A ROYAL TALE

Royal Ambarrukmo in Yogyakarta

Bali & Beyond - - TEAM TALK - Royal Ambarrukmo Yogyakarta Jalan Laksda Adis­u­cipto No. 81, Yogyakarta, (0274) 488-488 www.roy­alam­bar­rukmo.com By Risty Nur­raisa

When I ar­rived at Adis­u­cipto In­ter­na­tional Air­port af­ter a one-and-a-half hour flight from Bali, a man hold­ing a tablet with my name writ­ten on the dis­play was al­ready wait­ing at the exit. Greet­ing me warmly and as­sist­ing me with my bag­gage, he then took me to a car that said, “Royal Ambarrukmo Yogyakarta”. Within min­utes af­ter I set foot in the city, Royal Ambarrukmo Yogyakarta, the ho­tel where I was go­ing to stay for four days, al­ready pre­sented its top-notch hos­pi­tal­ity.

It took only 10 min­utes from the air­port to the ho­tel by car. Stand­ing in the heart of the city, the award­win­ning Royal Ambarrukmo - the ho­tel has re­ceived world-class awards like the In­ter­na­tional Asia Pa­cific Ho­tel Awards 2017/2018, among oth­ers - looks so mag­nif­i­cent from the out­side with its all-white ex­te­rior and man­i­cured front yard. The in­te­rior is just as lav­ish with mar­bled floor and warm hues. Yet, the ho­tel still sends a homey vibe as the staff wel­comed me with a big smile and pre­sented a cup of hot se­cang, a Ja­vanese tra­di­tional bev­er­age, while help­ing me with my check in.

Royal Ambarrukmo pro­vides 247 rooms and suites in five dif­fer­ent types – Deluxe Room, Pre­miere Room, Ju­nior Suite, Ex­ec­u­tive Suite and Ambarrukmo Suite. Each room has a stylish de­sign with touches of lo­cal in­spi­ra­tions, and a pri­vate bal­cony over­look­ing the city’s sky­line, the re­sort’s Royal gar­den or the mar­velous Mount Mer­api. In a sec­ond, I fell in love with my Pre­miere Room which is set with lav­ish bed­ding and a bal­cony fac­ing the ho­tel’s swim­ming pool and Mount Mer­api. How­ever, I couldn’t wait to ex­plore the rest of the ho­tel through the Her­itage Tour & Koi Fish Feed­ing pro­gram, con­ducted by Khairul An­war, the ho­tel’s Mar­ket­ing

& Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ager. Thus, a tale from the ‘60s re­vealed…

EV­ER­LAST­ING ART­WORK

“The his­tory of Royal Ambarrukmo Yogyakarta goes back to 1964 when the ho­tel was first es­tab­lished un­der the name ‘Ambarrukmo Palace Ho­tel’,” stated Khairul as we be­gan our tour at the lobby. The build­ing it­self is also his­tor­i­cal as it used to serve as a Ja­panese gov­ern­men­tal of­fice dur­ing their col­o­niza­tion. When Ja­pan was de­feated, Pres­i­dent Soekarno turned the build­ing into one of the first ex­clu­sive ho­tels in In­done­sia. Af­ter more than 50 years, the ho­tel now be­comes an ur­ban icon of Yogyakarta where tra­di­tions blend per­fectly with moder­nity.

“Royal Ambarrukmo is a her­itage build­ing. That’s why, the ex­te­rior of the ho­tel re­mains the same since 1964. We can only re­design the in­te­rior which was just done in 2011,” Khairul con­tin­ued. “This ho­tel is like a mu­seum with sev­eral art­works dis­played from the ‘60s, like this one,” Khairul pointed to a re­lief made of an­desite rocks next to the main en­trance. Ti­tled “Un­tung Rugi di Lereng Mer­api” (the Good and Bad Times at Mer­api Vol­cano), the re­lief ex­poses the lives of the peo­ple at Mount Mer­api.

The ho­tel also show­cases two mo­saics made of ce­ramic tiles from the ‘60s cre­ated by artist J. Soed­hiono and team. The first one is ti­tled “Ke­hidu­pan Masyarakat Yogyakarta” (the Lives of Yogyakarta So­ci­ety). Lo­cated on the eighth floor next to the Kara­ton ball­room, this art­work is dis­played on 10 me­ter-high walls and looks sharp with vi­brant col­ors. The other one, ti­tled “Ke­hidu­pan Masyarakat Jawa Ten­gah” (the Lives of Cen­tral Java So­ci­ety), is dis­played on the first floor, right next to Royal Restau­rant, with warmer hues.

The ho­tel’s lush Royal gar­den also has its own story. The swim­ming

pool for adults used to func­tion as a mini Olympic pool for ath­letes, but now it has been re­designed into a beau­ti­ful re­sort-style pool with daybeds, sur­rounded by bronze sculp­tures also from the ‘60s. Next to the main pool is the kid’s pool and the fit­ness cen­ter. Walk­ing fur­ther into the gar­den is a play­ground where a Kid’s Club is un­der­way and a jog­ging track.

The Royal gar­den is home to many trees and plants, from lon­gan trees to or­chids, all are grown with the ho­tel’s own re­cy­cled wa­ter. Three gaze­bos stand in the gar­den, one of them is sur­rounded by a Koi fish pond, mak­ing it a per­fect sanc­tu­ary to re­lax while lis­ten­ing to the sounds of na­ture.

