Luxury Hotels/ Middle East/ United Arab Emirates

Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

Waldorf Astoria RAK

The Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is a full service five star luxury family friendly hotel located in the Northern Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates.

My mother (may Allah have mercy on her soul and grant her the highest paradise) loved the Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah, so I decided to spend a long weekend there with my loved ones when they came on their first visit since her passing.

So why do we gush about the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah?

My mum, her sister and Katriena visited in the Summer of 2013 and my Aunt was celebrating her 80th birthday during the visit. I was unaware that the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah would be open for guests in August, and had made reservations at a different hotel.

Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah afternoon tea

Aunty Doreen’s 80th birthday afternoon tea Camelia Lounge

A few days before our trip, I read that the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah had already had their soft opening at the beginning of that month. I contacted the hotel to make reservations for afternoon tea for the day of my Aunt’s birthday, and they were very helpful in making the arrangements.

The restaurant manager even called the day before to say that they would like to present my aunt with a birthday cake, and asked for the exact spelling of her name. Despite getting lost along the way, we finally arrived and were greeted like royalty… and that was only for afternoon tea!

The afternoon tea was served in the Camelia Lounge with many of the staff in attendance, serving tea and cakes. My aunt said that it was more than she could have hoped for and cried tears of joy when they brought out the birthday cake made especially for her. One of the staff opened the sparkling date juice with a sabre and it was served with a flourish in the most elegant long stemmed glasses.

A year later I surprised my mother with an actual 3 night stay at the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah during her last visit to Dubai. She exclaimed that it was by far the best hotel that she had ever stayed in, and that they served the ultimate breakfast.

Waldorf Astoria RAK

The service was exceptional and every member of staff went out of their way to make it feel like a super luxurious and elegant retreat. On our last night there one of the servers brought a small cake to our table after dinner to say ‘Bon Voyage’ to my mum.

LOCATION

The hotel is approximately an hour’s drive from Dubai and situated on Vienna Street in Al Hamra Village in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. It is fronted by 350 meters of private white sandy beach and opposite to the Al Hamra Golf Club.

The drive to Ras Al Khaimah down the E311 is pretty boring, with many unfinished construction projects still dotting the desert landscape along the route. We were happy to see that at least one of the stalled projects resulting from the 2008 global financial crisis had been completed in the past year.

The Al Hamra Mall is a few minutes walk from the hotel. This would be recommended at holiday times if there is no shuttle to the mall as finding parking at the mall may be difficult at night.

reservation and Check in

I took advantage of the Hilton summer offers via their website, and saved  about 30% per night over the 3 day stay as a Hilton HHonors Rewards Programme member.

Waldorf Astoria RAK

  • Upon entering the foyer anchored by the grand lobby clock, we were offered deliciously cold beverages that were a welcome respite from the oppressive summer heat.
  • I waited about two minutes for an apologetic staff member who was tending to another guest, when I was whisked off to a different counter to check in.
  • A personal concierge escorted us as far as the elevators but did not accompany us to our room. Having been there before, we did not utilise her services during our stay.
  • The luggage arrived within 10 minutes of getting to the room.

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GUEST ROOMs AND FEATURES

From the moment I stepped into our room and opened the curtains to take in the sea view, I felt an incredible calm and sense of contentment wash over me. The stress and tension of the previous weeks seemed to slip off my shoulders like leaves off a tree.

  • The hotel has 346 guest rooms and suites ranging from the Classic King room to the 422 sq. m. King Imperial Suite, all featuring WiFi and plasma HD tvs.
  • We stayed in a 90 sq. m. Two Queen Deluxe Sea view room with a balcony (it was bigger than my first two apartments!).
  • It had a dressing room, marble bathroom with closed off toilet and a sizable foyer / hall area before reaching the bedroom, where there was also a separate seating area.
  • The bathroom had a soaking tub, double sinks and a rain shower. I quite liked the privacy door for the toilet that allowed one of the others to use the bathroom area undisturbed.
  • Both the bedroom and seating area had a 42 inch HD tv. The additional tv was helpful but the sitting room arm chair seating was not particularly comfortable for extended viewing.
  • The bed may look a bit high but it provides a wonderful night’s sleep.
  • The hotel reception and lobby, parking, public areas and guest rooms are accessible for physically challenged or wheelchair bound individuals.
  • Guest rooms have bedroom and bathroom doors at least 812mm (32 inches) wide for wheelchair accessibility.
  • Wheelchair accessibility was important for us when my mother accompanied us, and it really makes one realize how inaccessible many hotels, malls and other leisure places are.

