Luxe at 60 Bucks: A Review of the JW Marriott in Medan, Indonesia
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To The Point
This JW Marriott property in Indonesia can frequently be booked for just $60-80 per night. Pros: Excellent city views, comfortable bed and well-equipped fitness center. Cons: The rooms are somewhat outdated and some maintenance issues.
As one of Marriott’s high-end brands, JW Marriott stays are usually on the expensive side. Past TPG reviews of JW Marriott properties have cost $325 per night in Shanghai, China, $334 per night in Venice, Italy, $184 per night in Washington, DC, when booked during a Cyber Monday sale and $1,300 per night in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. Even in countries where the US dollar is strong, you’ll generally pay $160 or more per night. But, when I found myself in Medan, Indonesia, I couldn’t resist booking a stay at the city’s JW, which only cost $60 per night.
My husband, JT, and I booked four round-trip flights each from Medan, Indonesia (KNO), as part of a status run. Between each of these round-trips, we needed a place to stay in Medan.
On our first stay in Medan, we spent one night at the JW Marriott for 840,970 rupiahs (about $60). On our second stay, we booked two nights at the hotel for 2,034,833 rupiahs (about $145) before deciding to try other properties for our final two stays.
This hotel is a Category 2 Marriott property, meaning we could’ve used 12,500 points per night. Based on TPG’s latest valuations, 12,500 Marriott points are worth about $100, so paying cash was clearly the way to go.
The JW Marriott is in Medan’s city center, which is 40 to 60 minutes from KNO airport, depending on traffic and the exact route you take. Don’t try Grab from this airport, as drivers spoof their location at the airport. Taking a taxi costs 200,000 to 250,000 rupiahs (about $15 to $20). You can also take the train from the airport and then walk 10 to 15 minutes to the hotel, but this isn’t much cheaper and not really any quicker.
When we arrived, we had to put our baggage through a scanner and walk through a metal detector. A bellhop might bring a cart over to help with your baggage once it has been scanned, but no one came to help during our first stay.
It was an impressive lobby, which had Chinese New Year decorations during both of our stays. Both times we checked in, we had to wait a while, as both agents were already helping other guests and the mobile check-in counter wasn’t staffed.
Speaking of mobile check-in: Don’t rely on the room information shown in the app. The room information claimed we’d get executive-lounge access for both stays, but the hotel claimed this wasn’t a benefit because we’d been upgraded to the room instead of booking into the room. And on our first stay, the front desk claimed our room wasn’t ready even after the app notified us that it was ready.
We booked a deluxe king room for both stays, but were given a corner executive deluxe king room each time. During our first stay, we were in Room 2901, and on our second stay we were in Room 2201. Both rooms had large windows in the bedroom looking north and east as well as a large window in the bathroom looking north. The views were particularly compelling, since there aren’t many other tall buildings in Medan.
The king bed was extremely comfortable. There were three large, square pillows and three normal-sized pillows — and we were successfully able to order an additional foam pillow via the app.
There were nightstands with lamps on both sides of the bed, but there wasn’t an outlet at the nightstand on the right side of the bed. Both nightstands had one small drawer. One of these drawers contained a New Testament, Book of Mormon and Quran.
A 55-inch flat-screen TV was situated across the room from the bed on top of a large cabinet.
The cabinet contained the minibar and a DVD player, as well as two shelves behind a door.
There were cold minibar items in a refrigerator.
Next to the TV on top of the large cabinet was an ice bucket and coffee and tea supplies.
There were two lounge chairs facing away from the windows separated by a coffee table. We turned these chairs around so we could enjoy the seemingly endless views.
Both times we checked in, there was a welcome amenity of local treats waiting on the table between the chairs.
There was a glass table that formed a L-shaped desk with a smaller counter along the wall. There was a writing pad on the desk and two universal outlets on the counter.
Near the room’s door were two closets and a luggage shelf. The closet closer to the door had a small area to hang items, a safe and a few shelves. The other closet had lots of hangers, an iron and ironing board, a robe and a scale.
