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Amanjiwo Resorts
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Reviewed 14 October 2012

Amanjiwo is located in the hills above Borobudur. The amazing architecture of the hotel gives a special feeling. Our Borobudur pool suite features as the name implies a view to the old temple. Service is outstanding with a lot of care for details and very personal. You may find your bathtub filled at exactly the right moment. Or scented flowers woven to a tapestry on your bed.
If you love slow traveling, this is the place. We stayed for seven nights and undertook several longer bike trips through the surrounding small villages and walks up to the hills. The area is not (yet) touristic, with the exception of about 100m around the temple. You still will find more traditional shops, farmers and artisans than souvenir shops.
During our stay the tobacco harvest was in process. Every free place is covered with tobacco laid out for drying.
The main rotunda holds the restaurant, bar, reception and even a small art gallery. The hotel seems to be fairly well integrated in the local villages. The kids were playing football in the later afternoon on the tennis ground.
The visit of Borobudur is the nominal highlight. The guide from Aman was very well versed in the temple and its construction in the 9th century. A special treat is to remain on the temple after closing time as the only guest.
During our stay in September the visibility was not very good, so that we missed the view to the majestic volcanoes. Don't miss to drive trough the mountains if you arrive from the airport of Solo.

The only point which could improve is the food selection. The hotel is obviously geared to guests staying two or three nights. The Indonesian dinner menu repeats after three days.

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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2  Thank G_Asherton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 October 2012

The view is spectacular, the architecture outstanding and the local environment fascinating. We LOVED the tour of Borobudur Monument and expected that to be the case. The unexpected surprise was attending the local trance dance and meditating at the Buddhist temple after the crowds had gone. I feel confident these things wouldn't have happened so seamlessly if the hotel management didn't work so hard with the local community to establish a good relationship. At each location we were welcomed with open arms like family. That is what is supposed to happen when someone lives in an area - they respect the locals and their culture and those good relations extend to their company as well. Aman Resorts want you to feel like you are a guest in their home- we felt it not only on their property but in the community as well. Thanks Aman for a wonderful experience! P.S. The systems in the dining room could use a bit of a tune-up. It would be nice to get a soup spoon with the soup and ice cream before it melts. The staff are trying so hard and are so nice we hate to complain but maybe a bit more direction....

Stayed: October 2012, travelled as a couple
1  Thank Betty-Ann H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 September 2012

Amanjiwo is one of our favorite resorts anywhere in the world, so much so that we'd center an entire trip around it, despite living quite far away in the USA. We just returned from our second visit. Read on for a summary of our experiences and impressions...

Arrival/Transfer:
If you are arriving via the airport, Aman normally includes complimentary arrivals service which begins the moment you step off the plane in Jogja. They show you to a lounge to wait while your bags are collected, and before you know it you being offered cold towels & drinks on your way to the resort. The drive is 60-90 minutes.

Upon our arrival, you are warmly greeted and escorted to our room where "check-in" is conducted. Passports are briefly borrowed (they copy your photographs so that the staff recognizes you throughout the resort, no bills for signing are presented until you depart), welcome drinks arrive, suite features are explained, and then you are left alone.

Rooms:
The resort has a semicircular design with two "rows" of suites, separated by stone walls. There is one enormous suite off to the side, the Dalem Jiwo suite, which has one of the most spectacular private outdoor spaces I've ever seen in a hotel anywhere. Alas, both of our stays have been in a Borobudur Pool Suite, so I will review those.

I believe every room here has pretty much the same interior space, which I commented to my wife last time "is like sleeping in a work of art". If you have a Borobudur room, in the front half (i.e. not the bath area) everything is designed around Borobudur as a focal point. The bed rests on a magnificent pillared piece of stone and looks straight out of the center doors of the room. One side has a lounge chair for reading, and the other side has a sizable desk. The room is stocked with watercolor paints, a lengthy book on Borobudur, and too many other standard things to list.

