For travellers who have visited Singapore, they would know that the Raffles Hotel is one of the most famous in the city. The Hotel Majapahit shares the same status in Surabaya and in fact it was built by the same Sarkies family in the 1910 when it was known originally as Hotel Oranje. This is no doubt a heritage hotel with a rich history including one event that would dictate the future of Indonesia. What is more interesting is that the hotel changed hands and was managed by Mandarin Oriental at one point in time. Today, it is known simply as Hotel Majapahit, named after East Java’s most famous kingdom, traditionally also considered the golden age of Javanese kingdoms. The hotel is located in the city centre of Surabaya, and close to the large shopping mall of Tunjungan Plaza as well as the various office complexes. It is also a good base for tourists to visit the numerous historic places of interests around the city centre.
A very beautiful art-deco style lobby greets visitors and guests alike. There is a lot of seating space which also functions as the lobby lounge and cafe. On the right of the hotel lies an antique Ford that was once the property of a plantation tycoon. The reception area lies on the left of the lobby and there is a majestic mural of the original hotel behind the check-in area. During check-in, the receptionists asked for my ID which is standard procedure in Indonesia and provided clear and concise information on the use of wi-fi in the room and the breakfast included in the rate I booked. I was asked if I would like to upgrade to a suite for a fee but I declined since I am staying alone, and I was then assigned a room on the 2nd floor. The porter enquired if I needed help with the luggage but I declined since I just had a carry-on rollerbag with me. Little did I know there does not seem to be any elevators and I had to carry the luggage up the stairs. Perhaps first floor rooms might be a consideration for guests with lots of luggage.
Rooms in the hotel are built around 3 main courtyards and spread across 2 storey. The room given to me was on the ‘right wing’ and there is a walkway that overlooks the fountain courtyard. I think the larger suites are situated at the back of the hotel that faces the central courtyard. These rooms on the back might also be quieter since they are shielded from most of the traffic noise. Standard rooms in the hotel was already like a Junior suite with a small seating area and a desk. Do note that a window in the living space opens out to the corridor. This means a lack of privacy unless curtains are closed. The rooms are furnished in a traditional setting with lots of dark wood and even a ceiling fan for that heritage ambience. A bar counter, which is also handy for placing my belongings, can be found along the wall along with a TV cabinet beside it.
Further back inside the room, a divider splits the bedroom from the living area. There is a soft King sized bed with a large wooden wardrobe opposite the bed. An antique chandelier stands on the ceiling over the bed. Another old and heritage design that makes the room a bit dark. The wood theme continues onto the bathroom with the whole vanity counter and sink backed up by the same dark wood design.
Inside the bathroom, there is a bathtub beside the vanity counter and on the left are separate stalls for the shower and the toilet. The bathroom vanity counter with the dark wood and the small wooden drawers is definitely the focus of the bathroom though. The walk-in shower has no more than the standard shower heads in many Sheratons which is a disappointment for those guests expecting rain shower heads but water pressure is adequate while it dispenses warm water too! Amenities provided for guests are branded under the hotel’s logo and seems to be nothing special.
The size of the standard room is definitely more than adequate though I would have liked an additional TV in front of the bed since the current design does not make it easy to watch TV from the bed. Another point of irritation is how guests might be woken up by staff walking along the corridor in the morning. Due to the old construction, there is inadequate insulation from the walkway.
Probably the main attraction in the hotel are the courtyard gardens which are immaculately maintained. It is very pleasant to walk around the hotel compounds in the evening. Though one does not need to be a guest to walk around these beautiful gardens. The hotel also has a swimming pool which is in another enclosed courtyard that shares an entrance with the hotel spa that is managed by Martha Tilaar, a well-known operator of spa and salons in Indonesia. There are also several function rooms spread across the hotel complex that could be used for weddings and conventions.
In the morning, breakfast was served in the Indigo Restaurant which is located on the right side of the lobby. The best seats in the restaurant are those beside the window overlooking the main road since they are the brightest spot in the restaurant. The breakfast buffet served is adequate and better than the average with a selection of international and Indonesian dishes like fried rice and noodles. There was also some east Java desserts that I enjoyed.
The Hotel Majapahit is not my favourite hotel in Surabaya, but it does have some kind of stature in the city like Raffles Hotel in Singapore. For history buffs and tourists who enjoy staying in heritage hotels, this is definitely a must! However, for guests more accustomed to modern luxuries, I would suggest just visiting the hotel for a visit since the rooms does feel old and not the best lodging option in Surabaya.