So What If Riyadh Has a Women-Only Hotel

The Al Luthan hotel and spa is the first women only facility of its kind in Riyadh.  It is a luxurious hotel and spa for women only.  It is a full service hotel and spa offering deluxe, comfortable and safe accommodations.  Al Luthan welcomes both Saudi and non-Saudi females.  Now some women have spoken out to the media that the opening of Al Luthan is a step backwards.  According to these women, they see it as a backwards movement for the Kingdom due to the fact that there is already so much enforced segregation and women not only have few rights but promoting and endorsing a women’s only hotel and spa further diminishes women from receiving rights.

Maybe I am in the minority but I take the opposite view.  Al Luthan is not unique when compared to the rest of the world.  Women hotels or women-only floors are actually common in most major cities (and some not so major) all over the world.  Back in earlier times when I was doing a lot of international travel, I enjoyed staying on a women-only floor, especially when in foreign cities which were not as accustomed to business women traveling alone.  So to me, I do not see a women’s only hotel as a step backward at all but another nice option to have for women in the Kingdom.

The web site to check out Al Luthan and its facilities, Click here…

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20 Responses

  1. this does give a whole different perspective to the debate. Here in Canada women-only hours in gyms are quite common, especially in college campuses. However I remember once it was started in Harvard by some people and there was lot of opposition to it, it was seen as some backward thing.

  2. I’d like your thoughts on what is on the website itself. The fitness link in particular has (gasp!) a woman in a towel! You can see women’s limbs as they are doing yoga! Shock! Horror!

    Or is it ok because it’s the English portion, and they figure that the Saudis wouldn’t be reading that part? Considering that perfectly innocent things get sharpied out in magazines, I was surprised that the website photos weren’t regulated.

  3. If the real thing is as lovely as the photo, it’s a wonderful addition to Riyadh society, I think. The tension of being a woman in Riyadh derives from the proximity of men, and that’s true for non-Muslim as well as Muslim women.

    Segregation is still an important fact of life in Riyadh, and unless the entire society moves towards integration, women need to protect themselves, and give themselves enriching experiences apart from homemaking, mothering or working. This hotel seems to provide a means to that end.

  4. it’s a bit of a double-edged sword, though, isn’t it? I am all in favor of gender equality, but I hate the way capitalist institutions erode traditionally held values. I wish it didn’t take a commercial enterprise to start this conversation, but maybe it’s better that the conversation be had at all?

  5. Sara – you are very observant. I did not pick up that a towel clad woman was being shown on the web site. I’m guessing that since it is women only and like you said, in English, probably thought of as no big deal.

    Marahm – I’ve heard that the photos give one a sneak peek and that going to hotel itself is a wonderful experience. I cannot speak on that firsthand – yet!

    All – thanks for your comments.

  6. Sara…shhhh, the black marker squad will hear you and cover up the models or delete the web page altogether!

    Carol, I’ve never been to Riyadh. But if and when I ever visit there, I want to stay away from all the close minded people who think women should stay at home. So, hurrah for an all-women’s hotel in this man’s world! We’ll be able to walk around in peace and relax with the other ‘normal’ people in the society. : )

  7. A2S — Tell me when you are coming and I’ll plan the red carpet tour! (to include the Women’s only hotel too of course)

  8. It’s a bit of a braintwister, will a woman’s only hotel take the impact of the new rule to let women travel alone a step backwards…
    I think not. Travelling alone as a woman can be a bit bothersome everywhere, when recalling how you can’t even go shopping in abaya and niqab in KSA, I think it will be much worse travelling alone in the kingdom.
    Also, given the excessive reactions men seem to have when percieving a woman in KSA, one can hardly blame relations being worried about the well-being of their travelling family members.
    So if the women can go to a woman’s only hotel, that worry is taken away, and will make it easier for more women to do some travel.

    Besides harassment, you seem to have to be véry careful, especially in Riyadh: even a cup of coffee over laptops in a Starbucks can get you into serious trouble!

    The fact that women can stay in a women’s only hotel will take away some of the objections of men unwilling to let women travel.

    And I would like it myself. I want to be left alone.

    The hotel looks super-excellent too! And they are very serious about excercise and nutricion! Their information is very good.
    All they need is a small shop selling sports-bras!

    And let’s not alert the Black Hand to the many bare arms!

  9. I agree Aafke. In fact, having organized many medical symposiums for my employer I can tell you that many of the Saudi professional women who come from outside Riyadh are very appreciative that they can stay at such a comfortable, nice and safe place. There is a womens hostel here but it is not very centrally located and nowhere as nice.

    Yes…I like the idea of getting them to sell good sports bras at a little shop adjacent to the gym!

    And somebody will just have to take watch so none of those “Black Hands” gain entree under the cover of burqa!

  10. Saudi professional women come from outside Riyadh? Yeah!

    Daniel says, “I wish it didn’t take a commercial enterprise to start this conversation, but maybe it’s better that the conversation be had at all?”

    Actually, the topic of women travelling alone in the Kingdom is a perennial conversation– I remember landing in Jeddah from New York, in the late 80’s. The entire plane was then delayed over an hour because Saudia had to round up a male to accompany the unaccompanied females to Riyadh, the same females who had just arrived from New York.

    (That was the last time I routed my ticket through Jeddah.)

    So I see this hotel as a big step toward female autonomy.

  11. Very interesting Marahm…I actually know a number of Saudi women who do routinely fly both within and outside the Kingdom on their own, unaccompanied. So in that regards, I think one can say there are more freedoms.

  12. DQ is not far from me… I could do with spending a weekend at this hotel by myself! Looks wonderful if you ask me!

  13. I’m for the hotel and would like to see more open across the kingdom and beyond. I’ve told Mr. Man I want to go.. but I just can’t stand Riyadh

  14. Umm Ibrahim,

    I’m not all that far from DQ either! Who knows, we could be in the same neighborhood.

    Nzingha,

    Awww, let me know next time you’re coming to Riyadh and I hope I can give you some suggestions that give you a different perspective of the city!

  15. [...] Bedu, an American living in Saudi Arabia, tells us what she thinks of a women-only hotel in Riyadh: The Al Luthan hotel and spa is the first women only facility of its kind in Riyadh. It is a [...]

  16. This hotel looks gorgeous. I think we should plan a little mini-convention at this place, just a couple of days for all of us Bloggers/Saudi Wives in Arabia so we can all finally meet. Would the logistics be impossible? What do you say, Ladies?

  17. Now that’s a thought!

  18. [...] Saudi Arabia, anatueleza kile anachokifikiri kuhusiana na hoteli za kina mama pekee jijini Riyadh. Hoteli ya Al Luthan na bafu lake ni hoteli ya kwanza kabisa ya wanawake pekee ya aina yake jijini [...]

  19. [...] Beduは、リヤドの女性専用ホテルに関して次のように述べている。 [...]

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