The best rooms are in the center of the semicircular design with a direct view of the temple. Note that the temple is several kilometers away, so the view is somewhat distant and can be obscured by fog. The outdoor space has two loungers flanking a small plunge pool, and of course a comfortable bale for eating and relaxing in the shade. My fondest memories here are simply waking up around 0430 with the calls to prayer and, in the bale, watching my candlelight slowly become redundant as the day begins.

Note that all doors in the suite have 3 "layers": a glass locking door, a screen door, and a wooden privacy door.

The bath area features heavy stone sinks and plenty of storage for luggage, clothing, etc. The tub is a very large stone soaking tub placed outdoors, and the shower is (sadly) not up to par by modern luxury hotel standards.

Food:
The food here is mostly good, sometimes great. We mostly ate Indonesian food and found most meals to be a notch below what we enjoyed at the Balinese Amans, but this may just be a preference for the spicier Balinese foods. We've had some enjoyable Italian plates here. We can't really comment on cocktails and wine as we rarely drink when in Java. There are several "don't miss" items though: afternoon tea (made from fresh ginger, lime, lemongrass, cloves, etc all properly smashed together), chocolate soufflé, and the homemade ginger beer.

Common Areas:
Truly spectacular at almost any time of day, but particularly good for sunrise and sunset. I don't know how they do it, but it has the polish of a museum with the warmth of a welcoming home. The main restaurant is spacious and pretty much every table has a view towards the focal point of the resort, Borobudur. The library is well-stocked and comfortable, and conveniently near reception so the staff often come by to chat or discuss activity ideas. Upstairs is an art room which houses a very interesting selection of local art which has flourished for some time. Away from the main building is the pool area, which to be honest my wife have spent very little time in during either of our stays. Nevertheless, it is another gorgeous space with the typical picture-perfect pool and attentive service. It is also one of the best places at the resort to watch the sun rise between the volcanos to the east.

Activities:
We have done more resort-lead activities here than almost anywhere else. For us, a stay here is centered around 1-2 activities per day mixed with relaxation and dining at "home". I'll try to highlight our favorites:

1) Borobudur at Dawn: I'd be shocked if someone stayed here and did not bother to do this. Seeing the temple at dawn offers not only the spectacle of sunrise, but also the lightest crowds and heat. In the past, this time used to be nearly exclusive to Amanjiwo, but unfortunately another hotel attached to the temple sells plenty of tickets and you can count on still having dozens of people around you at sunrise, particularly on the top levels. Strangely, people seem to leave or spread out before the sun actually clears the horizon, so I have had little trouble taking plenty of photographs with little or no people in them. After the sun has fully risen, the general admission tickets are let in and literally a massive wave of people (often school groups) flow up through the temple. If you look western, you will no doubt spend quite a bit of time having your picture taken with lots of people who ask you. It's actually a nice way to meet some people and can be fun, but be aware that saying yes once may embolden dozens of others around them! Note that the hotel gives you a wake-up call at 0430, provides a quick continental breakfast in the lobby (or room if arranged beforehand), and the car leaves at 0500.

2) Dinner at Pak Bilal's: We enjoyed this so much the first time that we did it again. Part of a local house is converted to cook and serve a private romantic dinner. The style of the house is traditional Javanese, which is to say woven walls and bamboo construction, very rustic but charming. Of course, this is Aman, so the room is lit with numerous candles and decorated with ingredients and such. The dinner is cooked on coal fires across the room and served by a waiter from the hotel, and a gamelan player taps away just outside the room. The menu is Indonesian and uniformly delicious, the only unfortunate aspect being that it is an embarrassing quantity of food!

3) Progo River Picnic: We have done numerous picnic meals with Aman in Indonesia, and this was by far the most worthwhile and charming of them all. The view is picturesque, the food excellent (the picnic menu choices are extensive at Amanjiwo), and even watercolors are provided if it strikes your fancy. Situated near an art gallery friendly with the hotel, this combination experience is one we will not soon forget.

