Spazio 77, Kingdom Tower, Riyadh
Kingdom Tower itself was recently voted the most iconic modern landmark in the Middle East polling 41%, or 5,000 votes.
When standing outside at ground level looking up, it becomes easier to see why it won.
The Spazio 77 experience starts on stepping into the lift on the ground floor, which is situated in the Four Seasons hotel in the tower.
The walls, floor and ceiling are dark, with hundreds of bright stars shining out, which change colour during the ride. It even has shooting stars zipping across the back wall, adding to the celestial experience.
The ride to the 77th floor is fast enough to make your ears pop, and we half expected that far from a ride to the restaurant, we were about to be beamed up.
The restaurant itself is large and, as expected in a Saudi restaurant, includes a sizeable family area. We arrived just after 9pm to an empty place; it’s the sort of restaurant that doesn’t begin to fill until late.
Being in Riyadh, we decided it would be rude not to ask for Saudi champagne, which is obviously non alcoholic. The waiter told us there was none, so we ordered other drinks instead.
‘Champagne’ corks pops
Later, on the table behind us, we could hear corks popping and pointed out to the waiter that he had earlier told us there was no champagne. ‘That is not Saudi champagne sir, that is South African,’ he told us.
And that summed up the service – it was slow, inattentive and lacked that commonsense touch that would have seen most establishments try and sell the alternative to a customer if their first choice was unavailable.
The food was fine if not great. The meat fell from the bone of the braised lamb shank, but the roasted vegetables were bitter and remained uneaten.
A pasta dish was similarly described as fine, but not great.
Desserts were better; certainly the crème brulée came with a twist. Far from a single dish with a custard base and a sweet, crusty top, it came in three dishes, each a different flavour, with no caramelised sugar top. Nevertheless, it was tasty.
Anyone visiting Spazio 77 has to make time to head up to the Skydeck on the 99th floor. Lift access is from the Spazio 77 floor anyway. Strangely, it took almost as long to travel 22 floors to the Skydeck as it did to travel the initial 77 floors.
The Skydeck again offers magnificent views over the city, with uninterrupted views on either side of the bridge. You can also walk across the Skydeck, going from one side of the building to the other.
Although far from being among the best meals we’ve ever had, Spazio 77 is worth a visit for the whole experience – and with the food being reasonably priced, it won’t be an expensive experience either.