Waldorf Astoria | Ras Al Khaima

August 1, 2016 , Haiya

Full disclosure: I don’t like hotels. Some (read M) may even say I hate hotels. Home is my most favorite place to be- that’s the truth. Curled up in my cashmere throw on my corduroy recliner with a steaming hot mug of Oolong tea in hand is my idea of an evening spent to the best of it’s potential. I’m a 70 year old woman trapped in a 20 something year-old’s body, and I am not even ashamed to admit it. That said, M & I both love the beach, we love seeing an expanse of turquoise hues in the horizon when we look out the window, and a palatial, marble-clad hotel room with attentive room service and fine-dining restaurants an-elevator-ride-away to boot never hurt anyone. While Florida seems like the obvious choice for an elderly couple like us to retire to, we’re not quite there yet, so we headed out to the Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al Khaima last week and boy oh boy, if there is any hotel suite I’d want to spend the rest of my days in, it would be this one.

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First off, let me mention that this staycation was an invitation from the hotel. However, that never influences my opinions, and as you read on, you’ll find that to be true, haha.

The Waldorf Astoria RAK is only 90 minutes away from where I live, and I live close to Jebel Ali, which is the extreme south end of Dubai. As soon as we entered the hotel, we were greeted by a very tall, beautiful clock towering over us. Standing at three meters high in all its grandeur against a backdrop of the Arabian Sea, this is no ordinary clock. It’s a beautifully crafted and carefully thought out time piece that is made with 3 tonnes of steel, metal and champagne gold; and shows the prayer times for each day and has been programmed to do so for the next 100 years! The inscription on the clock that says “From your homeland, travel abroad to find glory”, is taken from Bedouin poems about travel, and is a longstanding saying in the Arab world. Beautiful.

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The hotel has clearly taken inspiration from colors of the beach, and all you see are hues of blue, turquoise, cream and gold- but in the most elegant and regal way possible.  To your right (as soon as you enter the lobby) is the iconic Peacock Alley, that every Waldorf Astoria has since the very first Peacock Alley was created to join the original Waldorf and Astoria Hotels on Fifth Avenue and 34th Street; to the left are some stores for emergency beachwear or jewelry shopping, and straight ahead is Camelia, the impressive cigar and tea lounge that boast over 150 teas. Now that’s my kind of Baskin Robbins.

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One of the many great things about the Waldorf RAK: once you make a reservation, you get an email from your personal concierge, briefing you on all the activities and facilities one can enjoy on the premises and in the surrounding areas. We were welcomed at the reception and swiftly checked in. There was no welcome drink or chilled hand towels, but the service was warm and friendly. We were personally escorted to our room by our concierge, and suffice to say: the room which turned out to be a Town Suite (AED 6000 per night) took our BREATHS away. Let’s just say, it was twice the size of my apartment (if not more), and I do not have a small apartment. From the floors to the furnishing, everything was positively exquisite.

The suite had a huge foyer, that led straight to a huge living room. Within the living room was a small dining table, gorgeous marble-top coffee table, couches to seat five, a reading chair and ottoman, the minibar with a Nespresso machine, and a desk M wanted to take home so badly that he decided to spend his entire time sitting on it, working. Another door in the foyer led to a powder room, while a third door led to the bedroom, walk-in closet/dressing room, and a majestic bathroom boasting Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries. The bedroom was as large as the living room, and had a pretty decent-sized balcony on one side. This was an AMAZING suite; one of the best I’ve ever seen- international travels included.

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As much as I would have liked to do my favorite hotel activity: take a nap on the million thread-count sheets till it’s time to check out, we freshened up and headed downstairs for a grand tour of the hotel, accompanied by the the warmest PR manager I’ve ever met in a hotel, Katie. Katie showed us all the restaurants and facilities and gave us the most comprehensive and patient tour we have ever received. I was overwhelmed by just how much the hotel has to offer; ranging from award winning restaurants, to a very comfortable Business Center to a fully equipped gym to a relaxing spa for both men and women- the hotel had it all. I don’t think i even need to mention the two pools, huge beach and abundance of both greenery, sand, and every shade of turquoise.

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We had lunch at Marjan, an eclectic Middle Eastern fusion restaurant offering a unique blend of traditional dishes made with unconventional ingredients. never compromising on the original integrity of each dish. I’ve had a lot of Arab food in my life and this was easily some of the best I’ve had, anywhere. It was a fabulously impressive meal and me me believe that there is hope for Arab grills to not be dry.

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M legit passed out right after lunch. I don’t know what it is about hotel rooms that makes him totally shut down. I, however, clicked my heels with joy because the hotel had generously offered me an invigorating, citrusy, spa bath in my room! The bath specialist was extremely professional, and -much to my relief, because I’m a germaphobe- the first thing he did was put on some plastic gloves and clean the already spotless tub, before proceeding to prepare the bath. The bath came with a small plate of delectable chocolates for me to munch on in case of a sudden onset of hypoglycemia <crowd laughs>. Thankfully I had brought a book with me to keep me entertained during the bath, since the iPhone is (sadly) not waterproof.

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Dinner was at Umi, which -as the name might suggest- is the hotel’s Japanese pride. Umi is Japanese for sea or ocean, another well conceived detail in the clearly impeccable hotel. A Japanese dinner is naturally something I was very, very excited about, and while it was an enjoyable meal, it was unable to sweep me (a snob from Dubai- land of some of the finest restaurants in the Middle East) off my feet.

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If the weather had been just a tad more forgiving, I would have sat on my balcony after dinner to listen to the sound of the waves and drink a cup pot of tea. Sadly, it was the middle of July and far too humid for such luxuries, so I curled up on the couch and watched Gilmore Girls on my tiny phone screen- which is a shame since our suite had two nice flat screens and a Bose sound system, but my Netflix password was saved in my phone only and there was no way for me to remember it. M continued to work, but of course.

The next morning I requested room service for breakfast, because I believe in staying in my pajamas unless it is absolutely necessary to do so otherwise. I ordered a Bircher museli (YUM), a bowl of berries (because of course), a plate of fruit (it was that or a croissant; fruit sounded healthier), and a Goat cheese egg whites omelette for M. Everything was pretty foolproof, but the omelette had WAY too much Goat cheese. The picturesque furniture, carpeting and floors in the suite allowed for an extremely “Instagram-able” picture though, so I was once very happy duck.

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After breakfast, M continued working, I went on to finish my book, and we did so with the most gorgeous view of the turquoise sea (peripheral vision counts, ok?), and a few cups of green tea and Nespresso. A few hours later, we had a smooth check-out, and headed back to home sweet home-Dubai 🙂

Thank you so much, Waldorf Astoria, for a truly relaxing and pampering stay.

 

 

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