My review of the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al-Khaimah (Part 1)

This is part one of my review of the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al-Khaimah hotel.

This is a continuation of my recent Middle East trip report.  I have already covered the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at Heathrow, the Qatar A380 business class seat and food and my transfer to Ras Al-Khaimah.

Ras Al-Khaimah is a far, far smaller Emirate than Dubai, which is a 50 minute drive away.  If you looking for man-made attractions (megamalls, indoor ski slopes etc) then you’re in the wrong place.  Ras operates on a far more human scale.

If you were staying for a week or more, you may want to visit the Hajar Mountains:

Review Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

…. which hug the border with Oman and apparently make for a fascinating day trip.  The hotel also recommends Dhayah Fort:

Review Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

and the abandoned fishing village of Jazirat al-Hamra:

Review Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

or bathing in the hot natural waters at the Khatt Springs.  There is also the must-have Middle East tourist accessory, the water park.  In this case, the Ice Land Water Park which has a ‘snow and penguins’ theme:

Review Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

Obviously I didn’t do any of this …..

With a limited amount of time on the ground, and a full HFP schedule to keep up, I remained in the Waldorf Astoria for the 36 hours I was there.  This was not a tough decision to make once I had seen the hotel.

Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah Review

A good reason to stay in Ras Al-Khaimah, as opposed to Dubai, is that it is cheaper and quieter.

The Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al-Khaimah, for random dates I checked in April, was Dh 1,060 per night including tax.  For the same dates, the Waldorf Astoria in Dubai (which appears to be an inferior hotel looking at the reviews) is Dh 1,999 including tax.  That is a substantial price difference, especially as you could get a taxi to Dubai for a day of shopping at minimal cost.

Apart from Waldorf Astoria, other major brands in Ras Al-Khaimah include Banyan Tree (x2, one of which is a private nature reserve), Hilton, Rotana, DoubleTree and, in the Hajar Mountains, a Golden Tulip spa resort with natural hot springs.

(I mention all of the above because Qatar Airways provided me with a free flight to Ras Al-Khaimah as part of their campaign to promote their new Doha to Ras Al-Khaimah flights.  All of my other expenses, including my hotel bill, were paid personally.)

The Waldorf Astoria Ras Al-Khaimah is in Al Hamra, about 10 miles from the city centre.  The Hilton beach resort is not far away, as is a mid-sized shopping mall and a large housing development.  One of the two 18 hole golf courses in Ras is also part of the complex.

The amount of money that must have gone into this hotel is mind blowing.  If you have visited Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai you will recognise some of the design and layout ideas – this may or may be coincidental.  There is a monumental palace-style entrance leading to a vast lobby:

Review Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

The clock is an echo of the 1920’s design ethos of the original New York Waldorf Astoria.  To the left in the picture above is reception and, to the right, a huge Peacock Alley lounge and bar area (pictured below, shot from the balcony above).  Beyond reception is a tea lounge called Camelia.

Review Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

This is how the hotel looks from the beach:

Review Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

and the beach itself:

Review Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

This is the main pool complex, taken from my bedroom window:

Review Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

There is a separate lap pool, theoretically for adults but children did not seen to be banned, on the edge of the beach:

Review Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

Overall, the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al-Khaimah is a very accomplished hotel indeed.  I will continue this review tomorrow, when I will take a more critical look at the quality of what is on offer as well as showing you the fantastic suite I had.

You can find out more about the hotel, and book, on this page of the Hilton website.

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  1. Is the water park linked to any hotels, as they are in Dubai?
    Is there a kids club at the WA?

  2. The water park is in the same part of town but requires a taxi (as does everything, this being the Middle East). The taxi is unlikely to cost more than £3.

    There is a kids club. I went along to look around but it was closed. However, there was a full timetable of events pinned up outside so the kids may have gone off somewhere. On the other hand, as there were few school age kids in the hotel (lots of pre-schoolers) perhaps it was ‘on demand’.

