After arrival into Jeddah for the Saudi Arabia Hotel Show in April 2018, I got a taxi to my hotel from the main international airport. It was my first time in Saudi Arabia and was a business trip on a 10 day adventure. We were staying in the Al Hamra district which is pretty close to the Corniche, the swanky seafront area of Jeddah. I got checked into the Hotel Mercure in Al Hamra and set about enjoying the sights and sounds of this city away from the business of representing Young Pioneer Tours at the Show. Here are some cool things about the hotel we stayed in, although if it wasn’t a business trip, I probably would have stayed somewhere else – but overall the hotel was OK.
1.Business Breakfast Buffet
Every morning we had a huge breakfast buffet which reminded me of the excellent Ibis Hotels in Bahrain and Kuwait. Mostly because of the sheer quantity and variety of food available and the lengthy opening hours – breakfast was served from 6.30 am to 10.30 am. This means you could pop in at half six for a crappuccino and a cereal, go out and about, and back at 10.15 am for another big breakfast. On one day I had a seven course breakfast…
(1) Cereal – cornflakes
(3) Salad – mix of cheese, tomatoes, lettuce etc.
(4) Omelette – cooked fresh by the chef
(5) Main course – varied day to day but sometimes pizza, burgers, Indian curry etc.
(6) Pancakes with honey or maple syrup
(7) Croissants/ pain au chocolat
Here are some photos from the huge business breakfast buffet.
2.Poor Wi-Fi in the room, excellent in the lobby!
Saudi Arabia may be well developed and rich, but they haven’t quite grasped the Wi-Fi concept that other countries have yet. In the two rooms I was in at this hotel (306 and 523), Wi-Fi went on and off all the time. It was quite infuriating. So I ended up in the reception most of the time working on my laptop from there. This was particularly annoying as I was trying to book a flight to or from Oman and also my Oman visa (which you now have to pay for and organise online before your trip). It kept crashing. But it’s a learning curve for them. Business and tourism will bring money. Yet Dubai, Manama, Kuwait City and Doha all are better equipped when it comes to Wi-Fi in the rooms and buildings. It was the same with most cafes and restaurants I backpacked that advertised Wi-Fi. Once inside, it rarely worked.
3.Unaware Yet Friendly Staff!
The staff here might be friendly and welcoming but they are living in some kind of bubble, nutshell or vacuum. Many times I asked them questions like where is the nearest ATM, post office, exchange bureau etc. and they never knew the answer. It was like throwing peas against a brick wall. On one occasion, I asked them for a map of Jeddah, which has been standard throughout my wacaday journeys around the world to 150+ countries. But they had no map, they even had to ask someone if they could print one from Google Maps!
The rooms were comfortable and cosy. I can’t really fault them apart from the inconsistent Wi-Fi. The beds were always cleaned and comfortable. The showers worked well. There was air conditioning, an iron and ironing board, a safe, a desk. There was also a kettle and free tea and coffee. Two bottles of water were provided each day as well, which meant I never needed to buy water during my entire stay in Saudi Arabia! Even if you don’t drink both bottles in your day, put them in your bag and you’ll get two new ones delivered each day. Perfect!
Probably one of the best things about staying at the Hotel Mercure Al Hamra was the location. It is situated on Aleksandria Street (not named after a certain liar), half way between one of the main highways in the city and the seafront. This made it easy to walk to a number of nearby restaurants and cafes and at least 4 of the best sights in Jeddah were less than a 30 minute walk. In the heat, staying in a central place is essential for the walker and backpacker.
Here are some more photos of my time at the Hotel Mercure in Al Hamra in Jeddah and the sights of the city plus the Hotel Show:
Here are the details for booking the Hotel Mercure in Al Hamra in Jeddah:
Mercure Jeddah Al-Hamra
PO Box 48144
Phone – + 966 12 6644466
Fax – + 966 12 6649890
Email – Jeddah.firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some videos I took at the Hotel Mercure in Al Hamra in Jeddah: