Offering 492 opulent guest rooms, royal and executive suites – and more than 62,000 feet of distinguished banquet space, this is hardly the description you were expecting for a minimum security prison. It’s also got “lavishly manicured gardens”, according to the website. Perhaps it’s because this location only recently became a prison. Long known as the Ritz Carlton Riyadh, the hotel – turned prison – turned hotel is set to re open its doors to the public. On Valentines Day, no less.

Famous

The Ritz Carlton Riyadh is beautifully perched amongst 600 year old historic trees. It’s a truly gorgeous place to behold. But that’s not why it’s famous. The rise of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman ushered in a new day for Saudi Arabia. Upon seizing power, The Crown Prince began a purge of so called corruption and extravagance amongst the many, many royal family members. To make his point, the Saudi Government extracted Saudi royals from around the world, delivering them to the Ritz Carlton Riyadh. Their new prison, away from home.

Holding

In early November 2017 the Ritz Carlton Riyadh became a prison of sorts. Availability was blocked from public guests, until further notice. Instead – princes, royals and Saudi government officials, accused of corruption and extravagance were held as prisoners of the state. Distinguished prison guests include private Boeing 747 owner Al-Waleed bin Talal. Mr. Talal just recently canceled an order for a customized private Airbus A380. According to reports, prisoners were held until pledging allegiance to the Crown Prince – and most importantly, paid up.

Open

How these tortures negotiations went, we’ll never know. Assuming they were clean cut and above  water board, the hotel should’ve retained its five star, Ritz Carlton standard during this brief imprisonment. The good news: the glamorous property is once again a hotel. It’s now open for business to the public and we’ve been assured there won’t be any loud noises from nearby guest rooms. If you’re looking for plush digs in the Saudi capital, this is too tempting. With rates starting at $500 per night, you’ll need a royal sum for the privilege.

Have you stayed at the Ritz Carlton Riyadh? Will you return?