It’s almost unheard of on TripAdvisor: a 5-star rating from 78 reviews. Alamanda Bed & Breakfast Resort looked too good to be true, and exactly what I was looking for based on the reviews.
“…Frans was wonderful! Whatever our needs, he took care of them…”
“…Ask Richi to prepare a meal for you, take one of the day-long trips with the drivers, or have a nice talk with Frans, the owner. You won’t be disappointed.”
“… I have nothing but pure respect for Mr Frans. He MADE my holiday to Jogjakarta so awesome that I am returning back very soon.”
I’m not the type of person who wants or expects to be fussed over, but there was something so appealing about letting someone else manage the details of my whirlwind trip to Yogyakarta. I emailed Mr. Frans and learned that there was one room available for the nights I’d be there; a free-standing Joglo in a rice field, just outside the Alamanda Bed & Breakfast. Mr. Frans would pick me up at the airport and had a list of tours I might take if I was interested. Oh, I was interested! I booked immediately.
Mr. Frans was everything his past guests said he would be. He arranged drivers to take me to each of the places I wanted to see, sometimes combining my trips with other guests or alone. He walked me around the residential neighborhood behind the Alamanda house and greeted everyone we passed by name. He pointed out plants that grew there and described what life was like.
His partner Richie made me a wonderful breakfast and later cooked dinner for those of us at the house who’d decided to stay in that night. It was absolutely delicious! Their hospitality was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. They made their group of world travelers feel completely at home in their comfortable main house and joglos.
After a wonderful dinner and closer look at all the art that Richie has created to fill their home, I retired to my room. Washing away jetlag in the outdoor shower under the stars was pure serenity. Then I climbed into that delicious bed, wrote in my journal, and fell quickly asleep… until I was awakened in the dark morning hours by a loud call to prayer blasting through loudspeakers somewhere outside. I startled awake and wondered where I was. An authoritative voice made an announcement and then began singing. Chanting. I didn’t know what was going on, and wondered how long it might go on. It wasn’t even light outside yet! So strange.
I fell back asleep, but was startled awake again by the sound of sticks being hit together. They sounded like they were right outside my door. “Ahh! Ahh!” someone yelled. More sticks banged together. “Ahh! Ahh!”
The sun had come up. I gave up on sleeping, eager to get out and see Yogyakarta. I opened my door and saw the source of the noise: men working in the rice field, hitting sticks together and yelling at birds. They waved in my direction and resumed their scarecrow detail. The rice would be harvested the following week.
A weekend there was not enough. I loved everything about it: the strange call to prayer in the night, the banana-cheese pancakes, Tono and the other drivers who shuttled me around to everything I wanted to see, walking through the village, my private room, the heat washing over the rice field, the incomparable hospitality of Frans and Richie. It was everything I’d hoped for and more. I felt welcomed and at-home in perhaps the most exotic location I’ve ever been. I’ll be adding my own 5-starred review to TripAdvisor, too. My stay at Alamanda set just the right tone for my weekend and added immensely to my whole Jogjakarta experience.
How do you choose your accommodations when you travel?