Very comfortable stay at the centrally located Dirah Hotel
They categorise themselves as 4 stars, but I would rate them 2+ or 3 stars.
Still though hotel is very clean, rooms are spacious.
they have free internet in the lobby, and wireless internet all over the hotel.
room service 24 hours.
staff is Egyptian and Saudi and all are Bilingual Arabic / English.
WC in rooms are a bit outdated, with some water leakage dropping every now and then, but apart from that hotel is more than OK
their excellent tea
very fast room service
Most of the Saudi's prefer to stay in a furnished apartment usually with 2 bedrooms or more.
The reason for this is because the whole family travel together. It is more practical and economical for them to stay in a furnished apartment where they can cook for their family, do laundry and just feel like at home.
This industry have boomed in the past 5 yrs to the extent that you wll find furnished apartments in every corner esp near hospitals.
Average 250SR per night
I had to go to Riyadh for just a couple of days but I did not want to spend almost 700 saudi riyals for just a tripple room per night. My family and I decided to stay in an apartment which met our quick needs. I had the idea more or less how these apartments are because we use them a lot in Jeddah. I brought my own set of sheets, shower sandals, towel and soap, (I did not see any towels). The apartment was clean and it is not a western hotel so the owner and the front desk people were really nice to us. We stayed in this 2 bedroom apartment for 130 riyals per night. The bedroom furniture was nice, it looked like new. The shower was not separated from the toilet and the sink so when you take showers everything gets wet (look at my photo) but there is a stick that you can use to push the water down the floor drain and it got dry quickly. On the Olayan Rd there are many of these apartments some of them were even new buildings but we arrived late to Riyadh and not time to look around so we stayed here.
These people were really nice and did not speak too much english so you get to practice your arabic when you come to this hotel.
There is also a restaurant so we ordered chicken kabash sandwiches and natural juices. We ordered at the front desk and the guy dropped it off at our apartment. There is also a supermarket near by. There are not English channels, all the channels are in Arabic but for us was not a problem we did not spend too much time in the apartment and sometimes they showed english programs in a children channel (mbc 3). For a quick night in Riyadh it was okay.
I got these directions thanks to a VT member so if you are driving on Olaya road from Al Faisalia building -looks like a pyramid with a ball on top- heading towards the Ministry of Interior take the first right before the ministry (the post office street) then the first right turn, you'll find a glass building called Feernaz Appartments.
It seems like every year a more extravagant place with fancy swimming pools, tennis courts, and so on opens up outside of town. What these compounds share in common is a walled envirnoment with security entrance gate manned by Saudi guards and lots of little condo like homes. The location of these compounds are pretty remote from the action of the Olaya District though, and so wives must either have a regular car and driver, or share one with another family. For expat children below high school living in Saudi Arabia, this is probably the better living quarters, as the compounds and apartments within the city may be pretty confining. For high school students and above, the Olaya district is safe enough for students to board the buses and taxis with expat and Saudi friends, to get around the city and appreciate the urban life. The compounds outside of town are like little villages, often with a central concession for household products sold at very high prices. To make up for the relative boredom, the compounds sponsor various festivals and flea market days. Expats from outside the compounds are allowed to visit, and the curious lack of clothing among the expat women during the warm days seems to represent a rebellion against the abaya and cover-up look required outside the compound. As shown in the images here, the streets may be carpeted and Saudis are invited to come and sell there cultural wares and activities. Masalama parties are typical flea markets of the late spring when many are packing up to move from the country. This becomes a time for bargain hunters to obtain household furnishings and other such stuff at going out of business prices.
Bear in mind that if the employer doesn't sponsor the living quarters here, the costs will be much higher than an apartment in the Olaya district, and as noted before, I'm not sure that the compounds are really safer nor more entertaining for adults. For women who can't find cause to blend in with Saudi women, then the compounds may be a requirement. Also, for those bringing larger outdoor dogs, I can't see how anything but a compound living can suffice.