4) Shopping at Studio Mendut: A great selection of high-quality batik, knick-knacks, Wayang glass paintings, modern and classic art, antiques, etc. Our favorite in the area and the eccentric owner is a pleasure to talk to.

5) Guided or unguided walking or cycling through surrounding villages: A must, as the people here are so welcoming and friendly, and a guide can help explain the specialties in a particular village. If you have time, be sure to do it more than once and at different times of day. Morning is best for activity with cooler temperatures and people get an early start for that very reason. Don't be surprised if some people invite you into their home and perhaps even offer you food or drink.

6) Private Meditation at Candi Mendut: A very special open-ended experience, you are driven to Mendut temple after hours where you may practice meditation inside in privacy.

Service:
The former GM Sean F. helped build something quite special here. The service is as anticipative and precise as any Aman we've been to. English proficiency is very high. The front office staff are uniformly warm and welcoming, and quite proactive about offering help to plan your activities. The guides and drivers are some of the best we know anywhere, particularly Arafin and Poyo! Housekeeping is nearly invisible and almost always will touch up the room every time you leave. The restaurant staff are also very competent and precise although I feel a little more difficult to chat with. Maybe once we were asked for our room number or name.

Finally, the new GM Mark S., despite having some big shoes to fill, seems to be doing a great job. He introduced himself during our last stay and proved to be quite friendly and charming. Until I hear or see evidence otherwise, I have complete confidence that things will only continue to improve under his watch.

Caveats:
The temple is several kilometers away, so the view is somewhat distant. The rooms are relatively close together by Aman standards and there is no lockable door blocking your outdoor space. The front row of rooms sits just above the rice fields that they overlook, so people walking along there can easily see towards your room. The upper level/back row has more privacy, but you also have a lesser view IMO due to rooftops. As mentioned before, the Borobudur dawn experience is substantially more crowded than in years past due to another hotel selling tickets. Sometimes, during the day, the temple is very crowded and if you look western it may take hours to escape. Depending on time of year, the area can be quite cloudy/foggy and you may not ever see the nearby volcanos.

Summary:
Amanjiwo is absolutely not to be missed. The surrounding area is really quite special, not just for the sights such as Borobudur, but for the general atmosphere. The people in the surrounding villages are extraordinarily welcoming and friendly, and many are quite talented artists and/or artisans. This is a place where I do not think we could tire of simply going for a walk or bike ride and getting lost while enjoying the sights, sounds, etc of daily life. Of course, Amanjiwo has an incredibly well-edited list of things they can arrange for you to do to introduce or immerse yourself in the history and culture of the area. The hotel itself is immaculate and the staff almost never miss a detail in any aspect of your stay. On top of that, we have many fond memories of many pleasant conversations with guides, drivers, and front office staff. I have zero doubt we will return again and again, as it represents the best example we've seen of a spectacular hotel emulating a very warm and welcoming home.

  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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13  Thank bubb1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 September 2012

In our human life, we always think about how to access to the Nirvana on Earth? This is a very hard way to find it actually but after 4 visits at Amanjiwo, i can confirm this is when staying in this superb resort you'll find the response. We found it a week ago when we stayed at Amanjiwo...
This Aman is immaculate, incredibly elegant and mystical. Architecturally this is undoubtedly the most extraordinary hotel of the world with divine perspectives on the amazing temple of Borobudur you'll discover like a jewel across a not less amazing nature. You'll be undoubtedly under the charms of the local life around and don't hesitate to go and explore the villages around Jiwo to meet the javanese and their way of living so authentic.
But let's talk about what Amanjiwo provides... Simply the most incredible and excellent experience you can expect. It's even hard to expect what the Jiwo family will do to make of your stay something totally unforgettable. The staff is perfectly trained to offer to the lucky guests the highest level of service and they all work with heart. The anticipation is just impressive and the sense of detail is just perfect. During our stay i've had a sunburn and our private butler provides me fresh aloe vera without me to request for anything. An other day, he escorted us to a walk in the countryside and since it was too hot, he called a driver who immediately tailored a car tour to show us some marvelous unexplored places. We enjoyed as well a very special dinner in a local house, everything arranged by Amanjiwo. This is actually the house of Pak Bilal, a villager who rent a part of his authentic house to Aman to turn it into something just fabulous. Our butler arranged everything so wonderfully we'll never forget this moment. The pathway going to the kitchen was full of candles and the decoration of the kitchen where we had an excellent dinner cooked on charcoal was simply unique. We were totally out of this world like in a dream. Don't miss this very unique Aman experience to find the way to the Nirvana.
We have been absolutely impressed not to find any mistake at Amanjiwo but absolutely no one. Everything is more than PERFECT and the new GM, Mark, is just one of the nicest guy we have been lucky to meet. He has such a great sense of excellence and he's so kind, always ready to do something to turn your experience into something magical.
I could talk longer about Amanjiwo which is, I really think, the most exceptional hotel of the world. I could talk about the yummy food; the fantastic maintenance or the atmosphere just unique but I prefer just to say GO and experience the only place in the world which will drive you to THE Nirvana.

