The House of Sampoerna is a compound inspired by the Dutch colonial style built in 1862 and found in the Old Town of Surabaya. Today, it remains preserved as a historical site of the city mostly due to its significance for the olden times of Surabaya.
The compound was previously an orphanage that was run by the Dutch. It was then bought by the founder of Sampoera, Liem Seeng Tee in 1932 with the intent of making it Sampoerna’s first main cigarette production facility.
The previous Sampoerna compound consisted of a huge main auditorium, two smaller structures on each side and several large open-space buildings found behind the main auditorium. The opposite buildings were turned into family residences while the large warehouse-structure was used as a facility to accommodate the processing, blending, hand-rolling, packing and printing of the tobacco and cloves.
Today, the House of Sampoerna still functions as a production plant for the country’s most prominent cigarette, Dji Sam Soe. Aligned with Sampoerna’s 90th anniversary back in 2003, the complex was restored and was opened to the public. The once main auditorium was transformed into a museum and a shop. The east structure then turned into a unique building with an art gallery and a café while the west side building remained as the official family residence.
Most tourists are drawn in by the detailed history presented at Sampoerna’s museum. The actual activity of hand rolling cigarettes is also a strong draw. From the founding family’s story to carefully watching an actual hand-rolling production facility to ending up rolling a stick of Dji Sam Soe cigarette yourself, tourists will not only be witnesses to a cigarette production’s history but also become part of history as well.
Aside from first-handedly experiencing the production of such famous cigarettes, visitors are also able to buy souvenirs and gifts such as small scale traditional cigarette rolling equipment, polos, t-shirts, books and packets of cloves. The art gallery on the other hand presents an exhibit of the works of the finest artists in Indonesia as well as the works of up-and-coming talents. Art enthusiasts would be happy to know that some works are even for sale.
Adding to the House of Sampoerna experience is the unique café found within the compound. With a combination of history, wild creativity and art deco, the café at the Sampoerna compound offers a unique gastronomic experience. Aside from eating meals and sipping drinks in such a heavily art-decorated environment, the café offers a wide selection of Western and Asian cuisine to satisfy hungry tummies. On some evenings, live music performances accompany diners during their meal.
The House of Sampoerna is open to the public daily from 9 in the morning until 10 in the evening. No admission fees are required. The compound’s top attraction is hand-rolling Indonesia’s most famous cigarettes and is only available on working days, typically from Monday to Saturday. With a dash of history, a splash of creativity and a whole lot of curiosity, the House of Sampoerna provides a glimpse into how hard work can bring a small cigarette business into becoming one huge company in Indonesia.