With its glinting skyscrapers and sparkling nightscapes, the metropolis of Riyadh is the ideal choice for a weekend of luxury. Relax and rejuvenate at the city’s opulent spas, including Maison de Joelle and Al Faisaliah Spa by ESPA, or go from serene to cerebral with a visit to its boutique arthouses, where the likes of Naila and L’Art Pur galleries showcase Arabia’s best emerging artists. Add in an array of fine dining choices, upmarket malls and curated boutiques, and Riyadh is a city that can be embraced at any pace, before unwinding in one of its many five-star hotels.
Riyadh is home to the world’s haute couture designers. Alexander McQueen, Burberry and Cartier are among the names found at the upmarket Centria Mall, while Riyadh Gallery mixes high street outposts with international labels and also has Taibah Souq, the city’s gold and diamond market, just next door. Among Riyadh’s independent boutiques there’s Mira Y Mano - the self-titled home of independent fashion stocking a diverse haul of Arab and Saudi designers - and Recherché Fashion Gallery, where you’ll find Saudi labels such as Noora Alharthi and Hadeel Alhussain.
For something different, head for an early morning game drive at Riyadh’s exclusive Nofa Safari to experience a piece of Africa in the Arabian Desert. There are over 700 animals on show at this lodge-style resort that doubles as a conservation project, and its guided safari drives promise glimpses of giraffes, oryx, wildebeest, hippos and impalas, set against a horizon of apricot-hued dunes.
In the evening, sample some of Riyadh’s world-class cuisine. Try the tuna and wagyu tacos at Okku or share a plate of nigiri and sashimi at another stylish Japanese favorite, Nozomi. Renowned chef Vineet Bhatia is the man behind upscale contemporary Indian restaurant Maharaja East, while The Globe is Riyadh’s most high-profile fine-dining experience. Located in a golden glass orb atop of the Al Faisalah Tower, spectacular views are part of a menu that fuses Arabian classics with modern European cuisine.
Where to stay: Riyadh is home to a wealth of stylish hotels. Choose from the palatial Ritz Carlton, the Hyatt Regency in the fashionable district of Olaya, or the elegant Four Seasons for unparalleled luxury.
Where to eat: For delicate Japanese dishes, Nobu never disappoints, and nor does the contemporary Armenian cuisine at Lusin. For signature Italian dining, consider Cipriani or Scalini, or sample European fusion in style at Sixth District.
Learn more: ITC can create exclusive luxury staycation packages, while Palms Land Tours, Al Mosafer and Al Shitawi all offer bespoke city tours. Masarat offers the Orion Nebula trip, which takes in stargazing, astronomy and space photography, under Riyadh’s night skies.
The northeastern city of Tabuk has long been a resting point for Jordanian and Egyptian pilgrims, with a rich Bedouin culture that can be felt in the bustling Souq Twaheen, which still supplies patterned rugs and goat-hair tent covers for modern nomads.