We all know that it’s the little things in life that ultimately make us happy. This adage rings a bell to me whenever I visit a hotel. Some hotels are all for fancy and throw in everything they got in their lavish designs and huge decors that they forget that the heart of their service are in the things that go unnoticed at first but create a big impact in people’s lives no matter how simple they seem. They underestimate the influence of the little things and take those for granted. Thankfully, most hotels in Riyadh are not like that; they take notice of their guests needs and even attend to needs that guests didn’t know they need. How’s that for service from the heart?
When we stayed at the Intercontinental Riyadh during the recent haj holiday, I wasn’t expecting much. After all, the Intercon-Riyadh has seen its heyday and is one of the oldest hotels in the city making it an icon in the hospitality industry. I’ve been thinking that their rooms might be dated and their furniture might be old. And while we’ve been invited to the hotel a few times, we haven’t really seen and tried staying in their rooms and used their amenities. Their Al Bustan restaurant serves a decent buffet though and I already have my favorites in their buffet menu. The staff are friendly and courteous and theirs is a no-frills hotel that gives straight-forward service.
The Intercontinental Riyadh Hotel is billed as a “luxurious retreat in Central Riyadh with lush gardens and golf course”. Truly, it might be the perfect staycation venue for us Riyadhizens who can’t go out of Riyadh but want to have a quick, nice “vacation”. The Intercontinental Riyadh Hotel occupies 40 hectares of landscaped grounds and it’s interesting to note how they managed to combine the heritage and modernity of their location, Saudi Arabia. Although it’s no wonder: it’s part of the Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts Company known for giving each of their hotel its own distinctive style. The Intercontinental Riyadh managed to get the traditional Saudi style and put them in their interiors and service while offering modern amenities. They also didn’t forget the little things that make or break their guests’ experiences in their hotel. Here are what I love about our stay in the Intercontinental:
1. Effortless Check-In
I received a couple of calls from the Intercontinental Hotel’s reception a few days before our stay. They were confirming the booking and also reminding me about it. I appreciate that they are already concerned even before I set foot in their hotel. I also received an email containing the details of our stay. From there, I learned that the check-in time is 3:00 PM and the check-out time is 2:00 PM. I didn’t know that because most hotels have a different timing. I’m not sure how to feel about a 3:00 PM check-in though. For us Filipinos, we’re having a siesta at that time already and would want to be setttled in. However, they gave a later time for check-out which makes up for the check-in time. Anyway, if not for the email, I would probably have expected to be checked-in by 12:00 noon. And so that helped us prepare and check in at the right time.
During the check-in itself, the receptionist was friendly and answered my questions fast. The hotel porter was very helpful. Even though my husband and I didn’t have luggage and only had our backpacks with us, he insisted in carrying them. He also guided us to the room and while walking to it, he was already orienting us about the amenities, the restaurants and lounges, and the timings. He also explained to us much of the things and services in the room. By the looks of it, he was really knowledgeable! Who doesn’t appreciate someone who knows almost everything about his hotel right?
2. The View
Most hotels are towering skyscrapers because they aim to give their guests the maximum wonderful view of their available surroundings. The Intercontinental Riyadh is not a skyscraper; it only has a few floors but they have one of the best views in the city. And certainly unique… that of the UFO that landed in Riyadh. Kidding! That of the majestic and elusive Ministry of Interior building.
Most hotels have a Rewards Club that earns you points and perks in a hotel you’re almost always staying at. You just sign up, earn points, redeem your rewards and enjoy! For the Intercontinental Riyadh, they have the IHG Rewards Club. One of the perks of being a part of this is enjoying the Club Intercontinental Lounge which opens for breakfast, afternoon tea, and dinner. What I love about this lounge is the view that it gave us. We parked ourselves in one of the tables by the glass window that overlooked the hotel’s swimming pools and the prominent building of the Ministry of Interior. There will only be a few times in a our lives that we can gaze at this building openly and freely. This gives us that opportunity. The skyline of Riyadh’s main hub is also visible from the lounge.
We had our afternoon tea and breakfast in the Club Intercontinental Lounge. Breakfast is from 6:00 AM to 10:30 AM, afternoon tea at 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM and dinner at 6:00 Pm to 8:00 PM. I wasn’t totally impressed with the food as much as I was impressed by the view. We tried some of their little sandwiches and cakes and they were okay, nothing great. But do not miss their date cake! That was one tasty dessert.
