Semarang, the city of Lumpia, is better known as a business city rather than as a tourist destination. Wait, for those of you who don’t know, Lumpia is a typical Semarang snack. It is like a spring roll, usually filled with bamboo shoots. Now let’s get back to Semarang. Though this city isn’t as busy with tourists like Yogyakarta, Semarang has plenty to offer because of its history and culture.
Back then, this city was one of the important cities during the Dutch colonialism. On June 16, 1864 the first railroad (rail) was built in Indonesia. The initial route was from Semarang to Solo, Kedungjati, Surabaya, Magelang and Jogja. There are plenty of Dutch colonial heritage buildings in Semarang. To name a few, you have Lawang Sewu (translated as ‘Thousand doors’ in English), and Blenduk Church.
Other sites that you can visit in Semarang are Kota Lama/the old town, Klenteng Sam Poo Kong, Semarang Great Mosque, and Gedong Songo Temple. Semarang is also one of the culinary paradises in Central Java, with its sufficient amount of dishes that are heavily influenced by Chinese culture. Semarang is a great gateway to visit other exciting destinations in Central Java, such as Lasem (a 3-hour drive), Pasar Papringan in Temanggung (a 2,5-hour drive), and Karimun Jawa (you can fly or get the fast boat from Semarang).
To help you explore Semarang and beyond, I will give you hotel recommendations. In this article, you will find budget hotels, mid-range hotels and luxury hotels. The price used is based on the rate listed in booking.com when this article was made (mid-April 2020).
RedDoorz near Taman Rejomulyo (starts from US$12)
This guest house offers comfortable small rooms with air conditioning, private bathrooms, and free Wi-Fi, all at a low price. One of the best things about this accommodation is the building. RedDoorz near Taman Rejomulyo is made of several containers. The combo of friendly staff, unique structure, and great rate make this guest house one of the best budget hotels in Semarang.
Ibis Budget Semarang Tendean (starts from US$17)
Ibis Budget Semarang Tendean is one of the recommended low budget hotels in the center of the city. Its rooms are not spacious, but are clean and comfortable. This hotel provides free Wi-Fi with excellent connectivity. It doesn’t provide slippers and toothbrushes, but you can get them for a low price. A shopping center is a short 5-minute walk and the airport a 20-minute drive. The minus point is, the hotel has a small parking area.
Radja Art and Boutique Hotel (starts from US$30)
Radja Art and Boutique Hotel is a budget hotel with a strategic location: It is 5 km away from Lawang Sewu. The hotel’s design is simple. The hotel has reasonably sized rooms with complete amenities such as air conditioning, flat-screen satellite TV, kettle, shower, toiletries, and wardrobe closet. The hotel also has a children’s playground.
POP! Hotel Pemuda Semarang (starts from US$22)
Pop! Hotel is a chic budget hotel chain. Affordable accommodation in a strategic location (a 2-minute walk to Lawang Sewu!), this hotel offers rooms with air conditioning, a private bathroom, and a flat-screen TV. The rooms are basic—you will not find a lot of this and that in the room, but it is clean and comfortable. There is free Wi-Fi access. The staff is friendly and polite. The minus point is, a lot of the hotel customers said that its breakfast menu could be improved.
Favehotel Diponegoro Semarang (starts from US$31)
Favehotel Diponegoro Semarang is strategically located near famous shopping centers in Semarang, a culinary center in Simpang Lima, and some tourist attractions. The room is quite simple. Unfortunately, some people say room cleanliness needs to be improved. The room comes with air conditioning, flat-screen satellite TV, a seating area, safe deposit box, a clothes rack and a private bathroom.
Whiz Hotel Pemuda Semarang (starts from US$29)
Whiz Hotel Pemuda Semarang doesn’t come with many facilities, just as most budget hotels do in general. Its rooms are clean, and come with satellite TV, air conditioning and private bathroom. The hotel offers an airport and a train station shuttle service with an extra charge. The security guards are responsive and the hotel staff is friendly. The breakfast is tasty but some people say there’s a need to add variety to it.
Aston Inn Pandanaran (starts from US$47)
Aston Inn Pandanaran is located close to the airport and the train station. The hotel is also close to several tourist spots such as Lawang Sewu, Tugu Muda, Semarang Great Mosque (Masjid Agung Semarang) and Klenteng Poo Kong. The hotel has a minimalist modern room design, complete with a work desk. There is a swimming pool on the rooftop with a beautiful view of the city. Unfortunately, the food menu in this hotel is limited.
Rooms Inc Hotel Pemuda (starts from US$41)
Rooms Inc Hotel Pemuda is one of the best mid-range hotels in the prime location area of Semarang. This hotel is on the top floor of the DP mall. The hotel is very chic and Instagrammable. Its room is relatively spacious and has a simple decoration with dominant colours: grey, white, black and yellow. There is a terrace at the top of the hotel building. With the view of the city, it is a great place to catch the sunset. A billiard table, library room, game room, and fitness center are available. One thing to note, if you need anything, the hotel staff is available via WhatsApp because there is no phone in the rooms.
