Ms Nila Nurfitriana, 29, minding the front desk at Sofyan Hotel Betawi in Jakarta. The sign on the counter says the hotel is syariah-compliant. — ST PHOTO: ZUBAIDAH NAZEER

A couple checking into this hotel in central Jakarta’s Menteng district should expect to be asked to show proof of marriage or kinship.Though it is a syariah-compliant hotel, there is no hint, such as Islamic verses on the wall, that it is one. It also accepts non-Muslim guests. Only a sign at the reception counter states clearly that all couples who want a room must comply with the policy.

Sofyan Hotel Betawi took a big risk when it decided to switch to the syariah-compliant business model in 1994 despite facing stiff competition from other hotels in the area. Some of them have very lax policies, charge hourly rates and are known to be used by lovers for a tryst.

Despite not selling liquor and offering only halal food, the hotel managed to see a 20 per cent jump in business last year from the year before, thanks to a growing pool of Muslim tourists from South-east Asia and the Middle East.


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