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Archive for May, 2013

20130529-31 Shangri-la Hotel, Jakarta, Indonesia

“Solid, reliable brand”

I have always been fond of the Shangri-la group.  I remember when I was a little boy, my parents took me to Shangri-la Singapore for dinner.  They had the most beautiful tea cup I have seen – white porcelain with a thick dark green stripe near the top.  There might also have been a very fine gold stripe.  I know, this design is considered very old-fashioned today but I keep looking out for it.  If I see it again one day, I think I might keep it.  Ha!

As an adult, I visit the Shangri-la Singapore very frequently— the great service, the great ambience, the quality of food, it all adds up to great value for money.  I visit Shangri-la’s sister hotel, Traders Hotel too, but not as frequently as I visit Shangri-la  Singapore.

I was excited to be checking into Shangri-la Jakarta. 

I stayed in a Horizon Club room.  A Horizon Club room is an executive grade room. 

First, let’s talk about all the usual basics, which are available in the room —-bathrobe, many, many towels (good!), coffee, tea, kettle, large flat screen TV with many international channels.

Some nice touches about staying at Shangri-la Jakarta and the Horizon Club:

The clock in the bathroom— this is the thing I like second most about staying at the Horizon Club.  Whoever thought of putting a small clock in the bathroom should really be given a lot of credit.  It’s a simple touch but immensely practical.  Imagine you are doing your self-care in front of the mirror or soaking in the tub.  You don’t have to run out of the bathroom or get out of the tub to find your watch.  Immensely helpful.

Speakers under the wash basin— the thing I like third most about Horizon Club.  The speakers are linked to the TV.  Now, I can hear whatever is on TV while I soak in the tub. 

Generous fruit basket—  it’s fantastic for busy executives who don’t have the time to hunt down a supermarket to buy fruit.  Great for a late night snack or late breakfast if you sleep late.  I particularly like kiwis.

Complimentary shoe-shine and suit pressing service—  solves all my worries after a flight where my clothes get all crumpled in my suitcase.

Complimentary wifi— need I say more?  They also have wired broadband.  No need to bring your own broad band cable.  It’s available in the room.

Electric sockets that accept all countries’ plugs— no need to bring your own travel adapter.  Woohoo!

The Turn-down Service— it’s a small thing, but it makes me feel so good.  The staff comes around in the evening with a cart and ask if they can offer you anything.  I usually ask for more bottles of water or more teabags.  If you happen to be out, they lay out a pair of slippers, fold down your comforter and place an orchid on your comforter.  Nice.

L’occitane toiletries— class!

Lighting—  it seems the trend these days is for hotel rooms to cut down on the number of lamps to cut down on electricity bills.  Sometimes it’s so dark my eyes hurt while packing.  It’s impossible to read in bed.  I am glad to report that the Horizon Club rooms are suitably, pleasantly bright.

Gym— they have a pretty good gym.  Not hard-core but sufficient for a short stay – machines, dumbbells, Smith machine.  The best part is that after your workout, you can make use of the jacuzzi.   They not only have the usual hot Jacuzzi, they have a cold pool as well.  So you can perform hot-cold therapy.  I miss Japanese onsens very much.  I was very happy to be able to perform hot-cold therapy at Shangri-la Jakarta.  It felt good! 

The Doormen— these people definitely don’t get enough credit.  They make sure there are always a couple of Silver Bird (Mercedes) taxis on standby at the hotel.  That way, you don’t have to wait for a taxi.  If you want a cheaper Blue Bird taxi, they can call one for you and it usually arrives very quickly.  The doormen never fail to help me with my suitcase.  The best and most invaluable part about their service is that they never fail to ask where you are going.  That way, they can communicate that to the taxi driver to ensure that the taxi driver really knows where you want to go.  This is a god-send service and saves an infinite amount of trouble.   I cannot emphasise how grateful I am for this service.  The doormen are always cheerful and polite. 

The Horizon Lounge on the 23rd floor is where Horizon Club guests have their breakfasts.  The breakfast buffet consists of the usual Western fare (sausages, baked beans, mushrooms), Chinese fare (rice porridge and the side dishes that accompany it, dim sum, fried noodles), bread, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, cereal, juices, coffee and tea.  Besides the buffet spread, you are also able to order a la carte pancakes/ waffles/ French toast, omelette done to your preference (with hash brown and beef bacon on the side if you want).  I ordered the waffles.  When cold, they were unexpectedly tough and cheap, like they were manufactured cheaply in some factory in a fifth-rate town.  The beef bacon was the streaky sort.  Back bacon would have been better.  I don’t know how they prepared the bacon but they certainly weren’t crispy.  It was kind of wet and soggy.  I don’t think they were roasted in an oven.