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 AMENITIES AND ACTIVITIES

I must confess that I was unable to go outside for more than ten minutes without melting during the high Summer heat. My companions however, enjoyed the walks in the expansive grounds and on the beach, usually in the latter part of the afternoon when it was no longer quite as hot.

  • Water-sport activities include parasailing, jetskiing, flyboarding, sailing, water skiing, wakeboarding, fishing, tube rides and can be booked via the hotel. In addition there are numerous pools with cabanas.
  • There are also two tennis courts for guest use.
  • The Spa offers an extensive Treatment menu and there is a fitness center open 24 hours.
  • The Kids Club adjacent to the spa is open from 8am-7pm.
  • The 18-hole golf course at Al Hamra Golf club can be booked by guests.

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DINING

The Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah has nine dining options including restaurants, bars and lounges. I have only mentioned the ones that we frequented on the last visit.

Qasr al Bahar

This was the all day dining restaurant where we enjoyed breakfast every morning, and is a beautifully airy restaurant with sweeping views of the Arabian sea.

Although I’ve had dinner there on numerous occasions I’m seriously underwhelmed by the variety on offer at dinner time. That being said, this restaurant was not very busy at dinner time so it probably does not make sense for them to have anything more extensive.

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Peacock Alley

This is the signature lounge serving beverages and light bites. The design is bold and tastefully colorful in the way that befits a peacock.

One cannot help but be spellbound by the marble fountain surrounded by banquette seating in the center of the lounge, that appears to be glowing from within. Or the brilliant chandeliers dripping from the incredibly high ceilings.

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Waldorf Astoria RAK

We enjoyed a varied and sumptuous afternoon tea at Peacock Alley.

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In room dining

I always try to gauge both the service and food quality from hotel in-room dining service. We had a late dinner on our final night since we were too lazy to get dollied up to go downstairs to one of the restaurants.

Waldorf Astoria RAK Waldorf Astoria RAK I must confess that I was quite surprised at the excellent quality of the meals.

SERVICE

  • The service exceeded my expectations in many areas, from check-in to nightly turn-down / refills.
  • The staff provided extra-ordinary experiences (during both my stays) that created memories to cherish for a lifetime.
  • My only complaint was at the Peacock Alley during the afternoon tea, where the staff appeared to forget about us after serving the refreshments and snacks.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

  • Jabal Al Jais – driving or hiking up the mountain for spectacular views
  • Iceland Water Park – family friendly water park
  • Dhayah Fort – steep climb to see a magnificent view
  • Khatts Springs – separate facilities for men and women
  • Desert Safari – guided tour in a 4×4
  • Al Hamra Mall – supermarket, cinema, restaurants and cafes

SPECIAL TOUCHES

  • Nothing is too much when it comes to the happiness of the guests. Whether it is making an old lady happy or leaving hand written Eid greetings for new arrivals.
  • Fresh red roses in the room on arrival 🙂
  • The Camelia Lounge manager and staff went out of their way to make my Aunt’s 80th birthday an event she still talks about with a tear in her eye.
  • The Qasr Al Bahar staff brought much joy to my mother when they presented her with a small cake to wish her well on her journey back to South Africa.

Verdict: The accumulation of goodwill and exceptional service that I’ve experienced at the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah make it my favorite hotel thus far. It is located close enough to Dubai and Abu Dhabi to be ideal for a staycation. International travellers can fly into any of the international airports in and around the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah to enjoy a relaxing vacation of a lifetime and still be within 60 minutes of the throbbing pulse of Dubai.

For the shoppers: Dubai Shopping festival starts on 26 December 2016 and the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is short drive away- just saying 🙂

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