CHECK IT OUT ASSILA HOTEL JEDDAH, A ROCCO FORTE HOTEL, SAUDI ARABIA
Jeddah is the latest port of call for Rocco Forte Hotels, a company co-founded by hotel design doyenne Olga Polizzi with several stellar properties in its stable, including Browns in London.
Located downtown in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea city on Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz (or Tahlia) Street, Assila Hotel features 304 guestrooms and suites with contemporary Arabesque interiors by Polizzi, working with celebrated designer Martin Brudnizki, and more than 2000 local artworks curated by Nora Alissa.
The hotel is staging a gradual opening; the first guestrooms debuted in November and the remaining accommodation comes on line next month. With a central courtyard accessed by a private driveway, the hotel is arrayed across two towers and is fully self-contained with five restaurants, a day spa, gym, hairdressing salon and roof- top pool. The overall look is streamlined and cool with bespoke furniture in rich, jewel-like colours and Arabic motifs.
The residential-style guestrooms have high ceilings, large windows, full-height wooden doors, limestone floors laid with handwoven rugs, and marble and mosaic bathrooms stocked with luxury Ortigia amenities from Italy. All styles of accommodation feature a king or twin beds, desk, smart TV and free Wi-Fi for up to five devices.
Guests in suites enjoy additional privileges including room-service breakfast, an unpacking service and in-room check-in. The hotel is well placed for exploring the city, 20 minutes from the airport and a 15-minute drive to The Corniche.
DON’T MISS: An afternoon in the smart day spa where treatments deploy Forte’s own beauty line, made with organic ingredients grown at its Verdura Resort in Sicily.
DINING IN AND OUT: Located on the rooftop terrace and with long city views, Aubergine specialises in Lebanese, Armenian and Turkish dishes; CocoBa serves cakes, pastries and bespoke chocolates. The 24-hour Il Caffe is an Italian and Arabic mashup serving panini and mezze; shisha is available on the terrace. There’s an Argentinian grill in the pipeline but the all-day-dining Twenty Four is up and running, serving an impressive breakfast buffet and barista coffee. Executive chef Maurizio Panicali recommends the homemade sage bread with za’atar or labneh and honey for breakfast; at dinner be sure to leave space for the impressive dessert buffet with the hotel’s own branded chocolate.
ASK THE CONCIERGE: Take a stroll along The Corniche to see the world’s largest water fountain (a light show operates from 6pm) or explore Al Balad, Jeddah’s old town.
CHECKING IN: From SAR1600 ($573). More: roccofortehotels.com.
ALSO TRY: Four Seasons Casablanca, Morocco; Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara, Oman; St Regis Abu Dhabi.