IHG Hotels and Resorts is massively bullish about its prospects in Saudi Arabia. It currently has around 39 operational hotels in the kingdom across five brands including InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites and voco. Notably, it has another 30 properties set to open in the next three-five years. In June, it opened this hotel in the country’s capital. Business Traveller was present on the very first day that it opened to the public.
Where is it?
The new-build three-storey hotel is located in The Business District. It’s a 15-minute drive from the city’s international airport and a short distance from the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Conference Center. Although there is no easily accessible public transport from The Business District, a 30-minute Uber ride will get you to downtown Riyadh.
What’s it like?
The property has pioneered Holiday Inn’s Open Lobby concept for the Middle East. This Holiday Inn certainly feels like a much more premium offering compared to other Holiday Inn hotels. The triple-height ceilings that greet you as you enter make the already expansive lobby area look even more so. The check-in desks are to the right, and to the left is a living room-styled space with artworks and books along the walls, as well as couches and velvet armchairs. It serves as a great space to meet with visitors if you’re staying here. Further down the lobby, the area is flanked by an all-day café to your left and a small media lounge with access to computers to your right – with more couches in between that you can occupy throughout the day.
The 118-key property includes 18 suites with kitchenettes which will likely appeal to long-stay guests. I stayed in the King Standard Balcony room which looked out over a vast expanse of barren land. Art is hung over the bed, there’s a two-seater couch with a coffee table in front of it, a separate work desk with a wireless charging station, and also a TV neatly recessed into the wall. Half length-leather panelling along the wall behind the headboard of the bed and wall-to-wall carpeting along the main living area of the room lent a distinctive upscale vibe. USB charging ports are located on one side of the bed, or you can plug your device into the fixed-line phone at the other side of the bed which also doubles up as your alarm clock and radio. Meanwhile, the Soak bathroom amenities are an interesting mix – think chia seeds body lotion, parsley stem body wash, kale shampoo and maca root conditioner.
Food and Drink
The main restaurant at the hotel is Casa Oliva (whose name is a nod to the Olive trees which you’ll see as you drive into the hotel). It’s open throughout the day and there’s a well-stocked buffet breakfast with a live cooking station to take specific requests. The à la carte menu for lunch and dinner includes pizzas, lasagnas and risottos. There’s a Josper oven in the restaurant if you’re looking for grilled meats including a veal steak or beef tenderloin. The L’Espresso Bar in the lobby offers coffee and light snacks throughout the day, and the hotel also has a room service menu with food delivered from Casa Oliva.
On the ground floor, there are two large ballrooms, separated by a pre-function area. Guests of the ballrooms have a dedicated entrance via the pre-function area. They have provisions for audio-visual presentations and the rooms can be configured in various seating-style arrangements depending on the number of guests. There’s a separate 12-seater boardroom for smaller executive gatherings too.
There are two open-air swimming pools on the property – one is outside Casa Oliva and the other is beyond the lobby on the ground floor itself. There’s also a fully-equipped gym that’s open 24×7.
This property perhaps showcases a new era of Holiday Inn properties – one that isn’t content with being in IHG’s Essentials Collections and instead reaches out towards its Premium Collection which includes brands such as voco and Crowne Plaza. Holiday Inn is forging a new path for itself in Saudi and the Middle East, and you’d only have to check in here to witness that new direction.
Best for: Its convenient access to the international airport
Don’t Miss: Spending time in the bright, spacious and well-appointed lobby
Price: Internet rates for a midweek stay in September start at SAR770 for a King Standard Balcony room
Contact: King Khalid International Airport Road, Riyadh; +966 11 512 3000; ihg.com