In the Embrace of The Orient

by Julius Kensan
14th April 2022
The Orient is the latest boutique hotel in Jakarta that, despite its subtle facade, charms with its sensorial aesthetics, giving the impression that guests are staying at the home of a well-travelled host instead of a hotel.

As the world gradually wakes from the pandemic and borders open up one after another, the return of business travellers looking for a noteworthy stay is assuredly in the forecast. Standing tall amongst the recognisable towers in Central Jakarta, The Orient is confidently establishing its presence as a boutique hotel.

Enclosed by SCBD (Sudirman Central Business District), Kuningan and Bundaran HI, The Orient’s subtle facade conceals the eccentric and maximalist approach within. The compact hotel lobby may not be the usual sight that one is accustomed to, but The Orient is in no hurry to reveal all its cards. If the drawers in interwoven leather that spread across the walls of the lobby are any indication, the hotel rather unravels itself like a cabinet of curiosities.

Designed by the famous Bangkok and Bali-based architect and interior designer, Bill Bensley transformed The Orient into a boutique hotel that pulls travellers with a globalised point of view ingrained with the soul of the archipelago. From the maximalist lobby to the hotel’s Spanish restaurant Caspar (where one has to weave through to ride the lift), the common area reflects the establishment’s nature of embracing various influences from across the world.

But it is when guests begin to journey deeper into the hotel that the essence of The Orient begins to make itself felt. Take the library, for example, in which the collection of coffee table books, painted wooden panels depicting lush jungle scenes and batik fabrics framed on the wall give the impression that one is a guest at the home of a well-travelled host instead of a hotel. 

The various Indonesian antiques and framed photographs of the bygone city of Batavia lend a dignified air to the space and offer guests a quiet bubble away from the buzzy semi-outdoor infinity pool. The library also serves as an ideal lounge for business travellers to receive their guests for a quick meeting in a hushed setting.

The feeling that there is an individual’s taste dictating these sensorial aesthetics extends to the rooms as well. Local artisans were assigned to hand-paint the door to every room, portraying a mixture of Indonesian flora and fauna; none of the rooms share the same illustration. In addition, along the corridor, vintage photographs of early 20th century Indonesia by Kleynenberg & Co line the walls, accompanying your brief stroll.

Within the room, the blend of Javanese and Balinese decor offsets the view of the concrete jungle over the windows. A quick reminder that even as Indonesia is striding into the fast-paced globalised world, the country is still deeply rooted in its storied past and diverse heritage.

While your trip to the big durian may be about business, The Orient is still determined to afford pleasure. Come evening, especially on the weekends, the aforementioned Caspar comes to life with diners indulging in the classic paella and experimental cocktails before moving on to the dance floor in late hours. Next door, Furusato serves up comfort and familiar Japanese dishes in a quieter setting that one would love to return to time after time.

If your idea of pleasure is less interaction and more solitary moments, simply retreat to your chamber, order room service, and while away the rest of the evening with your favourite Netflix show. Alternatively, dip in the tub and take in the night view of the concrete jungle. Below, the infamous Jakarta’s gridlock (another sign that life is reverting to normal) offers an unexpected vista—car lights forming slow-moving streams of topazes and rubies. 

The feeling that The Orient does not fixate itself on specific clienteles means one will easily come across a mixed bag of guests. The cradling of both international and local tastes easily accommodates a sense of ease for first-time Jakarta tourists. The proximity to various business districts and towers speaks to the business travellers whose time is money. The maximalist design also provides a different take for those looking for a stay imbued with personality. Ultimately, the appeal of The Orient lies in the fact that there is something for everyone and that is definitely no easy feat.