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Jiwa Java

Jungle splash out

Jalan Blimbing Sari, Taman Sari, Licin T: (0217) 510 338 (0811) 303 818 (0815) 940 3818

Jiwa Java

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If you’re looking for a little first class treatment with your mountain sojourn to Ijen, look no further than Jiwa Java.

Secluded in the remote jungle foothills of Ijen plateau, this classy joint has the goods when it comes to stunning views, even on the wet and misty day we dropped by, the outlook was awesome in the true sense of the word. Friendly staff mentioned on a clear day you can see beyond the clouded tropical rainforest to the peaks of Gunung Merapi, Gunung Meranti and Gunung Raung, but we’ll just have to imagine.

Modern rooms enjoy a great outlook.

Modern rooms enjoy a great outlook. Photo: Sally Arnold

A steep path leads from the village road to the traditional-style wooden security gate, presided over by two stone Hindu-style statues of bulls (possibly Nandi), then it’s a steep climb upstairs to reception and gallery (there’s possibly an easier way to enter, but we missed it and besides it’s good training for climbing the volcano).

Here showcased along with a selection of contemporary photography, is a magnificent collection of traditional shadow puppets. The resort’s casual Java Banana Cafe spills out onto the terrace, and upstairs is the more formal Belanga Restaurant overlooking a large outdoor amphitheatre, a venue for occasional music performances.

Smart, spacious and comfortable rooms.

Smart, spacious and comfortable rooms. Photo: Sally Arnold

Below, the 18 air-con cooled rooms are housed in a couple of villas and a modern double-storey block that wraps the side of the cliff and takes full advantage of the impressive vista. The resort was opened in early 2016, although the restaurants had been operational for a year beforehand, but the swimming pool and gym were still under construction at the time of research in January 2018, expected to be complete mid year.

Well appointed rooms are spacious with sophisticated contemporary styling featuring polished hardwood floors, sleek modern wooden furniture and traditional textiles. The look is warm and inviting contrasted with the lush cool green of the exterior. Executive rooms add a balcony, and suites separate living rooms. Mod cons include flatscreen TVs, but there’s a noticeable lack of a minibar in lower room categories, expected at this price point. Stylish marble bathrooms provide hot rainfall showers and ample space with the addition of bathtubs in the suites and villas.

We love a tub with a bit of a view...

We love a tub with a bit of a view... Photo: Sally Arnold

Until the pool is finished (we hope it will be heated), you’ll have to make do with reading, eating or admiring the artwork (and the view) for entertainment. If you haven’t packed your own who-done-it, sit back in a comfy armchair in the library and select from their meagre collection, though we’d be a bit distracted by the mountain and jungle outlook.

Sample some delicious local or international fare in the Belanga Restaurant or cosy up with a locally grown coffee in the Java Banana Cafe. Note that the only alcohol on sale here is beer, so if you prefer wine with your meals or a nip before bedtime it’s BYO (they are fine with that—we checked). Jawa Jiwa pride themselves on their environmentally policies—we can’t say how well they are doing this, but at least the conversation is on the table.

Cross your fingers for clear weather to get the best of the views.

Cross your fingers for clear weather to get the best of the views. Photo: Sally Arnold

Staff are charming, full of local intel and can organise Ijen trips and beyond. Although it was almost empty when we visited in low season, walk-in rates were still comparatively high, and a quick check on booking sites offer considerable discounts, so do shop around. Staff mentioned they prefer guests to book in advance as due to the constant dampness in the area, rooms can suffer, so they like to air them thoroughly in preparation.

If you like the idea of being away from it all with just you and nature, but prefer quality comforts to a tent, Jiwa Java may be just the ticket. For folks that are keen for a swim (and Jiwa Java’s pool is still incomplete) consider the alternative top end digs in the area, Ijen Resort & Villas, then brace yourself for a long bumpy ride along a rutted track to get there. Disappointingly our reception there was a tad less welcoming (it was a wet and miserable day) and we noticed some minor maintenance issues but this longer established resort is graced with lovely rooms and stunning vistas and features a spectacular infinity swimming pool overlooking the rice terraces.

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Where is Jiwa Java

Jiwa Java
Jalan Blimbing Sari, Taman Sari, Licin
T: (0217) 510 338 (0811) 303 818 (0815) 940 3818
Coordinates (for GPS): 114º15'35.95" E, 8º10'30.83" S
Room rates: 1,000,000 to 2,500,000 Rp

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