Renowned as the birthplace of Islam, Saudi Arabia has long proven a sacred draw to Muslims on pilgrimage. Now, the Kingdom can add vacationers to its list of regular visitors, which opened for tourism in 2019. As it bids to rival its Middle East counterparts for luxury retreats, here’s a list of its top spa and wellness hotels.
Located directly opposite the Grand Mosque in the Abraj Al Bait skyscraper complex, this hotel promises astonishing views over the Kaaba. You’ll also get direct access to King Abdulaziz Gate, the main entrance to Islam’s holiest site. At the hotel, the petal-laden Raffles spa is inspired by the lotus flower. Treatments are tailored to three stages of change: bud, blossom and bloom, representing body, beauty and full experiences. Massages include aromatherapy oil and deep tissue options.
There’s a multi-national flavour within this spectacular double tower hotel, quite literally in the case of its cuisine. With six eateries to choose from, you can jump from a Sicilian risotto at Il Vero, to a freshly-baked baguette at the Parisian-inspired boulangerie. At the luxury spa, choose from energetic Body Fit classes to rejuvenating facials and Elemis hot stone massages.
Ideally situated just off the King Fahd highway, yet within walking distance of Al Khobar’s stroll-friendly corniche, the Intercontinental occupies a prime location within the city. Swim in the rooftop pool, book a personal training session or indulge in a spa treatment. For those without their own transport, the hotel can arrange a shuttle for the 40-minute journey from Dammam’s international airport.
For relaxation, seek out the Sokoun Spa for a session in the cleansing sauna, jacuzzi and steam room. Feeling more active? Take a late evening dip in the heated pool that is open until midnight. There is also a 24/7 fitness centre onsite with treadmills, exercise bikes and weight machines that come with a view of Riyadh.
Housed within Riyadh’s iconic Kingdom Centre, enjoy every advantage you might expect from a cloud-piercing, 302m (992ft) tall building. The elevator journey to the 99th floor to take in the sky bridge views might prove tempting to some. However, those looking to reduce their adrenaline levels might instead opt for a honey and royal jelly mask from the traditional Moroccan hammam.
Abstract art adorns the walls in these slick two-bedroom apartments that are great for families vacationing in Saudi Arabia’s capital. A fully-equipped kitchen includes an oven, microwave and Nespresso machine, while the washing machine and dryer will come in handy to anyone with youngsters in tow. Dip in the rooftop pool or relax in the male-only sauna and steam rooms, followed by a massage in the Treat Suite.
For guests whose idea of a re-energising break is an active one, this Marriot hotel comes with an array of fitness pursuits on offer. In addition to a cardio and weights gym overlooking Riyadh’s skyscrapers, tennis and squash facilities can be reserved, while the outdoor pool is good for lapping lengths. Football fans can catch the action at top Saudi Pro League side Shabab FC just 10 minutes up the road.
The well-equipped gym is open until 11pm and offers personal training sessions for those intent on keeping in shape. For something a little less intense, Movenpick’s European origins are reflected in the Swedish massages – which are said to improve blood circulation and relieve tension – and steamy Turkish baths. For breakfasts, an international buffet is served with chefs on hand to whip up omelettes and other requests.
The generously-sized suites here come with balconies, offering pleasant vistas over the landscaped gardens and the Red Sea. The award-winning Eviana Spa is a destination in its own right, providing sanctuary away from the downtown din of Jeddah. At 2.5 acres (1ha) in size, it’s split into clubs for men and women, each hosting fitness classes, tennis courts, massage rooms and a therapeutic aquamedic pool.
The south corniche location means that some rooms here come with the bonus of the world’s tallest fountain in full view. Plunge into the rooftop pool after a scorching day in the city or try your hand at boxing or squash. There’s also a female-only exercise room available to use. If the Red Sea proves an inspiring sight, the multilingual concierge team will be only happy to arrange excursions including fishing, surfing and scuba diving.
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