Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jakarta Airport Hotel: Stay Here Only If You Must

This hotel is strange, and I've discussed it with other travelers to this dive resort that I am now at.

The hotel location is convenient, as it is right by the domestic terminal of Jakarta airport, and close to the international terminal. But I would recommend that you stay here ONLY if you have 12 hours or less between flights. Any longer, and you should go to a nearby hotel near the airport (I am told that there are many of them).

Let's set the tone first. You've arrived to the Jakarta Airport. It is quite hot and humid. If you are a photographer, particularly an underwater photographer, you have a ton of gear and are very hot and tired. You've collected your six giant bags, wrestled them onto three carts, and navigated the lines through customs. You've picked up and wrestled the bags onto multiple conveyor belts through multiple X-Ray machines and metal detectors.

If you are smart and lucky, you find and hire a porter who helps you get your baggage to the airport hotel, not too far and upstairs from the international terminal. You reach the domestic terminal, which is open to the outside air, hot and humid. You are sweaty and tired of bickering with the porter who wants more of a tip and has squabbled with you (you've already generously tipped him twice what you would in the US, but he has thrown the $20 bill back at you).

You see a sign for the Jakarta Airport Hotel, but all you really see is a tremendously steep, outrageously daunting escalator that goes up and up and up. This escalator goes to the lobby. If you are lucky or have read this blog, then you will do the smart thing and ask the guys at the bottom of the escalator to store your bags. This takes another 30 minutes in the tropical heat as they don't usually do this, and the closet for bags is very small. Again, to get to your room, you are first faced with a very long, steep escalator to the lobby. If you have a lot of bags, be sure to check them in with the porter BEFORE going up the escalator to the lobby.

Then you go up the escalator. The staff at the lobby is not at all happy to see you, and they will delight in putting you in a room that is literally one or two kilometers from the lobby. You check in, get a room key, and then follow the porter while you are sweating under the weight of your backpack or handcarry. The porter walks endlessly down an ceaseless corridor, until you finally get to your very hot room.

Quite often at this point in my stories, the room key does not work, and I have to walk back to the lobby. However, this time the key did work. But I did walk back to the lobby anyway, to ask for a room closer to the lobby. The clerk refused to give me a room closer, lying through his teeth, stating that the closer rooms were deluxe rooms that cost more. I could tell that he had lied to me when passing said rooms that were being cleaned, and seeing that they were exactly the same as mine.

Thankfully, the air conditioning in my room worked well and cooled the room down after 30 minutes. Just hope that your room key works and wear good walking shoes, as the trek to your room will be equal to running the Boston Marathon. The room itself is a bit dated but was clean, as was the bathroom. I slept for a few hours, had an awful meal in the hotel restaurant, checked my email, then caught my 1:00 AM flight to Ambon.

It's an airport hotel. Stay there only if you are in transit.

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