I hadn’t been to Jakarta in over six years, but a trip there recently saw the city welcoming me with a two-hour long macet (traffic jam)! Well, it was a Friday evening and the InterContinental Jakarta MidPlaza hotel I was heading for was located along busy Jl. Sudirman in the CBD.
Words: R. Rajendra
Ending the long commute, I wearily stepped out of the taxi and into the hotel and was almost instantaneously grateful that it was tucked away amidst other skyscrapers that surprisingly silenced the traffic and blocked the maddening world from view. It seemed the InterContinental Jakarta MidPlaza (ICJMP) was a quiet little gem purpose-built to shield guests from the chaos of Jakarta, although in reality, this hotel was one of the first to occupy the space there, with the other blocks having cropped up over time.
Built in the mid-90s, the ICJMP underwent massive refurbishment to keep it relevant without losing its old world European grandeur. Although tucked between steel and concrete towers, the property has been cleverly angled to catch natural light that floods its public spaces. Rich, scalloped, velvet curtains that reminded me of old cinema halls adorned glass walls while wooden panels with mango wood veneer gave the décor an Asian element. A general air of understated elegance permeated the air all around and I could almost imagine how the rest of the hotel would be. That is where I erred: Assuming the lobby alone would set the tone and mood for the rest of the experience. The ICJMP revelled in throwing curveballs, albeit immensely gratifying ones, at every possible turn or corner of the hotel.
The rooms were quiet spaces that were comfortable and my Deluxe Room was as welcoming as the other categories, but what had me rejoicing was the bed. It was so plush, I literally dreamt of floating on clouds, courtesy of the thick and luxurious downy pillows and bed linens! The bathroom was equally delightful as it was a large and brightly lit space that echoed the classic elegance of European mansions.
Comfort aside, the design elements employed by the hotel are well worth a closer look. I was floored by the décor of Rasa, the hotel’s all-day dining outlet, which is a good example of how wood can be sexy without looking like a saw mill. Wooden lattice panels with Javanese batik designs divided one space while exposed vertical slats covered the rest of the walls. Into these, salvaged tree trunks sliced and inserted at intervals created a 3D effect for added depth and intrigue. Suspended from the ceiling were three gnarly wooden blocks with protruding quills of LED lights, looking like hovering spaceships! Light and darkness, wood and glass, modern and new… the outlet was a juxtaposition of elements that worked surprisingly well together. But, don’t just visit Rasa for its design; the food is equally good – so good that I gave the Club Intercontinental Lounge breakfast a miss. Hotel breakfast buffets are generally depressing affairs, but not at Rasa. From Japanese to Indian, Continental to Indonesian, the spread was extensive and delicious. It even had a juice bar with fresh extraction of spinach, lemons and apples. It looked like dishwater but tasted healthy and heavenly, which, I trust, justified all five helpings of poached eggs with cured salmon on mini bagels that I’d had that morning!
If Rasa was all wood, Scusa, the hotel’s Italian restaurant was all glass and metal. Equipped with an open kitchen, wood fire ovens, rotisserie and charcoal grill, I was expecting a trattoria but found a very classy outlet that suggested fine-dining. The dramatic glass stairway leading to its mezzanine dining rooms, the glass partitions, moody low lights and even a performance space for bands and musical gigs, Scusa is a good excuse for romantic meals or, even a night out with buddies or family. The honest-to-goodness menu serves Italian favourites. I wanted something light but ended up ordering angel hair pasta with grilled Sulawesi lobster. The natural flavours of the ingredients assumed the main role while a hearty tomato sauce with green herbs complemented the pasta and protein perfectly.
Joining the hotel’s F&B attractions is JimBARan Outdoor Lounge. Touted as a little slice of Bali in Jakarta, the venue had gigantic birdcage-like pods surrounded by lush landscaping that welcomed guests to kickback and down a drink or two concocted by resident mixologists such as the hugely popular Sunset in the City. To satisfy hunger pangs, tapas-style bites made the perfect match. Lots of beautiful people who belong to Jakarta’s who’s who list hang out here, so it’s no surprise that JimBARan has become the place to hang out with the cool set.
But, if rubbing shoulders and clinking glasses with the jet set isn’t your style of winding down, head to Spa Intercontinental on the second floor. I was invited to try the Signature Massage, which was a curious blend of Javanese, Thai and Shiatsu techniques. Oddly enough, the décor scheme was Southwestern America with warm rustic colours and burnished shades, while the marble flooring there had blood red veining. It was rustic and exotic but didn’t distracted me from the pleasures of being expertly kneaded and massaged. I emerged from the session rejuvenated, but a huge Jacuzzi with separate warm and cold tubs beckoned me to get my blood circulating further. It was an immensely pleasurable way to end the day, but my night was only beginning as I slipped under my fluffy comforter waiting for a second round of delightful surprises at InterContinental Jakarta MidPlaza.
INTERCONTINENTAL JAKARTA MIDPLAZA
Address: Jl Jenderal Sudirman Kav. 10-11, Jakarta 10220
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