Waldorf Astoria: Ras Al Khaimah
Sitting atop arguably one of the most impressive stretches of coastline in the Middle East, laying eyes on it for the first time, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al Khaimah resembles something more akin to a palace than it does a hotel.
As uniformly striking as any of the man-made miracles of architecture that neighbouring emirate Dubai boasts, the 346 roomed giant has already won a host of hospitality awards in the few years since its opening, and for the luxurious feel and aesthetics alone, it’s not hard to see why.
The hotel’s sizable pool area is complimented perfectly by it’s adjoining beach, a private spot that spans almost endlessly across the Ras Al Khaimah seafront, peppered only by a cluster of rocks (positively scalable…honestly) jutting out to sea, offering a prime spot to perch on, look out to sea and contemplate life…or, you know, just take a great selfie.
The only bone of contention we’d take with the Waldorf RAK’s beach/pool lounging scene is the relatively limited lunch menu at the pool bar Azur. Though the food is uniformly tasty, a few more options on the menu wouldn’t go amiss. And the relatively irritating 10 % added service charge on everything (even when you’re ordering a drink at the bar to take back to your bed) does seem a bit superfluous.
However, if your hotel staying penchant extends to more active pursuits than lounging around in the sun all day or being annexed to the swim-up pool bar ordering piña coladas, the Waldorf RAK and neighbouring businesses offer everything from golf and desert safaris, to a host of water sports of varying intensity.
The suites – though a more accurate description would be ‘apartments’ – that are available to guests are a homage to opulence, some housing two bathrooms (sporting Salvatore Ferragamo amenities, naturally), a changing/dressing room, and a living room with sleeper sofa. There’s even the option of more than one television in some of the digs, just in case you and your travel companion have a history of falling out over the remote, though we don’t think what’s on the goggle box would be much of a consideration when staying somewhere like this…
If these innately extravagant accommodations do sound a trifle beyond your budget, just try and make bagging any of the hotel’s rooms with a view of the coast a top priority. You’ll be hard pushed to find a nicer spot for a sundowner than out on your balcony with these kinds of views in your eye line.
Assuming you resist the temptation to stay in this spot all night, and do head to any of the Waldorf Astoria’s superb array of restaurants, our first recommendation would be Umi (narrowly pipping the ever-popular Lexington Grill).
Harnessing a tangibly intimate feel with stylish monochrome décor and dimmed lighting, Umi’s range of Japanese delicacies stretches from some quite excellent sushi and sashimi dishes to a delectable Teppanyaki grill.
If we can be so bold as to recommend two dishes in particular for you and your dinner companion to try; one would be the Black Cod Miso, a staple of any Japanese restaurant worth its soy sauce and one of the establishment’s signature offerings. Our other stand-out favourite was the Rib Eye Teriyaki, which – apart from being one of the best Japanese dishes we’ve ever tasted – was the most flavoursome cut of meat we’ve enjoyed at any restaurant found in the region in a long, long time.
While grand hotels close to the beach are of course, a fairly common, almost routine sight for those of us fortunate to live in this region, the Waldorf Astoria should certainly be considered among the cream of this enviable crop. And we can offer no higher praise than that.