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As ever, there is more hotel news out there than we could possibly cover. Here are a few short updates to keep you up to speed with what’s happening in Asia.
citizenM Taipei: the first Asian citizenM, the Dutch group will open in Taiwan’s capital in the last quarter of 2016 with 260 rooms in the Ximending neighborhood. Future Asian cities on the radar are Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Jakarta and Bangkok. Yes, please.
We like to keep it fun but informative here at HotelChatter so our newest series, What is This? is devoted to odd-looking items in hotel rooms that upon first glance look as if they serve only a decorative purpose. But everything happens for a reason, right? And we're here to tell you what these things really do.
This is a sticker of an arrow, placed in the bottom of the first drawer inside the closet of a room at Jakarta's hotel Alila. What's is there for? You'd only know if you were accustomed to looking for them or, like us, you'd obediently read the guest handbook after arrival.
This arrow points to the direction in which Mecca is located. It's absolutely necessary for a hotel located in the center of a predominantly Muslim country.
When the muezzin's call to prayer awakes you just before dawn, think of how many guests then get up and open the drawer to see this arrow, and discover which way to pray.
So now you know.
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What comes to mind when you think about yummy food in Indonesia? Nasi or Mie Goreng probably, and that's cool, but the Hotel Indonesia Kempinski wants you to know it's more than all that. There's also...chocolate.
The hotel and its Executive Pastry Chef, Kevin Curry, have reserved the month of May to be a spotlight on chocolate...but with a local flavor. We're talking about chocolates with a little spice, or pandan-flavored marshmallows.
If, for some reason, you find yourself in Jakarta this month (as we did), then all the goodies can be had at the Kempinski's own Kempi Deli inside the attached Grand Indonesia Mall. Or, you know, there's always a few special events to sign up for:
Staying at a hotel that's 3+ stars in Jakarta, Indonesia means you'll likely have a view of the city; many of the central high-rise buildings house hotels. That said, it's rare to have such a straight shot view to the iconic Wisma 46, Indonesia's tallest building nicknamed the "Fountain Pen."
Hopefully you can see why this pointy, 48-story skyscraper looks as though it's ready to write its John Hancock on the Jakarta smog layer. And, hopefully, you're checking it out from inside a cushy room at the Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, which sits smack dab at the traffic circle around the "Bundaran HI" welcome monument.
The Hotel Indonesia itself is a landmark relic from the 1960s, and now that it's managed by Kempinski the vintage exterior is countered by a seriously modern interior; we're talking designer furniture in the lobby and guestrooms that look like they're in Manhattan, versus a chaotic capital in Southeast Asia. Rooms at the Hotel Indonesia Kempinski being around $250 per night.
When you check into a hotel and sit down to flip through the room service menu tucked into the back of the Guest Services binder, odds are good that one item will be the hotel's "famous" something-or-other, like a signature burger. At the Alila Hotel Jakarta, however, it's something a bit more local: the Nasi Campur 'Alila'.
For 80,000 rupiah ($8.70), you get a large plate of traditional Indonesian fried rice, topped with a fried egg. On the side are a few skewers of chicken satay, some prawn crackers and trimmings. It's a substantial, tasty meal for room service, and the price is definitely right. Alila Hotels is a Singapore-based hotel company, with all their properties in either Indonesia or India, so it makes total sense to forego a huge Western room service menu (though there are several solid choices).
We booked two nights at the Alila Jakarta on Jetsetter.com for $234 total, mainly because they have reliable, free WiFi. Little did we know that the room service was also part of the positives.