This is part two of my review of the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al-Khaimah hotel. Part one can be found here.
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.
This was my first Hilton stay since I was promoted to Hilton HHonors Diamond status in the recent status match promotion. The bad news is that guaranteed benefits at Waldorf Astoria branded hotels are slim – you don’t get free breakfast (you do at other Hilton brands) and they rarely have club lounges, to which I would have had guaranteed access.
It worked out worse than I expected. The hotel was roughly 30% full at a guess and most of those people appeared to be on packages and so would have been in standard rooms. I had booked a King Deluxe Sea View which is two categories above a standard room, expecting an upgrade into one of the many empty suites. Instead, I was given a one category upgrade to a Junior Suite which is only 15% larger – not hugely generous.
The Junior Suite had no desk. I went back downstairs, complained, and was given another Junior Suite which I was told had a desk. It didn’t. I went back downstairs. I was then told that no rooms in the entire hotel have desks. Fantastic. I was then given a one bedroom suite which at least had a table in it. The table was nowhere near any power sockets but the hotel brought up a some extension leads.
Do not visit this hotel if there is any risk that you might have to do any work during your stay.
The good news is that the suite – and indeed the two junior suites I rejected – were lovely rooms. There is nothing like having two bathrooms and three TVs to keep a man happy. They were well designed and the colour palette was well chosen to complement the sun outside.
This was the bedroom:
with an interesting light fitting!
The large seating and relaxation area:
My own walk-in wardrobe and dressing area:
and one of my two large black bathrooms (toiletries were Ferragamo):
I was particularly impressed by the brass / copper tiling in the bathroom which looked lovely in the light:
This photo, which I also used yesterday, is the view down from my suite. What you can’t see from this is the empty building plot next to the hotel. Some very clever landscaping at sea level means that, whatever you are doing on the beach or around the pool, you never actually see the dead patch of land next door.
Food and drink
My screwy schedule meant that I didn’t get to try out the many food and drink options. Arriving after midnight, I slept through breakfast and began my day with a poolside lunch. For dinner I had a light meal in the ground floor tea lounge.
There are no shortage of options but they may need some rethinking. The top floor bar is set up as a sports bar and looks out of place compared to the rest of the hotel. It was empty when I visited – not surprising as most of the guests midweek were retired couples or families with pre-school children.
Similarly, the fine dining restaurant one floor below was also empty. The main restaurant was full of people of half-board packages and I didn’t fancy it.
What it lacks is more casual dining options. There is nowhere to get a quick coffee (the tea lounge charges £7 plus service for a latte). The snack menu in the tea lounge was OK but was identical to the snack menu at the pool bar which I’d visited for lunch – and the low sofas and low tables do not make for easy eating.
The hotel was happy to give me a 4pm check-out as a Diamond member after a gentle prod. I was pleased with that. The actual check-out was a disaster due to the Dynamic Currency Conversion scam they pulled on me. It was only then that I realised they had also charged me for internet access which I had to get refunded in cash.
The stay itself generated over 40,000 Hilton HHonors points which was an excellent result. This was due to my Diamond bonus, the current double points promotion and the three extra bonuses on offer for Conrad or Waldorf Astoria stays. That was enough points to book Anika into the Hampton by Hilton at Gatwick Airport for the night …. that article is coming up tomorrow.
The Waldorf Astoria Ras Al-Khaimah is a very good value luxury hotel, in the context of beach-side Middle East 5+ star hotels. You will probably pay half the price of a similar Dubai property.
You won’t be fighting for space by the pool, at least Sunday to Thursday. You won’t struggle for a sun lounger. You won’t struggle for a cabana. It is a huge hotel and I wasn’t there long enough to see it all – I didn’t touch on the spa, the golf course, the kids club, the boutiques, the library, the water sports centre (parasailing seemed very popular), the impressive business centre etc etc. The good reviews it gets are generally well deserved.
If you want to do a desert safari or the like, that is also possible. The only thing Ras Al-Khaimah lacks over Dubai is the huge shopping malls and wide variety of other eating and drinking options outside your own hotel. Given that Dubai is under an hours drive, you could add a few days here to a few days in Dubai and see both sides.
As they generously sponsored my flight, I should also remind you that Qatar Airways now flies directly to Ras Al-Khaimah from Doha four times a week, with flight times connecting nicely to selected UK to Doha flights. You can also drive up from Dubai if you take British Airways or Emirates.
If you want to learn more about the hotel, or book, its website is here.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)