hotel, including an Indonesian restaurant named ‘Dapoer Kampoeng’ (Village Kitchen), famous for its sweet grilled fish. Alternatively, you can go to ‘Kampoeng Semawis’ Street for Chinese food, where you can eat what the city is famous for, the Chinese spring roll called ‘lumpia’ at a shop named ‘Lumpia Semarang Gang Lombok’.
A hotel for non-smokers
Although the staff members speak only a little English, unlike other budget hotels, you’ll be pleased to know that the front officers to the security here are very hospitable. However, there is a rule all guests must follow: smoking is strictly prohibited in rooms, the lobby, the restaurant, and all indoor areas of the hotel. It’s their policy that a guest will be fined the amount of 500,000 IDR (38 USD) if caught smoking (it’s free to smoke in outdoor areas). It’s truly a perfect budget hotel for non-smokers!
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