In this review we will stay at the Majapahit Hotel in Surabaya, a city on the island of Java in Indonesia.
After a fun train ride from Yogyakarta, I had finally arrived in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city after the capital of Jakarta.
It was an easy decision where to stay. I absolutely love historical hotels which ooze old world charm and Surabaya happens to have such a hotel: the Majapahit. I’ll go into more detail about the history of the Majaphit a bit further down into this hotel review.
The Majapahit is nowadays run by Accor as part of their MGallery collection, which makes it an interesting choice as well if you happen to be an Accor hotel loyalist.
From the train station, I took a taxi for the relatively short ride to the Majapahit, which is located on a busy street in the centre of Surabaya.
When you arrive at the hotel’s impressive driveway you immediately get a view of the Majapahit’s wonderful Art Deco architecture.
The check-in staff at the reception desk were very welcoming. They immediately told me to take a seat in the lobby while they would handle the check-in procedure at the desk.
Seconds later, a waiter came by and offered me a refreshment towel, a cold welcome drink and some cookies. Talk about a nice welcome!
After a couple of minutes, the receptionist came back with my passport and told me that I was checked in and could follow the porter to my room.
When I walked with the porter to my room, which was located about as far from the main building as possible, I noticed just how big, quiet and peaceful the grounds at the Majapahit are.
Even though the Majapahit is located is one of Surabaya’s most chaotic streets which seems constantly clogged with traffic, there is absolutely no sound of cars or other city noises when walking through the gardens and semi-open corridors of the hotel.
The gardens, little patios and the beautiful colonnades on which the rooms are located surely make for one charming hotel.
Deluxe King Suite
For my two-night-stay in Surabaya, I had booked a Deluxe King Suite at the Majapahit Hotel for 90 euro per night, a rate which included breakfast. On the website of Accor, this room is also called a ‘Heritage Suite’.
Suites at the Majapahit are only slightly more expensive than the classic (standard) rooms and in my opinion it’s well worth the surcharge. Not only are the suites much larger, they also offer so much old world charm!
As you enter your suite, you will first step into a nice living room with sofa, chair, desk, TV, and a table with a kettle on top of it. Complimentary water, as well as coffee and tea, are of course provided.
Although the room décor may look like it hasn’t been changed since Dutch colonial rule, all the modern-day room facilities are present. There is of course air-conditioning, and there are plenty of power sockets throughout the entire suite to keep your electronics charged.
The living room leads into the bedroom, with a comfortable king-size bed and plenty of storage space in a large closet. I certainly liked the small details in the room, such as the decorated glass between the living room and the bedroom.
The bed itself was extremely comfortable and I had a great sleep at the hotel.
The bathroom is big – and has both a bad and separate shower cubicle, as well as a toilet behind yet another door. Decent quality toiletries, hairdryer, a bathrobe and slippers are all provided.
Each deluxe suite also has a small patio in front of the room at the colonnade. I found this a lovely place to sip my morning coffee – you almost feel like an officer in the British or Dutch colonial army!
The view from the patio over the hotel premises was fantastic too. These deluxe suites are located at the back of the hotel overlooking a large grass lawn.
The colonnades and the white facades form a spectacular contrast to the glass-and-steel office towers of Surabaya right behind them!
Although I was certainly happy with the quality of my deluxe suite, it was not the best part of the Majapahit. What I liked most were the public spaces of the hotel and the historic feel.
The colonnades, the gardens with their palm trees, the fountains, the little patios – the Majapahit really is an oasis in the middle of a noisy, chaotic city. In the evening, the colonnades and buildings of the Majapahit are beautifully illuminated.
The entire hotel premises are so peaceful and quiet that you almost forget that you are smack bang in the centre of Indonesia’s second largest city.
Also the indoor public spaces of the Majapahit – such as the wonderful old piano bar – overflow with old colonial-era charm.
Another great aspect of the Majapahit is of course its history. If some of the above pictures might remind you of the world famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore, you are certainly not mistaken.
Like the Raffles, this hotel was also constructed by the Sarkies Brothers. Born in Esfahan in what was then called Persia, these ethnic Armenian brothers founded a couple of luxury hotels throughout southeast Asia.
Besides the Raffles and the Majapahit, also the Eastern & Oriental Hotel in George Town in the Malaysian state of Penang and the Strand Hotel in the Burmese capital of Rangoon were founded by the Sarkies Brothers.
The Majapahit started life as the ‘Hotel Oranje’ and was opened in 1911 when Indonesia was still a Dutch colony, hence the old name of ‘oranje’ (orange) as a reference to the Dutch national colour and royal family.
If you look carefully around, you can still see the commemorative plaque which reads in Dutch that on the 1st June 1910, Eugene and Lukas Sarkies laid the first stone.
