Departing from Riyadh after my stay there, I had to use the RUH airport International terminal to go back to Kuwait. Now, I have never been to RUH before and I did have some high expectations about it.
RUH had three terminals. Each is designated for a type of traveling purpose. Saudi Arabian Airlines had their own terminal, the local low-cost carrier had their own terminal and I was to travel from the International terminal, where all other airlines are allocated to. Upon entry for luggage inspection and checking-in, the whole place seemed like a disaster. Chaos and disorder were the main characteristics of the place. I mean I couldn’t have made it through to the check-in counters with the help of some low-wage worker who feverishly fought to get my attention in handling my bag and making it through all the way to the Gulf Air counter.
Upon checking-in, I directed towards the First/Business Class Lounge near gate 18 if I remember correctly since I was traveling on J class and it was the only available lounge in the whole terminal! I have heard stories about this lounge but I have decided to ignore it and give the place a shot. Upon arrival, there was no one available to admit me for entry. I had to wait till this staff person who was mingling with some hot food buffet bar to come and help me. Very bad start. The place was so small, it was the smallest lounge I’ve ever been to till now.
I wouldn’t recommend using the toilet down there, because it was as bad as any over-used toilet in an international airport in the Middle East: Nasty! The hot food bar looked bad visually and wasn’t promising at all. I had to resort to stale sandwiches which were hidden in the lower part of the buffet for unknown reason!
The WiFi service was pretty weak and you had to find the receptionist to get the password, which wasn’t available onsite and I resorted to ask some fellow lounge users about the access password. I have witness some rude treatment from the receptionist towards a fellow lounge patron wen he was rudely asked how he got in there and to show his boarding pass immediately, while the patron was enjoying his drink and food. The patron was patient enough to tell him that the receptionist’ colleague is the one who let him in after inspecting his boarding pass. I didn’t even hear a word of apology from the receptionist.
In the end, if you ask me what I heard about this place beforehand was the following: “don’t think about going there, just chill at Starbucks next to it near the gate and avoid at all costs!”
Being dispatched to many places in the gulf region, I had to go on my own for the first time ever to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. We’re talking about a huge city which I have never been to before and and I didn’t get to see it since my job mission was truly short. In order to have close access to the highway and of course a cheap rate, I’ve decided to stay in Holiday Inn Izdihar in Riyadh. Now, finding this place might be tricky. It’s on the highway, there are no major signs that point to it and you could miss it by an instant and have to turn around all the way for it again. My colleague took some good time to find this place and it didn’t show on any GPS navigation system.
Upon checking in, it’s to be noted that there are two buildings for this hotel which are separated through a public street!! If you are assigned a room in the other building, then you have to go and walk or drive to it which was pretty uncomfortable. I have expressed my concern at the reception desk and I was assured that my room was located where I was at and that was satisfying. The lobby was fine although small and wouldn’t hold a lot of guests at the same time. I was assigned a ground floor room, but I don’t remember if there was a 2nd floor in the hotel!
Upon entry, I was greeted with this view of the room. The room was decent and the wireless internet service was free, which was truly appreciated. Due to the remote location of the hotel, I didn’t bother going out and checking the surroundings, although I have been told that there was a supermarket or a shopping center nearby. Otherwise, there’s nothing around to see or do. Of course since this is Saudi Arabia, you can forget the basic elements of nightlife. I would recommend giving the room service a shot, I’ve tried the club sandwich there and it was averagely good.
Of course, I have to mention that even though I’ve gotten a good room, the window view was truly awful. As soon as you open the drapes, you are hit with a garden wooden fence which goes over three meters high and you can’t see anything. That’s why I’ve decided to keep them closed! Another major issues is the power sockets and plugs. They only have the American type for wall sockets and it was very inconvenient for me. I had to go to the reception and ask for an adapter, which took them some time to allocate a one for me thankfully.
I would recommend the hotel only for business travelers and for any stays that don’t go more than a single night. The quality of the hotel fulfill the basic obligations and needs for the type of travelers I’ve mentioned earlier.