Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Capital Calm

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the Kingdom’s capital, Virtuozity visits the serene Fairmont Riyadh

Saudi Arabia’s ever-moving capital Riyadh is hardly a place to relax. The petrochem business meetings and never-ending traffic jams are just part of its daily grind. But it isn’t all blaring car horns and PowerPoint presentations.

Saudi Arabia’s ever-moving capital Riyadh is hardly a place to relax. The petrochem business meetings and never-ending traffic jams are just part of its daily grind. But it isn’t all blaring car horns and PowerPoint presentations.

The city also has its fair share of luxury hotels for visitors to escape the revolving madness of the Kingdom’s biggest city. The issue is that most of them tower over the busy streets or stare directly out onto them from behind thick, soundproof glass. It’s an escape of sorts, but it’s all still there, right under your nose.

But the Fairmont Riyadh is a break from the norm. It sits within a gated business compound, far enough away from the city centre skyscrapers to not be overlooked and secluded enough that you can’t really see any of the crazy traffic that plagues all major capital cities.

Before entering the huge imposing lobby, you first have to drive up the valet parking equivalent of Mount Kilimanjaro, as the main entrance is actually on the first floor. Once you’ve scaled that and been warmly greeted by the concierge, only then can you enter the grandeur of the Fairmont’s interior.

The hotel’s circular lobby features a staircase back down to the ground floor which houses myriad corridors and meeting rooms, as well as the main ballroom, which has a direct entrance to the rear. First impressions are a little overwhelming, with glass and polished surfaces in abundance, but that soon drifts into more soft furnishings and a far more relaxing atmosphere as you head either up to your room or off to one of the hotel’s many restaurants.

The lobby Plaza café is a great place to hang out, with some of the most comfortable seating you’ll find in a modern hotel. Head further in and you’ll find The 365, the hotel’s main restaurant used for breakfast and a sumptuous buffet lunch. The interior is gigantic and unless the hotel is at capacity, you’ll be able to find a quiet corner to set up your attack plan for the plentiful food on offer. And there’s plenty of it, as it serves nine different multinational cuisines.

The hotel also hosts Pesto, its authentic Italian side street restaurant, and its signature House of Grill, serving fresh meat prime cuts and ocean delicacies. On the ground floor, Café Connect serves quick and easy snacks for guests to enjoy, whilst relaxing under the huge two-storey windows.

Upstairs the corridors are warm and inviting, with soft lighting to lead you off to sleep after a hard day of meetings in the city. They are also eerily silent, with even your footsteps muffled by the deep carpets.

The rooms themselves are a haven of peace, and somehow seem to look out over the city, but without making you feel that you’re actually in it. The furniture and fittings are all top quality, with everything laid out to help you wind down after a tough day. The standard room is excellent, but there’s also a choice of the Fairmont Gold rooms and a selection of suites. 

For a bit of rest and relaxation, guests can also use the two male and female spas or hit the well-equipped hotel gym.

But the best advice is to just kick back, relax and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Fairmont’s laid-back location. All big cities need an escape, and The Fairmont is that very place, then it all gets a bit too much. 

An oasis in the desert is too much of a cliché, but it oddly fits the Fairmont. Sometimes the best comparisons are the best for a reason.

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