Instead of heading to the cool heights of Mount Bromo, Zalina Mohd Som opts for ibis Style Malang for a relaxing retreat with some welcome surprises
AS the MPV zooms on the Surabaya-Gempol Highway to Malang for the first leg of my four-day East Java trip, I pray hard that I’ve made the right decision by skipping Mount Bromo and choosing to just stay in the city instead.
I remember the WhatsApp messages I got from a tour guide from Malang, recommended to me by a friend of a friend. The guide insisted that I shouldn’t give Bromo a miss.
“Malang and Surabaya are just typical cities,” he stressed.
But this is not a hiking trip. Nor is it an adventurous one. This is avery laidback trip with my sister and we just want to go with the flow, with no rush or pressure to be on time for just about anything. Plus, we want to check out what’s been putting Malang on the tourism map.
The smooth 90-minute drive on the highway to Malang is about to end when our driver Danny breaks the silence with a question,” What do you like for lunch? Any preference?”
“I want that famous rice that has spicy sambal (chilli paste),” I answer. The soft spoken Danny nods and smiles.
Our first taste of Malang, the small city 95km from Surabaya, is a sumptuous lunch at a warm, homely Warong SS which surprisingly has made an appearance back home in Kuala Lumpur.
After lunch, Danny makes a short detour to Kampung Warna Warni before sending us to our hotel, ibis Style Malang.
The colourful village was once a polluted and impoverished village but shot to fame on social-media when a community project turned it in to a vibrant, multi-coloured community.
Done with Kampung Warna Warni, it’s time for us to check in. From afar, we can already see the white towering building of ibis Style Malang, stabbing the sky and dwarfing the single-storey shop-houses and residential areas around it.
Closer to it, there are pops of bright colours on its white-washed facade, making the building quite a head-turner.
Inside, the lobby is peaceful with soft calming neutral colours, though there’s a huge modern art piece sprinkled with bright green on the wall behind the reception counter.
Ah, the bright colours are only part of the facade. But the hotel is quick to prove me wrong with a colourful doodle map of Malang covering the huge wall next to the lifts.
The colours and quirky designs continue into our room too. For a three-star hotel, the room is superb — spacious, well equipped and creatively themed with quirky designs and bright colours.
After a quick freshen-up, we head down to STreats, the hotel’s only restaurant.
We’ve decided to dine in even though the city’s gastronomic heaven is just across the road.
From our room, we can see the shop houses across the road housing the usual fast food chains, swanky restaurants and old-school rumah makan.
The restaurant, like the rest of the hotel, has pops of colours and intriguing artwork also adorning its walls and pillars. Adapting a semi-open concept, the restaurant has a tall wall of greens that shields the open side of the restaurant while still allowing sunlight and fresh air to come in.
When the food is finally served, STreats doesn’t take long to leave a really good first impression. The food tastes as good as it looks. Topped off with warm hospitality, dinner in STreats turns out to be a good, delicious decision.
Late at night, I look back at the day’s events and realise that this three-star ibis Style Malang is Malang city all tucked in a tall, modern building — colourful, delicious, warm and friendly.
ibis styles Malang
Jl S Parman 45 65122 Malang
EMAIL [email protected]
STAY superior room, deluxe room, family room
EAT One outlet, STreats. The all-day dining restaurant serves both local and international food. Though Indonesian street food is quite irresistible, opting to eat in at STreats can be a good choice especially after a long day of touring or travelling.
DO The hotel proudly houses Malang’s only warm water swimming pool.
GO Across the street is the city’s culinary centre where there are rows and rows of food joints featuring food chains to local favourites that sell bakso (noodles soup with meat balls) and bubur ayam (chichken porridge).
HIGHS Good location, good food and warm hospitality
LOWS Perhaps the hotel’s unique and colourful theme should also be reflected in the bathroom, especially the toiletries?