Anyone who has studied philosophy or watched Ashton Kutcher’s back catalogue of Hollywood films – technically these are not mutually exclusive, although I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who’s done both – will be familiar with ‘The Butterfly Effect’: if a butterfly flaps its wings on one side of the world, it can cause a hurricane on the other side. When I actually am on the other side of the world, checking out the eco-garden at Jakarta’s leading five-star resort Hotel Borobudur, I encounter a butterfly whose wingspan could trigger a storm from which my home country would not recover. Let’s hope that Chaos Theory, not unlike what some say about Kutcher’s career, is just full of hot air.
I’m in Indonesia’s massive capital to attend the Java Jazz Festival, with the majority of the artists who are playing at the three-day festival staying at the hotel, giving me the opportunity to rub shoulders with the likes of Incognito (shared an elevator with the singer) and Naughty By Nature (saw their poster in the lobby). Speaking of the lobby, it is absolutely cavernous, a wonderfully bright, naturally-lit space in which guests mingle next to the double spiral staircase and exotic artwork. Flea-bitten backpacker hostel, this ain’t.
After checking in, I make my way up to the Executive Room, which is full of all of the luxuries that you’d want in a home away from home: huge TV, ridiculously comfortable double bed, minibar and fridge, lots of closet space and the idiosyncratic addition of a book of Jing Si Aphorisms…well, it’s more interesting than a Yellow Pages. The bathroom has a rain shower and a decent-sized bath that I make full use of during my stay, washing off the day’s excitement and accumulated jet-lag every night before bed. The elevated living area has a large desk which is ideal for business travellers who want to work during their stay. There’s a bowl of fresh fruit on the table near the windows, through which lies a picturesque backdrop when looking out at the cityscape at night, the hectic traffic posited as something poetic when viewed from such a great height and distance, neon-lit trails swirling towards the horizon.
Breakfast is a jolly affair, the cosmopolitan mix of guests jostling at the plentiful buffet bar to get their mitts on the freshest batch of mi goreng, pastries, eggs, cold meats and an eclectic assortment of Indonesian dishes. The hotel boasts seven dining venues, the one I spend most of my time in being the Churchill Wine and Cigar Bar, where you’ll find chilled foreign lager, a variety of cocktails and, of course, an array of cigars to choose from. There’s also a pool table and a chess set along with TVs that seem to show non-stop sport. For those who want more in their stomach than Heineken and peanuts, check out the private teppanyaki restaurant in Miyama Japanese restaurant of fill up on fancy pasta and fine wine at Bruschetta.
What really separates the hotel from its competitors, however, is what’s outside. With 23 acres of tropical gardens, you could spend a whole day exploring their grounds and not get even the slightest bit bored. Indeed, there is actually a jogging track around the entire hotel for those who want a particularly scenic workout. We walk past the gigantic swimming pool (is there a size bigger than Olympic?) where guests can enjoy refreshing drinks by the outside bar area, admire the fortitude of the players slugging it out on the eight tennis courts in 35 ℃ heat and walk through to meet the aforementioned butterfly behemoth.
As I learn during my trip, certain elements of Jakartan society strive to be as environmentally aware as possible and Borobudur is no exception, bagging a Global Luxury Green Hotel Award in 2014. The landscaping team use their own tree leaves to make fertiliser for the soil and rely on recycled water to keep the verdant lushness of the gardens remain year-round (the focus point for me is a gorgeous, arching banyan tree). So it’s no surprise that they keep their own butterfly garden, where the beautiful-but-potentially-typhoon-creating beast is happily relaxing on a vine. The team breed their own butterflies here, keeping an endangered species alive and providing guests with a wonderful way to connect with nature in the heart of a bustling metropolis.
The spa area is well worth a visit, especially if you’ve been on the go for the last three days as we have; the 30-minute foot massage in reclining chairs as the pretty staff brought us cool refreshments tea will definitely go down as one of many high points of the trip. Easy listening covers of classic rock songs serenade us during the experience, a soft jazz interpretation of Losing My Religion filling my ears as the last 72 hours of travel are miraculously rubbed off my feet.
With a helipad on the premises (that’s one way to beat the infamously relentless Jakartan traffic), it’s no surprise that Hotel Borobudur plays host to a variety of visiting dignitaries, politicians and celebrities; Sting, David Foster and even Prince Charles and Princess Diana have all made use of the lavish Presidential Suite (although presumably not at the same time). I’ll have to schedule my next stay to sync up with Mr Kutcher’s visit to this outstanding hotel, as I’ve got some really promising ideas for a Nietzschean-themed sequel to Dude, Where’s My Car?…
Hotel Borobudur Jakarta, Jalan Lapangan Banteng Selatan No.1, Ps. Baru, Sawah Besar, Kota Jakarta Pusat, DKI Jakarta 10710, Indonesia.
Tel: +62 21 380 5555
The hotel is situated in Central Jakarta and is a 45-minute taxi drive from the airport, traffic-depending.
Type of Hotel: 5-Star Diamond Hotel
“A large yet intimate eco-friendly resort that has several unique amenities that make it stand out from its peers.”
Price Band: Expensive
Reviewer’s rating: 9/10
David Harfield is the director of PepperStorm Media and writes about his three passions: food, booze and travel.
Photographs courtesy of Tom Kent and Hotel Borobudur