With changing laws, mega real estate developments, international restaurants opening, and the 2030 vision project, Riyadh Saudi Arabia has big plans to become a landmark city for architecture, entertainment, and hospitality.
One of their current projects is the King Abdullah Financial District which is an expansive mixed-use development with luxury apartments, incredible office buildings, global restaurants and cafes, a cinema, shops, a metro line which will go directly to the airport in 10 minutes, private hire spaces for conferences and expos that can hold circa 2,000 people, and much more. If you have visited Battersea Power Station in London, imagine the scale of that project multiplied by one hundred.
Top international restaurants in Riyadh include MYAZU (an outstanding Japanese headed by top chef Ian Pengelley – a clear favourite), LPM (La Petite Maison), Lusin (top Armenian cuisine with influences from the Levant – also in Mayfair London), Yauatcha, Entrecote Café de Paris, Il Baretto, Mr Chow’s, Urth Café, Eataly, Coya, Le Maschou, Nobu, Cipriani, Billionaire, and Roka. Future openings include the new Nozomi which will be opening nearby the Four Seasons and there will be a Pierre Herme Patisserie & Daniel Boulud Café opening within the Four Seasons Hotel.
Whilst I was in Riyadh, famous footballers Messi, Neymar Jr and Mbappe were staying at the Fairmont Hotel whilst I was there (they kindly waved to the kids waiting eagerly for them in the hotel lobby before their match). Cristiano Ronaldo and Georgina are rumoured to be staying in the 2-floor Kingdom Suite at the Four Seasons Hotel. Johnny Depp was nearby in AlUla Saudi Arabia whilst we were in Riyadh. Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara was seen at upscale Saudi restaurant Suhail and numerous influencers and actors were present at the Joy Awards (a ceremony quite like the Oscars – celebrating talent in the entertainment industry). The Joy Awards was held at Boulevard City which is a large area created for shops and restaurants.
Boulevard World is another entertainment zone built to showcase different countries all over the world – Mexico, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Morocco, America, Area15 (Las Vegas), China, Japan, India, and much more. There’s a burgeoning entertainment scene in Riyadh and thousands of visitors are eager to visit and explore.
Here are my top 5 places to go in Riyadh:
Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre
The Four Seasons remains the pinnacle of luxury and service for me. The brand is excellent worldwide with Riyadh being another outstanding example of excellent design, eye for detail, welcoming hospitality, amazing lighting and furniture within the rooms, and incredible amenities.
Located in the iconic Kingdom Centre which is an incredible building with access to luxury shops in the mall, the entrance to the Four Seasons Hotel is gigantic high ceilings and a plethora of gorgeous floral displays. Recently renovated by top hospitality design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates, The Four Seasons hotel rooms are decorated in hues of green and turquoise with accents of engraved wood and upholstered leather. The inspiration for the interior design was the meaning of “Riyadh” meaning garden. They took notes from local craftsman and artwork within the hotel was selected in partnership with philanthropic foundation, Alwaleed Philanthropies, chaired by HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
The hotel rooms are filled with high-end furniture, automated curtains, lighting systems that allow you to choose a myriad of different mood lighting settings, iPads, smart TVs, and Bose Bluetooth speakers.
Their main restaurant Elements offers the most incredible award-winning buffet that changes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is a vast selection of freshly prepared dishes from cuisines such as Arabic grilled meats, Indian, Chinese dim sum, Japanese sushi and sashimi, a seafood display, a fresh baked breads section including fabulous Zaatar bread, and a dessert section that includes Arabic sweets, mini Crème Brulée, and even homemade doughnuts.
The spa facilities are the best I experienced in Riyadh. I had a wonderful expert Balinese Therapist who performed a relaxing and soothing massage. After the spa treatment, the staff kindly lead to you to a members only post-spa area where you can eat freshly made pastries and juices.
Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre
2239 King Fahd Rd, Al Olaya,
Riyadh 12264, Saudi Arabia
+966 (11) 211-5888
Hotel Fairmont Riyadh
If you want to spot an A-list celebrity, the most famous footballer in the world, or an influencer, Hotel Fairmont Riyadh is the glamorous place to be. With the most fantastic service that caters to your every need, the hospitality at this 5-star establishment is out of the world.
Upon arrival to this grand hotel, there were throngs of fans waiting in the lobby just to see a glimpse of international superstar football players Messi, Neymar Jr, Mbappe and the rest of their team. We saw them leaving for their game and, only hours later, a top Lebanese influencer was doing a video shoot in the lobby.
FC Barcelona, Black Pink and VIP attendees of the Joy Awards were all staying at the Fairmont during our time there and they were certainly hosted in style.
As we were arriving, the Fairmont staff greeted us with the warmest welcome. The level of hospitality in the Middle East is the best in the world. Details such as offering us bottles of water as we entered a car, and even organising a beautiful floral bouquet with just 20 minutes notice so we could bring the flowers to a friends’ house who lived nearby. All these details made our stay wonderful.
As we were waiting for our room to be ready, we dined at the Savoy Lounge on sumptuous Wagyu beef burgers and homemade chips (fries). The Savoy Lounge also offers an array of sweets and afternoon tea. There also other dining destinations at The Fairmont, 365 which offers Chinese dim sum and Italian cuisine and The Fairmont Gold Club which offers breakfast, light bites, and beverages to select suite guests.
The restaurant Pesto as an Italian food destination, with homey ambience perfect for those who want to enjoy hefty portions with gourmet ingredients and an exciting display of the chefs preparing hot bubbling pizza in the Neapolitan oven.
On the ground floor is also the spa which boasts an expansive heated pool, sauna, hammam, a 24-hour fitness centre, and a Gentleman’s Tonic for men.
The Fairmont is a globally recognised brand and due to the proximity of King Khalid International airport, it is a must-go destination for international travellers visiting Riyadh for business or a quick trip.
Hotel Fairmont Riyadh
Area, Business Gate, Qurtubah,
Riyadh 115522, Saudi Arabia
+966 11 826 2626
MYAZU, Japanese Restaurant
As a lover of sashimi and Japanese food, MYAZU was simply excellent. The head chef Ian Pengelley was my former client and gave us a tour of the restaurant, private area where VIP’s book a table (the DJ is there), and the kitchen. Everything is incredible from the sashimi, nigiri, gyoza, grilled red prawn – I can’t rate this highly enough!
Musad Bin Jalawi, As Sulimaniyah
Riyadh 12244, Saudi Arabia
+966 9200 09686
Lusin, Armenian Restaurant
I may be a bit biased as this is my client, but Lusin in Riyadh is absolutely fantastic! Incredible fresh ingredients for all their salads, houmous, and some of the best hot grilled lamb chops I have ever had!
Northern Ring Brand Rd, An Nakheel
Riyadh 12385, Saudi Arabia
+966 9200 02690
New Anankarli, Indian Restaurant
This is a fantastic Indian restaurant that was so warm and welcoming. We had incredible Chicken Chettinadu (I like spicy!), white rice, butter chicken masala, fresh warm homemade breads, bottled waters and the bill was £11 GBP!
New Anankarli Indian Restaurant
Al Wurud, Engineer Al Anjari Street
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
+966 50 268
Written by Jessica Patterson