This place is really pretty special. An unexpected and tranquil find; nestled in an isolated hilltop location, surrounded by 8 volcanoes, amongst beautiful gardens and a coffee plantation, this is far more than just a hotel.
South East Asia has long been known for its stunning beaches, tasty food and tropical climate. But the more time we spend here, the more I am blown away by its diversity; of landscapes, of culture, cuisine, of things to do. And this is one such case in point. Living in Singapore we are lucky enough to be able to do weekend trips to various beautiful places, but more often than not it’s to a beach. So this time we decided to do something different and head inland, to mountain rather than sea. And so it was that we set off to MesaStila in Central Java, and we discovered the most extraordinary place of calm, beauty and rich culture and history.
Flying into Semarang, we were met by a private car (equipped with cold towels, water, nuts, and home made cocoa-nib cookies) and driven for approximately 1.5 hours inland up into the hills. We were blown away on arrival.
The reception is an old Colonial train station which dates from 1873, rescued from demolition and brought to MesaStila from Mayong town. This charming entrance sets the scene for the rest of the stunning buildings & details which make up the ‘resort’; 23 historic ‘joglo’ villas, The Clubhouse (a beautiful white bungalow built in 1928, which was once a Dutch plantation owner’s dwelling and office), and various Javanese sculptures and pavilions.
The villa we stayed in was absolutely stunning, with a huge four poster bed, daybed, veranda looking out over the mountains and forest, and ensuite bathroom with a huge sunken bath next to a huge window with the same views.
Our first morning we woke up early and Chris set off for a run whilst I headed to a yoga class, one of the free activities on offer. With the cool mountain air, stunning views and birds tweeting, it was a wonderful way to start the day with a smile on my face. From there we met for breakfast at the open air restaurant where we were served delicious made to order dishes of fresh fruit, omelettes, juices, all sourced from MesaStila’s own organic farm. They also offer ‘jamu’ (traditional herbal medicine) at breakfast, prepared by ladies who wake up in the early dawn hours to boil herbs and reduce them to concentrated drinks. Five types are available, covering a wide range of ailments and needs.
So we followed this routine every morning, and afternoons were spent hiring bicycles and exploring the local villages, playing tennis on site, enjoying incredible treatments in the award-winning Hammam (Turkish steam bath and spa with a domed roof and attached octagonal resting room), or simply sitting reading in quiet spots, letting the calm wash over us. Every afternoon we enjoyed afternoon tea (also included) with home-made savoury and sweet treats, drinking magical colour-changing herbal tea, or coffee from their very own plantation.
One of the absolute highlights of our long weekend was the coffee plantation tour, another free activity not to be missed. MesaStila is a working coffee plantation which covers roughly half of the resort’s 22 hectares. An engaging and knowledgeable guide met us and walked us around the grounds, pointing out the different varieties of coffee plants before explaining the steps in processing, from drying to shelling and sorting. We tasted the coffee as the locals do, black, thick and unfiltered in a simple glass and served with lumps of palm sugar.
Dinners were simple and tasty; both Javanese and Western dishes, and all with a healthy twist, the focus being on wellness and wholesome dining, and all ingredients sustainably produced. Again this was served in the open air restaurant overlooking the infinity pool to the mountains beyond.
In hindsight we really should have taken one or more of the organised tours, to Borobudur for example, but we were so enjoying the serenity of MesaStila itself that we couldn’t have been happier just to stay put. We returned to Singapore calm and happy, feeling a little bit like we were stepping back out of history, ready to continue with the modern pace of life.
MesaStila – Resort and Spa, Desa Losari, 108 Magelang 56100 Central Java – INDONESIA