“You’re finally on holiday, time to slip into the forgiving elastic waistband of your swimwear, lie back, order some fries from the poolside bar and not move from that position until the sun sets. Right?” – I look up from the magazine I’m reading and think: ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!
My best friend recently visited the UAE on a business trip and with a few days left to spare, combined with an extended weekend – we turned it into a mini holiday. Jasmin and I are extremely passionate about taking holidays, travelling to new destinations, and visiting beautiful resorts – so it was very easy to make a reservation at the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah.
Waking up proudly at 7am (after a very short night’s sleep as a result of very long pillow talk) … we hit the road with refreshments in hand! The road to Ras Al Khaimah is approximately a 2.5 hour drive, taking either the Sheikh Zayed Road or Emirates Road passing through Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman. Ras Al Khaimah which means “top of the tent” in Arabic, as the name suggests, is located on the tip of the geographical point of the UAE. It is well known for its crimson coloured desert, luxurious resorts and kilometres of beaches. Unlike the other Emirates, Ras Al Khaimah is the absolute ideal place to escape the bustling citylife and enjoy complete relaxation, whether in the luxurious hotels or just by enjoying the serene spread of dessert – easily spotting camels along the way. The Emirate of RAK is currently working more on expanding tourism in the region – personally I would always recommend visiting as there is really something for everyone if you are a leisure traveller. Luxurious hotels offer fine dining experiences, relaxing massages and for the more adventurous, a range of desert and sea activities are always available.
Our drive was a bit bumpy as we might have fallen off the grid a few times, missed a few exits, and taken the wrong turn a few times ….my friend (the designated driver), will argue that we were on schedule and in the right direction, at all times – that discussion was left unsettled. Arriving around 11am – spotting the grandeur of the Waldorf Astoria from the distance, we both transformed into little girls – excited to see the hotel, as if we were in a candy store. As we valeted the car, an impressive collection of multi-coloured McLaren cars welcomed us, as well as cold towels and refreshing juice.
The lobby housed the trademark “Waldorf Clock” which greeted a diverse group of people ranging from German tourists to McLaren event organisers and Emirati’s who were also taking advantage of the long weekend. As a signature element to this luxurious brand, the Waldorf Clock tells its own unique story and this one ties in the culture perfectly! “From your homeland, travel abroad to find glory”– a beautiful Bedouin verse inscribed on the silver-plated bands which announces the prayer times.
Our check-in was quick and smooth and due to my friend’s position, we received an upgrade to Junior Suite – the day was getting better and better! Our room was the definition of elegance. The hotel’s choice of colours combines light turquoise, beige and gold accents – creating a serene ambiance with a touch of opulence.
We changed quickly and hit the pool…actually pools. The hotel has a dedicated swimming pool for families with a swim up bar, and an adult’s infinity pool which features relaxing cabanas while overlooking the Arabian Sea. The sun was extra hot that day so we especially enjoyed a bit of “toasting” while working on our tans (please note: both Jasmin and I looked as white as yoghurt, so this session was quite necessary).
Taking a short break from the heat of the sun, we enjoyed a lazy lunch at the pool bar, – pizza and a shrimp wrap. Feeling quite satisfied, we headed back to our lounges where we both enjoyed doing absolutely nothing for the next hour. We then took a short walk along the beach and took a short dip in the sea, only to be surprised by an active sea life including crabs and an Arabian starfish. Feeling sticky and hot, we were very easily won over by the nearby ice cream stand, where we both enjoyed the most scrumptious Movenpick ice cream, the perfect refreshment!
Heading back to our room, the sea-facing balcony, became our favourite spot as we relaxed in our extremely comfortable bathrobes, while watching the sunset. For dinner, we opted to dine in the ultra trendy Japanese restaurant, UMI, which features dark colours and traditional roba bars. While looking through the menu, we couldn’t decide what to order as we both are very avid sushi lovers, so we selected the “Sushi Kaiseki” set menu which our waiter recommended. To our surprise, it was a very extensive tasting menu featuring six courses. Clicking our Bellini glasses in cheers, we indulged in three types of appetizers, three types of sashimi, grilled main courses, three types of tempura, TEN pieces of sushi each, and finally a delicious mochi ice cream! . Our waiter was extremely knowledgeable about each and every single item which completely impressed us as he was new on the job – his passion was very impressive.
Feeling completely satisfied, we took a small tour around the hotel to explore the other areas and stopped for some photos in the Peacock Alley, another signature element to the Waldorf Astoria brand. Historically, The Waldorf and The Astoria hotels in New York City were two separate entities, connected by a single promenade which the notables frequented and thus the “Peacock Alley” became a tradition as the place “to see and be seen”. And it truly is.
We hopped into our ultra-comfortable bed and minutes later we were dreaming away. It always amazes me how easy it is to wake up in the morning when one is at a beautiful resort, thinking about that exquisite breakfast just waiting for you. Breakfast at the Waldorf, was an experience on its own! With an extensive array of brunch style options, more than 20 types of pastries, juices, cold cuts and a dedicated waffle & pancake station, we enjoyed our heavenly breakfast on the terrace sitting high above the palm trees and overlooking the sea.
After a rather large stack of waffles, we said goodbye to our beautiful room as we had to check-out, however spent the rest of the day lounging by the pool working on our tan and feeling completely stress-free. With the Arabian sun starting to set, we decided it was time to go back to home, thinking about the long drive back. Passing through a few hiccups on the way including ending up in an industrial zone of RAK,and almost killing a donkey and ourselves in the process, 3 hours later, we arrived back to our beloved Abu Dhabi. You know how that saying goes “life is an adventure”, well every single day is an adventure when the two of us are together, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! <3
- Hotel website: http://www.waldorfastoria3.hilton.com/en/hotels/uae/waldorf-astoria-ras-al-khaimah-RKTWAWA/index.html
- RAK Tourism: www.rasalkhaimahtourism.com