If you haven’t visited Ras Al Khaimah, you should.
Only a hours drive from Dubai, the Emirate sits in the northern part of the UAE, bordering Oman’s exclave of Musandam. Ras Al Khaimah not only boasts some of the very best beaches in the entire UAE but possesses beautiful mountains, sandy deserts and lush green plains and is one of the most diverse landscapes in the entire region.
There has been a lot of development in RAK over the past couple of years with several luxury global hotels taking up residence and capitalizing on the growth in visitor numbers and what was once desolate desert is now a thriving destination in its own right. The Waldorf Astoria is one of these hotels having opened up in 2013. Part of the Al Hamra Village, the Waldorf Astoria sits proudly on the coast, a beacon of luxury seen for miles away, lit up like a luxury lighthouse for well-healed travellers. It’s beachfront location coupled with easy transportation links makes the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah the perfect weekend getaway destination.
The hotel encompasses everything you would expect from the world-renowned Waldorf Astoria.The palatial hotel is certainly grand with no expense spared on design or decor, the ambiance woven rom the ancient history, tradition and culture of the United Arab Emirates.
Upon entering the hotel, there is no doubt in your mind you are in a Waldorf Astoria property. For one, the famous lobby clock standing proudly in the centre on the ground floor adjacent next to the theatrical Peacock Alley. Each Waldorf Astoria Resort features a lobby clock and this particular exquisite timepiece was designed and built by Smith of Derby, a family of clockmakers who for over 300 years have created and cared for some of the world’s most recognised public clocks. The grand lobby clock is modelled on a compass, engraved with a cherished phrase extracted from a traditional Bedouin poem, “From your homeland travel abroad to find glory”. The clock, the largest of its kind in the world, honours regional Arabic culture including the five daily prayer times. In addition to the iconic clock, the lobby features bespoke artwork which conjures up the underwater world of divers, a beautiful piece made entirely of mother-of-pearl buttons that have been sewn into the pattern of a fan coral onto taupe silk is simply spectacular. If you pay attention to detail during your stay at the Waldorf Astoria, this new hotel has plenty to say.
Peacock Alley, a Waldorf institution is an impressive lounge area with all the plumage associated with a peacock. Inspired by Waldorf’s New York City flagship hotel, Peacock Alley here pays homage to the contemporary style that was debuted there. A large tiered, marble fountain is dressed overhead with a spectacular chandelier with handcrafted glass stylized on peacock feathers. Peacock Alley is the place to go for world finest coffee and light bites, but really it’s a fabulous place to see and be seen, watching the well-healed guests come and go.
The Waldorf Astoria’s interior is based around the tranquil waters of the Arabian Gulf, evident through the beautifully designed rooms and suites which are a calming palette of crisp whites and mesmerizing turquoise. The concept is that of being a waterside oasis from the desert, exactly what this hotel is.
We recommend you book a higher floor sea view room or suite to take advantage of the fantastic coastal views which come further alive at night. For special occasions book a King Junior suite, amongst some of the very best in the entire UAE, being not only exceptionally spacious but furnished to an extremely high standard with neutral tones textiles and bespoke headboards adorned with mother-of-pearl inlays. It is a big statement to say they are the nicest hotel rooms and suites in the UAE but there are without a shadow of a doubt an extremely strong contender for this title. What is evident and undoubtedly refreshing is the absence of gold. The rooms are fresh, neutral and soothing, punctuated only by a welcome splash of turquoise, anything but gaudy and tasteless. There is even a Sleep Master Menu to ensure you get the best possible nights sleep in the Waldorf Astoria, which trust me you will. The menu features six different types of pillow to order dependent on your particular pillow preference. If you didn’t even realise you had such a thing, you soon will. Would you like to minimise your crows-feet whilst you sleep? Well, opt for an anti-ageing pillow, a goose down pillow enriched with a special vitamin E treatment that sees you wake up radiant and refreshed. Or perhaps you are suffering from tension in your shoulders? The Cherry Stone pillow will be the perfect accessory to a good nights sleep. A unique thermal pillow filled with over 1.5 litres of cherry stones, its lasting penetrating heat eases points of discomfort and by the power of aromatherapy relaxes the muscles as you drift into a perfect slumber. We understand that it may be hard to peel yourself out of bed, out of your fluffy robe and into one of the ten restaurants on offer but you should, in fact you must.
