The Waldorf Astoria, Ras al-Khaimah ~ Anniversary review
The Waldorf Astoria, Ras al-Khaimah
About a year ago, my darling husband and I legally wed at the Jebel Ali Christ Church in front of four of our best friends. It was a special day just for us, followed by our wedding blessing with friends and family six months later at the Desert Palm Retreat in Dubai. We have decided to celebrate both days, and on this occasion, marked our first year of legal marriage by heading over to the recently opened Waldorf Astoria in Ras al-Khaimah.
For those of you celebrating an anniversary or simply looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Dubai life, here’s my review of our anniversary experience.
Opened in August 2013, the regal and imperial-looking Waldorf Astoria was originally commissioned by the royal family as an apartment showpiece for RAK’s not-to-be America’s Cup bid. The hotel has also recently won several awards, including Best Hotel in the Northern Emirates, at the Business Traveller Middle East Awards. Our scenic journey to the hotel in an open-top jeep took approximately one hour from Dubai.
On arrival we were greeted in the lobby with cold towels. With interior design from The Gallery HBA London, the lobby boasts a commissioned clock tower worth $400,000, which stands tall and proud as your enter the hotel ; the impressive areas inside the hotels entrance are inspired by a pearl diving theme, steeped in history with soothing shades of blue and pearlesque white.
Opposite to the lobby is Peacock Alley – a signature lounge found in all Waldorf Astoria hotels, which reminded me of the movie The Great Gatsby. I could just imagine a grand wedding dinner taking place at night with a Gatsby theme.
The hotel is certainly busy and we had to wait to check-in, however, once it was our turn, the process was quick. Refreshing welcome drinks were a much-needed touch, and our very sweet personal concierge, Philippe, then escorted us to our room. Dressed in neatly pressed attire, Philippe gave us an overview of the Waldorf and everything we could expect to experience during our stay.
Our junior suite was situated on the eighth floor and had a huge balcony overlooking the beautiful waters of the Arabian Sea. Our room came with a lavish lounge decorated in the style of a grand Arabian palace. Fresh fruit and flowers were waiting for us, along with a personalised note from the Waldorf’s PR director Katie.
I adored the large black bathtub with flecks of gold, and enjoyed a soak before heading down to dinner.
An awesome experience is the Waldorf’s Master Collection, which you can read more about here. We had the chance to experience the Fragrance Master, who creates a special ambience in your room at turndown. Philippe helped us choose our preferred scents from a range of preselected essences available at the hotel’s spa, and we found ourselves drawn to the lavender and Jasmine.
The soothing smell ensures you enjoy the best night’s sleep, and, of course, scents always evoke memories… so, whenever we smell lavender or jasmine, we will be reminded of our first anniversary at the Waldorf. Clever. I loved everything about our suite, but unfortunately wi-fi is not freely available in the hotel rooms, and guests have to pay, which was a bit of a downer, but nothing too dramatic.
The Dhamani experience
My husband and I received first-class treatment from the staff at the Waldorf’s in-house Dhamani diamond boutique during our stay. As well as viewing the engagement and wedding jewellery range, I tried on an emerald and diamond necklace worth more than $275,000! The necklace came with over 15 individual certificates, crazy!
A thought occurred to me for all you would-be grooms-to-be out there. If you are thinking about popping the big question but haven’t got the ring yet, why not propose at the Waldorf and then head to a pre-arranged private viewing at Dhamani so your fiancé can choose her own ring? You could also pre-select some rings within your budget.
Dinner (The Lexington Grill)
Without a doubt, dinner at the Lexington Grill was the highlight of our stay. Inspired by the Lexington Avenue Grill in New York, the restaurant is famous for its steak. We were warmly welcomed by the restaurant manager and greeted with their signature cocktail, The Monroe (a must try for those who like a cocktail), along with some tasty appetisers, including the BEST marinated shrimp I’ve ever had. No exaggeration, they were so succulent and meaty.
Not being much of a meat fan myself, I opted for the chilled prawn cocktail for starters and the line-caught sea bass for my main. My husband, however, chose the ‘tasting menu’ consisting of fois gras, ravioli, habanero chicken ball soup, smoked salmon fillet and tenderloin steak, paired with cocktails between each serving. Nice touch, and he devoured everything!
Servings of a sublime Lexington key lime pie rounded off our meal, and we ended the night with coffee by candlelight. The food was delicious, the service good and the ambience just perfect for a young couple in love.
Word of advice: We did get munched on by mosquitos while dining outside, so do spray yourself with repellent if you want to eat outdoors.
Cost: Our romantic dinner for two, including welcome cocktails, starters, mains, desserts, water, alcoholic beverages and coffee, came to approximately AED1,200.
Breakfast at the Waldorf Astoria Ras al-Khaimah is served at the Qasr al-Bahar and offers guests the chance to feast in a cool, light-filled setting. The fresh and airy pale mint-hued décor borrows from the gardens surrounding the restaurant’s outdoor terraces.
Breakfast options were plentiful, ranging from cooked English breakfast to fresh fruits, yogurts and pastries. Get there early though, as it seems everyone descends at around 10am.
Unfortunately, on this occasion, the hubby and I did not get to experience the Waldorf Astoria Spa. However, we have been informed that the spa offers a variety of couples’ treatments that are fit for a king and queen. Click here for more information.
Pool and beach
There are two outdoor pools, and if you’re a honeymooning couple or away on an anniversary break, I recommend using the pool next to the AZURE Bar for some down time, as it’s situated further away from the main pool and kids’ play area. A long sandy beach awaits you close by, with plenty of water activities for the more adventurous.
For a light snack, try the Al Fayroz bar, which serves a mouthwatering buffalo mozzarella, tomato and pesto salad. I’d also like to give a special shout out to Deni and Janlyn, who were both uber-sweet and attentive when serving us.
Check-out was painless, however, as with the check in, it was pretty busy and there was a bit of a wait while our bags were brought down from our room. A sweet touch was being offered endless bottles of water for our journey back home by the hotel’s valet staff.
Our anniversary weekend at the Waldorf Astoria RAK was a lovely break from city life in Dubai. Although only for one night, we felt as though we’d travelled abroad and came back feeling refreshed and relaxed.
Having also had a tour of the impressive hotel, I am sure couples wanting to marry at the Waldorf Astoria RAK will not be disappointed, and I hope to bring you more on that soon here at Bride Club ME.
You can see some of my ‘behind the scenes’ pictures from our Waldorf anniversary adventure over on my personal blog www.expatbride.com
Rooms at Waldorf Astoria Ras al-Khaimah start at AED1,050 for a classic room. For bookings, go to www.waldorfastoria.hilton.com or call +971 7-203 5555.
Looking for more reviews? Click here.