Ras Al Khaimah (known affectionately to locals as RAK) is the northernmost emirate of the United Arab Emirates – a popular spot with UAE residents for staycations and ex-pats looking for a slower way of life. In recent times, international travellers have woken up to the fantastic array of attractions Ras Al Khaimah can offer. Its diverse topography of the rugged Hajar mountains, burnt-orange deserts, mangroves and golden natural beaches make it one of the most naturally beautiful landscapes in the Middle East, and the emirate offers plenty of activities from golf, shopping and dining to the longest zipline in the world and highest restaurant in the UAE. Here are the six best options for a Ras Al Khaimah hotel – perfect for your next visit to the beautiful northern emirate.
Discover a Ras Al Khaimah hotel to book now
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert
Located in the terracotta dunes of Ras Al Khaimah’s desert conservation, The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert is continuously rated as one of the best, if not the best, Ras Al Khaimah hotels. Though just a 50-minute drive from Downtown Dubai, the sprawling desert retreat feels like its on another planet – set in 1,235 acres of protected nature reserve with free-roaming Arabian gazelles, oryx and camels to keep guests company. Speaking of guests, visitors stay in private pool villas – the highest category being palatial tented villas – with private terraces overlooking the endless desert dunes. Rooms come with bicycles so guests can pedal through the lantern-lit grounds past traditional Arabic forts, greenery and wildlife to the Arabesuqw spa, activities centre for the likes of falconry, archery, horseriding and desert safaris, and the four restaurants – rooftop Moon Bar is an utterly spellbinding spot for sundowners with views across the desert. This is also one of the most popular spots in the county for proposals, romantic escapes and honeymoons.
Villas from AED 1,550 a night; Al Mazraa Wadi Khadija; ritzcarlton.com
Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah
It’s hard not to miss Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. The property’s palatial exterior soars above the beach and neighbouring Al Hamra community – cutting an imposing figure against the backdrop of the Arabian Gulf. The luxury five-star hotel is one of the most luxurious Ras Al Khaimah hotels, inspired by the opulence of Arabian palaces with gold domes, Arabesque arches and turrets reminiscent of traditional Arabic forts. The theme continues inside the property with mother-of-pearl details – a nod to the UAE”s pearl-diving history – and Arabic calligraphy, but with classic Waldorf Astoria touches like the grand clock (this one in gold and displaying the five daily prayer times). Rooms remain bright and beachy while being opulent and traditional (this is not the hotel for minimalists) and there are eight restaurants and bars, an underwater spa and a fantastic private beach with beautiful views over the shoreline and ocean. The hotel is also part of the Al Hamra community, so guests can enjoy an 18-hole golf course, shopping mall and marina.
Doubles from AED730 per night; Al Hamra Village; hilton.com
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach
While Al Wadi Desert channels One Thousand and One Nights, its sister property, The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach, opts for a more tropical, Balinese vibe. The unique hotel is located on the white sands of Al Hamra – a vibrant community with an 18-hole golf course, shops, a marina and restaurants – and offers the feeling of staying on a private island, thanks to its collection of beachfront private pool villas. This feeling begins instantly after check-in – whizzed over the bay via the hotel’s resident boat to their private pool villa with a foliage-filled garden and beach access. Inside the villa is typical of an Indian Ocean island with billowing white bed drapes, lots of teak and outdoor bathtubs and showers. Private gardens are shaded with palm trees and have private cabanas and seating overlooking the ocean – perfect for enjoying breakfast or sundowners with a view. Breakfast and in-villa dining are hugely popular, but the main resort has a fantastic main restaurant specialising in fresh seafood and there’s even a tranquil spa offering all the usual treatments.
Villas from AED2,720; Al Hamra Village; ritzcarlton.com
Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island
Opened in 2022, Ras Al Khaimah’s modern Mövenpick Resort sits on the beautiful sands of Al Marjan island – with a stretch of private beach and views across the Arabian Gulf. The hotel is a popular spot with staycationers, families and groups of friends, who come to make the most of its fantastic array of restaurants – including an iteration of chic Dubai beach club Ula – and its facilities like a relaxing spa and watersports. What makes this property so great are its private pool villas – which come with a decent-sized garden with a private pool and terrace (get a couple of villas together for a fun vacation with friends). Breakfast is a full-on affair – with countless live cooking stations and bountiful buffets, and fans of the brand will appreciate the classic Movenpick touches, like a chocolate hour open to all those at the resort.
Al Marjan Island; doubles from AED480; movenpick.accor.com
The InterContinental Ras Al Khaimah Mina Al Arab Resort & Spa
Ras Al Khaimah’s shoreline is dotted with beautiful natural islands, one of them, Hayat island, is just home to the shiny new InterContinental Ras Al Khaimah Mina Al Arab Resort & Spa. The sprawling beachfront property is just a 45-minute drive from Dubai International Airport, making it perfect for a long weekend escape, comprising 351 ocean-view rooms, suites and, the most luxurious, private pool villas. The latter are ideal for families and groups of friends looking for a relaxing break in the northern emirate and offer elegant living spaces, spacious bedrooms, in-villa dining and private terraces with stylish grey loungers and private pools. Minimalists will love the resort’s clean, stripped back and modern design – with lots of whites, blues and wood – while families will appreciate a superb children’s club. While the little ones are occupied, adults can use the ultra-modern health club, spa and six different dining outlets, including a trendy New York-City inspired hangout.
Hayat Island; doubles from AED980 a night; icrasalkhaimah.com
Banan Beach is not technically a hotel (it’s a chic glamping spot on the beach), but it’s one of the most popular places to stay when visiting Ras Al Khaimah. The resort is one of the emirate’s best-kept secrets, attracting well-heeled Dubai residents looking for a stylish glamping experience while embracing the rustic vibe. The beachy boho campsite transports guests to the Greek islands with its blue-tiled pool area, white loungers, white-washed tents and lofts and luxurious blue and white chalets. Treat yourself to one of 12 lofts or 10 chalets for a hotel experience. Quaint, air-conditioned triangle-roof lofts have a private bathroom, one queen and one double bed, comfortably sleeping four adults, and a cosy private courtyard with a jacuzzi and barbecue area. Three-bedroom, three-bathroom chalets are the most premium and reminiscent of a Cycladic guest house, with a blue and white tiled courtyard, a charming blue door, bougainvillaea, private pool, swing and bar. The main camp has a swimming pool, barbecue restaurant and bar. The best news? Banan Beach is also pet friendly and welcomes furry friends.
Tents from AED 360; bananbeach.com
Coming soon: Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort
Anantara is currently working on what could just be Ras Al Khaimah’s most modern and luxurious hotel, the stunning Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort. The beachfront resort will be designed to resemble a Maldivian escape, with private villas perched over the turquoise waters, a 9,000 sqm private beach which overlooks the stunning eco-reserve lined with mangroves and a world-class health and wellness centre.
Opening Q4 2023; opening offer rates from AED1,700 per night; anantara.com