The Majapahit is also famous for a well-known chapter in Indonesian history right at the end of World War II. When a Dutch flag was raised again over the hotel a few days after the Japanese surrender, it provoked the ire of local Indonesian militiamen who demanded independence.
An Indonesian nationalist mob overran the Dutch colonial soldiers and civilians in the hotel, but were beaten weeks later by British soldiers who hasted in and retook the hotel and the entire city from the Indonesian militias.
It was one of the bloodiest engagements of the Indonesian War of Independence. Although it was a temporary setback for the Indonesians, in the end the events only demonstrated to the Dutch and the rest of the world how determined the Indonesians were when it came to their demand of full, unconditional self-rule, thereby actually helping their cause in the long run.
The Majapahit Hotel also features a large swimming pool, which comes in handy after a day of sightseeing in Surabaya. The palm-fringed pool makes a perfect spot as well to sit down and order a cold beer.
There is also a spa at the Majapahit, although I didn’t try it out so cannot comment much on the quality of it.
During my stay at the Majapahit I only could find one (minor) negative aspect about the hotel. This concerned the breakfast buffet.
Although the quality of the food at the buffet was certainly decent, I found the choices to be somewhat limited. For a luxury hotel I would certainly expect a much wider selection of food and also some extras such as made-to-order eggs.
Compared to the vast breakfast buffet at the Hermitage in Jakarta, it certainly paled. The breakfast room at the Majapahit also felt a bit small and thus was relatively crowded.
Just like my previous days in Yogyakarta, I was unfortunately bound to my room for the late afternoon and evening on both my days in Surabaya, having to do some work during the time which coincided with Western European office hours.
This meant that I couldn’t dine out in the city and that even sitting down at one of the restaurants of the Majapahit would be logistically complicated.
Therefore, I ordered some Indonesian food for room service. The quality and portions were both good, and the food was decently priced too.
I was also generally impressed by the service at the Majapahit. All the hotel workers I encountered were welcoming, friendly and helpful.
On my arrival, I found out that the kettle in my room was not working. After a call to reception a maintenance worker stood in front of my room within minutes.
He was unable to fix the problem but ended up solving it by coming back five minutes later with a brand new kettle.
The Majapahit Hotel in Surabaya is a special place, there is no doubt about that. It’s a true Sarkies Brothers hotel which oozes old colonial charm just like their other historical properties across southeast Asia.
Compared to the more famous Sarkies properties such as the Raffles in Singapore, you can however stay at the Majapahit for only a fraction of the price!
My room was absolutely lovely and the facilities at the hotel are great. Best of all are the absolutely stunning grounds of the Majapahit Hotel, which are a quiet oasis right in the heart of Surabaya.
The only minus was the breakfast buffet, which was rather limited in size.
However, all things combined I can absolutely recommend the Majapahit and it is almost a must-stay hotel when visiting Surabaya!
Trip report index
This article is part of the ‘Journey to Java‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:
1. Review: Wizz Air Bucharest to Rome Ciampino (Airbus A321)
2. Half a Day in Rome: A Walk Around the Eternal City
3. Review: Casa Alitalia Lounge ‘Piazza di Spagna’ Rome Fiumicino Airport
4. Review: Saudia Business Class Rome to Riyadh (Airbus A320)
5. Review: Saudia Alfursan Business Lounge Riyadh Airport
6. Review: Saudia Business Class Riyadh to Jakarta (Boeing 777-300)
7. Review: The Hermitage, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Jakarta, Indonesia
8. A Day in Jakarta: Exploring Indonesia’s Bustling Capital City
9. Review: Garuda Indonesia Domestic Business Lounge Jakarta Airport
10. Review: Garuda Indonesia Business Class Jakarta to Yogyakarta (Boeing 737-800)
11. Review: The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta – Mgallery By Sofitel
12. A Magical Sunrise Visit to Borobudur Temple
13. A Visit to the Great Hindu Temple Complex of Prambanan
14. Review: Yogyakarta to Surabaya (Indonesia) by Train
15. Review: Majapahit Hotel, Surabaya, Indonesia (current chapter)
16. A Day in Surabaya: Exploring Indonesia’s Second Biggest City
17. Review: Concordia Premier Lounge Surabaya Airport
18: Review: Singapore Airlines Business Class Surabaya to Singapore (Airbus A330-300)
19. A Short Singapore Stopover: Into the City or Stay at the Airport?
20. Review: SilverKris Lounge Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2
21. Review: Singapore Airlines Business Class Singapore to Manila (Boeing 787-10)
22. Review: PAGSS Business Lounge Manila Airport Terminal 1
23. Review: China Airlines Economy Class Manila to Taipei (Airbus A330-300)
24. Review: China Airlines Business Lounge Taipei Airport Terminal 1
25. Review: China Airlines Economy Class Taipei to Rome (Airbus A350)
26. Review: TAROM economy class Rome to Bucharest (Boeing 737-700)