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  • Saturday, May 30, 2015

    Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana is located near Emirates Palace and Etihad TowersAlthough we’re moving towards the peak summer here in the UAE, there is still time to enjoy a local staycation while the weather is still somewhat pleasant. That was our motivation, at least, when we booked ourselves a weekend stay at the Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana, located near Emirates Palace and Etihad Towers.

    Arriving late on a Thursday, we were welcomed with a prompt valet service and check-in procedure, which was a great start to our visit. The lady at the check-in counter was extremely friendly and efficient, although there was a slightly grating process where guests are asked to fill in their own details on a handheld device.

    More and more passengers are checking themselves into flights nowadays, so a similar process for hotels was probably inevitable, despite feeling a little tiresome.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    In total, there are 443 rooms at Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by RotanaIn total, there are 443 rooms at Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana. Options range from the Classic Room and Premium Room (measuring 45 square metres and 55 square metres, respectively) to the Classic Suite and Premium Suite (measuring 65 square metres and 72 square metres, respectively). If you need even more space, there is also the 135-square-metre Khalidiya Suite with two bedrooms and a balcony.

    We opted for a Classic Room, which offered a nice amount of space for our needs, and had a modern, stylish design that made us feel at home. Highlights included a private bathroom with bathtub and walk-in shower, plus in-room amenities such as a 32" LCD TV, mini fridge, work desk, telephone, safe, and complimentary tea and coffee making facilities. High speed internet access is available, but at a charge.

    We ordered an extra bed for our child, and it arrived minutes after requesting one. Impressive, especially considering we’ve had to wait hours in other hotels.

    There are four food and beverage venues at the five-star hotelThere are four food and beverage venues at the five-star hotel and on the first night, we opted for the Arabic restaurant Kamoon (Arabic word for 'cumin', the seasoning used in a number of dishes). The outdoor seating looked appealing, with its scenic views of the Arabian Gulf, but for some reason there was a lot of smoke when we visited, so we decided to sit indoors. This was still pleasant and the food we ordered was well cooked, nicely presented and most importantly, tasted great.

    The menu has all the usual Arabic favourites, and some unique dishes that you might not find elsewhere. We started with the hummus, fattoush, falafel and cheese sambousek, followed by a selection of delicious kebabs (our recommendation is the Kebab Rayhaan, made using marinated minced lamb with cheese, pistachio, green and red capsicum and basil... YUM!). Dessert options included assorted baklawa, halawa bil jibn (chees pastry fillwed with ashta cream) and a fruit salad. Kamoon was definitely a highlight of our stay at the hotel.

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON HILTON RAS AL KHAIMAH RESORT & SPA!

    The hotel has a private beach that sweeps around the hotel lagoonBack in our room and ready for some rest, we had an early night. Actually, we tried to have an early night. For some inexplicable reason, a member of staff thought it was acceptable to call our room at 10.40pm to check if the extra bed had been delivered. Top marks for asking, but minus points for waking us (and our child) up. This was extremely frustrating and we struggled to understand how it could be deemed acceptable to disturb guests so late for such a mundane question.

    To make matters worse, we were woken early the next day with construction noise from near the hotel. Of course, this is out of the hotel’s control, but certainly not ideal. However, on the plus side, our second night was free of interruptions, with no late night calls from staff and no construction noise in the morning. Perfect!

    Breakfast was served at Horizon, described as “a contemporary and elegant restaurant”. It is the hotel’s main dining venue and the food selection and quality was top notch. We actually returned for the Friday Brunch, which again offered a wide range of local specialties and international dishes. Horizon was packed out on both occasions; it’s obviously very popular with guests and Abu Dhabi residents alike.

    Khalidiya Palace has one of the biggest outdoor hotel pools in the areaThe rest of our visit was mainly spent lounging around the beach club. Here, you will find a private beach that sweeps around the hotel lagoon, and one of the biggest outdoor hotel pools in the area. In addition, there is also a pool and crèche for children, gym, squash and tennis courts, and spa service. We couldn’t resist booking ourselves a signature 60-minute aromatherapy massage, which was the perfect way to unwind. The only slight drawback is the location of the treatment room, because it’s possible to hear the outside noise of kids running around and people mingling.

    All-in-all though, we left the Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana with very pleasant memories. It’s always a pleasure to explore the different Rotanas on offer in the UAE and this is yet another one that receives our thumbs up!


