The interior concept at Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah – crafted by design studio, HBA London – immerses guests in a luxurious experience reminiscent of the ancient history, tradition and culture of the UAE. Envisioned as an escape from the windswept sand dunes to the tranquil waters of the Arabian Sea, the luminous spaces of the region’s first Waldorf Astoria evoke calm and serenity.
The lobby’s design and palette are derived from the centuries-old practice of pearl diving in the islands’ sparkling waters. Behind the reception desks, framed wall panels recall the colours of the sea; covered in turquoise silk, they have been meticulously hand-stitched with gold sequins in a flowing wave pattern. In the centre of the lobby lies a 6m-tall clock based upon the ancient astrolabe, which was used to discern the precise times for prayer in the Islamic faith.
The lobby also features bespoke artwork conjuring up the underwater world of divers. British artist, Ann Carrington, has created four pieces especially for the hotel, which are made entirely from mother-of-pearl buttons that have been sewn in the pattern of fan coral onto taupe silk. Further along the ground level is a calligraphy collection in Kufic, the earliest form of Arabic script that was used to write the first copies of the Qur’an.
Flowing from the lobby is Peacock Alley, a signature lounge found in all Waldorf Astoria hotels. Here, the design mixes local touches with contemporary style inspired by the brand’s New York City flagship. A ring of banquettes encircle a tiered marble fountain and a spectacular chandelier with handcrafted glass elements suggests stylised peacock feathers.
At the Camelia tea lounge, soft shades of amethyst and green paint a fresh, contemporary twist on traditional Middle Eastern tea and shisha lounges. Designed as a luminous and spacious space, its delicate, feminine style has been modelled after dainty Arabic pastries.
The handsome Lexington Grill is based upon the concept of American steakhouses. Strong textures and dynamic materials help convey the masculine atmosphere of a classic New York restaurant. Deep Carnelian red marble flooring with white veining alludes to the meaty cuisine on offer. Table tops have been inset with hammered copper, and banquettes have been upholstered with burgundy and cream leather embossed with a crocodile hide pattern.
Qasr al Bahar offers guests dining in a cool, light-filled setting. The fresh and airy pale mint-hued decor borrows from the gardens which surround the restaurant’s outdoor terraces, and on the wall behind the buffet counter, green and white mosaic tiles introduce a crisp contrast to the vibrant fruit displays.
With private nooks that can be enclosed for more intimate dining experiences, Marjan has an exclusive panache influenced by ancient Islamic patterns and designs. The juxtaposition between the traditional and the contemporary is emphasised by furnishings that blend function with artistry. Balcony seating on the upper levels looks onto the idyllic panorama of the coastline.
With 360° views of the Ras Al Khaimah skyline from the 17th floor, the glamorous evening venue 17Squared is the destination for sophisticated nightlife. Fittingly, the decor is draped in effortless opulence, with swathes of crystals that swing languidly from the chandeliers, plush leather seating and delicate golden touches inspired by Champagne.
The pool area’s restaurant, Azure, is a more relaxed affair. Woven wicker chairs and pendant lights, pale timber surfaces and tropical foliage create a casual vibe. The family pool bar comprises a two-toned copper facade and tawny granite countertop, and features lounge chairs that overlook the shoreline. At the infinity pool, the black and white finishes of the bar Al Fayrouz give it a more modern, art deco-inspired feel.
The spa has been imagined by HBA London to capture the essence of floating underwater. Using rounded shapes and a sinuous spatial flow to immediately relax the body, the reception and retail spaces establish a dramatic sense of arrival. Typical treatment rooms play with light and shadow to create a warm, inviting mood; backlit curved coved ceilings emit a gentle glow, and soft sheers filter the illumination from the private outdoor garden with its bubbling water feature.
The hotel’s Classic and Deluxe bedrooms, as well as the suites, continue the concept of being a waterside oasis in the desert. Neutral textiles set a soothing tone, punctuated by splashes of turquoise. Individually carved by woodworkers, these have been custom-designed by HBA London to feature a circular pattern inspired by traditional Islamic motifs.
The six varieties of suites (Junior, One-Bedroom, Tower, Grand, Imperial and Royal) have been designed to provide guests with the utmost in privacy. Lavish finishes abound – a grand white marble staircase with a dramatic black balustrade evokes a sense of glamour; in the bedrooms, bespoke headboards are adorned with mother-of-pearl inlays; and contemporary art mixes with traditional Islamic detailing. Located on the hotel’s uppermost levels, each suite enjoys awe-inspiring views from its private balconies.