October 10, 2003

Article at Wall Street Journal

The Card: Jakarta Oasis

The Alila Jakarta hotel wouldn't stand out in any number of cities, from Tokyo to Sydney, where contemporary hotels are common. In Jakarta, though, it's a gem. The chic, minimalist design is a perfect antidote to the chaos of the city outside. Walking into the high-ceilinged lobby, free of excess detailing, brings an enveloping sense of calm. If there's a downside, it feels not so much minimalist as empty and incomplete. Meanwhile, the rooms think parquetry flooring, earth tones, smooth wood furniture, soft cushions, and bowls of fresh red apples are sophisticated and uncluttered. And, for the hotel's target business market, there's high-speed internet access in every room ($10 a day in deluxe rooms, free with flat-screen personal computer in executive rooms and suites). The Alila's Buzz Cafe serves Asian, Japanese and Mediterranean fare from an open kitchen. (If you're willing to brave the sidewalks always an issue in Jakarta the street outside the entrance, Jalan Pecenongan, is famous among locals as the location of the city's best seafood hawker stalls.) The two-year-old, 117-room hotel also includes three bars the intimidatingly spacious Space lounge, the hopping A2 Club and a pool bar. A spa has four massage rooms, plus a sauna and a steam room. Hotel promotional material claims that Alila is "conveniently located" in the center of the city's historical and commercial district. Not really, say Jakarta insiders, but then, what is? Jakarta is a sprawling, congested city with no real center anymore. Trips that should take 15 minutes can take hours, and you're going to be spending lots of time in the back seat of a car no matter where you stay. So, if you crave calm when you visit the Big Durian, Alila is a good choice.  

Alila Jakarta, Jl. Pecenongan Kav 7-17, Jakarta 10120, Indonesia (Alila hotels also in Ubud, Bali, and East Bali). Tel: 62-21-231-6008. Web: www.alilahotels.co . Published rates: $160 to $450 (Internet rates less).