    HOTEL REVIEW: Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana, Abu Dhabi

    Posted at  5:39 AM  |  in  Hotel  |  Read More»

    Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana is located near Emirates Palace and Etihad TowersAlthough we’re moving towards the peak summer here in the UAE, there is still time to enjoy a local staycation while the weather is still somewhat pleasant. That was our motivation, at least, when we booked ourselves a weekend stay at the Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana, located near Emirates Palace and Etihad Towers.

    Arriving late on a Thursday, we were welcomed with a prompt valet service and check-in procedure, which was a great start to our visit. The lady at the check-in counter was extremely friendly and efficient, although there was a slightly grating process where guests are asked to fill in their own details on a handheld device.

    More and more passengers are checking themselves into flights nowadays, so a similar process for hotels was probably inevitable, despite feeling a little tiresome.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    In total, there are 443 rooms at Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by RotanaIn total, there are 443 rooms at Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana. Options range from the Classic Room and Premium Room (measuring 45 square metres and 55 square metres, respectively) to the Classic Suite and Premium Suite (measuring 65 square metres and 72 square metres, respectively). If you need even more space, there is also the 135-square-metre Khalidiya Suite with two bedrooms and a balcony.

    We opted for a Classic Room, which offered a nice amount of space for our needs, and had a modern, stylish design that made us feel at home. Highlights included a private bathroom with bathtub and walk-in shower, plus in-room amenities such as a 32" LCD TV, mini fridge, work desk, telephone, safe, and complimentary tea and coffee making facilities. High speed internet access is available, but at a charge.

    We ordered an extra bed for our child, and it arrived minutes after requesting one. Impressive, especially considering we’ve had to wait hours in other hotels.

    There are four food and beverage venues at the five-star hotelThere are four food and beverage venues at the five-star hotel and on the first night, we opted for the Arabic restaurant Kamoon (Arabic word for 'cumin', the seasoning used in a number of dishes). The outdoor seating looked appealing, with its scenic views of the Arabian Gulf, but for some reason there was a lot of smoke when we visited, so we decided to sit indoors. This was still pleasant and the food we ordered was well cooked, nicely presented and most importantly, tasted great.

    The menu has all the usual Arabic favourites, and some unique dishes that you might not find elsewhere. We started with the hummus, fattoush, falafel and cheese sambousek, followed by a selection of delicious kebabs (our recommendation is the Kebab Rayhaan, made using marinated minced lamb with cheese, pistachio, green and red capsicum and basil... YUM!). Dessert options included assorted baklawa, halawa bil jibn (chees pastry fillwed with ashta cream) and a fruit salad. Kamoon was definitely a highlight of our stay at the hotel.

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON HILTON RAS AL KHAIMAH RESORT & SPA!

    The hotel has a private beach that sweeps around the hotel lagoonBack in our room and ready for some rest, we had an early night. Actually, we tried to have an early night. For some inexplicable reason, a member of staff thought it was acceptable to call our room at 10.40pm to check if the extra bed had been delivered. Top marks for asking, but minus points for waking us (and our child) up. This was extremely frustrating and we struggled to understand how it could be deemed acceptable to disturb guests so late for such a mundane question.

    To make matters worse, we were woken early the next day with construction noise from near the hotel. Of course, this is out of the hotel’s control, but certainly not ideal. However, on the plus side, our second night was free of interruptions, with no late night calls from staff and no construction noise in the morning. Perfect!

    Breakfast was served at Horizon, described as “a contemporary and elegant restaurant”. It is the hotel’s main dining venue and the food selection and quality was top notch. We actually returned for the Friday Brunch, which again offered a wide range of local specialties and international dishes. Horizon was packed out on both occasions; it’s obviously very popular with guests and Abu Dhabi residents alike.

    Khalidiya Palace has one of the biggest outdoor hotel pools in the areaThe rest of our visit was mainly spent lounging around the beach club. Here, you will find a private beach that sweeps around the hotel lagoon, and one of the biggest outdoor hotel pools in the area. In addition, there is also a pool and crèche for children, gym, squash and tennis courts, and spa service. We couldn’t resist booking ourselves a signature 60-minute aromatherapy massage, which was the perfect way to unwind. The only slight drawback is the location of the treatment room, because it’s possible to hear the outside noise of kids running around and people mingling.

    All-in-all though, we left the Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana with very pleasant memories. It’s always a pleasure to explore the different Rotanas on offer in the UAE and this is yet another one that receives our thumbs up!


