Here’s a fun fact: in all my years of traveling I’ve never once stayed at a fancy hotel. My family and I used to be those really hardcore travelers who leave the hotel early in the morning and never return earlier than 8 PM. With that in mind, whenever we travel, we usually pick a boutique or mid-range hotel where you can only sleep and shower in. This year’s trip was an exception because we realize that most of our “vacations” tired us out so much afterwards that we needed a vacation day after a “vacation”. So no, we won’t be spending all day and most of the night hopping from one place to another this year – we would set aside more time for chilling.
Thus, my dad picked The Phoenix – MGallery Collection as our hotel for the four nights that we were to stay in Yogyakarta. My pre-trip research revealed that this hotel’s building has been around since the Japanese Occupation era a.k.a World War II and was once a colonial house in the 1800s before it became a hotel. My immediate thought was: gosh, this place must be pretty creepy.
So when we landed in Yogyakarta and checked in at the hotel, I thought we got to a wrong hotel at first because it was such a fancy hotel.
Look at that hallway with the beautiful stained glass!
The check-in process was easy and the service was fantastic right from the start. We marveled at the architecture, the amount of stained glass present, the beautiful chandelier and then went past more fancy corridors and breakfast courtyard with a fountain as its centerpiece and up a tiny elevator to our rooms.
Our rooms were the Superior Heritage Room, the cheapest of all the rooms offered at the hotel. But let me tell you that the cheapest room was still a lot fancier than any hotel room I’ve ever stayed in.
Our rooms were located on the third floor and we had a clear view of the courtyard with the fountain where people have their meals from our balcony. The balcony turned out to be my favorite place to write throughout this trip.
Aside from the balcony and beds and the antique-looking furniture, what really gave a fancy feeling to the place was the amount of details the hotel provided for us to make sure we’re comfortable. Not only did they give us the usual stuff (shampoo, soap, body lotion, dental kit, water, tea, coffee, tissue), they also put a basket of snake fruit and a jar of candies which they refilled every afternoon, comb, razor, nail file, cotton swabs, even ear plugs and bath robes. I’m not talking about towel-material kind of robes, but really soft, batik robes that can make you look like this awesome emperor when you wear it.
(Confession: I wore that bath robe and strode/skipped around my hotel room singing “I’M SO FANCY!” out loud)
Now let’s talk about the facilities. The hotel is ginormous and thus, has plenty of room for a lot of facilities – and let me tell you that they use their space very well.
Aside from the courtyard where meals take place, the following were also at the hotel: a bar, two souvenir shops, a swimming pool, a spa with free sauna, a fitness center, a museum (yes, they have their own museum), really fast and reliable wi-fi, bicycle rental, and even a vintage car rental.
The quantity of the facilities blew my mind at first, but after spending four nights here, it was more incredible to discover the quality of the facilities. My dad went to the bar and said that aside from good drinks, it also has a library in it. My sister and I got a full-body spa treatment and it was fantastic as the masseuse hit all the right spots, gave each muscle a really good stretch and gave our face the treatment it’s been needing. The spa was located at the same spot as the fitness center so I discovered that there’s a fitness instructor to make sure that you’re not using a machine the wrong way. The museum housed a lot of trinkets from the past and had a book with the hotel’s entire history written on it for your reading pleasure. All I can say is wow.
Another fascinating thing about this hotel is the food. We had plenty of choices for breakfast at the buffet – from Indonesian food to international cuisine, from salad and parfaits to deep-fried bite-size treats, from rice to pastries. Even the dining part of breakfast turned into a fancy affair as there were a whole set of cutlery at each of our tables and a napkin. There were always two old men playing gamelan at breakfast.
We also had dinner twice at the hotel and the buffet dinner was equally amazing. The food ranged from grilled lamb to martabak with all of the choices boasting the rich heritage of Indonesian cuisine with a classier spin. Everything without rice were hits – apparently the kitchen under-cooked the rice. If you want more of an international selection, you could pick to have an a la carte dinner which were not that bad, but similar food in Bali or Jakarta were still better. As for the drinks, I recommend ordering the historical signature drink, gin sling. I personally don’t drink, but my dad loved it and each order came with a visit from the bartender to your table to mix the drink right in front of you after telling you the history behind it.
So this hotel has fancy rooms, plenty of well-maintained facilities, and the food’s also not bad. It can’t be perfect, there must be some flaws with the service right? Well, here’s the truth: out of all Phoenix’s components, its service is the number 1 thing that makes me want to come back there. The staff members were polite (and admittedly, some of them were really good-looking) and gave a lot of effort to make sure we’re comfortable there. The security guards helped us stop traffic and cross the street every time we needed to – even if we were on the other side of the road, they would walk up and cross us back to the hotel. The waiters and waitresses at each meal were incredibly helpful without being too nosy.
There was one event when the quality of their service impressed me the most. It was day 3 of our trip in Yogyakarta and at breakfast, a concierge walked up to my dad and told him that there was an electric problem in his room and they were going to fix it so they had upgraded him to a Deluxe Room. We didn’t even notice any problem but they already attended to it. At first, I thought it was just my mom and dad who were getting the upgrade so my sister and I didn’t pack our things to be moved to another room. However, upon returning to the hotel, we discovered that we were also upgraded to a Deluxe Room because there was the same electrical problem in our room. And I thought something supernatural was going on in our room because the fridge was shaking at random intervals.
My sister and I had soap and toothbrush and used clothes in various places in the room so we thought we had to pack. It turned out that the hotel staff had already taken care of all our things and moved them to the new room in the same position where we left it off in our old room. Guys, that’s what I call attention to details.
Our new Deluxe Room was bigger than the Superior Heritage one and had a more spacious bathroom, a full-length mirror, and a rug. The housekeeping staff also knocked at our door in the evening and asked us if there was still anything making us uncomfortable in the room. What I adored most about this room was the view from the balcony which was the swimming pool where a bunch of good-looking, fellow hotel guests would take their clothes off and swim there.
Let’s be honest, I felt like princess standing at the balcony, scouting for the perfect prince or merely someone I could sneak glances on as I wrote.
And so from the four nights that I stayed at Phoenix Hotel – MGallery Collection, here’s what I can conclude: this hotel is somewhere near flawless. I was kind of surprised to do some post-trip research and discover that a stay here started at IDR1million a night, which was less than my expectations considering what I got. If I should compare this to another hotel, it would be Singapore’s Raffles Hotel – historical with a soul and no creepy jitters, incredible facilities and service, and an overall elegant demeanor to the place.