Hotel Chanti (starts from US$41)
Chanti Hotel is our current favourite mid-range hotel in Semarang. The hotel is located close to Semawis Market and Semarang Chinatown. Hotel Chanti is well known for its strategic location, excellent breakfast menu, hotel facilities (nice small swimming pool, gym, spa & wellness center) and the friendliness of the staff. The hotel has an elegant design with a classic Javanese influence. It is predominantly of a warm light brown color. One thing that you’ll like, when you enter the room, you’ll be greeted by the scent of lemongrass, the hotel scent signature.
Artotel Gajahmada Hotel (starts from US$52)
If you’re an artsy person, Artotel Gajahmada hotel is a great choice for you. This hotel comes with an attractive design; you should check the colorful murals in its restaurant. The rooms themselves (they call them studios) are painted in black and white and have a painting on the wall. They have a safe deposit box and mini-refrigerator in the room. Wi-Fi is free and the connection is perfect. The only minus point, which is not a big deal, the hotel doesn’t have a swimming pool. Even without a swimming pool, Artotel is a great place to stay in Semarang.
Louis Kienne Simpang Lima Hotel (starts from US$44)
The name says it all. Louis Kienne Simpang Lima Hotel is less than 5 minutes away by foot to Simpang Lima (a shopping and culinary center). Its rooms are air-conditioned and have a flat-screen cable TV. A hairdryer is available in each room. There is a fitness center inside the hotel and the rooftop is great to enjoy the night and relax. A sky pool with a beautiful view of the city is also available for guests. The downside is the hotel restaurant is small and the food menu is limited. Oh, you can easily walk to Semarang (for less than 5 minutes) to find plenty of food options.
Oh btw, we should add one more for the mid-range category. We like Oak Tree Emerald Semarang, check their rate on Booking.com here, and also Djajanti House Semarang too—this place is like a hidden gem (their pictures are below!), check their rate here.
Ciputra Semarang Hotel (starts from US$53)
Ciputra Semarang Hotel is located in front of Simpang Lima, a famous culinary center. It has direct access to Ciputra Shopping Mall. Though the hotel seems like an old building, its rooms are of a modern minimalist concept. You can enjoy the view of the city from the balcony of the room. The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, and a sauna.
Grand Candi Hotel (starts from US$67)
Though it is not located in the city center, Grand Candi Hotel is a 5-star hotel in Semarang with great facilities. Its rooms are spacious, with a wooden floor and large windows. You can have Indonesian, Japanese or Western cuisine for breakfast. Speaking of facilities and services, the hotel has badminton equipment and tennis equipment and offers a cooking class, yoga class, and fitness class. It also has a spa lounge, wellness center, gym, sauna, art gallery, night club, night entertainment, children’s playground, and a karaoke. Some guests said that this hotel needs some renovation because it is old. They said there was also a need to improve some of the facilities.
Novotel Semarang (starts from US$55)
Only 5 minutes away from the Semarang Simpang Lima culinary center, the Novotel Hotel is one of the best luxury hotels in Semarang. You can find artistic paintings and sculptures around the hotel. It has an outdoor swimming pool, a large gym with complete equipment, a children’s playground, spa lounge, and jacuzzi. The hotel’s breakfasts are outstanding, ranging from traditional Javanese to international dishes. Unfortunately, similar to Grand Candi, some people consider the hotel building to be a bit old. Even though it has been renovated, some guests suggested improving the furniture and some of the facilities.
Po Hotel (starts from US$88)
This luxury hotel is equipped with an indoor pool, a modern fitness center, spa, and BBQ facilities. The rooms in Po Hotel are elegant and stylish. They come with a large comfy bed, flat-screen LED TV, and a nice view of the city Semarang from the window. There is a Chinese restaurant that offers a vegetarian and non-vegetarian menu, and other restaurants serving Indonesian cuisine and Western dishes. Po Hotel has an airport shuttle service (based on car availability) that is free of charge. If you are a shopping lover, this hotel is just a step away from the biggest mall in town. The downside is, the hotel has limited parking space because this is shared with the shopping mall.
Gumaya Tower Hotel (start from US$71)
Gumaya Tower Hotel offers spacious rooms with modern designs. Each room has a bed that is cozy, and has a crisp sheet and pillow. The hotel interior is well-maintained, luxurious and elegant. The hotel has a fitness center, kids club, mini-golf, and outdoor pool (with cute sunbeds). There are 2 restaurants and a lounge. One restaurant serves Chinese specialties and the other offers a combination of Western and Asian cuisine. From this hotel, it is a 10-minute drive to the shopping centers and Semarang Chinatown.