A girlie weekend in Riyadh
Updated: Jul 7
July 2021: It is pretty hot here in Riyadh now, but if you check the weather reports, you will see that some parts of America are just as hot! The one advantage that the Middle East has over other hot climates during these months is that everywhere here is air-conditioned. Therefore if you don’t want to set foot outside these air-conditioned spots, you really don’t have to; you can move from your home to your car to the mall and back in your own fully air-conditioned bubble.
From approximately mid-May to September, Riyadh experiences a dry, hot summer heat. If I had to choose a hot climate, the dry summer weather in Riyadh is preferable because it means I don’t have to contend with my sunglasses fogging up every time I step outside, nor am I dripping wet from the humidity with hair that resembles the wild woman of Borneo!
The upside to this summer endurance is that Riyadh residents can look forward to long enjoyable winter weather for the other seven months of the year. But for these few short summer months, we tend to find lots of indoor ways to entertain ourselves.
My summer weekends often look something like this. The day begins with an early morning walk or run in the Diplomatic Quarter (DQ) Wadi Hanifah in the Diriyah area. This date with nature is a pleasant way to start the day, and it is refreshing to hear the morning chorus of all the birds in the surrounding trees and flowering bushes. If you don’t drive, an Uber or Careem taxi can also take you to these places, and you can agree with the driver so he goes back to collect you when you are finished.
There are several running, cycling, and walking groups in Riyadh that are more than happy to welcome new joiners. If you don't want to exercise alone, you can contact Dani Everdijk via her Instagram page dani4ever21, to join her ladies DQ wadi walks or Amber Ragland for her Bootcamp exercise group on email firstname.lastname@example.org or Whatsapp
+966 55 424 8178 or Joshua Atkinson from the Riyadh Triathlon Club on email@example.com, www.riyadhtriathletes.com. Incidentally, the Riyadh Triathletes club is another club that has been around along time from 1992 to be exact, and has a very strong following in Riyadh. And of course, I will also take a moment to remind you about Riyadh Rovers. If you want to reach out to join the RR hiking group trips, please contact Alan Morrissey at firstname.lastname@example.org
Failing all of that, just arrive at about 6 am in Wadi Hanifah, on a Friday morning and follow the crowd. All the guys who organize these groups give their time on a volunteer basis, so be respectful of their time and efforts.
Having worked up an appetite, the next order of business is always to find a spot for breakfast. There are plenty of DQ choices and even in Ad Diriyah if you wish to stay in that area. But you can also venture to Olaya Street and have breakfast in some good spots along this popular avenue. But here is a list of some of my favorite spots in Riyadh: Dim Light Restaurant Le Grenier a Pain, Urth Caffe, Eric Kayser, Dozen Cracked, Paul’s Bakery, and Restaurant, Bateel Café, Face/Off Cafe and honestly this list goes on and on and is constantly growing. I promise to keep you posted as I find more exciting value-for-money options around Riyadh.
When it comes to shopping, this capital city has it all. Shopping in the Middle East really is more than a necessity or chore. It is a hobby for some people and a family fun day out for others. So the malls in this part of the world cater to your every need and are actually world-class leisure and entertainment destinations for the whole family.
But I must warn you as the day wears on malls tend to get increasingly busy. For me, the sweet spot for leisurely shopping is about 3 pm, the shops are all open, and there is less of a huddle at the check-out tills. While I love a spot of Manolo Blahnik shoe shopping or perusing the shelves of Massimo Dutti, some of my other fun days out take place in SACO or Al Sanidi camping supplies shop. So go see what I mean for yourself!
Spa treatments are big business all over the world these days, and we are all extremely decerning about the services we like. A bi-weekly mani-padi is now de rigueur for ladies, and it is also increasingly popular for the guys too. My friends and I have a number of popular places that we frequent for relaxing afternoons of nail painting, facials, blow dry’s or massages.
We try to strike a balance between good service and good value for money. To start with, you can check out Al Nakhla Residential Resort Spa 011 511 6000 or Mariyadh Ladies Center 056 999 0705 or Me Time Nail Spa 058 328 4414, or Vanilla Spa 055 66 92 446. You can also check your own residential community as often you will find they have an onsite spa that caters to their own community.
For the guys, I hear that Ali Barbershop is very popular and the Salon in the Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence DQ is good too, or send Hamza Wehbe in the barbershop of the Sheraton Hotel a Whatsapp on +966 55 592 0518. He also comes highly recommended. I have tried several places for hair, Maison de Joelle is very popular but most of the spas mentioned above have an in-house stylist you can use as well. If you know of some other good spots, let us know in the comments below.
If you are not exhausted after all that activity, you can round out your day with a good movie and a nice dinner. Riyadh Park is a trendy movie venue, but I find the crowds are bit much for me. So, I would suggest you also check out the Panorama Mall, U Walk, Al Hamra Mall, and al Nakheel Mall who also have movie theaters. All of those malls have some great places to eat in the mall itself or very nearby. Value for money goes to Piatto Restaurant, PF Chang, Burj al Hamam Bistro, Fatburger, and The Cheese factory. For great Italian food and produce, check out Eataly .....Bellissimo!
If you are simply too tired to move from the couch, Hungerstation has always got you covered. Be sure to let me know the places you think are great, and I would love to check them out. Whatever you get up to, stay cool and have fun this summer.