The Oldest Heritage Hotel In Jakarta: Sriwijaya Hotel
Posted on : 9 March 2012
Categories : -
I was politely asked through my mailbox by one of the hotel managers from Sriwijaya Hotel, Jakarta. From the name of the establishment, I instinctively thought that it was one of those hotels in Palembang, South Sumatra. So they say that it is the oldest hotel in Jakarta. I, too, asked for further details of the place accordingly so I can compose something out of the glimpse information. And here it is, the whole bunch of historical essentials of the hotel that Eva, one of the staffs sent me a couple days ago.
The hotel has quite a catchy branding; ‘hospitality is our heritage’. It fits the business line with the history in some extents. The character building is clearly understood as historical values that the founder of the establishment had set forth since the beginning. It made me think if they do have such hospitality that smells strongly as a legacy of the founder.
So I flipped one and two pages of the website and it seemed that they are quite serious about it. They wrote: The building of Sriwijaya Hotel dates back to the era of Governor-General Van den Bosch, also renowned as a defense architect for theDutch East Indies. It was Conrad Alexander Willem Cavadino or C.A.W. Cavadino who started a restaurantbusiness and baking there in 1863. He ran his business right at the corner of Rijswijk and Citadelweg (at the crossroad of Jalan Veteran I). In 1872 Cavadino Restaurant turned into Cavadino Hotel,while Cavadino Shop, located in front of the hotel, accommodated his retail business.
Clearly the building has been there for quite sometimes. For a building that stands for almost 150 years, Sriwijaya must have quite a handful of chronicles in its own account. European travelers especially from the Netherlands would love to hear those old stories from the people who still continue narrating the days when Cavadino himself got busy with the business. I wonder if there is one.
“An 1894 advertisement tells us that Cavadino Shop sold everything fromsweets, chocolate, Havana cigars from the Netherlands and Manila, to wine, beer, andliquors.“ That mental picture is almost like a film noir to me, taking Havana cigars and wine to the mindset and people with sleek suits and overly enhanced mustaches in the heat of an antique bar.
During that year, National Monument named Monas was not there yet. So, the sky should be clear as wine, no skyscrapers or even the mosque and cathedral. Yes, the street of Jalan Veteran is right at the heart of Jakarta, and it is one of the oldest roadways in the metropolis. The Istiqlal Mosque, the cathedral, and the Monas are some of the place of interests found in the vicinity.
The article continues: “So famous had the Cavadino business become that a bridge in front of the hotel was named after it. Now Cavadino Bridge is popular and located next toSriwijaya Hotel, adjacent to the hotel entrance. From a photo collection ofKITLV,Leiden, shown byScott Merrilleesin a book titled Batavia in Nineteenth Century Photographs, we learn that the hotel and the shop were separate buildings. Cavadino Hotel, now Sriwijaya Hotel, was situated at a quiet corner of streets, with two tram tracks in front of the building. Cavadino Shop, situated on the left, is now a restaurant, which is a part of the Sriwijaya Hotel.”
We just so wish that Jakarta might go back to its past where trams and mostly the number of people who live there can make a significant difference. I was choked to death, trapped in one of the days in Jakarta during a rush hour on a motorbike. Never did I want to be in the same situation. I admire those who can keep up with the worst chaos on the streets. Only buildings can survive that long, although the proprietors might change frequently as they find better and cleaner place than the city.
The shop and hotel stayed in business until the late 19th century. Merrilleesnoted that C.A.W. Cavadino was no longer a citizen ofBatavia(now Jakarta) even when his businesses were still under the name of Cavadino@Co. Cavadino Hotel survived until 1898 when it transformed intoHotel du Lion d’Or. Later, in 1941, it changed its name toPark Hotel. In the mid-1950s the hotel officially becameSriwijaya Hotel.
I assume that there is a change of ownership with the lines of names had been addressed to the building. And why Sriwijaya came to the surface out of innumerable numbers of possibilities for a hotel’s name. Is there anything to do with South Sumatra? Maybe the owner is from there. This is an open question that I cannot find the answer, yet.
Where did Cavadino go? As I said, he might find a better and cleaner place somewhere in Netherlands or any other place. There are many fighters coming from outside Jakarta and investing so much to survive and thrive. They bring everything from their homeland. Sriwijaya sounds like an indicator of my theory.
As the oldest hotel in Jakarta,Srwijaya Hotelbuilding has a unique history that is an integral part ofBataviahistory. By visiting Sriwijaya Hotel and enjoying bygone photos in the lobby, restaurant, and room terraces (balconies), you can catch a glimpse of Old Batavia’s charms: its stories and colonial ambience.
There, the story tells us so much about the timeline of the history that Sriwijaya Hotel has to show. If not because of the staffs that care so much about their business, and the pride that holds them together, the hotel might probably vanish in the sea of smog that swallows Jakarta each and every day.
Jl. Veteran No. 1, Jakarta Pusat 10110, Indonesia,
Telp. 6221-344 0409
Telp. 6221-3846 988,
Fax. 6221-3446 543
Sources: Batavia in Nineteenth Century Photographs – Scott Merrillees, WARTA KOTA-Pradaningrum Mijarto, and various