My teaching contract provided housing and utilities, and though we weren't given the delux housing engineers often had outside of town, we couldn't complain. We had a large two bedroom apartment on the 8th floor of a building that had security and designated parking. The building was located in the wealthiest part of town, and so we had ample access to shopping and the amenties of urban life without having to drive so far. We had a swimming pool, but I didn't use it much as the weather is actually too hot to swim, except in winter. In the following images, you will note a rather large living room, that was furnished by the employer, but with few decorative aspects about it. We were afterall staying for just two years, and never really considered this home. The kitchen was very large, and we had two bathrooms, one for ourselves and one for guests. Living in Riyadh means adapting in strange ways. We found the cold water too hot, as it came from a storage tank that was filled periodically from a tanker truck. So, we turned off the water heater and used it as a cold water storage. The apartment had plenty of A/C so the hot water tank made the water cooler. Then, we turned the cold water tap for hot water, and the hot water tap for cold water! We also had a balconey, which provided a great place to dry clothes. In the Saudi climate, clothes dry very fast outside.
The 2 bedroom apartment was furnished with a king sized bed in one room, and two twin beds in the other room. We didn't have children, so the second room was mostly storage. There were many other American and British couples living in our buildings, so we visited and had party's many times. I made bootleg rum in a special process, described in the things to do tip, and mixed it with Pepsi for such party's. But, we also had shared friendship with the Venezuelan Ambassador's family that lived in a nearby neighborhood. They had a large house and pool, and as Venezuelan's do, had frequent parties for everyone. The Ambassador was kind enough to keep us well stocked in Gin that was imported through a diplomatic approved container shared between the Spanish and other Latin American Embassies by agreement. The apartment faced the west, and we were lucky not to have the prayer call loudspeaker directly on our side of the building. Rather, we viewed across the western edge of the city. After the Saud's won an opportunity to participate in the World Cup Soccer, the street below became filled with wild fans. We felt save in this building because it was mixed Saudi and Expatriate housing. Occasionally, we were invited to the apartment of our Saudi hosts for tea and dates. Today, the building may view another building as at the time of our departure, another highrise was under construction across the street.
The hotel is in a terrible condition, needs renovation desperately. Everything is so old and musty. Wallpapers in the rooms are mostly torn & dirty, bedside table lamps inoperative most of the time, carpet smells like it hasn't been cleaned for ages!!! Friendliness and helpfulness are the two words the staff are NOT familiar with around here. It's just terrible.
Other reviews on this hotel:
** Many also believe that this hotel is 'haunted', not a pleasant experience
FAL Compound is a fine compound with a great vibe, friendly management and a great location near the Airport Road. It is not a 100% western compound, but the lifestyle is 100% western. For example, women may not wear abayas on the compound. Residents come from as far and wide as Lebananon and New Zealand. It is, when all is said and done, a good mixture. Much has been written lately about the Arabization of 'western compounds,' which is happening as safety concerns have more and more westerners leaving Saudi Arabia, or sending their families home. In some compounds there is a genuine clash of cultures and much bitterness. This is not the case at FAL Compound; the management can be depended on to 'uphold standards.'
Ammenities include two pools, which are the center of the nightlife, raquetball and squash courts, an excellent gym, tennis courts, and a pool side restaurant that does a fine Friday Brunch.
There are studio apartments and two and three bedroom apartments/villas. The housing is not as new or "5 star" as some compounds in Riyadh, but the quality cannot be beat for the price. Everything works and the maintenance guys will tend to your every reasonable need.
I would recommend this compound to families and singles. The later will find that FAL compound offers a good social life, everything being relative in Saudi Arabia. Security is high and the compound is rated one of the safest in Riyadh by the US Embassy.
There are quite a few international chain of hotels here in Riyadh like four seasons, marriott, radisson, Holiday inn (2 branches), sheraton etc. and all of them have very nice facilities and most of them are right in the middle of the city.
Unbelievable value here at the hostel. It is very clean, has amazing facilities including swimming pool (although no swimming allowed while I was there) and all for just 8.00 SAR's.
Disadvantage is that is a good 40 mins walk to the centre of town and 1hr to the train station.
Our stay at this Hotel was very brief, we had not booked any accomodation before we had left Al Khobar and thought we would find something once we had arrived.
Our SAPTCO (Saudi Arabian Public Transport) bus dropped us and all the other passengers off at this Hotel and we thought that we would check it out.
The Hotel Lobby was tastefully furnished and very nice, our room however was nice but rather average. It had a well stocked fridge and room service was avaliable to us as well throughout the day (the restaurant was closed during the day because we were in Riyadh during Ramadan). After a nights sleep and awaking the next morning, I found the bed to be a bit on the old side and noticed that there was a slit in the mattress which showed general wear and tear. I am not too sure what the other rooms were like but ours was OK and it was clean which was good.
The lobby was very nicely decorated and the food that we ordered from the Restaurant was nice.
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