I’ve never quite understood the rating system given to hotels. In particular, why could one fancy looking hotel be a 4* and another at a similar price be 5*? Do the 5* hotels have a string quartet in the lobby, whilst 4* have music over a speaker?
On top of this, it never really bothered me that much, as a budget backpacker, my general budget per night was around US$7 or around £5.
However, during my travels in South East Asia, I was coming up to a birthday; my 28th, and decided that perhaps I should push the boat out, and have a few days at a fancy hotel.
My sister had joined me at the latter half of my trip, and so we chose to stay at the Grand Aston for 2 nights.
It was my first 5* luxury hotel stay, and I honestly could get used to the lifestyle there.
How much does it cost to stay at the Grand Aston?
When we travelled to Yogyakarta (or ‘Jogja’ as it is known to locals), in October 2014, it cost 917,180 IDR per night, which works out as £48 for 2 people, per night, including breakfast. That’s less £100 for two nights, or if you’re from the US, It is less than $150 for a two night stay, for two people. You would not even get a budget travel lodge in London for that price!
Experiencing 5* luxury
After staying in a 6 bed dorm room in a nearby hostel, my sister and I packed our rucksacks and got a taxi to the hotel. Pulling up to the hotel, the taxi was checked prior to being let in by security staff. A member of the concierge then opened the taxi door, placed his hand on his chest and said Selamat Datang (welcome in Indonesian) welcome to the Grand Aston. He quickly picked up our worn rucksacks and transferred them to a trolley.
I suddenly felt very under dressed in a baggy pair of pants and a worn singlet.
Another member of the concierge then opened the door and we were directed to the reception, were we were given a refreshing welcoming drink of rosela tea. Marble flooring and plush seating filled the lobby area, with calming music and the scent of Frangipani filled the air.
My sister and I looked at each other and silently confirmed that this place was amazing.
Our check in was incredibly fast, and efficient, we were given a quick run down of the hotel facilities and then lead to our room on the second floor.
A quick swipe of the key card and we were in. We thanked the hotel staff; unsure if we needed to tip, and they left.
“OH MY WORD” I exclaimed, this is amazing!
A massive Californian king size bed dominated the room, with a perfect view of the pool and spa area from the window.
I entered the bathroom and squealed to my sister. “You could fit 5 people in this shower!” “And we have room slippers and dressing gowns!”
I flopped on the bed, which felt like lying on a cloud (I’d imagine); the comfiest bed I had laid on in 4 months.
Then on the desk, I noticed a plate, with a cake on it.
“Oh, I got cake!” I said with delight
The hotel staff had given me birthday cake! I was in love with the place already.
Facilities at the Grand Aston
All the typical hotel room features are included in the room, including an iron and ironing board (this was helpful for ironing my dress, before having my fancy birthday meal), dressing gowns, and room slippers, a phone, TV, mini bar and a safe. You can also borrow a DVD player, and any of the DVDs in their library, at no extra cost.
The Grand Aston literally caters for any kind of traveller. It has space for business workers, with a computer, printer, photocopier as well as a convention centre for business meetings.
The WiFi connection is strong, and never disconnects. it is also free.
Fine food and dining
3 restaurants cater for all types of diner.
The Saffron, (which is where breakfast is served also) includes a garden area for outdoor dining, has a range of Indonesian and Western dishes.
Holy Cow Steakhouse – which can be accessed via Saffron Restaurant, or from outside the hotel. The best steaks in town (so I am told!)
Vanilla Sky Lounge – Cocktail bar, also with an attached Mexican food restaurant. (The Fajitas are amazing and cocktails strong and cheap!)
Spa and Leisure
The pool is small, but suitable if you want to swim a few lengths, and there are lounge chairs outside if you’re the sunbathing type.
The gym is small, but has a range of equipment if you like to keep in shape.
On my actual birthday, we had booked in for a session at the Spa. We pre-booked the day before. I choose to have a full body massage, and this cost approx £20 ( US$30), but it was incredible. The staff were professional, and it was a relaxed environment. We got given a wonderful cup of ginger tea afterwards. Had I been staying longer, I would have booked in for more treatments; incredibly cheap for the service you receive.
Like with many places, it is often the people that make the place; and we found that the staff, were the friendliest and most helpful people. They would do anything for us, and always greeted us with warm smiles.
For my birthday, I had a meal at the Saffron Restaurant, and as well as serving us an incredible meal, the entire restaurant staff came to sing to me, and presented me with a free platter of desserts.
Over all, I had a very memorable stay and birthday at the Grand Aston.
If you’re thinking you can’t afford a 5* hotel, just head to Asia, where you can stay for £50 per night**
The Grand Aston, Hotel and Convention Centre
Jl. Urip Sumoharjo No. 37, Sagan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
** Prices correct as of October 2014