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Ras al Khaimah

Airline: Emirates

Holiday provider: Virgin Holidays

Hotel: Hilton Resort and Spa Ras al Khaimah

Ras al Khaimah (RAK) is one of the seven Emirate (Abu Dhabi (Capital), Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quian, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). At the northern most section of the emirates, 1 hour & 30 minutes from Dubai international airport and RAK is a combination of the luxury you would expect from the UAE and still an authentic Arabian destination.

With beautiful beaches and amazing deserts, RAK is a flawless holiday destination.

The Journey

This was the first time we had travelled on Emirates airlines. As per usual we had departed from London Gatwick and enjoyed our Jamie Olivers Breakfast, but no-one had mentioned that emirates feed you like the freezer had broken and everything had to be cooked today.

We were given 2, what I would class as large meals for a plane journey, starting with a curry and rice and then proceeding to what tasted like a coleslaw sandwich on ciabatta. Whilst the second meal was random, it was tasty and hit my already overflowing spot.

The chairs and space were nothing to write home about, average for an economy class experience, but the bathroom was something special. I walked in and it was so big I couldn’t find the toilet – WHATTTTTT??? It was a double decker megabus, but never had I ever seen a toilet like that on a plane. It was bigger than some bathrooms in studio apartments in London. Having experience Emirates flights again since though, I haven’t seen this one of a kind bathroom again.

After the plane ride we had the mammoth task of navigating our way through Dubai airport, at this point it was the best and most ascetically pleasing airport I’d stepped foot into, but since then Singapore has definitely taken that crown.

It was night-time and dark so we were whisked away to our transfer and driven to the hotel. Now being in the other UAE, the transfer was quite a distance with just over an hours transfer time. I felt safe and very tired so I slept most of the journey, but Miss nervous AKA the mother stayed wide awake.

The hotel experience & Food

This 5* hotel was huge, elegant and just fabulous. On check in we were upgraded to a beach side villa with its own paved patio and garden that opened directly onto the beach. At this point I felt like we had made it, we even had to take a buggy to the room as it was in the quieter region of the resort. We even had a door bell.

Mum with her nervous nature probably didn’t sleep for the first 2 nights listening out for anything scary, but I continued to catch up on shut eye. I can sleep anywhere and I take full advantage of having ‘Sergeant Overwatch’ with me when travelling.

The staff were friendly and helpful and we wanted for nothing throughout our time. We even had complementary free WIFI – when God is for you… who can be against you?

The room was spacious and had it’s own vanity/make-up area. An amazing upgrade for our bargain holiday.

We again opted for the All-inclusive experience and were very happy we did as it was off the beaten track and would not have been easy to just grab something to eat.

Again, being a vegetarian the main buffet was my favourite and when I say this restaurant hall was huge, even that is an understatement. The staff were attentive and friendly and made it felt like home. The feed was incredible, everything seasoned and cooked to perfect and so much to choose from. I’m a picky eater and even I couldn’t complain about anything here.

They have several al-carte options and pool bars, but we only experienced the Chinese place where I learnt how to use chopsticks for the first time and the pool bar. The food was again exceptional and no complaints here.

Weather & Places of interest/activities

It was very hot, but humid when we went. I think this is the reason I became a victim of heat stroke as it’s hotter than you feel. We experienced one day of light rain, but otherwise clear blue skies.

Being so far out of Dubai, we relied on excursions organised by Virgin Holidays. They have probably slightly changed by now, but the experiences are very much worth it.

Desert Safari – This tour started with a long drive to the beginning of the desert. Loaded into our 4×4’s our first pit stop was for a toilet break. Now this rather unsanitary stop concerned us for the journey ahead. Located in a petrol/gas station type location, the shop was covered in ants and the toilets literally over flowing. This was the first time I had experienced a squat loo and at this point never wanted to experience it again. It was disgusting. Thankfully we had closed footwear and anti-bacterial gel.

We watched our driver let out some air from his tyres and questioned him on why, he said this helped when driving on the sand to reduce the ‘bounce’. I think he may have dumbed this down for us – if anyone knows more please expand.

Getting back into the 4×4 we started on our 20 car convoy to the Desert camp for a BBQ. This however was the start of our sand dune ride! What a stomach churning experience that can only be described as something out of an action movie. Golden sands to the left and right and hills so high that cars couldn’t get up them. I tried to record this and to everyone’s amusement in the car quickly realised that I was not from the school of hard-knocks and needed to hold on. The video is still hilarious though.

There are several opportunities for breath-taking pictures so have your camera ready.

Being a BBQ there wasn’t much to eat for a veggie, but there were sides and unlimited falafel so I could still enjoy something. The entertainment was great too, dancers and flame throwers and most importantly sanitary toilets.

At the end of the night the biggest challenge was getting back up to the car. Mum just couldn’t do it without repeatedly falling down!! We even had our driver trying to push her up the hill and both him and her falling. I was of no use at this point as I was hysterically laughing and could not walk as a result myself.

You arrive back at the hotel very late, so don’t plan anything early for the next morning.

Full day tour of Dubai – This tour had every highlight you want to see and experience when going to Dubai. From going up in the Burj Khalifa at night, to the drive around the Palm Jumeriah, stopping outside Atlantis the Palm for a photoshoot and going through old Dubai. You enjoy the gold and spice souks and the enjoy a quick water taxi – again mum lost it. She will never learn that when you travel with me, we are going to push the limits. We even stopped at a hotel for lunch that offered a 3-course buffet-style meal. Just a perfect day and the perfect way to experience Dubai.

RAK Mall – The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to this mall and another. Having opened in 2000 this modern mall combined the best of retail and fine dining. It had all the shops you could think of including some British classics such as M&S and new look. It had a supermarket for snacks – Crisps are always the thing I miss the most on holiday, so this helped the cravings. I bought some of my most treasured and asked about jewellery from here and my favourite pair of mid-calf boots.

They also have squat loos – MUCH MUCH better than the horrendous ones we had experienced before. Advice for ladies – beware of clothing and footwear with the splash back from a squat loo, I did not master how to use it.

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