Room Tip: The Dalem Jiwo suite with the two adorable butlers Moely and Joko and its fantastic rotunda and its infinity pool is the most wonderful choice but all are wonderfully decorated and offer a large space.
  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
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1  Thank RCBLHKG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 September 2012

We stayed at Amanjiwo for three nights on our honeymoon (also stayed at Amandari and Amankila) and thought it was amazing. Amanjiwo has an absolutely stunning location and architecture that picks up on the themes of Borobudur, the Buddhist temple nearby. We went to Amanjiwo entirely to see Borobodur and had very few expectations outside of that, but we were so pleasantly surprised.

Like all of the Amans we stayed at, an expediter picked us up from the airport and whisked us away while he handled everything and found our luggage. Once in the air conditioned car, we had water, snacks, and a list of excursions to consider once at the resort. Our driver was so friendly and knowledgeable; in fact, he ended up being our tour guide for Borobudur as well. Once at the resort, little girls threw flower petals as a welcome and we had some welcome ginger soda, which was tasty. The guest assistant walked us through every aspect of our suite, which had been upgraded to a private pool suite, much to our surprise and delight.

The rooms themselves are modern and full of nice touches, like the sunscreen, toiletries, beach bag and hat (yours to keep), and water colors (which we didn't use, but it was a unique addition). Our room had jasmine and orchid plants, plus the ubiquitous (and lovely!) local tropical fruit display for your snacking pleasure. The private pool was small, just the right size, and there was a cabana at the end.

Of the three Amans we visited, all had amazing housekeeping staff, but at Amanjiwo they were one step beyond. They were like ninjas who descended on our room whenever we left, whether for a five minute walk or a 2 hour dinner. They fluffed and tidied and replaced even the smallest of details with each visit. Truly impressive.

You can expect top notch service and hospitality at an Aman resort, and Amanjiwo was no different. The GM introduced himself personally and made recommendations not only for our stay in Java, but also for our next stop at Amankila. Every staff member seems to know your name, whether or not they have ever set eyes on you before, and everyone we met was extremely friendly and kind.

Amanjiwo offers numerous activities and excursions; since we wanted relaxation and culture, we selected the tour of Borobudur, martinis at sunset in the tobacco fields, and lunch in their bale overlooking the resort. As honeymooners, they also provided a complementary massage. Everything was great, most notably our sunset tour of Borobudur. Most of the guidebooks tell you to visit at sunrise, but our driver (and later, guide) recommended the sunset tour because after the sun sets, only those who have paid extra for the sunset part of the tour get to stay. The temple was packed with people until the sun set, and then we were one of maybe two couples on top of Borobudur. Having Borobudur all to ourselves was amazing and totally worth the extra price.

Amanjiwo is pricey and may seem remote, but the resort, the grounds, the staff, Borobudur, all of it makes Amanjiwo worth the visit and the price. It's truly spectacular.

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank 415traveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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