If you’re looking to escape the frenzy of city life for a few days, but without the hassle of boarding a plane and enduring endless jet lag, why not treat yourself to a staycation? Easy and convenient, it’s the perfect way to get the best of both worlds – a luxury break and a holiday experience – without actually having to travel very far. In fact, just an hour’s drive from Dubai is all it takes to get to the five-star Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, and trust me when I say that it ticks all the boxes to make for the definitive staycation destination.
Majestically rising up over the coastline like a massive sandcastle, the Waldorf Astoria exudes decadence before you even step inside. Originally built to contain 1,000 rooms and house the participants of a boating race, it was taken over by HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah. He turned the project into one of the leading luxury hotels in the region, with only 349 rooms – meaning each and every one is incredibly spacious.
Upon entering the reception, you’ll find plenty of references to the hotel’s location, from mother-of-pearl detailing (the emirate is famed for pearl diving) to accents of turquoise blue that represent the sea, red that represent the sandy desert, and green that represent the lush plains.
There’s also a beautiful fountain, ceilings so high that you’ll have to strain to see the top, and a clock that truly deserves the spotlight it enjoys in the lobby’s center. Made from over three tons of metal, steel, and champagne gold, it took eight months to build and is worth millions of dirhams. A seriously impressive and intricate feature, the clock resets at midnight to tell the prayer times for the following day, which have been programmed in for the next 100 years thanks to the hi-tech computer system that’s hidden beneath the seating area.
Needless to say, you’ll find yourself watching this exquisite timepiece for a while. Luxe details reign supreme in this space. There’s a lapis-and-diamond peacock that was designed by the Sheikh’s wife (worth a casual two million dirhams), and the sweeping staircases and screens in the Peacock Alley lounge were designed to represent peacock feathers, a nod to the hotel’s original location in New York.
Okay, so we’ve established that the rooms are seriously sizable, even if you’re in a ‘King Classic’ as opposed to one of the stunning suites. In my ‘King Junior Suite’, the walk-in wardrobe alone was bigger than most hotel rooms. With a view of the azure-hued sea, a vast marble bathroom with an elegant bathtub and separate rain shower, a lounge area, and a big, fluffy bed, the hotel certainly doesn’t make it very easy for you to leave your room – ever.
The whole experience is taken up a notch by the fact that you can book in with one of the hotel’s “masters”, from the “Sleep Master” who provides a selection of organic pillows to choose from to the “Bath Master” who will fill your tub with tantalizing organic Neom oils, scatter fresh rose petals around your bath, and leave little fruit pots for you to enjoy while you soak. Major #bathgoals. There’s also the “Fragrance Master” who helps create your own signature scent, which is sprayed around your room and into your bathrobes to help you relax and unwind. The hotel really has thought of everything to make your stay extra special.
Of course, the ultimate way to relax is with a visit to the highly inviting spa. With its walls clad in blue raw silk and ceilings made of glass “bubbles” that are reminiscent of looking up through waves, it’s designed to make you feel as though you’re under the sea. For the definitive private experience for you and your partner, or even your BFF, the VIP Treatment Room is just the ticket. Complete with your own personal steam shower, Jacuzzi, two treatment beds, dressing area, and bathroom, there’s no better place to be pampered from top to toe – especially after a day spent by the pool. It can get pretty strenuous…
But what really will prove strenuous is trying to determine which restaurant to dine at. Sushi lovers will find bliss at UMI, a cool and contemporary Japanese eatery that offers first-class sushi and sashimi, a teppanyaki grill, and an intimate balcony garden. If Arabic food with an unexpected twist sounds more appealing – think: moutabal made with carrot or beetroot and falafel made with seafood – then Marjan is a must-visit.
For me, the star of the culinary show was the Lexington Grill, an award-winning steakhouse that alone makes the drive to Ras Al Khaimah worthwhile. Serving up sumptuous steaks to satiate even the pickiest of carnivores, this venue also boasts unique, air-dried beef cuts that cannot be found anywhere else in the Middle East. Each restaurant at the Waldorf is gorgeously designed, has its own personality, and offers a private dining room that is perfect for parties or intimate gatherings.
So whether you’re after a weekend of sampling culinary delights from around the world, relaxing on a sun lounger by the sea, or reading a book in your private poolside cabana before checking in at the decadent spa, the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is where it’s at. In fact, your own personal concierge will be in touch before, during, and after your stay to make sure your staycation dreams are realized. Personally, I’m already looking for an excuse to return to this impressive hotel – mainly that steak. And that bed. And that massage. Magic.
For more information or to book a stay at the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, click here or call (+971) 7 203 5555.