    • mark1980 says:

      Daft question, but looking at going to Dubai with an 18 month old in a few months and from what I’ve heard we will need to take a lot of taxis – what’s the deal with car seats etc? We live in the countryside so never take cabs at home. I know some taxis in the UK have seats in the boot / at the taxi rank but I doubt that’s the case in dubai and don’t want to be carrying a seat around with me. I also realise it’s legal (albeit iffy) to have them on your knee in the UK – but whats the situation in the UAE?

      • They couldn’t care less. I have see cars in Dubai with 5 small kids standing in the back. Hold him tight in your arms and hope for the best.

        Plan B, although he may be too small, is a super-cheap super-light £10 Argos booster seat which is easy to carry.

        Plan C is to take a hotel Mercedes which has a better chance of having a kids seat available, although that only helps you on the way there and not the way back.

        Plan D may be a Mercedes via Uber.

        There is also the metro system and the tram system so you may be able to avoid taxis to some extent.

        PS. Dubai is full of Waitrose and Boots outlets including a monster Waitrose in Dubai Mall and potentially the biggest supermarket in the world (a Carrefour) in Mall of the Emirates. Don’t bring two weeks worth of milk and nappies, bring two days worth and then pop down the shops.

    • The reason Dubai works so well, for a lot of families, is that the 2 water parks are attached to the hotels, so access is easy, and inclusive, depending on which hotel you are staying at.
      I doubt I would consider a hotel where I have to get a taxi to the water park :(
      Holidaying without kids, that’s a different matter!

      • The Dubai hotels attached to the water parks are £500 a night at peak season, eg Easter week, so most people have no option. (Of course, if your hotel doesn’t co-own the water park and give you free tickets then you might not be going anyway given that they are £50 per head in Dubai!)

        What’s up with Dubai taxis anyway? We take loads of them, plus Uber, when we are there and they haven’t killed us yet. You use cabs for the malls etc anyway.

        • I’m not sure the ‘haven’t killed us yet’ argument is reason enough to not take sensible precautions. The UAE has approximately twice as many road deaths per head of population as the UK. Having driven there and taken many taxis I don’t find that especially surprising. I always put my seat belt on when taking a taxi there even when many of the drivers don’t seem to bother.

        • We prefer to stay at the Atlantis and tend to stay on site. Getting off and on the palm is too much hassle. I wasn’t really focusing on the safety aspect :(
          Not surprised at the safety record though seeing the level of driving standards, wasn’t Dubai one of the countries where you just drive forward and reversed, a car, to pass your test. Or was that another of those fabled rumours?

  3. * may or may not

  4. What’s the booze situation?

    • It is similar to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and not Sharjah style rules when it comes to booze. Though cannot comment on airport rules.

  5. Tom Hingley says:

    As someone who lived in Dubai, I agree that RAK is a nice escape – especially as a stop off on the way to the Musandam peninsula which is the true start attraction of the region.

    However I’d be uncomfortable recommending RAK for a dedicated visit all the way from the UK. As you say, it really is a backwater. Also I’d say it’s a bit more than 50 mins from Dubai, and in any event, feels a million miles from it. You can’t really ‘pop down the road’ into Dubai.

    • I agree, perhaps on a 8 day holiday in Dubai one can relax on the final 2 days in RAK but spending an entire week there would be pretty boring.

      • That’s what we did after 4 days in Dubai..we ended up at the Hilton next door to this Waldorf Astoria and got a huge suite!

  6. The_Real_A says:

    Is there any reasons why you wouldn’t rent a car in the region? Dubai seems very drivable to me.

    • A typical taxi ride costs about £5, that’s why! You’d could drive across the whole Emirate for £20. Hiring a car always seemed unnecessary.

      • Unless you get stitched up, like we did, by a non regulated taxi at the airport :(
        Before anyone asks I did query why we weren’t using a Dubai taxi and the response was he was the same. Then he switched his meter on after we had just left the airport, I think it started at 50aed :(

  7. Personally I’d have called the tea lounge ‘Camellia’ but they are welcome to spell it any way they like, I suppose

  8. Does RAK care about unmarried (hetero) couples sharing a bed?