The Dieng Plateau (Dataran Tinggi Dieng) is a beautiful area of Central Java, and well worth a visit. However I had my worst ever accommodation experience there, so if you are reading this with a trip in mind, please take my advice and do not stay at Bu Djono’s – read on to find out why.
I experienced the worst service ever at Bu Djono’s (or Jono’s as it is sometimes written), Dieng, Central Java. Usually I do not prioritise service because I value other aspects of my accommodation more highly (facilities, comfort level, value for money), but on this occasion the service was so bad that it really affected our trip.
My husband and I arrived at about 5pm after a long and tiring bus journey. Bu Djono’s was listed in my outdated copy of the Lonely Planet and seemed a good option. We were offered a room with bathroom and hot water for Rp. 80,000. The room was in need of re-decoration and smelt damp, like it could do with a good airing, and the windows looked out directly on to other buildings with no view at all, but it seemed reasonable value so we took it.
The owner tried to sell us his tours while we were checking in, and this was a bit tiresome, but fortunately we had read enough about the area that we weren’t taken in.
As we were getting ready to go to bed later that night, I noticed that there was a slight leak from the ceiling and drops of water were falling on to the edge of the bed. We moved the bed a few inches and that solved that problem.
The next day we got up and decided to have breakfast at the hotel (not included in the room pce). We ordered chips and an egg on toast. This small meal took almost half an hour to arrive. While we waiting another family arrived, ordered food, and finished eating, while we had yet to be served. When I spoke to the waiter about the delay, he didn’t apologise or even answer at all, he just walked away. We decided not to eat at the hotel again – there were plenty of other places to eat outside. I was surprised that someone working in the service industry would behave like that towards a paying customer. But, as it turned out, this was nothing compared to what was to come.
After breakfast we went out to explore the Dieng Plateau area. We had a lovely day wandering around sulphurous lakes, volcanic craters and ancient temples, and looking at the beautiful countryside. At about 5pm we arrived back at the hotel. We walked through reception, greeted the owner and went upstairs to our room. My husband was just about to have a shower when there was a knock at the door. The owner came to tell us that another guest had booked our room and we would have to move. The only other rooms available had no bathroom inside and no hot water.
The owner went away and we considered our options. We felt it was unprofessional and inconsiderate of him not to have informed us of this before. He could have told us when we checked in, that the room we wanted was only available for one night, or at the very least he could have told us that morning at breakfast. Our original plan had been to leave early the following morning anyway so we decided that since our last night would not be in the accommodation of our choice, rather than moving rooms or moving hotels, we’d just check out and go home. Fortunately we live in Java, about six hours away by buses that run all night.
We packed our bags and went downstairs to check out. We politely explained that since we were unable to stay in a room with bathroom and hot water, we would like to check out, and that we were disappointed we had not been informed of the room availability earlier in our stay. The owner added up our bill (room and food) and then tried to charge us Rp. 40,000 for a late check-out. We refused to pay this on the basis that we were being forced to check out of the room that we had chosen to stay in and that we had never agreed to move to a lower class of room. At this point the fireworks really started, and I wished I could not understand the Indonesian and Javanese insults being thrown at me (my husband is Javanese and I speak both languages). The owner and his wife, who was sitting nearby, both started shouting at me at me, accusing me of being a difficult person, of always causing problems. Here I was, trying to pay them, and they were just hurling obscenities at me. I was deeply offended.
In the end we paid for the room and food, but not the late check-out fee, and we left. The owner followed us out, shouting and swearing at me. We got on a bus and left.
I have extensive travel experience, particularly in South East Asia, where I now live, and I have never been treated in such a disgusting way but any service industry worker, let alone a hotel or hostel owner.
I strongly advise that you go to Dieng, because it is a beautiful and interesting part of Java, but do not stay at Bu Djono’s (or Jono’s). There are many other places to stay (hostels, losmen, penginapan) – if you walk up the main road towards the post office you will see lots of signs advertising them. Stay at one of these and you will have a much better and more rewarding experience. Then tell everyone about it.