Everyone has their own view of what a luxury hotel is. After two days in a hotel with only cold water, for me, luxury was simply a hot running tap. So, on arrival at the Grand Mutiara, the first thing I did was turn on the taps horrified to find a luke-warm dribble. On checking with reception, I discovered that hot is only available between 7am to 10am and 6pm to 9pm. Fearing it might run out quickly, I was in the shower dead on 6pm enjoying the steam.
The Grand Mutiara is indeed a grand hotel with around120 rooms and a huge, curved sweeping drive. It’s located on the outskirts of Berastagi, Sumatra 1300m above sea level. It was here the Dutch retreated from the heat of Medan. Because the climate is cooler there’s no need for air conditioning but it also meant that the large swimming pool, complete was chute, wasn’t enticing.
Our luggage was efficiently handled by the bell boy while we enjoyed a white, cloudy but not unpleasant welcome drink. After minimal paperwork we were taken to Room 339 on the ground floor. Our large room had two queen-size beds, small marble dressing table, two chests, cream cane sofa, chair and table. There was a TV but no hairdryer, mini-bar or room safe (but boxes were available at reception). Room service was on offer. The large bathroom had a separate shower and bath.
The bar on the ground floor and opposite reception looked closed but we were told that although it was open 24 hours a day, it wasn’t constantly manned, but reception were happy to summon the barman. This was a lovely place to sit as it overlooked the lush green, landscaped gardens, free wi-fi was available. However there didn’t appear to be any of the hustle and bustle associated with such a large hotel.
The Lotus restaurant on the lower ground floor (note, there is no lift) had French doors opening on to the Markisa terrace. The brightly lit dining room was absolutely huge, with 20 to 30 large round tables which would have seated 12, but were set for eight in pairs on each compass point. Tables were set with elegant cream cloths and napkins and the chairs had cream covers: it was ideal for a wedding. Apart from one family, the restaurant was empty and during our meal, only one other couple arrived. There was a good and varied menu and we shared chicken curry and beef strips in pepper (both less than £3) and with a couple of large Bintang beers at just over £3 each, it was a very cheap dinner.
Breakfast had an American or noodle option. The former consisted of weak, but refreshing pineapple juice, papaya and orange segments followed by a nicely sized and cooked omelette with crunchy peppers and mushrooms, salad garnish and a rather interesting looking sausage. Roy’s scrambled eggs arrived on one plate with a fried egg, salad and sausage on another. Three slices of toast, accompanied by three Kraft cheese slices, two pots of butter, and two jams completed our substantial breakfast before we headed off into the Sumatran jungle.