Checking In: Jakarta’s Hyatt Hotels

These two properties in the Indonesian capital impress with their culinary offerings, sleek interiors, and next-level creature comforts.

Orbital of Joy, a commissioned piece by Yogyakarta-based art duo Indieguerillas, takes pride of place at the entrance to Alila SCBD Jakarta. (All photos courtesy of Hyatt)

Alila SCBD Jakarta

While its location within the Sudirman Central Business District (SCBD) makes the Alila an ideal choice for traveling executives, tourists and staycationers will find high-end retail destinations like Pacific Place and Jakarta’s mall of the moment, Ashta, just a short stroll away. This is no stuffy, run-of-the-mill business hotel: expect a relaxed casual-chic vibe and warm, anticipatory service from staff members who don’t wear a uniform. Large-scale contemporary artworks adorn the entrance porch and lobby, while antique carvings, traditional textiles, and dance masks from the owner’s collection are on display at the adjoining Artisian Bar.

Upstairs, the 105 guest rooms all have floor-to-ceiling windows and a muted color palette, mirroring the Zen-leaning aesthetics found at Alila properties elsewhere in Asia. Most accommodations feature a unique layout dictated by the irregular shape of the building, and some of the few rectangular spaces are given over to Twin Bed Studios. Guests in these rooms sleep “toe-to-toe” in window-side beds that face each other, screened off by a partition with separate work desks and two 32-inch personal TVs. For couples desiring a bit more space, the ones to book are the 55-square-meter Premier rooms. These come with a king-size bed, a spacious walk-in closet, plus a bathroom featuring a standalone tub, two washbasins, and the same Alila Living bath amenities one would find at any of the brand’s resorts in Bali. There’s even a daybed designed to fit into a trapezoidal nook.

As for on-site facilities, Alila SCBD’s third-floor Event Gallery has two meeting rooms, one of which opens out onto a large poolside terrace. The Instagram-ready “catwalk pool” gets its name from a walkway that separates the hydrotherapy and kids’ area from an elongated section for swimming laps. Hotel guests access the deck via an open stairway from the fifth floor, where the changing rooms are situated, alongside a fitness center with Technogym equipment and a yoga studio.

Inside a Premium room at Alila SCBD Jakarta.

The glass-walled bathroom of a Premium room.

Beds in the Twin Bed Studios are configured in a “toe-to-toe” setup.

The hotel’s third-floor pool deck at sunset.

But the property’s biggest drawcard may well be its dining options. Street-facing eatery Le Burger has earned rave reviews for its fluffy potato-based buns enclosing beef or grilled lamb patties, fried chicken, and other fillings. A good starting point is the perennially popular truffle burger. As they aren’t particularly large on their own, a side of fries is essential, and best dipped in the excellent homemade chili sauce. (Groups with bigger appetites may want to share the wagyu beef chili cheese fries with Balinese sambal matah.) Le Burger happens to be one of two in-house restaurants conceptualized by New York–based chef and restaurateur Cédric Vongerichten; the other, French-American venue Vong Kitchen, is a collaboration with his father Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Patrons seated on the shaded terrace or in Vong Kitchen’s high-ceilinged dining room can graze on appetizers such as eggplant parmesan; Norwegian salmon ceviche with pineapple; and baby kale, mesclun, and avocado salad. Those in the mood for pasta should not miss the duck meatballs with potato gnocchi and mushroom in a creamy cheese sauce, or the well-balanced radiatori in tomato vodka and parmesan with tiger prawn. Sweet tooths have much to look forward to as well, whether it’s an oozy chocolate lava cake, flaky Vong cheese rolls with a lemony filling, or a coconut and avocado ice cream sundae that riffs off the shaved-ice dessert es teler.

The Polish-American heritage of Vong Kitchen’s chef de cuisine, Matthew Byk, comes to the fore in the potato latkes at breakfast, which is served à la carte but in smaller portions so guests are free to try multiple dishes during the same sitting. Don’t leave without ordering the cube-shaped French toast: redolent of cinnamon and with a deliciously moist center, the dish also features a rasher of crispy bacon, baked apple, and luscious caramel sauce.

Doubles from US$230;

The truffle burger is the most popular menu item at Le Burger.

Le Burger’s industrial-chic dining room.

