Shangri-La Jeddah enjoys a prime setting and stunning views of the Red Sea — Hotel Insider

Set on the city's corniche, the five-star property is within walking distance of a mall, F1 track and public art installations

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Shangri-La Jeddah opened last year in the 64-storey Burj Assila Residences, overlooking Jeddah's corniche and the Red Sea.

The first property in the kingdom to be managed by Shangri-La, it offers 220 rooms, including 55 suites and 17 luxury serviced apartments, all with private balconies. The interiors carry a nautical theme, to reflect the hotel's beachfront positioning.

The welcome

Checking in is straightforward, with two desks operated by young Saudi women located adjacent to the concierge desk.

Most of the people in the lobby are heading to Shang Palace Jeddah, the hotel's Chinese restaurant. With no crowds or queues, the check-in process is swift. Staff are well-informed and friendly, providing plenty of information about the hotel and its facilities.

Checking in at night further emphasises the lobby's dark interiors — creating a slight lull and immediately disconnecting you from the energy outdoors. The lobby interiors feature contemporary grey marble floors and pillars, paired with a mix of dark wood panels. The atmosphere is quiet and serene, with soft music emanating from Copa, a boutique patisserie in the lobby.

The neighbourhood

Driving up the coast towards the hotel, you can take in stunning views of the Red Sea and Jeddah's corniche, which has recently been revamped.

Shangri-La's positioning directly on the corniche is perfect for tourists; Jeddah's Formula One track is a five-minute walk away, public art sculptures by celebrated international artists are dotted alongside a variety of cafes, shops and restaurants.

The corniche is a coastal strip with theme parks, gaming zones and expansive recreational areas where people can cycle, exercise and skateboard. Shangri-La is located next to the Red Sea Mall, one of the largest shopping malls on the west coast of Saudi Arabia.

It also offers views of the Jeddah fountain and is only minutes away from the floating mosque, another top tourist attraction. In the evenings, you can step straight out of the hotel onto the bustling corniche or dine at Shang Palace, which is often buzzing with diners at the weekend.

The room

My deluxe sea view room also looks over the new Formula One track on Jeddah's corniche, via floor-to-ceiling windows and a private balcony. The 52-square-metre room is cosy enough for two, with a 49-inch smart TV, desk and coffee table. A walk-in closet faces the marble-clad bathroom, which is fitted with a tub and walk-in shower.

The mini bar does not provide many options for kids or adults, but room service has a varied selection of food and drinks.

The interiors are minimal and contemporary, in keeping with the rest of the hotel. If you check in at night, it can be a struggle to achieve optimal lighting levels in the room, which is dimly lit yet beautifully replenished by sunlight during the day.

The service

Fifty per cent of the team is made up of Saudi nationals, including 63 women.

Checkout is quick and easy. However, it may be worth taking time to enjoy a coffee at Copa for those who wish to make the most of their rest and relaxation time by allowing the concierge team to load up the car.

It's easy to find transport to and from the hotel, using local taxis or transport apps.

The scene

Shangri-La's prime location allows guests to instantly connect with the palpable energy of Jeddah’s corniche.

The hotel's management is keen to align its mission with Saudi Vision 2030, which is apparent in the presence of Saudi staff, particularly women welcoming guests at the front desk. In this way, Shangri-La represents the changing landscape of the kingdom.

The newly opened Shang Palace is already popular among locals, while KAIA, the hotel's open-air pool terrace, is positioning itself as the city's next hotspot. It has live DJ performances and offers a variety of snacks, from sushi to nachos and speciality drinks.

Business and leisure travellers have access to state-of-the-art Technogym equipment in the gym, as well as a spa, jacuzzi, steam room, children's club for little ones and meeting rooms.

The food

Copa offers high tea, as well as coffee and artisanal chocolate pairings in the lobby. Waterfront Kitchen is the hotel's all-day dining buffet restaurant, offering a range of Mediterranean and Asian dishes, with live cooking stations, including shawarma, a Mongolian grill, a wood-fired pizza oven, a seafood counter, tandoor and Asian favourites.

Shang Palace is open and operating at full capacity at the weekend. When we visit during a service in full swing, packed, service is fast and the atmosphere is buzzing and lively. Shang Palace has Michelin-starred outposts in Singapore and Paris, and a total of 38 restaurants around the world serving its old-time Cantonese classics such as Peking duck and stir-fried wok dishes brimming with rich Chinese flavours. The restaurant's popular dim sum brunch is priced at SR188 ($50) and offers a main course and dessert in addition to unlimited dim sum.

Staff members are a mix of different nationalities with great knowledge of the menu. Sanjin Dilaver, the restaurant's manager, pops over to guests to ensure they are "more than just satisfied".

Highs and lows

The location is a winner for Shangri-La as it offers beautiful uninterrupted views of the Jeddah waterfront and is close to a host of restaurants, as well as the Red Sea Mall. The best offering is Shang Palace for hospitality and food. A plus for fitness enthusiasts is having the gym and spa that offers rejuvenating experiences including a Moroccan hammam for men and anti-ageing diamond life infusion facial treatment for women.

Even though rooms provide privacy, the interiors can seem dark and gloomy at night on account of the dim lighting, inspiring us to step out and soak in the energy of the city. The hotel is the complete opposite in the day – flooded with natural sunlight.

Being a city hotel, it is more suited to business or leisure travellers as opposed to a staycation destination for locals.

The insider tip

Valet parking for hotel guests, no matter how long you are staying, is chargeable. It is recommended that you make reservations at Shang Palace as the restaurant is full during the weekend.

The bottom line

Guest rooms fall into two main categories, superior and deluxe sea view, which start from $358 per night, including taxes. There are also one and two-bedroom apartment suites and a royal suite. Check-in is from 2pm and checkout is at noon.

Shangri-La hotel, Jeddah, Makkah Province,

- This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel.

Updated: January 18, 2023, 5:18 AM