A room with a view… Taking time to unwind after climbing Kawah Ijen volcano.
Picture the scene: it’s 5am and I’m standing on top of a volcano. My clothes are an utter mess, my body is wrecked and the whole place stinks of sulphur. Where do you want to stay after a night like this? In a budget place with cold water and a fan? No. You want somewhere awesome to chill, refresh and plan your next adventure. Chances are if you are going to climb the volcanoes of Bromo or Ijen in East Java, you will be visiting Surabaya before of after your trip. If you are, Ascott Waterplace is where you should stay. Why? Read on.
You hear the term ‘home from home’ thrown around a lot by the hotel industry. More often than than not it’s a lazy tagline that actually holds little meaning. At Ascott Waterplace, however, a large percentage of people staying in the 33-floor building are actually long-term residents. They have chosen to base themselves here, and although I was only a guest for two nights, I can fully appreciate why. All apartments offer a fully-equipped kitchen, separate work and living areas and a spacious bathroom. There was even a washer/dryer in my apartment which was a massive bonus, allowing me to wash my stinking sulphur-ridden clothes after climbing Ijen. On the other hand, fancy toiletries and a welcome basket of fruit made it seem like a hotel. Best of both worlds. Oh, and that view…
Modern Design. Traditional Influence.
There’s no denying that Ascott Waterplace prides itself on its high-end and modern appearance. During my stay there was a wedding taking place and the amount of Ferraris parked outside was bordering on ridiculous. But while it’s blatantly a luxurious place to live, the architects have taken great care to blend this modernity with a sense of the past. For example: instead of hanging a large picture in the lobby, the designers have chosen to feature a huge rice house panel from a traditional Toraja dwelling. (The Toraja are an ethnic group indigenous to a mountain region in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.) The panel is really impressive but I must admit it annoyed me seeing it – only because it reminded me of not making it to Sulawesi this time around! I had intended to fly to Makassar and travel up the Tana Toraja Regency to see the elaborate funeral ceremonies, but I ran out of time on this trip! Next time, eh? That’s the great thing about Indonesia: there are so many places to see. I have visited the country four times now and each time has been different to the last. Bali, Sumatra, Java… they are all unique. (You can see the huge rice house panel on the wall in the picture below.)
“This is like Vegas” is the first thing I thought as I approached the area in which the residence is based. Ascott Waterplace is situated in an upmarket residential precinct, directly opposite the Pakuwon Trade Center, which houses all sorts of departmental stores, a cineplex and a bunch of restaurants. The surrounding buildings look as lavish and grand as the Ascott’s, meaning that the whole area really does have a Vegas vibe about it. In addition to all this extra external stuff, residents can enjoy facilities within the residence itself such as two outdoor swimming pools and a gym. I should also give a shout out to the staff who were incredible throughout my stay. I managed to burn my leg quite badly prior to arrival, but they gave me medicine and were continually checking up on me to make sure I was OK.
This was actually my second time to Surabaya and I have to admit that on both occasions I haven’t done any of the traditional tourist stuff that is in the guidebooks. But from my experience it’s a great city for food and to just wander about and see what happens. I went back and looked at an extract from my diary the last time I was in the city:
“I stopped at a mall and chewed the fat with some girls, eating ice cream and taking stupid photographs. I then heard loud bass coming from a large building across the street. The rusty gate to the building was ajar so I just stood there for a minute looking in. An Indonesian guy saw me and came over. “Hip hop bass party,” he told me. “You coming in?” So I did. Inside there was a crew of people hanging about: huge speaker stacks, CDJs, decks, synths, touch pads. They seemed to be doing a live set together. The place was heavily graffitied and there was live art going on. No one was drinking – just hanging about chatting as if this was the most normal thing in the world. This is why I love travelling: meeting new people, just hanging out with the locals. It just shows you what you can find if you’re curious enough to look.”
I was wrecked after climbing Kawah Ijen Volcano and no doubt you will be too. If you are going to climb either Ijen or Bromo – or are simply visiting Surabaya – I highly recommend you check out Ascott Waterplace. Like I said, it’s the one of few occasions where the term ‘home from home’ actually rings true. Here is a short video tour of my apartment. ❤