Dubai for Half Price! Waldorf Astoria (RAK)
Updated: Nov 7, 2019
So we went to Dubai for the first time in May 2019. If you've read our other reviews, you'll know it was bloody expensive! Lovely, brilliant, enjoyed it - but bloody expensive. Did I mention it was rather expensive?
Anyway. Mrs. C turned 40 this October so rather than a party, she requested a holiday. Did I mention, she loves holidays? We were looking for something a bit cheaper for a winter sun getaway and considered one of the Canary Islands. After checking flight prices, and hotels during October half term I was shocked! £2500 for flights, and £4500 for a 5* hotel half board. Wow.
Out of curiosity, I remembered before booking Dubai, one of the options given to me by the owner of Winged Boots was The Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al Khaimah. The comment was:-
"If you're not bothered about the sight seeing of Dubai and you just want extreme value for money, and a luxury hotel/beach/pool environment, look here".
Hmmm. Ok let me go check that out although I'm sure it's going to be more than Tenerife!
No! It wasn't. The flights for a family of 4 on Emirates worked out at £2150 in economy. The hotel had options for 1) Half Board family room £4500, or 2) B&B £1500. What? £3k for dinner?
Either way, whichever option we chose it was already cheaper than Tenerife. Madness! A little longer flight time, but more luxury, less wind, more heat, more sun and not an Only Fools & Horses bar in sight! (I prefer to save my love of Del boy and Rodders for home).
After searching into the Waldorf's website to locate the restaurant options and prices, I learned that half-board residents only get to eat in the buffet restaurant. Don't get me wrong, it was a nice restaurant with plenty of options and nice food but, we like choice and mixing up the scenery. The buffet was perfect for Breakfast only, and one night.
The prices for the Italian, Japanese and Steak Restaurant wasn't exactly terrible either. I found it hard to believe we'd spend £3k or more in a week, but worst case even if we matched it at least we'd have gotten a choice all week.
We ended up going for option 2, B&B; and spent around £2000 on food and drink. Worth noting, because it was cheaper we had probably double of what we did in Dubai.
A bottle of Corona in Al Qasr / Madinat Dubai was £14 a bottle. In Walforf RAK it was £6.50! It's even better than half price!
If you go here, and you're a fan of Gaucho or other decent steak restaurants, you must try Lexington Grill. We went for the first time and shared a chateaubriand and OMG it's the best steak I've ever had. It cost us £350 for a family of 4 but every one of us had a full adult size steak and you'll know that this is typical Gaucho money. Maybe even less. It was so good we went back for our last night and overindulged in a chateaubriand EACH. Too much. Slightly regretful, but still lovely.
There's not much around Ras Al Khaimah. Apart from a lovely golf course out front, and a HUGE beach. There was more we didn't explore such as tennis courts, football pitches and a marina, however.
Looks like it's building up slowly, but to be fair we didn't really venture out too much because it was one of those relaxing holidays where we just wanted pool/beach/sunbathing time. It was so nice! We did venture out one day for a Desert Safari Tour. (Review coming soon). That took 1.20mins to get to the conservation gate from RAK and cost us £150 a family return, to share a 9 seater. It did make us think.... we'd actually be better off staying here, and getting a car down to Dubai 1-2 days if we really wanted a waterpark day or Dubai sightseeing. We'd still be better off financially!
Whilst there, we said to each other - this is really nice. I feel so much more relaxed than I did in May. I think it's because it's the same luxury experience but you don't feel as if you're being financially mugged at every opportunity! It was just, more easy-going.
That really is the summary. The week went quickly, as it was as enjoyable as Dubai but literally half price! We will still go back to Dubai but, only if it's a special occasion where the kids really do feel deprived of a waterpark and sight-seeing but otherwise, I think this will be our new UAE destination of choice in the future.