A locally inspired es teler sundae at Vong Kitchen.

The bedroom of a 100-square-meter Capital suite at Grand Hyatt Jakarta.

Grand Hyatt Jakarta

A 15-minute drive north from Alila SCBD, the Grand Hyatt has been a fixture on the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout (a.k.a. Bundaran HI) since opening in 1991. This landmark property is perched atop the ritzy Plaza Indonesia mall, but direct access to designer shopping is just one in a long list of pluses. Far more impressive are the revamped interiors by Hadiprana, the same studio responsible for the hotel’s original design. The 424 guest rooms and suites were recently updated in a contemporary local style, while the newly renovated Grand Lobby looks brighter and better than ever. Symmetrical patterns inspired by the fronds of nipa palms decorate the ceiling of the expanded porte-cochère; indoors, the grand staircase has been entirely reclad in gleaming white marble. Notably, the removal of a bridge on the mezzanine level has allowed visitors to appreciate the full height of the atrium’s centerpiece: a marble waterfall-like fountain adorned with carved batik motifs. Its new backdrop is a painting that changes throughout the year in line with major holidays. The combination of cascading water features, terraces lined with potted plants, and a quartet of tall palm trees creates the atmosphere of an indoor garden ringed by a handful of dining and drinking venues.

One of these is Sumire, the hotel’s mezzanine-level Japanese restaurant. A number of service staff have worked here for two decades or more, and it shows through their in-depth knowledge of the menu items and their ability to offer personalized recommendations. Standouts include the platter of premium sashimi made with fresh seafood flown in from Japan, crispy chicken teriyaki, and Sumire’s melt-in-your-mouth unagi kabayaki (grilled eel basted in sweet soy sauce). Off the main dining room — whose carvings depict Indonesian folktales in a traditional Japanese style — two teppanyaki counters, a tempura and kushiyaki section, and a sushi bar allow diners to watch chefs at work as they eat.

Unagi kabayaki at Sumire, Grand Hyatt Jakarta’s long-standing Japanese restaurant.

Inside Sumire’s main dining room.

Left to right: Decorating the dessert for Le Petit Chef 3 at C’s Steak and Seafood; the first course follows a brief lesson in the history of the tomato.

On the same floor, C’s Steak and Seafood is the only place in Indonesia where diners can enjoy the third season of Le Petit Chef, an experience that pairs gourmet fare with 3D projection mapping, making it a visual treat for guests of all ages. The choice of menus includes vegetarian and kids’ options, but most adults opt for a five-course dinner that unfolds over two hours. It’s easy to appreciate the virtual chef’s tongue-in-cheek storytelling style, which has plenty of self-deprecating humor and pokes fun at culinary trends like molecular gastronomy. Aside from your plate, the only prop is a lightweight model of an Aztec pyramid (modelled after the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan) used to illustrate a fascinating episode of food history before the tomato-and-burrata appetizer. Each course corresponds to a lesson; the narrator’s musings on presentation preface a Wassily Kandinsky–inspired duck confit, served on a plate brushed with spinach and beetroot puree. Patrons eventually get the rare opportunity to decorate their own dessert in a restaurant setting, using fresh berries, chocolate soil, piped soft meringue, and even a small blowtorch.

Working off the calories is just as fun: options range from a cardio and weight-training session at the gym, to a round of tennis or a jog through the lush tropical gardens that encircle the saltwater lagoon pool, forming an unlikely oasis in the heart of the city. And when it comes time to retire to bed, double-glazed windows ensure that downtown Jakarta’s incessant street noise is barely perceptible. Travelers wishing to pamper their loved ones for a special occasion may want to splurge on a 100-square-meter Capital Suite Bundaran View. Complete with a dining table and kitchenette, plus a walk-in closet and powder room, it’s larger than most apartments in Hong Kong or Singapore. Also of note is an enormous marble bathroom with double vanities and a TV; the shower booth features a marble bench while a deep soaking bathtub has been positioned in the bay window. Another plus? The living and dining area has a built-in daybed where you can read a book and watch the traffic circling around the Welcome Monument far below.

Doubles from US$150;

The living room of a Capital suite can have either one or two daybeds.

Capital suite bathrooms come with a standalone tub in the bay window.

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