Radisson Blu: Old-school charm in Riyadh’s center

Author: Thu, 2020-02-13
13:53 DAMMAM: In sharp contrast to
the Radisson group’s other properties in Riyadh, the Radisson Blu
Hotel on King Abdulaziz Street in the heart of the city is one of
the oldest hotels in Saudi Arabia’s capital. The 40-year old
building in Al-Mubarakiah Plaza was taken over by Radisson in 2002
and it’s a colossal property, with 314 rooms and suites.
With its Arabesque-style arches and bulky architecture,
you could easily mistake the hotel for one of the many ministries
in the area — a possibility exacerbated by the unfortunate fine
mesh grill that runs over the façade, including the windows of the
rooms, and doesn’t leave much by way of a view. (There are, we’re
told a few rooms that have the luxury of an unobstructed view,
albeit one of government buildings.)
Andalusian-style Junior Suite features Andalusian-style arches and
wood frames that act as a partition between the hall and bedroom
suit. (Supplied) Walking into the lobby,
the hotel seems to be stuck in a time warp. A faux-floral
arrangement in the center is gathering dust and the furniture looks
outdated. But what the hotel lacks in aesthetics and décor, it
makes up for with its staff — from reception to housekeeping they
are accommodating, quick to help, and hospitable. 
We are welcomed warmly and check in to the
Andalusian-style Junior Suite on the top floor. True to its name,
the room features Andalusian-style arches and wood frames that act
as a partition between the hall and bedroom suite; alcoves;
intricate headboards; and a settee. Again, the furniture is bulky
and archaic, but combined with the aforementioned touches, it has a
certain old-world charm reminiscent of Andalusia or
Casablanca.  Some
areas of the hotel have been renovated and the most notable revamp
is on the seventh floor. (Supplied) The bathroom is large, at
least, featuring a tub and vanity area and a separate shower. But
its, let’s say, ‘basic’ amenities and old fixtures, aren’t
particularly appealing. If you have the opportunity to stay in some
of the hotel’s newer rooms and suites — the Scandinavian- or
Italian-style rooms, we highly recommend those. 
Some areas of the hotel have been renovated and the most
notable revamp is on the seventh floor, which features spacious
rooms and suites that allow for more sunlight and are more
contemporary in style and amenities.  Its
location means the hotel is favored by business travellers and
government personnel; as a bonus, guests staying on the seventh
floor have all-day access to an Executive Lounge and a Business
Center. The hotel is also a favorite for corporate events and
banquets (it has 13 conference rooms and an extravagant
ballroom).  Shogun
is an in-house Japanese restaurant.
Breakfast at any Radisson Blu property has always been a
pleasant experience — it is refreshing to see inclusive options
like gluten-free, dairy alternatives, and a large offering of
healthy food alongside the usual Arabic and English breakfast fare,
and a made-to-order breakfast station. Breakfast is served in the
Olivio restaurant, which boasts charming faux-Italian windows and
intimate dining areas. It makes for a good start to the
day.  There is also a small rooftop
terrace where guests can take their breakfast — ideal on a winter
morning. For lunch, we visited the in-house
Japanese restaurant, Shogun, which has a small fish pond, a sushi
bar, and Teppanyaki-style seating (around a table with a long metal
grill on it). The restaurant is one of Riyadh’s most-popular for
Asian cuisine, and with good reason. 
is one of Riyadh’s most-popular for Asian
cuisine. (Supplied) We started off with miso
soup and moved on to a selection of meats — salmon, shrimp, chicken
and beef — all prepared fresh at the table, and cooked according to
our individual preferences. Shogun is well worth a visit — and
we didn’t even try the ever-popular sushi bar.
The hotel’s other in-house restaurant is Brasserie on Four, which
serves Pan-Arabian and global fusion. If you
are looking for a hotel that is accessible, affordable, and offers
some historic charm — however you define that — then the Radisson
Blu in Al Mubarakiah Plaza is certainly worth
considering. Main
category: LifestyleTravelTags: Radisson