Welcome to Backpacker’s Boutique. Every Sunday, this spot will feature a new travel blogger. Some weeks it will be a really fun interview about packing, fashion, and fitness so you can snoop inside their bags & lives a little bit and other weeks it’ll be a detailed luxury guide to a city the featured blogger/expat knows very well. E-mail me if you’d like to be featured.
A Luxury Guide to Jakarta
Tell us a little about yourself and tell us why you’re an expert on luxury travel in Jakarta.
Hi! I’m Justine, a backpacker turned expat. I actually just moved to Phnom Penh where I work as a freelance writer. But before I moved to Cambodia I had the opportunity to live in Jakarta, Indonesia, for a full year. A lot of people don’t really know this but Jakarta is a great city for indulging in all things luxury. From 5-star hotels to fancy spas to trendy shops, Jakarta seriously has it all. The sky really is the limit there!
What makes Jakarta a perfect destination for travelers seeking a glamorous trip?
When most people think of Jakarta the word “glamorous” isn’t the first word to pop into their minds…at least it wasn’t for me. But when I moved there I realized that I had been seriously mistaken. Hidden beneath the chaotic surface is all the glitz and glamour you could ever want. It’s possible to dine at French bistros, book a night in a $15,000 a night presidential suite (no joke!), or drink the night away at an amazing rooftop bar. Seriously, if you’ve got the money Jakarta is the place to spend it!
What 5 star hotel is the best in your town?
When I first moved to Jakarta my boyfriend and I were put up in the , a super swank 5-star hotel located in the heart of the city. Our room had floor-to-ceiling windows, and the views of the city were pretty incredible. What I liked about the Pullman was that it was really modern and full of funky art, and it pretty much had the best international buffet restaurant ever, offering everything from sushi to traditional Indonesian foods to ultra-fancy desserts. But this city is loaded with really nice hotels, the and are where a lot of VIPs and celebrities stay (rooms go for around $250+ a night).
What about boutique hotels, of them all, which would you send your friends or family to stay at?
The is mid-range boutique hotel that I’m obsessed with. I never got the chance to stay there but I did frequent its great rooftop bar, BART. (FYI, they make a killer old fashioned!) What I love about the ARTOTEL is that it’s one of the few quality boutique hotels in the Jakarta. Every room is unique and the walls are decorated by some of the city’s most renowned street artists. It’s really nice, really affordable and it offers something truly unique – a quality I always appreciate in hotels. (Rooms start at around $65)
Are there any fun activities for the adventurous traveler?
The first thing that pops into my mind is either taking a day trip to the botanical gardens of nearby Bogor or visiting neighboring Bandung to check out the otherworldly crater lake, Kawah Putih. But for anyone who’s looking for a bit of adventure within the city center, I wrote a whole guide all about the . There are tons of options for anyone who’s looking for a little adventure!
Where are the best hang outs during the day?
Jakarta is a city of malls. And most of them are really, really high end. Two of the most famous malls are Plaza Indonesia and Grand Indonesia. They are filled with every designer store imaginable. And they are so big they can keep you entertained for an entire day. Jakarta is pretty much a shopper’s paradise. Or, if you’re just looking for a place to hang out, the malls are home to some of the city’s best restaurants. Another great place to hang out is Pantai Indah Kapuk (PIK), a beachside area that has tons of great cafes and restaurants.
If you have a big date night, what are the most delicious restaurants in Jakarta and what are their best dishes?
This is tough because Jakarta is full of really, really great restaurants, so I’ll just name a couple! is a molecular gastronomy restaurant and it’s all the rage in Jakarta right now. It’s so exclusive it can only accommodate 28 people per night. They serve a 17-course meal, which is constantly changing depending on the season. It’s progressive Indonesian food, so they serve up dishes like sate klopo (satay with charcoal-smoke infused cassava), wedang jahe (a sweet ginger soup) and nitrogen ice cream. is another Jakarta favorite. It’s sort of like a modern twist on a steakhouse. Their menu has things like Asian Beef Tartare, spiced with galangal and kaffir lime, and is famous for all things beef.
Let’s talk desserts- what place makes the best?
Indonesians love desserts so there is no shortage of great dessert spots in the city. Probably the best place to get crème brulee is at Labruletory (located in ). It almost looks more like a science project than a dessert but it is fantastic – they even have a green tea version! My favorite place for cupcakes is Twelve Cupcakes. It’s actually a Singaporean company but there are shops sprinkled around Jakarta. The red velvet and peanut butter chocolate are to die for! The Nutella martabak (like a thick pancake) from Martabak Boss is probably my favorite dessert in the city!
Tell us all the hot shopping spots; who’s carrying the trendy local designers?
Anyone who knowns me knows that I’m not the most fashion-savvy person. But because I worked as a lifestyle writer for The Jakarta Post, it allowed me to meet some up-and-coming Jakarta-based designers. One of my favorite young designers is named Martha Ellen. As a traveler I’m always fond of designers who incorporate traditional elements into their work. She is a British-native based out of Jakarta and uses a traditional Indonesian fabric called ikat to create colorful and cute dresses, skirts, tops…you name it. The Goods Dept is also the place to find all of Indonesia’s trendy local designers.
What are a couple of the best salons and spas in Jakarta?
Jakarta has so many salons, it honestly isn’t even possible to walk a block without running into one. But when it comes to massages, Kneads to Know is a great new place. SPA Intercontinental is an excellent place to splurge on a rubdown. They are famous for their red wine wrap!
Time for a great sunset view… where would you go?
That’s easy. Anyone who’s visiting Jakarta needs to visit Skye Bar at least once. It’s a great place to grab a drink and because it’s on the 59th floor it easily has the best view in the city.
Now that the sun’s gone down, fill us on the best places to go for some evening drinks or a great pre-gaming spot.
BART (located in the ARTOTEL) was my go-to spot to get a drink, mainly because it had a good vibe, great music and I just have a thing for rooftop bars! The Safehouse is also a fun place to go for a cocktail.
If you end the night at a fancy club, which one do you head towards?
Jakarta is famous for its nightclubs. There are honestly tons to choose from. Immigrants is great because it has a killer view of the city, and I hear great things about Dragonfly and Colosseum too.
Justine Lopez is a California girl who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust. In 2013, she set out on a yearlong journey that took her from Southeast Asia to South America. After a crazy turn of events she’s now living and working as a freelance writer in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. As she meanders her way through her backyard of Southeast Asia she’s always seeking out great food, budget travel deals and amazing new travel destinations. Follow Justine on her blog and , , , & .
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