Most people don’t realise this, but choosing a place to travel in Indonesia is not an easy feat. For a country that is made up of more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia offers myriad destinations that range from island life to remote areas to urban scenes, all depending on your needs and preferences.
Amanjiwo is owned by luxury hospitality industry Aman and is located in Magelang, a small, tranquil city that requires a 75-minute drive from Yogyakarta airport. Framed by emerald-green rice plains, lush landscapes and the famous Borobudur temple (among other temples around the area), guests will feel transported to a different era: a much quieter one.
Upon entering the hotel, guests will notice the similarity of Amanjiwo’s architectural design with the phenomenal Buddhist monument thanks to the design of the illustrious architect Ed Tuttle, who drew inspiration from the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Blending grand designs with top-notch hospitality near such a historical landmark, Amanjiwo might well be the sanctuary you have always been longing for.
After an hour-and-a-half flight and a 75-minute drive from Yogyakarta’s airport, we were greeted by the majestic sight of lush greenery everywhere, signalling that we had arrived at Amanjiwo despite no signs or logos.
The breathtaking sight of Amanjiwo’s façade, made up of a domed roof with a stupa on top, plus colonnades and walls built of local blush-beige paras’ stone that lit up gorgeously during the night, is definitely a treat. Meanwhile, the lobby brims with classical Roman columns bricks and a white, pale stone floor that extends to the all-day-dining restaurant.
Beyond the lobby, rows of stone stairs lead the way to the villas, which are built in circular area, while the magnificent Borobudur silhouette is enveloped by the thick, lush topiary that looms ahead.
Do Not Disturb
Amanjiwo offers 36 spacious suites consisting of garden suites and pool suites along with Borobudur suites and Borobudur pool suites. Each of the suites is decorated with sungkai-wood screens, coconut wood and rattan furniture as well as a handsome closet size. Meanwhile, a comfy king-size bed with high-ceiling domed roofs lies in the centre overlooking the enchanting garden terraces that come with a thatched bale for outdoor lounging. (Note: there are no lights at night time.) To ensure complete rejuvenation, you will not find a television in the room, but one can be requested—as if you needed one! I was told by the staff that most of the guests prefer no television so that their kids can enjoy the immersive natural experience.
However, the cherry on top at Amanjiwo is Dalem Jiwo: a private compound suite with its own entrance and driveway along with a central rotunda for dining or leisure time that overlooks an azure 15-metre pool. Not only that, Dalem Jiwo also has two separate bedroom pavilions with sunken outdoor tubs as well as a wraparound terrace and two outdoor lounging bales.
I am told that most people who check into Amanjiwo choose the venue for its peaceful atmosphere, but there are more things that one can do during a stay there. After our arrival, we were treated to a relaxing spa treatment, which can be enjoyed at the spa suite or in the comfort of your room. The ancient Javanese rituals, which include facials, massage and a cream bath, surely restored my energy and loosen up my tensed muscles.
For fitness, you don’t need to skip your exercise routine since the hotel’s gym suite provides all the necessary equipment and a personal trainer. If you are in the mood for fresh air then head out to the tennis court, take a dip in the 40-metre pool, or practice yoga by the pool overlooking rice paddies and banyan trees.
Food & Drink
There are only two restaurants at Amanjiwo, but those two are plenty. The Rotunda restaurant, which is located behind the lobby, serves exquisite Indonesian and Western cuisines alongside a daily changing degustation menu. We indulged in Ayam Goreng Jawa, Rawon Daging and Terancam (a local salad made with shredded coconut, lime and chili).
Elsewhere, Amanjiwo’s Pool Club offers a melange of healthy food options. We went there after our Borobudur sunrise visit (more on that below) and were surprised by the tantalising names we found on the menu: Granola, Flaxseed Tacos and Avocado Tartine with Coconut Bacon (seriously yummy!). And afterwards, when you are full and feeling good about your health, you can lounge on the sun decks while staring at the clear blue sky.
We were also treated to an authentic dining experience at one of the locals’ houses, Pak Bilal, where no electricity was in sight: only flickering candlelight, Javanese traditional music, and a delicious set menu from Amanjiwo’s culinary team.
Don’t miss out on watching the sunrise at the marvellous Borobudur Temple. Our wake-up call was at 4.15am and we reached Borobudur just before 5am (a short ride from the hotel). The sweeping views of the volcanic landscape and a ninth-century Buddha glistening under the yellow sunshine is a memory we will never forget.
While at Amanjiwo, do take time to explore the other temples since there are about 2,000 of them (Mendut and Pawon are located near the hotel). If you are into hiking, then test your strength by climbing the Menoreh Hills, or take the chance to explore Javanese culture at the nearby villages.