From 2-4pm everyday, Horizon Club guests can also enjoy afternoon tea at the Horizon Lounge.  Available are salads, bite-sized sandwiches, sweet confectionery, coffee (latte, cappuccino etc made upon your order) and tea.  Very popular seems to be coffee for takeaway.  The butlers will prepare your coffee upon your order in a paper cup and you can take it away, just like at Starbucks/ Coffee Bean etc.    

The best part about staying at the Horizon Club is the “cocktail” available everyday 5-8pm at the Horizon Lounge.  To call it a “cocktail” is a bit of an understatement.  It is more of a mini-buffet.  (Shangri-la can afford to sell this point more *hint*).  There is soup, bite-size sandwiches, some protein eg sticks of satay, chicken patties etc, sushi, smoked salmon, sweet confections, free flow of wine and cocktails (prepared for you upon your order), coffee and tea.  The reason this is the best part about staying at the Horizon Club is the sheer convenience it offers to business travellers.  After a long day of sales presentations and client meetings, I don’t have the time to go down to one of their fine restaurants for a leisurely sit-down meal.  I have a lot of work to do.  With this mini-buffet, I can take care of my dinner while typing furiously on my laptop (I see many other people doing the same; there are many sockets available).  This is also a good place if you have the time to sip a glass of wine while watching dusk falls on Jakarta through the panoramic windows.  The night skyline of Jakarta isn’t particularly exceptional but it was a nice moment, a nice ambience.  I enjoyed my quiet moment.  If it rains, watch the fury of Nature.  

You might want to try their signature cocktail called “The Traffic’, because, according to one of the butlers, it makes you forget the traffic.  !!!???? Sense of humour? I think I am hooked for life.  The cocktail wasn’t particularly impressive in anyway but the humour is off the charts.  

If you find Jakarta awful or you have been sent here on an assignment you hate, then Shangri-la Jakarta is a very good place as a haven against the city.  The staff (down to the security at the gate) seem reasonably friendly and happy to be working there, which is always a good sign.  This place is 5-star in looks and service.  Solid, reliable brand.

20130529-31 Getting around Jakarta, Indonesia

There are traffic jams everywhere.  You may think a short distance of 1km, how bad can it be?  You will be surprised.  There are traffic jams everywhere.  I mean, EVERYWHERE.  As soon as you leave your hotel, you enter a traffic jam.  No kidding.  As such, plan to stay as close as possible to where you need to be.

Most websites recommend to take only Silver Bird, Blue Bird, Express, Gambia taxis.  They are metered rather than the driver negotiating a price with you.  Silver Bird taxis are Mercedes taxis.  They are from IDR1500 per trip.  Blue Bird starts from IDR6000 per trip.  Pusaka taxis also belong to Blue Bird Group.  I personally have encountered Express and Pusaka drivers who didn’t want to turn on meter and wanted to negotiate a price.

My advice is: if you are stuck in a place with perhaps not many taxis, and after encountering a few drivers who do not wish to turn on the meter, then go with it and pay a flat rate.  But do bargain down the price they ask.

20130529-31 Getting from Jakarta Soekarno–Hatta International Airport to city centre and back

My taxi took more than one hour to travel from the airport to the city centre.  There was a lot of traffic jam.  Please, please remember to use the toilet/ prepare a bottle of water for the long ride.

My taxi driver (Silver Bird taxi) fell asleep at the wheel a few times.  The driver behind had to honk him to wake him up.  I am not kidding.

On the way back from the city centre to the airport, it took only 50 mins.

Shangri-la Hotel Jakarta, Indonesia 20130529-31

20130530 Rosso, Shangri-la Jakarta, Jakarta, Indonesia

This is an Italian restaurant.

Porcini mushroom soup cappuccino with truffle oil and Tuscan cantucinni

Mushroom soup + cappuccino (!) + truffle oil + served in a coffee cup (with a layer of foam on top) = AMAZING!!!  INDESCRIBABLE!!!  I really don’t know to describe it but it is out of this world.  I don’t think I have ever this enthralled by food before.   I think the chef must be quite, quite genius.  AMAZING!!!  INDESCRIBABLE!!!

Crispy suckling pig “rustico” with roasted potatoes, bell peppers, stewed tomatoes and a garlic and rosemary sauce

The protein fills you up very well but it is a little too oily for my taste.  I recommend you get wine to go with this.  The roasted potatoes are perfect though.

Semifreddo al torroncino

There were rough chips of ice in the middle of it.  Seriously??? Seriously???!!!  I would encounter this in Shangri-la???

Rosso’s décor is nice.  I think it’s worth it to come in, have a cup of coffee/ wine and enjoy the ambience.  I think that can be an enjoyment in itself, all the more so if it’s raining a storm outside.