Happy Black Woman in Indonesia: 5-Star Living on a 2-Star Budget!
I arrived in Jakarta on Saturday evening. It’s warm and humid as I step out of the airport and into the black air-conditioned van waiting for me outside.
Since Jakarta is 11 hours ahead of east coast time, I am quite jet-lagged after flying 14 hours from Buenos Aires to LAX on American, then 2 more days from LAX to Jakarta on a crazy $391 discount fare on Delta, including an overnight layover in Tokyo.
(Now the question is – would I do it again? Hmm, probably…LOL)
My Indonesia trip has been months in the making ever since I booked that unbelievable flight deal. But since my original fare was so low, Delta wouldn’t allow me to upgrade :(
It may have even been a “glitch fare” – where the airline posts a super-low price by mistake, but honors it anyway. I don’t remember exactly, I just saw it and booked right away!
After threading through throngs of traffic (there always seems to be traffic in Jakarta), I get to my hotel, the beautiful Hermitage Menteng. I reserved my room for 3 nights with Expedia for about $150/night and due to a glitch in their system (gotta love travel glitches when they are in your favor!), I was upgraded from a standard deluxe room to a Junior Suite.
I always try to book a really nice room for the first few days I am in a new country so I can be taken care of and not have to figure out a whole bunch of logistics on my own. This gives me time and space to sleep off my jet lag and get my bearings in style.
After check-in, I was escorted to my room and had all the amenities explained to me. A personalized card and fresh fruit in the room was a nice touch to an already fantastic customer service experience.
Inside the bathroom were Hermes bath products – soap, shampoo, lotion, etc. I actually did not like these, despite the luxury name brand, because they smelled very…masculine. Like Old Spice manly man soap. I would have preferred something with a floral scent!
Turn-down service was done around 8pm each evening. I loved how they placed the water (room temperature, not cold!) and slippers right next to my bed. They also put a laundry bag and breakfast menu on top so I could prepare for the next day.
I slept most of the next few days but woke up to beautiful afternoons, 80 degrees with a warm breeze. The Hermitage has a lovely rooftop bar with awesome views of the city!
I took afternoon tea in the courtyard. It’s my new favorite meal! Afternoon tea would’ve cost at least $25 at a comparable property in the U.S. but in Jakarta I paid just $9.
This Indonesian “Colonial Tea” selection was delicious, even though I had no idea what everything was. I also booked a 90-minute full-body massage in the hotel spa for only $31, where in the U.S. I would’ve paid at least $150 at a 5-star property.
Dinner at the Hermitage Lounge ran me about $15 including lumpia (similar to a fried spring roll), a traditional beef soup called soto betawi, served with rice and prawn crackers. An Indonesian drink called susu jahe – ginger tea mixed with palm sugar and milk was the perfect compliment to the spicy meal.
I’m glad I kicked off my trip with such a memorable luxury hotel stay! It’s exciting for me because in the U.S. I have definitely paid upwards of $150 per night for 2 and 3-star properties with very few amenities.
In terms of customer service, the Hermitage (and Indonesia in general) was 10 times better than anything I’ve experienced at the Four Seasons, Trump Hotels, etc. The staff would not allow me to lift a finger to carry my own bags or even get my own ice cubes. “Let me do it for you,” is the mantra I kept hearing throughout my stay.
Needless to say, I’m absolutely loving the dollar to rupiah conversion rate here in Indonesia! It’s truly incredible how you can simply go to another country and all of a sudden be able to experience 5-star living on just a 2-star budget.
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