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Sometimes it becomes necessary to go far from my typical hotel path. A unique visit to Borobudur was one of those occasions. Yogyakarta is the nearest city to the 8th century Buddhist temple site and over an hour away. One of the unique experiences for this UNESCO World Heritage site is to climb up pre-dawn to watch the sunrise and thus required a hotel experience away from the norm. The Manohara Resort was the perfect solution.
The Manohara Resort Center of Borobudur is a simple guest lodge. Originally built to house researchers, preservationists, and archeologists, it has evolved into the main center for visitors seeking direct access to the temple. The lodge is at the base of the temple inside the gates of the complex. Guests at the Manohara are allowed to ascend beginning at 4:30 am before the park opens to outside tourists.
We arrived at the hotel after dark after a long day of driving/touring.
There was a bell staff ready to help us with luggage.
There was a line to check in so our guide escorted us to a seating area in the lobby where we were offered cold towels and a beverage.
Our guide from Abercrombie & Kent handled our check in. The only slight hiccup was when they asked for our passports (the ship had collected them and the Indonesian authorities were not ready to release them when we were cleared for disembarkation so it was suggested we leave without them). Fortunately after some discussion with our guide, they were willing to accept our driver’s licenses instead.
As the hotel was booked as part of our tour, we allowed the guide to deal with everything so he gave us our room keys.
We were assigned to room 1, the closest room to the main lobby.
Our room was located off a manicured courtyard.
The room was basic – two twin beds, a desk, a small open stand to house luggage, and a flat screen television on the wall. The room has basic television which includes a few western stations such as CNN, HBO, and Fox Sports.
The bathroom contained a shower stall, toilet, and sink. A hairdryer was mounted on the wall. The shower had hot water and good pressure. Most important, it was clean!
The room had air conditioning. There was also a small mini-bar with sodas for sale.
We had a small patio off the room with two chairs. Each room had a similar verandah with lush green views.
It was already dark when we arrived around 7 pm. I needed to eat dinner but didn’t have the time or inclination to try to find local transport to take us back to the small village for food since our driver/guide had already left for the night.
Fortunately the hotel offers 24/7 rooms service and has both an Indonesian and a Western menu. Our Thanksgiving feast was Indonesian from room service – nasi goreng (Indonesia fried rice with fried chicken, fried egg, and rice crackers) and sate ayam (grilled chicken skewers with peanut sauce) along with an order of spring rolls. We ordered extra fried chicken – a suitable substitute for turkey when half a world away!
The hotel has free wifi, a huge plus for travelers who may be coming from a ship or have had a long day of travel. The wifi worked well and was fast.
The following morning, we set out at 4:45 am to ascend Borobudur before the sunrise. The sunrise admission is sold through the hotel and includes rental of a torch (flashlight) and refreshments upon the descent. It was lovely to miss the crowds as well as to finish before the day’s heat and humidity set in.
Our room included breakfast. It was a small Indonesian style buffet with few Western options but was what we needed after two and a half hours of trekking. It included two cereals, three types of sliced fruit, and several savory dishes that seemed more oriented to lunch/dinner.
I returned to the room to shower and freshen up before departure. The air conditioning was a welcome respite and the hot water was soothing after quite a bit of climbing around!
By 9 am, we were quickly checked out. Our room was paid for by vouchers so we only had to pay our room service bill which was quickly settled in cash. A couple minutes later, we were on our way back to Semarang to rejoin the cruise ship.
I would not hesitate to stay here again should I return to Borobudur. While this is not a property where I could see myself staying for a long period of time, it is a wonderful guest lodge and exceeded my expectations for such.