Qasr Al Bahar is the hotel’s signature restaurant serving buffet fare throughout the day, starting with a hearty breakfast. Again this isn’t your ordinary budget buffet, the restaurant is simply beautiful and laden with numerous food stations serving everything you could possibly want, there is also an al fresco terrace for those wishing to dine with fabulous views out to the resort.
The choice of restaurants is nothing short of superb. Lexington Grill, a handsome US inspired steakhouse serving up the finest cuts of meat and the freshest seafood alongside some 350 different labels of wine introduced by an expert sommelier is of exceptional quality. Even the deep Carnelian red marble flooring with its white veining alludes to the meaty cuisine on offer, nothing has been left out of the overall look and feel of this restaurant. What’s even better is the food really is sublime, easily one of the best steaks we have had in the entire UAE. Head chef Lij showcases his unique air-dried beef cuts which cannot be found elsewhere in the Middle East, a technique that is designed to extract the maximum flavour and worth the trip alone.
Dining around the world is an option here at Waldorf Astoria and if New York doesn’t take your fancy perhaps the achingly cool Umi, an extraordinary Japanese restaurant will, in fact this 1st floor restaurant is so trendy it wouldn’t be out-of-place in New York itself. The Teppanyaki grill where master chefs show off their flairs to excited diners is a real treat and a quieter sushi corner is home to the resident Sushi and Sashimi Chef, who shares his intricate creations. There is also an impressive selection of traditional and sparkling sakes to accompany your meal.
From Japan back to Arabia, Majan restaurant is a personal favourite for its take on the finest Middle Eastern cuisine. With a menu created by the famed Lebanese chef Joe Barza and interesting artworks by Sasan Nasernia, the restaurant is a true joy for the senses. The saffron humus and soft, warm Arabic bread followed by an expansive mixed grill of the very best meats is one to try! Dine at sunset for spectacular views out over the Arabian Sea.
It’s hard not to get a little carried away by the sheer glamour of the Waldorf Astoria, perhaps not what you once would have expected from Ras Al Khaimah but if you do fancy indulging yourself further then sip on a glass of bubbly at 17 Squared, the resident champagne bar that prides itself on being ‘all about the bling’. For drinks under the stars, Al Fayrouz restaurant and lounge, the fantastic open-air venue overlooking the infinity pool and beyond has just launched ‘sunset sessions’ which sees chill out music and cocktails being on offer early evening. With light bites and tapas forming the Mediterranean themed eatery, the vibe is one that is fun, understated and of course, glamorous.
Of course, the perfect staycation is not just about people watching and dining at fantastic restaurants but about getting in some much-needed R&R and the Waldorf Astoria has this down to an art.
Featuring a large outdoor pool (complete with obligatory swim-up bar) and a pristine stretch of private beach with views out towards the neighboring Marjan Island and beyond. The beach is expansive and never feels crowded, with sunbeds and parasols being spread out to allow you to enjoy a sense of privacy.
After a hard days sunbathing you’ll need to treat yourself and your skin to a trip to the on site spa. The spa offers signature treatments in a perfectly designed relaxed setting on the lower ground floor adjacent to the fitness centre. The spa aims to be a place of refuge and restoration and definitely delivers. Two different product lines are used in the spa; Voya, which is totally organic and Halal seaweed based sourced from the shores of Ireland and QMS which is a youth promoting range of skin products.
I opted for an indulgent 60 minute Turquoise bathing experience where my weary body was submerged into fresh Atlantic seaweed leaves all drenches in vital vitamins and minerals to rebalance and rehydrate. acknowledging my skins quench for thirst, I then further treated myself to a QMS facial treatment in the hope of turning back the clock. The Lux Lift is a one hour anti-ageing facial which hydrates and conditions the skin, from mild exfoliation to a collagen mask the expert therapist preened me until my skin felt noticeably softer and brighter.
Whilst the ladies relax, the men can indulge in a spot of golf with access to the fantastic Al Hamra Golf Club which surrounds the hotel. This par-72 championship golf course hosted regional golfing championships and is home to some of the most outstanding facilities in the region. It also offers nighttime play.
The Waldorf Astoria is without a question of a doubt one of the most luxurious and unpretentious hotels in the entire UAE. The unparalleled service coupled with fantastic facilities and picture-worthy rooms make this the perfect staycation destination.
Click here to make a reservation at the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah