Well, well, Jakarta. It is a city I love and sometimes hate. I love the city for its approachable people and the generally good service from most of the hotel and F&B industries. I also love the way the people here party all
day night long (think Colosseum, Immigrant, Dragonfly and the newly opened Jenja) where the clubbing scene makes ours look like child’s play. Now there’s one thing I hate: the traffic. A big metropolis home to almost 10 million people, the daily commuters add another 2 million to the already crowded city. And that result in hours spent on the road, productivity lost, heavy pollution, frustrated passengers. Every time I return from Jakarta, I am reminded not to be too pissed off with our LTA/SMRT/SBS/COEs.
Once business travelers get into the city after slogging through the hellacious macet from the none too impressive CGK airport, I am sure as hell that we all want to get to a place to bring down the blood pressure. Hoteliers know this best. The likes of Grand Hyatt, Kempiski, Pullman, Ritz Carlton and Grand Mercure all do a great job to ensure that. Entering into these hotels slowly and surely soothe the nerves as one steps into another abode where all calm has been restored (until you look out into the streets again). The Westin Jakarta takes this one step up (well, actually 52 floors up) .
The hotel sits on the Gama Tower in the Kuningan area along the major Jl. H. R. Rasuna Said. Opened for service sometime in Oct 2016, the Westin Jakarta is today’s tallest hotel in Indonesia as it occupies the top 20 floors of the skyscrapper. While it is not connected to the shopping areas like how the Grand Hyatt is connected to the Plaza Indonesia via the underground walkways, the Westin Jakarta is walking distance to the Plaza Festival and the Kuningan City Mall at about 5 minutes each way via the street level pavements. I shall not estimate how long it takes to get to the hotel from the CGK airport but it is a good 35km in distance. Peak hours and rain will easily double the traveling time. Since taxi fares are determined by traveling time and toll charges, it is a good practice to prepare about IDR500,000 in your pocket if you are taking one of those black ‘limousine taxis’ usually operated by the Silver Bird Group. If traveling by the normal blue taxi operated by the Blue Bird Group, IDR300,00 should be more than enough.
The taxi will go through the security check where it will be screened and have the trunk opened for inspection before entering the hotel premise. The lobby of the hotel is then just straight ahead which is actually by the side of the the main Gama Tower building. Because the reception is not on the ground floor, the lobby is a little minimalist in standard. Passing through the entrance, there is a final security check (yes another one with detector gate and x-ray machine plus body search, if necessary) before one is ushered to one of the elevators sending you 52 floors up. This is where my blood pressure is eventually relieved.
The reception is situated on the 52 level and its aptly called the Sky Lobby. On this floor guests will check in, be able to lounge around, have some drinks and have a good view of the bustling city. In fact it is a bird’s eye view as the whole floor provides a 360 degree span through the floor-to-ceiling windows all around the hotel. Situated on the same floor is Daily Treats which is a deli serving nice looking scones, sandwiches, pastries and the likes. Just below the Sky Lobby, the acclaimed Seasonal Tastes provides for all day buffet dining from morning till night.
I got myself checked in quickly with the nice front desk lady and was given a room on the 59th floor. There are a total of 69 floors in this building with the 67th to the 69th occupied by Japanese-Peruvian fine dining restaurant Henshin. I did not dine at the Henshin but was told by a Jakarta expat that it is one of the most ‘to be seen place’ right now in the city during weekends and ‘when it is not raining’.
An advantage of a hotel being housed on an office tower is that you do not have to walk too far to get to where your room is, given that real estate is drastically smaller than a normal hotel. So very quickly my tired body arrived at my Westin King room on the 59.
I shall do a comparison of the rooms between the Westin Jakarta with the Grand Hyatt Jakarta since both hotels are similar in grading and compete to attract the same type of business travelers. And also, I have stayed countless times at the latter since 2012 so I am pretty familiar with it.
At 46-48m2, the entry level Westin room is a tad smaller than the Grand Hyatt’s entry level Grand room at 50m2. Westin’s edge should be its overlooking view of the CBD offered by the full height windows in every room, although Grand Hyatt’s do not lose out that much if you stay in one of those rooms facing the main road (no full height windows, though). Between the two, Westin’s bedroom is smaller no doubt as the only available space are just meant for walking around the bed while Grand Hyatt’s vast bedroom can even accommodate an additional single size mattress on the floor. The bathroom area of Westin’s is wide enough if two persons were to use it at the same time. Grand Hyatt’s is more spacious and have a separate area for a walk-in wardrobe for luggage and clothes. Both hotel’s bathrooms make use of marble for walls and flooring, in fact they look quite similar in decor giving a bright, fresh and contemporary look. Both hotels have separate areas for shower and WC and consists of full size bath tub. You would have think that it would be lovely to have a great view from the bathroom too, given the Westin Jakarta’s height advantage. Well, that’s exactly what they did. The Renewal Rooms at 68m2 are on the corners of the building where two sides are full height windows that give a wider view of the city. The bathroom will have you exposed to the millions of Jakartans, much putting Kevin Spacey’s statistics to shame.
The comparison of rooms ends here. Much notable is that the room is in very mint condition; good shower pressure, no wear and tear on rugs or chips on the marble tiles given that the hotel had opened just over a year ago. At a price of about US$150 with breakfast before taxes, I think Westin Jakarta offers very good value compared to Grand Hyatt’s US$238 with breakfast before taxes which is a difference of 37%.
I had both days’ breakfast at the Seasonal Tastes restaurant, a signature of all Westin establishments. The restaurant has an elegance touch to it and provides diners another 360 photo-opportunity of the city while dining in style. The restaurant is set up such that the food stations are at the center of the floor and dinning tables sit around the perimeter. There is a good spread of food from Indian curries to Italian pizzas but if you take my word for it, go for the Asian delights and forget about the western food. And do not skip the desserts.
Only Platinum SPG members have access to the club lounge on the 65 floor. I am only a Gold member but I did not know that. Muddle-headed me went up 65 floors on the second night and nonchalantly walked into the club lounge while mentioning my room number to the lounge receptionist. I had a look around the lounge, took some photos and picked up some food and made myself comfortable for a late dinner (I was stuck in a traffic jam for almost 2 hours + with a lost driver who depended on me using Google map). It was after I was done with dinner and about to leave the lounge when the receptionist informed me about the Platinum access. Oops, I said. Me bad. Marriott treated me better, I told her. So enjoy the photos of the club lounge.
I headed to the gym on the 50 floor to see how it is. I was not too impressed. Apart from the nice views of the city the gym is small, nothing like what the Grand Hyatt offers. I guess for the premium real estate here, the gym is as good as it gets.
The last amenity I checked out was the swimming pool. Located on the same floor at the gym, the pool faces another side of the city. The pool is small, probably good for a little waddle and not so much for a swim. It is decked out quite nicely with the cushion seats and day loungers, definitely more style than substance.
I quite like the Westin Jakarta, mainly for the room, the views and the food. Though it is not quite like the Grand Hyatt that I usually stay at, it is a nice to see the addition of the Westin hotel in the city amidst the Le Meridien, Keraton, Sheraton and Heritage of the SPG chain. With a step closer to Platinum, access to club lounge will not be an issue. I should be returning to the Westin Jakarta as Henshin beckons.