Ooh, how we love a weekend away. And if you've yet to visit Ras Al Khaimah, the Hilton's spa resort on the northern tip of the Arabian peninsular is one giant, glamorous reason to pack your poshest bag and just go. Only 90 minutes from Dubai by road, it's a cinch to find - but if you're planning on treating yourself to a celeb-style weekend from start to finish, there's no better way to get there than by seaplane. Taking off from its base at the Jebel Ali Golf Resort, the Seawings service to RAK is nothing less than awesome. To start, the views are incredible - even though there were more than a few goosebump-inducing moments - because the Dubai skyline is more impressive than ever from the window of a teeny plane. We even saw a flock of flamingoes soaring beneath us. And, as far as exciting journeys go, this, adrenaline junkies, is one you simply have to try. Flying for 45 fun-packed minutes, we were sad to land - but our gloomy faces soon returned to beaming-like-an-idiot status when we stepped out on to the resort's perfect white, sandy beach and were greeted with flower garlands, canapés and a glass of something fabulous and fizzy. What an A-list Aloha!
One of the newest Hilton properties in the region, the resort is a combination of hotel rooms and swanky private villas, set in lush landscaped grounds and perched on a pristine 1.5km sandy beach with a dramatic mountainous backdrop. Sound like your kind of place to kick back and relax? We haven't even started yet. Rooms are huge, and each has a private balcony or terrace with spectacular sea views, a bed you won't want to get out of, and a giant bathtub that looks out over your pad, and beyond, to your knockout view. Plenty of reasons not to leave your room, but leave you must. After ditching the luggage, head for Al Bahar, the all-day beach restaurant which serves the most delish BBQ lunch (we couldn't get enough of the grilled local prawns - so yummy and huge!). Then why not take in a dip in any one of the six (yes, six) swimming pools and spend the rest of your afternoon lazing on a sunlounger with a good book and a long cool drink.
Choosing where to eat dinner may be slightly more of an issue - the views from the many eateries' rooftops, terraces and decks all have the most gorgeous views of the coastline, but since we're lovers of all things Latin, and can't say ‘no' to a bit of samba music with our supper, Argentinian restaurant, Pura Vida, rocked our world. Kicking off with a mojito (natch), the Churrascaria experience is something you simply can't miss. What is it? Well it's a full-on feast of juicy, chargrilled meats that arrive at your table in an endless procession of protein-rich perfection - if you're in the mood to get in touch with your inner caveman, then this is your dining dream.
Day two, and while we had been eating almost continuously since we arrived, after spotting what was coming out of the kitchen at Placeri da Gustare, our lunchtime hangout had been decided. I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to Italian food, but when I discovered the hotel's Regional Director of Cuisine, Steven Benson Flower, was the ex-Executive Chef of Bice at Hilton Jumeira (just my fave Italian restaurant outside of Italy, ever), I wanted a pizza-the-action. Needless to say, the diet was well and truly out of the window by the time the starters arrived.
Obviously a desert safari is a must, and a late afternoon trek into the red sand dunes of RAK really shouldn't be missed, especially since this was one of the best I'd been on. Arriving at a fairylight-dotted camp as the sun was setting, you'll be treated to bellydancing (our dancer was brilliant), traditional eats and even sandboarding for the sporty types among you. And if star-spotting is your thing, this is the place to impress your loved one with your knowledge of all things celestial - the clear night sky above the dunes is truly a sight to behold.
With plenty to pack into your weekend, aside from all the eating, lazing around on the beach and other generally fun stuff, don't leave without visiting the spa and indulging in a treatment or two - the massages are blissful, and will leave you feeling perfectly prepped for the crazy week ahead. Which hopefully, will end with another trip to our fave new short-hop hangout.
Carb-phobic? You can't miss the Churrascaria experience at Argentinian restaurant Pura Vida. An all-you-can-eat meat extravaganza, where a neverending stream of the most succulent, well-seasoned meats cooked on sword-like skewers are carved right before your eyes. Do yourself a favour and skip lunch - this is a full-on meat marathon!
Watching the desert sun set from the top of one of Ras Al Khaimah's mountains is a stunning way to end the day. Not into hiking? Lazing in the infinity pool at the aptly named Sunset Bar with a freshly shaken cocktail is equally awe-inspiring.
If you're feeling flush, check into a Premier Chalet Suit, which has a huge terrace overlooking the beach and it's very own jacuzzi. We defy you to leave.
The state-of-the-art spa is a blIssed out haven, but we loved the treatment tents on the beach. Listening to the waves as you are being pampered? It's sooo the way to go.
Desert safaris are a must, and the one the hotel organises is the best we've been on. Sandboarding, bellydancing and BBQs - you can even sleep over at the camp!
Location Al Maareedh Street
Tel 07 228 8844
Price: From Dh700 per night
- Quite possibly the coolest way to travel. I'd happily have a seaplane instead of a car. Ask nicely, and the pilot may even let you sit next to him - the best seat in the house!
- Freshly grilled prawns are one of our fave things ever - and yes, we did eat all of them.
- The almond cream pudding in Placeri da Gustare. I can't actually believe I managed to take a picture before it got eaten entirely.
- The notoriously private Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz would adore the luxury and privacy of the resort's Royal Chalet suite, with its very own Turkish hammam and swimming pool. Although Bond hunk Daniel in his swimming trunks is a view that we'd all love to enjoy, lucky Rachel could be guaranteed it would be for her eyes only.