Right now, I’m in somewhat of a fix. One of my roles as a journalist is to simply try things out and then write about them, be that restaurants, hotels, fitness fads, reading new books, listening to the latest music or literally taking sneakers out for a trial run, but every now and again, something comes along that is so good – you want to keep it to yourself. It’s always something unassuming, the thing you weren’t super excited about trying, the thing that arrives without any hype and almost falls under the radar. Last weekend my staycation at Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa did exactly that: it sneaked up and wowed the socks off me.
We arrived at the hotel around midday, after a 90-min drive from Dubai, and got caught in the human traffic filling the lobby. Half the guests attempting to check out at the last minute, and the other half, like us, who had arrived ahead of the 3pm check in time – trying to make the most of the day. Somehow, the resort has found a system to keep the hoards separated and two metres apart at all times. Reception staff are behind protective screens, wearing masks and even the pen to sign your forms starts life in one tray and finishes in a second tray once you’ve used it. Distance markers and sanitiser are available at every turn. It’s a little busy, but it’s safe.
First impressions were as I’d expected: friendly, fuss-free and fun for families. It’s a large five-star hotel with 475 rooms, three restaurants and numerous cafe’s, bars and lounges dotted around the resort, there’s a kids club, gym, spa, seven swimming pools and a private beach – it’s everything you would expect from a hotel of this calibre in the UAE. But here is where the resort’s secret weapon kicks in, as soon as you’re drawn into becoming comfortable with the expected, you start noticing the not-so-regular hidden gems.
The first surprise comes quickly – as our room isn’t ready, we head for lunch. Our stay comes with a ‘soft package’ which includes soft and hot drinks at all F&B outlets on site and buffet style eating at the hotel’s signature restaurant The Kitchen, and we’re expecting a typical spread. But what we get is a relaxed and modern eatery with chic rattan style furnishings out on a sun-trap of a terrace. The food caters for all, whether you fancy chicken nuggets and chips or you prefer something healthier – there were eight different types of salad! The evening meal is equally impressive, and in the form of an outdoor BBQ with delicious fish, chicken, lamb and beef options as well as the indoor offering of hot and cold food. So far, so impressed!
But the pièce de résistance awaits when we arrive at our deluxe room villa with beach access – away from the main hotel, it’s accessed by a short buggy ride. And as soon as we open the front door and step in, we’re welcomed by a floor-to-ceiling view of the beach and sea. We’re on the ground floor, which means the living room space has double doors that open straight onto a small garden space that’s nestled between the room and the beach. A few short steps and we’ve got sand between our toes. The deluxe room is more of a villa in style, with rich nautical hues that grace the bedroom, bathroom and living space and onto the private terrace and garden space that houses a cute loveseat to sit and stare out to sea. This part of the private beach is a quiet haven way from the hotel pools and is scattered with bars and lounges with a more relaxed feel. And other than venturing to the main site for dinner, this is where we spend the next 24-hours, we so enamoured, we pay the very reasonable Dhs200 for a late 6pm check out. This part of the resort is a world away from ‘regular’ when it comes to a weekend staycation at a large scale hotel – it’s hard to believe there’s hundreds of other people on site, and in a time when isolation is key…it’s the perfect place to hide away.
Find Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa at Al Maareedh Street, Ras Al Khaimah. Book your deluxe room villa with beach access. complete with a full board package inclusive of soft drinks for Dhs1,800 BOOK HERE