Since we’ve lived in Dubai, we’ve always made it a habit of checking into a beautiful hotel to celebrate my birthday. I love the feeling of ‘getting away’, even for only one night. We’re so spoilt for choice here, with many gorgeous hotels to choose from, but this year I had an overwhelming craving for ‘something different’.
The Ritz Carlton in Ras al Khaimah is certainly different... located in the heart of the picturesque Al Wadi Desert, it seems almost a world away from Dubai city life. The accommodation is not made up of rooms but instead stunning self-contained villas each coming with its own pool and absolute privacy. Scouting through countless photos online, we knew we were in for an experience...
The drive to the hotel is a treat in itself, especially as you start getting closer. Winding roads sprawl ahead, weaving into the desert with sand dunes as far as the eye can see, polka dotted with green shrubbery. Camels cross the roads freely, and it’s refreshing to see them roaming in their natural habitat. Driving through the resort entrance, we felt a sense of truly being at one with nature, not something you often feel when arriving at a five star hotel, especially in UAE!
We walked down the lantern-lit walkway towards the lobby, and both gasped at the beauty of the entrance! Seriously, it’s probably one of the most gorgeous lobbies we’ve ever seen - and we’ve seen a lot! The exquisite Arabian decor oozes luxury and charm in equal measure. Arabic style decoration tends to be quite dark with very rich colours and traditional designs, but the Ritz Carlton is the opposite. It manages to be bright and airy and even has a modern feel to it, whilst still maintaining the Arabian feel. A huge, ancient olive tree stands proudly in the centre of the lobby, surrounded by lavish furniture with opulent gold detailing... we were swooning by this point!
As far as check-ins go, our experience here was fine. We’ve had worse but to be honest we’ve had much better. We had quite a long wait and our room category and benefits could have been explained in much more detail. We both work in luxury hotels and could do a check-in with our eyes closed so perhaps we have high expectations, however we would have expected the colleague to wish ‘happy birthday!’ after taking our IDs for scanning. These minor details go a long way in delighting guests, and we felt they were missing here!
Minor negatives aside, the room escort was amazing. We were driven to our room in a golf buggy, with the main hotel facilities pointed out along the way. The room we stayed in was absolutely incredible, lavishly furnished and so so luxurious! The highlight is definitely the terrace area and private pool - it was so amazing to be able to step right outside and jump into the pool for a refreshing dip!
Receiving a birthday cake in your hotel room is almost a given these days when travelling on special occasions but I still really appreciated the gesture! The cake was delicious (though Mostafa ate way more than me!)
All of the rooms come with bicycles, perfect for exploring the huge grounds and the desert beyond! There are cycling routes and walking trails to follow which we would absolutely recommend doing to ensure you see everything that’s on offer. For us, one of the highlights of our stay was the Falcon Experience show. We expected something a bit gimmicky but it was such an interesting experience and incredible to learn about the birds from true experts. We thoroughly recommend it! Afterwards, a brisk walk into dunes allowed for incredible sunset photo opportunities - again, a must do!
There are plenty of restaurant options available in the hotel but we only tried Kaheela Restaurant, as well as the room service. Kaheela Restaurant is a buffet and had so many delicious international options available with live cooking stations to order from too. We ate gorgeous food whilst in the resort - the room service international breakfast isn’t one to be missed!
We’ve visited Ras al Khaimah before so we didn’t really venture into the Emirate itself, however we definitely could have! The hotel is located far enough into the desert to feel secluded, but within a comfortable driving distance from RAK, Sharjah, Fujairah and even Dubai.
Honestly, we loved this hotel and would recommend it to others in a heartbeat! We would say it’s more suited to UAE residents or those who have already explored Dubai given that its about an hour and a half drive. That being said, combining a city hotel and a desert resort in one trip would be an incredible combination and great way to see both sides of UAE life.
What do you think? How would you fancy a night in the desert?
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