My luxury travel highlight of 2019 was a trip to the temple of Borobudur in Indonesia. In reality, the temple was a cover to engineer a trip to the famed Amanjiwo, a luxury resort close to the Borobudur complex. I had first heard of the Amanjiwo about 10 years ago, following a friend’s visit. She regaled me with stories of how beautiful the hotel was, nestled at the foot of the Menorah Hills. So I placed the Amanjiwo on to my travel bucket list and crossed fingers I’d get there one day.
Now if you haven’t heard of Aman resorts, they are revered as the world’s most luxurious properties. Not necessarily in a flashy way. Instead they try to build luxury resorts that sit authentically within their environment. This is accompanied by world class guest services and exceptional food. Aman aficionados love them so much, they even call themselves ‘aman junkies’ (search the Instagram tag).
My first foray to an Aman was a 10 year wedding anniversary treat to the Amanpulo in the Philippines aka paradise on earth. The upside of Indonesia’s Amanjiwo is that it is about half the price of the Amanpulo. So if you’re desperate to get to an Aman, I’d recommend starting there.
Where is Borubudur and the Amanjiwo?
Located on the Indonesian island of Java. You need to fly to Yogyakarta (the Java capital) and then take a 90 minute car transfer. Flying time from Singapore, around two hours.
We visited Java in early November and had a mix of sunshine and slight drizzle. Luckily it was dry for visiting the temple. Rainy season runs Nov to April.
How to book the Amanjiwo
There’s only one person I use for luxury travel and that’s the maestro himself, Chinmoy Lad from the Suitelife. He’ll search for the best rate and try to offer an upgrade where available.
All the rooms at the Amanjiwo are suites. I booked a two night stay in the cheapest room, the Garden Suite. Our package included bed and breakfast, an airport transfer and massage for two. Chin also advised on the various tours and dining packages you could prebook. I opted for a sunrise tour of Borobudur and dinner at Pak Bilal’s house.
We flew with SilkAir from Singapore to Yogyakarta. The flight was very straightforward (although there was extra excitement as rock band Extreme were on the flight). Queues weren’t too bad at immigration (no visa required for British citizens) and our driver collected us at arrivals.
First impressions of the Amanjiwo
The drive itself winds its way through the outskirts of Yogyakarta up through the luscious hills of Central Java. As you near the hotel, you pass by the entrance to Borobudur and collections of guesthouses, shops and restaurants. The Amanjiwo is located in a secluded spot within view of the UNESCO world heritage site. The drive in to the property is simply spectacular. As with all Aman resorts, it was built in keeping with its environs; the 9th century Buddhist temple. I’ll never forget our entrance, we were blessed by staff throwing rose petals – I didn’t even get that on my wedding day!
The resort feels as if you are in a temple complex. There are various levels and they have built the property to face Borobudur.
We were very lucky enough to be upgraded to a Garden Pool Suite. The room was stunning. A luxurious bed with views out to the rice paddy. Indoor shower and outdoor bathtub. Lounge and desk area plus a minibar stocked with delicious crisps and biscuits.
For a bonus touch, they had left watercolours should we feel the urge to paint. We weren’t expected a private pool so this was a delight. There was a sizeable outdoor terrace with daybed, at the foot of the pool.
There is a glorious 40 metre pool and tennis court. I didn’t make it to one but they do offer private yoga sessions. The gym is well equipped and housed in one of the rooms.
The only thing that lets this place down is the spa, which is also housed in a converted hotel room. The massage itself was excellent but you do feel a property of this stature deserves a purpose built spa. That said, they are rectifying this and I believe a new spa will be completed in 2020.
There are several options; the main restaurant, pool-side and in-house dining. The food was excellent quality throughout and I loved sampling the local food, including the jamu breakfast tonics.
You can book special dining experiences, although I didn’t really fancy a full on music and dancing dinner for two. Instead we went for dinner at Pak Bilal’s house, located in a village close to Borobudur. This is the ultimate in romance with candles dotted everywhere, alongside a home-cooked Indonesian feast served in his dining room.
As we were only there for 3 days, we opted for relaxation with a spot of temple. I had originally booked a sunrise tour but on reading travel blogs, I realised that sunset would be less busy. Plus I didn’t fancy the 4am wake up call.
Chin booked the tour for us through the Amanjiwo and our guide was excellent. He really brought the famed Buddhist temple to life and I highly recommend taking a tour. The beauty of Borobudur is that unlike Angkor Wat, it is relatively small and only needs about 3 hours to take it in. The temple consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. It is decorated with 2,672 sculpted panels and 504 Buddha statues.
I absolutely loved the Amanjiwo. I did spot a few kids and there is a children’s playroom. However, I enjoyed it as a no-kid luxury break and it met all my bucket list expectations. Now I have to save up for my next Aman….