ROYAL LEGACY

Stand­ing on a site owned by the Ker­a­ton Yogyakarta (the city’s Sul­tanate), the Royal Ambarrukmo has a close re­la­tion­ship with the city’s royal fam­ily. Within the ho­tel area stands Keda­ton Ambarrukmo (a mini palace com­plex) from the 18th cen­tury that is still pre­served un­til to­day.

The com­plex con­sists of Pen­dopo Agung (the Royal liv­ing room) to host many events and cel­e­bra­tions, in­clud­ing Pate­han (the ho­tel’s daily royal high tea cer­e­mony); Ndalem Agung where the Sul­tan Ha­mengku Bu­wono VII lived un­til his last breath (now it serves as a mu­seum); and Gadri which is and has al­ways been used as the Royal Din­ing Room – I can only imag­ine how spe­cial an in­ti­mate din­ner in Gadri must be as guests get to in­dulge in de­li­cious meals in the Sul­tan’s din­ing area!

Still in the Keda­ton com­plex is Gand­hok Ten­gen (where the princesses and fe­male Royal ser­vants and guests used to live) which is now trans­formed into Nurkad­hatyan The Rit­ual Spa. Man­aged by the Sul­tan’s five daugh­ters and a spa mas­ter, the spa of­fers se­lec­tions of age-old Ker­a­ton’s beauty rit­u­als with the use of home­made prod­ucts. One of the rooms even has a bath­tub made of Mer­api’s an­desite rock to ab­sorb neg­a­tive en­er­gies and help bal­ance one’s mind, body and soul, mak­ing this spa one of the best in Yogyakarta.

The Bale Kam­bang (the Float­ing Hut) stands be­hind the Gadri. This oc­tagon-shaped al­fresco hall is sur­rounded by a pond where the princesses used to swim. And in this hall, the Sul­tan used to do med­i­ta­tion. Now, it func­tions as a yoga place for ho­tel guests ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing.

GET CULTURED

Royal Ambarrukmo Yogyakarta also em­braces Ja­vanese cul­ture in its guest ac­tiv­i­ties, one of them be­ing the Jem­par­ingan ses­sion, an an­cient Ja­vanese archery. Ev­ery Fri­day af­ter­noon, a Jem­par­ingan com­mu­nity comes to com­pete at the Pen­dopo

Agung, and guests can join them be­fore the course ends.

Wear­ing a Ja­vanese ke­baya and batik sarong, I signed up for this class which was quite chal­leng­ing as we had to do it by sit­ting down with our legs crossed! In be­tween the Jem­par­ingan ses­sion, when the archers took a break, the Pate­han – a royal high tea rit­ual – was served in the Pen­dopo Agung, pre­sent­ing Ja­vanese tra­di­tional light bites, cof­fee and tea. Royal Ambarrukmo Yogyakarta has other classes through­out the week, such as flutes on Mon­days, Ja­vanese dance on Tues­days and batik classes on the third Wed­nes­day of the month.

Situated in a strate­gic lo­ca­tion, Royal Ambarrukmo is also close to Yogyakarta’s tourist des­ti­na­tions, from his­tor­i­cal sites like Pram­banan Tem­ple to shop­ping and culi­nary scene like Malioboro. Other cul­tural tours that the ho­tel of­fers in­clude a visit to Men­dut Tem­ple, Ker­a­ton Yogyakarta and Borobudur Tem­ple, as well as sun­rise in Borobudur! Sim­ply book a ho­tel car (with ad­di­tional charge) or take pub­lic trans­porta­tion like the Tran­sJogja bus to tour the town.

Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing street food in Yogyakarta is a must, but the ho­tel also serves au­then­tic dishes in its all-day Royal Restau­rant that are worth try­ing. Dur­ing break­fast, Royal Restau­rant presents Gudeg and jamu (tra­di­tional food and drink re­spec­tively) made by sur­round­ing lo­cal sell­ers, while other fla­vor­some lo­cal food like Soto Tangkar is per­fect for lunch or din­ner, paired with a glass of cold se­cang. Other din­ing places are Pu­nika Deli that of­fers sand­wiches, gelato and other light bites un­til mid­night, and Lobby Lounge & Bar that presents live mu­sic per­for­mances. And for a quick taste of the city’s vibe, the Plaza Ambarrukmo, one of the grand­est malls in town, is right next door.

“Ambarrukmo” is derived from two words; “Am­bar” means fra­grance and “Rukmo” means re­gal lux­ury.

The Royal gar­den with a bale, fish pond and a jog­ging track. a koi

The Pre­miere Room with a view of Mount Mer­api.

“Ke­hidu­pan Masyarakat Yogyakarta”, one of the art­works from the ‘60s.

Get pam­pered at Nurkad­hatyan The Rit­ual Spa

Sur­rounded by a pond, the Bale Kam­bang now serves as a yoga venue and a pri­vate din­ner with manda­tory Ja­vanese cus­toms and rules.

Se­lec­tions of break­fast buf­fet at the Royal Restau­rant.

Dawn at the Borobudur Tem­ple.

Learn about Jem­par­ingan, an an­cient Ja­vanese archery, from the pro­fes­sion­als.

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