The Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is a full service five star luxury family friendly hotel resort in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), an emirate located north of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Ras Al Khaimah is a wonderful place for a staycation; a full on holiday if you are travelling from abroad; or a day trip from Dubai. With beautiful white sandy beaches, the magnificent Hajar mountains for a backdrop and terracotta colored desert dunes it is the ideal place for a relaxing holiday or short break.
The Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah opened in August 2013 and was the first property of the iconic luxury brand of the Hilton group in the United Arab Emirates. It was followed by the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, with the Waldorf Astoria DIFC opening in Spring 2019.
The exterior of the hotel is reminiscent of Arabian palaces of old, with intricate plaster work and designs to the sand colored facade. The interiors are luxurious with shades of cream, gold and turqoise and immediately give one a sense of calm and tranquility .
If this is your first visit to the United Arab Emirates then this article on the Pros and Cons of Expat Life in Dubai may be helpful.
WHERE IS THE WALDORF ASTORIA RAK LOCATED
The Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is approximately an hour’s drive from Dubai and is situated on Vienna Street in Al Hamra Village. 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 through Sharjah and Ajman. In recent years many of the stalled projects resulting from the 2008 global financial crisis have been completed.
The Al Hamra Mall is a few minutes walk from the hotel and a hotel shuttle or walking is recommended during national holidays or on weekends. Finding parking at the mall may be difficult at night due to its location near to the many hotels and resorts along the main drag and on Al Marjan Island.
The Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is a luxury resort and spa and King Classic Room rates start at US$125 plus taxes per night during the Hilton Honors summer sale. During the cooler months (Nov-Jan) the same room rate starts at US$ 168 plus taxes per night.
This is very good value when compared to the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok (Thailand) that starts at US$270 plus taxes in December or the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah that starts at US$220 plus taxes over the same period.
I often take advantage of the Hilton summer offers and save about 30% per night over a 3 night stay as a Hilton Honors Rewards Programme member. Check rates and availability.
Other Ras al Khaimah hotels in the Hilton group include the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah (now a Hilton Garden Inn), the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa and the Doubletree by Hilton Resort and Spa Marjan island.
Ras al Khaimah beach resorts include the Ritz Carlton Ras Al Khaimah (Al Hamra Beach), Bin Majid beach hotel, Rixos Bab al Bahr and the Cove Rotana Resort.
Upon entering the foyer anchored by the grand lobby clock, guests are offered deliciously cold beverages that are a welcome respite from the oppressive heat.
- Guests are seldom left to wait longer than two minutes to check in.
- A personal concierge is assigned to each guest room and escorts guests to their rooms, explaining more about the hotel and facilities on the way. The personal concierge is the guest’s point of contact during the stay and will assist with any requirements or arrangements to ensure a truly luxurious and trouble free stay.
- The luggage arrives within 10 minutes of getting to the room.
GUEST ROOMS AND FEATURES
From the moment you step into a generously sized guest room at the Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah you are enveloped in luxury. From the crisp white and turqoise bed linens to the soft carpets and special touches by the Waldorf staff.
When I open the curtains to take in the sea view, I feel an incredible calm and sense of contentment wash over me. Any stress and tension seems to slip off my shoulders like leaves off a tree.
Over the years I have stayed in a 56 sq. m. King Classic Room, a 78 sq. m. Family Deluxe with Golf view balcony, a 90 sq. m. Family Deluxe Sea view room with a balcony (it was bigger than my first two apartments in Dubai!) and a 74 sq. m. King Junior Suite with sea view.
- The hotel has 346 guest rooms and suites ranging from the King Classic room to the 422 sq. m. King Imperial Suite, all featuring WiFi and plasma HD tvs.
- There are interconnecting rooms for families with children, wanting more privacy.
- 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.
- The guest rooms have a dressing room, marble bathroom with closed off toilet and a sizable foyer / hall area before reaching the bedroom. There is also a separate seating area.
- The bathrooms have deep soaking tubs, 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.
- In the family rooms, both the bedroom and seating area have a 42 inch HD tv. The additional tv is helpful for larger groups, although the sitting room arm chair seating may not be particularly comfortable for extended viewing.
- The beds may look a bit high but it provides a wonderful night’s sleep.
RESORT 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, enjoy the walks in the expansive grounds and on the beach, usually in the latter part of the afternoon when it is 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.
The Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah restaurants will leave you spoiled for choice. The resort has nine dining options including restaurants, bars and lounges. I have only mentioned the ones that I have visited.
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.
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.
The seating areas along the perimeter of Peacock Alley offer a measure of privacy with glass screens separating them.
We enjoyed a varied and sumptuous afternoon tea at Peacock Alley.
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. I must confess that I was quite surprised at the excellent quality of the meals.
WHAT TO DO IN RAS AL KHAIMAH
Ras al Khaimah has an activity for everyone, whether you are an adrenalin junkie needing the thrill of adventure or an overworked parent looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city.
- Jabal Al Jais – driving or hiking up the mountain for spectacular views and the world’s longest zipline
- Iceland Water Park – family friendly water park down the road from the hotel
- 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, can be arranged by the hotel
- Al Hamra Mall – supermarket, cinema, restaurants and cafes within walking distance of the hotel
- The Musandam Peninsula in Oman is a popular day trip destination but may require a visa.
- For the shoppers: Dubai Shopping festival starts in the last week of December and the Dubai Summer Surprises usually starts in the first week of July. The Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is short drive away – just saying 🙂
SERVICE and SPECIAL TOUCHES
- The service exceeded my expectations in many areas, from check-in to nightly turn-down / refills and is the True Waldorf Service.
- The staff provided extra-ordinary experiences (during all 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.
- Nothing is too much when it comes to the happiness of their guests. Whether it is making an old lady happy on her 80th birthday 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.
WHY IS THE WALDORF ASTORIA RAS AL KHAIMAH A FABULOUS HOTEL?
Over the past decade I have spent many an Eid staycation in Ras Al Khaimah and having stayed at numerous hotels in the Hilton group, the Waldorf Astoria is hands down my favorite.
My mother (may Allah have mercy on her soul and grant her the highest paradise) loved the Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah more than any other hotel we ever stayed at during her lifetime. She said that service was always exceptional and that every member of staff we encountered went above and beyond what was expected of them. They always went out of their way to make it feel like a super luxurious and elegant retreat.
My mum, her sister and Katriena visited in the Summer of 2013 when my Aunt was celebrating her 80th birthday during the visit. I was unaware that the Waldorf Astoria RAK would be open for guests in August, and had made reservations at a different hotel.
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 RAK 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. 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.
The accumulation of goodwill and exceptional service at the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah makes 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 the emirates of Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah or Dubai to enjoy a relaxing vacation of a lifetime and still be within 60 minutes of the throbbing pulse of Dubai.
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