The Northern Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is slowly but surely turning into a tourist destination, and this holds true for both the international and the local UAE market. The quiet, laid-back space and the scenic beaches is a welcome change for city dwellers, and other local attractions include:
- The Jebel Jais Flight-longest zipline in the world
- Al Hajjar Mountains
- Ras Al Khaimah old city
- Al Sawan Camel Track
- Manar Mall and Al Naeem Mall
- Shamal mountain village
I recently spent a weekend at Hilton Garden Inn, Ras Al Khaimah. The four-star property is conveniently located in the heart of the city in the Al Nakheel area with stunning vantage points of the creek.
The hotel is perfect for both business and leisure bookings. The hotel features a Business Center that can accommodate up to 400 guests, and the Free Trade Zone and RAK Exhibition Center is at walking distance. The hotel is also conveniently close to the city’s major malls, the souq area and the historic sights and sounds of the city. Ras Al Khaimah Airport is 25 minutes away, and Dubai Airport is 70 minutes.
The hotel lobby features clean, modern, minimalist decor. I only wish the front entrance to the lobby was clearly marked as there was no clear distinction between the lobby entrance and that of the business center. There is a large self-parking area, and some UAE residents may be a little put off to know they don’t do valet service. The concept here is casual and takes after the service industries of the West.
The reception staff are courteous and well-informed. We got a good deal of first-hand information on the shopping scene near the hotel (after all, this was a girls trip and if there’s retail, a girl’s gotta shop!).
If you are a shoppaholic, great news! The hotel is adjacent to AL Naeem Mall, with direct access from the poolside. Al Naeem Mall is a small mall when compared to Dubai standards, but has well-loved eateries including Cafe Bateel, Shakespeare & Co, Galito’s and Pepper Mill to name a few. Best of all, as it does not have the crazy rush of Dubai retail, you are more likely to find hard to get sizes in popular fast-fashion stores.
We even got adventurous enough to venture into the famed Ras Al Khaimah souq area. We were expecting a more touristic experience. To me a ‘souq’ is an ode to old-school open markets and authentic crafts. Sadly, the souq area here is more of a lineup of local stores. There are a number of groceries, quite a few salons and a scatter of industrial offerings. Barring the main supermarket, the shops look sparsely occupied. Would I recommend the Ras AL Khaimah souq area? I’d suggest sticking to the malls.
After the long adventurous walk, it was great to be back in the comfort of our room. We had a pool-view room with an absolutely stunning vantage point of the creek, and enjoyed watching the sun setting into the vividly dark blues of the waves.
The room is amply spacious, and includes two queen-sized beds complete with starched white bedding and a 48 inch television screen. Room amenities include a 24-hour on-call help-desk (we ordered in extra blankets for our chilling room), an iron-board, hairdryer, a bathroom with a shower and toiletries from much-loved skincare brand Crabtree & Evelyn.
Dining options in the hotel include the Garden Lounge for late night snacking and drinks, or the outdoor Pool Lounge by the poolside. They also have a 24-hour Pavilion Pantry® for grabbing naughty snacks (they had a ‘buy one get one free’ offer on London Dairy Ice-cream!). The hotel’s all-day dining restaurant is the Garden Grille.
We had both dinner and breakfast at Garden Grille. The dinner buffet is not expansive but has a great mix of international favorites and I can safely say I enjoyed all the dishes I happened to try (which is not entirely true for buffets). My favorites included their Rose Pasta and a very indulgent Beef Moussakka.
They also have a special corner dedicated to kids, and this mini buffet featured many of my daughter’s favorites including fish fingers, mac and cheese and french fries. They also have stashes of crayons and kid’s activity sheets to keep the little ones entertained.
Breakfast is served from 8 to 11 at Garden Grille, and the place was packed when we got there at a very idly 10.30ish. My little girl Farasha loved the self-service waffle making counter, and my favorite from the breakfast was freshly made spicy Aloo Paratha, served hot at our table. The buffet also includes the usual cereals, porridge, fruits and bakes.
We spent the rest of the day at the pool. The pool here has a canopied section as well as a baby pool. We also indulged in ice-creams at the Pool Lounge.
Overall, we had a very pleasant stay at Hilton Garden Inn RAK, and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a city retreat to explore the sights and sounds of Ras Al Khaimah.
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