We also appreciate that the hotel has other lounges. Although these lounges don’t have unique views to the city, it’s just really about having options, options, options! Apart from the Club Intercontinental Lounge, the hotel also has the Al Diywan Tea Lounge, the Atrium Lounge, and the Pool Bar. Even their restaurants have options! Dine at Al Bustan Restaurant, Mondo Restaurant, Al Baylasan Cafe, or the Golf Club Restaurant. We had buffet dinner at their Al Bustan Restaurant and I loved their Mango and Shrimp Salad, Tenderloin Steak, freshly-cooked Fettucine Pasta, and their wide array of appetizers and desserts.
3. Room Options
a. Automatic Door Options
This might mean nothing to those who always stay in hotels but I appreciate how I can set the door options of “Do Not Disturb” or “Make Room” with a push of a button. I don’t have to hang a paper signage outside our room door to inform housekeeping that we prefer not to be interrupted or that we prefer the room as is.
b. Pillow Selection
How amazing is this? I am not sensitive in using a certain kind of pillow to get a good sleep but I’m happy when I am given the option to select. In Intercon’s pillow menu, they have four types: hard, soft, feather and synthetic. The feather pillow is good for a pillow fight. Haha! Kidding. All are hypo-allergenic and is suited for guest’s comfort.
c. Amply-Stocked Mini Bar
I love how their are options to make tea and coffee in the room. They use Illy for their coffee and Tschaba Tea Master for their tea. They also replenish water bottles every day. The mini ref contains chocolates and sodas. I like how they are stocked. However, I suggest you don’t drink that soda (a can of Coke costs SR 14 WUT haha). Prices are posted in the mini bar menu.
Another old school feature of hotels but I like it! I still read printed newspapers from time to time and Intercon delivers newspapers in recyclable bags which they hang in the door handles every day. Glad to be abreast of what’s happening the Kingdom and in the world through print.
e. Bath Tub and a Shower in One Room
We stayed in one of their King Club Room which is around SR 1,000 per night, depending on the date of booking. The room is spacious with a lone sofa in the corner and a business desk for business travellers. The bathroom is also spacious with enough room for a bath tub and a shower area. So that makes bathing options two in one! Haha! Sometimes, hotel room will only have either of the two; not both in one bathroom.
The Intercontinental Riyadh Hotel has different amenities suitable for their guests. They have an outdoor swimming pool for men and children and they have a basement pool for women open at certain hours of the day. They also have a fitness center and a gym for those looking for a quick work-out in between work days and vacation. A staff informed us they have a bowling area but I wasn’t able to confirm and see it when we were there. Apart from these, the hotel has an extensive business centers, function halls, and meeting and event rooms.
Of course, we can’t forget what sets Intercontinental Riyadh Hotel apart from other hotels in Riyadh: its nine-hole golf course. This is said to be the first green course to open in Riyadh in 1994. It has a driving range perfect for some target shooting and distance ranging. The course is also floodlit that makes playing in the evenings possible. It’s a great course for beginners. We didn’t really go to the golf course when were there because 1. it was HOT outside and 2. we don’t play golf (being a former editorial supervisor of Golf Digest Philippines doesn’t count me in as someone who actually knows the game, haha!).
5. The Grounds
In Intercontinental Riyadh Hotel, it is possible to enjoy an evening having short and long walks with your loved one. Because their grounds are wide, my husband and I decided to take a short walk inside and outside the hotel to see the place better. It led us to the pool, to the entrance of the golf course, and various nooks in the grounds. Of course, this doesn’t beat staying in the comforts of a cold hotel room to sleep or simply stay in. Haha! But I’m glad there’s an option.
If you’re thinking of staycationing in Riyadh one of these days and you have a hard time choosing where to stay, try the Intercontinental Hotel Riyadh. Need we list down more reasons? Btw, if you’re wondering why I haven’t posted anything about the rooms, well, that’s because we did a Facebook Live walkthrough in our Facebook page. Check out the video HERE!
Intercontinental Riyadh Hotel
King Saud Road, P.O. Box 3636,
Al Maather, Riyadh, 11481, Saudi Arabia
Disclaimer: We were given a complimentary overnight stay in the Intercontinental Riyadh Hotel by the management. All views, opinions, and comments in this article are mine.