• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

January 4, 2009

Saudi Arabia's WOMEN-ONLY Hotel

passport holder

Photo Credit: Jeff Harris

Special Offer

You're traveling on business, and the hotel you've booked kicks you out on your ear because you've forgotten to bring a "permission letter" from your father or husband. Believe it or not, career women in Saudi Arabia face this problem — the sexes are strictly segregated there, so most hotels won't let women check in without the authorization of a senior male relative or registration with the local police. Now a group of 20 Saudi princesses and businesswomen has devised a solution by opening the kingdom's first hotel exclusively for female guests — no males are allowed inside (not even children), so women can toss away their veils when they enter the lobby.

"We're providing a private space for Saudi women to relax and do business in comfort," says Lorraine Coutinho, executive director of the Luthan Hotel and Spa outside the Saudi capital, Riyadh. After six years of gnawing through red tape, she opened the hotel in March. Its entire staff — from bellhops to electrical engineers — is made up of women. Coutinho is most proud of the swimming pool and fully equipped gym at the Luthan (which means "sanctuary" in Arabic). "In other Saudi hotels, exercise facilities are reserved for men," she explains. The core clientele so far is businesswomen in their 30s and 40s, but others are beginning to flock to this man-free zone. "There's no need to hide here; women can be themselves," says Coutinho. The hitch: As women are still banned from driving in Saudi Arabia, it's impossible to get there without a man at the wheel.

Connect with Marie Claire:
daily giveaway
Go to the Beach

Go to the Beach

enter now
You Know You Want More
More From World News on Women
Is This The Most Condescending Political Ad Ever?

Women are obsessed with marriage, so picking a political candidate is kind of like saying yes to the dress.

This Act Could Put an End to Anti-Abortion Legislation

Women's right to choose is constantly at stake—but this might the solution.

post a comment

Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.