Several people recommended the Park Hyatt to me, but since I’m not really up for paying hundreds of dollars a night for a hotel yet, I checked out the area to find a better price in the same location. I found the Pearl Corniche Jeddah Hotel, which seemed like a great option, being only about a block away from the Park Hyatt and about a quarter the price.
This is kind of a personal decision, so you may want the super lux hotels, but I had not planned to be in the hotel except to sleep and bathe, and you can always wander over to the luxury hotels for a meal or even just to sit in the lounge with a cup of coffee. The advantage of being white is the assumption that you are valid customer in any luxury establishment here. And the advantage of the abaya is that you never have to worry about the fancy dress code requirements.
The Pearl was a little shabby, but the room was clean and there was wi-fi. For some reason, I don’t know if it was the quality of the AC there or the incredible humidity, even when the room was cool bordering on cold, it was still damp. Nothing dried out, which was kind of annoying since I would come back soaked in sweat or beach every night.
Additionally, there isn’t much to do in Jeddah (or anywhere in Saudi) until after Asr (the late afternoon prayer) so I found myself spending a bit more daytime in the hotel than I really wanted until I figured out what was in walking distance and indoors that would kill the hours (since I didn’t want to take taxis more than I had to, see the section on taxis).
I think that the hotel had services available for ordering food and arranging taxis, but the front desk people didn’t always speak much English, so I didn’t actually try to use the hotel services while I was there. Once they charged me for water, another time they said it was complimentary. I had trouble getting towels. There was soap and shampoo but no conditioner. Additionally, their credit card machine was broken on the way out, which turned out just to be the phone line unplugged, and made me late on the way to the airport.
I walked into the Intercontinental one night because I couldn’t seem to communicate directions with a taxi driver and he knew the name of that hotel which was next to mine, so I gave up trying. The thing is, he dropped me at the front door and I decided it was best to just go on in. I was looking for dinner anyway and thought it wouldn’t hurt to check out the restaurant.
Oh my goodness. The lobby seemed larger than my whole hotel, all glittering marble and chandeliers. I walked on through to the restaurant area, but it was very large and very empty, so I began to feel a bit uncomfortable surrounded by so much over the top glamour, I decided to hike it away to a slightly less palatial dining place.
Another evening I walked into the Hyatt on purpose to go to their restaurant. Beautiful place, excellent restaurant (although I didn’t get to try them all), and apparently a spa too. If you have the money, its probably a great place.
All in all, I think its a good decision to opt for a cheap hotel in a good neighborhood, and save the money to spend on food and attractions, but make sure that you know where you can go to kill time while you’re waiting for the nightlife to get going.