When planning your stay in Riyadh, you will probably be looking at the various 4* and 5* hotels in either the Diplomatic Quarter or the Olaya district. The Diplomatic Quarter is ideal for guests attending events at the Ritz-Carlton, due to close Ritz proximity and a secure environment. The main DQ hotels are the Courtyard by Marriott, the Radisson Blu and the Marriott DQ. Oyala district is also quite close and a good area to stay for shopping. Main Olaya hotels include Al Faisaliah, the Intercontinental, the Rotana, the Movenpick, Ibis, Novatel.
Staying at the Ritz itself is obviously ideal, however conference dates will result in super peak rates. You should also bear in mind that for certain events, Ritz bookings are run by conference organizers, making a booking only available to conference speakers. If when you attempt a booking with the hotel, you are redirected to the organizers, this means the hotel is privatized for the event. If you are a speaker, the organizers probably have a room set aside for you. If you are not, you can ask the organizers if they have rooms available in direct booking for non speakers, although you should be aware that this is not always the case for certain events.
Diplomatic Quarter hotels
Located within close driving distance of the Ritz-Carlton, hotels in the Diplomatic Quarter have the additional advantage of secure areas (however be prepared to be stopped for security checks).
The Ritz-Carlton, 5*
The Ritz-Carlton Riyadh is the one of the largest hotels in the Middle East. Adjacent to the KAICC (King Abdul Aziz International Conference center), the Ritz -Carlton / the KAICC are the natural choice to host important annual conferences including the Future Investment Initiative, the Global AI Summit, the Cyber Security conference and the Financial Sector Conference.
On-site facilities: on-site luxury spa, various restaurants including the Hong, coffee bar (opens at 8am), 24h in room dining, meeting rooms, concierge service, business center, prayer rooms, lagoon-like underground pool, welcome arabic coffee and local dates at intervals throughout the day.
Its pluses: the architecture, the lobby that lends itself to casual networking, and general aura of luxury.
Its minus: the standard rooms are slightly smaller than its counterparts.
The Courtyard by Marriott / 4*
Located in the Diplomatic Quarter within very close proximity to the Ritz-Carlton hotel (around 5 minutes by car), the Courtyard by Marriott is a very well-managed, family-style hotel.
On-site facilities: buffet-style restaurant, a well-equiped male-use gym / a very small female-use gym, an outside terrace, lobby with business-style seating space, wifi for residents and a Starbucks bar.
Its pluses: extremely pleasant and helpful staff, conveniently located.
Its minus: the buffet can be repetitive
The Marriott Diplomatic Quarter, 4*
Located in the Diplomatic Quarter (around 8 minutes by car if no traffic), the recently opened Marriott Diplomatic Quarter is a 4* facility. With a less cosy, sleeker feel, it is ideal for visitors staying on business in Riyadh
On-site facilities: buffet-style restaurant, a well-equiped fitness center, an outside heated pool, high-speed wifi, on-site fancy mall with shops and coffee
The plus: modern feel and facilities, comfortable and spacious rooms
The minus: there have been reports of issues with the bathroom facilities.
Located in the Diplomatic Quarter (around 8 minutes by car if no traffic), the 5* Radisson Blu with its smoothie bar and contemporary feel has the edge over its Diplomatic Quarter neighbors.
On-site facilities: both male and female fitness centers, meeting rooms, on-site smoothie bar
The plus: quality of the smoothies and general cuisine, contemporary feel
The minus: prices to reflect
A luxury option with world class service and dining.
On-site facilities: 6 separate inhouse restaurants, top level fitness center, women’s spa
The plus: the luxury, the Globe restaurant
The minus: slightly outdated style
Crowne Plaza Hotel RDC Hotel & Convention, 5*
Not to be confused with the many other Crowne Plaza hotels in Riyadh, this modern hotel is also the accreditation center for the Future Investment Initiative annual October conference. The advantage being that you won’t have to plan an extra trip to obtain your badge, however be prepared for the giant lobby to be non-stop during accreditation days (usually opens 4 days prior to the conference).
On-site facilities: conference rooms, pool, fitness center
The plus: the spacious rooms, the cleanliness, vast lobby
The minus: no spa
Rosh Rayhaan by Rotana, 4*
A good value for money option, around 15-20 minutes from the Ritz in times of low traffic, the Rotana is an immaculate establishment with huge rooms and where staff do their best to make you feel at home.
On-site facilities: buffet-style restaurant, fitness center, an outside heated pool.
The plus: huge rooms, first class bathrooms with rain shower and big bathtub
The minus: food can get old, the reservations service is sometimes unresponsive
Novotel Al Anoud, 4*
A good choice if you are attending an event at the Four Seasons, but not close to the Ritz. A modern establishment with pleasant rooms, lacking the welcoming and professional staff to match the quality of the premises.
On-site facilities: buffet-style restaurant, fitness center, pool, sauna
The plus: spacious modern rooms, value for money
The minus: substandard buffet food, staff lack professionalism
The Four Seasons, 5*
The Four Seasons, host to Misk foundation’s annual Misk Global Forum, is located at the Kingdom Center in the Olaya district at 15-20m from the Ritz in times of low traffic. A high-level establishment with super professional staff. The hotel is currently in partial renovation so rooms are limited.
On-site facilities: contemporary cuisine restaurant, men-only fitness center
The plus: the buffet and snacks are reportedly high level, 5* service
The minus: slightly outdated feel
Standard type and comfortable without excess of luxury, Ibis is a solid choice for travellers needing a decent place to stay and not planning to spend too much time in their hotel. Breakfast opens at 4am for early risers.
On-site facilities: buffet-style restaurant, fitness center, gym, meeting rooms
The plus: the staff are incredibly helpful and accomodating
The minus: don’t expect luxury
Voco Riyadh (previously the Movenpick) 5*
While the hotel is super comfortable, the booking guarantee experienced by some guests (reports of cancelled bookings with no explanation) does not fulfil expectations of a 5* establishment.
On-site facilities: buffet-style restaurant, separate male/female spas
The plus: the location and the comfortable rooms
The minus: there have been reports of the hotel overbooking rooms in times of high demand / refusing to honor some of the bookings
The Intercontinental, 5*
On-site facilities: outside swimming pool, tea lounge, two restaurants
The plus: the views, the marble bathrooms, golf course proximity
The minus: style a little outdated, however the biggest issue is that the hotel is victim of its success: in seasonal peak times you may find your booking cancelled last minute due to local proiority guests taking your room
*the comments on the above are based on subjective experience as guests at the hotels and are neither scientific nor exhaustive