The bathroom was also near the room’s entrance. There was a large vanity, including a tissue box that had two drawers with amenities like a sewing kit, lotion, mouthwash, dental kits, a nail file, a comb and shower caps. A hair dryer was in a drawer under the counter, and there was a makeup mirror mounted on the wall.
There was a walk-in shower with a handheld shower head, as well as an overhead shower head. The overhead shower head in Room 2201 wasn’t nearly as good as in 2901, and instead sprayed water at random angles.
Perhaps the most enticing part of the room: the bathtub that sat alongside two of the large floor-to-ceiling windows. There were bath salts and a loofah. I thoroughly enjoyed my bath, but a wider tub would’ve been more comfortable.
The window curtains in the room and bathroom opened and closed using a remote, so it was easy to operate the curtains — and they were great at blocking out light.
The hotel opened in February 2009 and was showing its age in some aspects: The cover was peeling off the desk chair, the drawers near the minibar seemingly had some previous purpose that it no longer utilized, and the carpet in the hall was thinning. This being said, the mattress, light fixtures, TV and hair dryer all seemed new.
Although the air conditioning worked well in Room 2901, Room 2201 stayed around 79 degrees Fahrenheit even after the front desk sent a technician. The technician cleaned the air vent before claiming that the air conditioning was working and that we should close the window curtains if we wanted a cooler room. The room still didn’t cool down, but we didn’t press the issue, since we only had one more night.
Food and Beverage
There were three restaurants on site: the Marriott Cafe, Jade Restaurant and Prime Steakhouse and Bar. Jade Restaurant was a mainland Chinese restaurant, while Prime Steakhouse was a Chicago-style steakhouse. We took a look at the menus but decided to eat elsewhere, since the foods at Jade Restaurant didn’t appeal to us and Prime Steakhouse required semiformal attire.
We did try the a la carte dinner and buffet breakfast at the Marriott Cafe. The dinner menu featured a variety of Asian, Western and Indonesian dishes.
We tried two of the Indonesian dishes — soto Medan and nasi goreng Nusantara. JT found the soup to be surprisingly bland, while I found the prawn satay that came with the nasi goreng Nusantara to be too spicy. Each of the dishes was 138,000 rupiahs (about $10) before 21% tax and service charges.
The breakfast buffet at the Marriott Cafe cost 208,000 rupiahs (about $15) per person including tax and service charges. There were many options on the buffet, ranging from an omelet station to a noodle station and a sushi station. There were also pancakes, French toast, waffles, fruits, various Indonesian foods and assorted Asian offerings, including two types of congee. The omelet I ordered was excellent, but everything else wasn’t particularly good or fresh. I’d try ordering from the menu if I returned.
The Lounge in the lobby area served various alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks as well as a small selection of light foods from 8am to 1am daily. There was also a grab-and-go area with bread, dessert and coffee next to the Marriott Cafe that was open from 10am to 10pm. And there as a relatively extensive 24-hour room-service menu.
The pool, fitness center and spa were on the 17th floor. There were gender-separated steam rooms, saunas and hot tubs in the locker rooms. The fitness center was large and had ample natural lighting, due to the floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides of the workout area. There were seven treadmills, five elliptical machines, three exercise bikes, one stair machine, six weight machines, multiple weight benches and a selection of free weights.
An outdoor infinity pool and children’s pool were open from 6am to 10pm daily. Despite the warm temperatures in Medan, the outdoor pool was surprisingly cold both times I went swimming.
The Wi-Fi at the JW Marriott Medan was speedy, with 25 ms ping, 68.67 Mbps download and 42.14 Mbps upload.
Multiple restrooms I used, both in the lobby and fitness center, had bathroom stall doors that would not completely close or lock. Although not a huge issue, it was representative of small maintenance issues that should have been resolved.
The JW is seemingly the place to stay in Medan, yet it frequently offers prices in the $60-to-$80-per-night range. Granted, Medan, Indonesia, isn’t a popular tourist spot, but if you happen to find yourself in the city, know that you can stay at a pretty luxurious hotel at great rates. This JW Marriott has a few maintenance issues, but I’d stay again solely for the mesmerizing views overlooking the cityscape.
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