    Saturday, May 23, 2015

    St Regis Abu Dhabi launched its latest culinary offering, The Terrace on the CornicheThe St. Regis Abu Dhabi is one of the UAE capital’s most stunning hotels. After stepping into the entrance, we had to take a few moments to appreciate the lobby, which might not be the biggest around, but offers a subtle class and grandeur that many other properties in Abu Dhabi have struggled to achieve.

    From the double staircase to the stylish furnishing and expensive looking piano, it’s a treat for the eyes, and we can only imagine what the rooms are like. Unfortunately, on this occasion at least, we weren’t here for a staycation, but to visit a restaurant.

    Earlier this month, The St Regis Abu Dhabi launched its latest culinary offering, The Terrace on the Corniche. We arrived prompt at 7pm, just in time for the dinner buffet. Despite being a week day, the crowds had already started to gather… this is obviously a popular option for Arabic cuisine amongst tourists and residents alike.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    We opted for indoor seating, although the weather is still pleasant enough to enjoy the outdoor garden terrace, especially if you fancy a little shisha after dinner. The waiter explained that the theme of the night was seafood, and we spotted various live cooking stations where different fish dishes were being prepared by chefs.

    The experience starts with the chef’s daily mezze, which encourages you and your dinning companions to share and interactiveThe Terrace on the Corniche has embraced the concept of ‘social dinning’. The experience starts with the chef’s daily mezze, which encourages you and your dinning companions to share and interactive. We were impressed with the variety of hot and cold options, and filled our plate with vegetarian and non-vegetarian starters.

    Yum! Next up, we ventured towards those cooking stations, which showcase the depth and diversity of Arabian cuisine. The chefs have selected traditional dishes from Turkey, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and even Armenia.

    On a normal night, the signature dishes range from classic Ottoman Almond Soup to Jordanian Lamb Mansaf, consisting of slow cooked lamb shank with cardamom, cinnamon and garlic seasoning. Sounds mouth-watering! The focus on Wednesday and Thursday theme nights is a little different. During our visit on Wednesday, fresh seafood was cooked to order with an Arabian twist. Thursday offers a ‘Best Cuts Evening Brunch’ with hearty steaks and cold cuts to celebrate the weekend.

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON ABU DHABI'S ONLY REVOLVING RESTAURANT, STRATOS!

    We tried a bit of everything and thankfully, our stomachs were not feeling too heavy. Dessert seemed the obvious option, but before that, the cheese section caught our attention. Here you will find all the usual suspects – from cheddar to brie – plus some more unusual selections. There are ample crackers, nuts and sauces available too.

    During our visit on Wednesday, fresh seafood was cooked to order with an Arabian twistTo be honest, this section was a highlight of our visit and a treat for cheese connoisseurs. The desserts didn’t disappoint either, with a variety of Arabic and international favourites, and not to forget the chocolate fountain, to end the night on a more gluttonous note. We’ll worry about our waist lines another time!

    All-in-all, The Terrace on the Corniche will certainly appeal to those looking for a centrally-located buffet with a nice setting. What’s more, there is a special introductory price at the moment of AED150++ for the dinner (add AED50++ for shisha and AED100++ for unlimited grapes & hops), so it’s a good time to visit!




    RESTAURANT REVIEW: The Terrace on The Corniche, St. Regis Abu Dhabi

    Posted at  3:38 AM  |  in  Restaurant  |  Read More»

    St Regis Abu Dhabi launched its latest culinary offering, The Terrace on the CornicheThe St. Regis Abu Dhabi is one of the UAE capital’s most stunning hotels. After stepping into the entrance, we had to take a few moments to appreciate the lobby, which might not be the biggest around, but offers a subtle class and grandeur that many other properties in Abu Dhabi have struggled to achieve.

    From the double staircase to the stylish furnishing and expensive looking piano, it’s a treat for the eyes, and we can only imagine what the rooms are like. Unfortunately, on this occasion at least, we weren’t here for a staycation, but to visit a restaurant.

    Earlier this month, The St Regis Abu Dhabi launched its latest culinary offering, The Terrace on the Corniche. We arrived prompt at 7pm, just in time for the dinner buffet. Despite being a week day, the crowds had already started to gather… this is obviously a popular option for Arabic cuisine amongst tourists and residents alike.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    We opted for indoor seating, although the weather is still pleasant enough to enjoy the outdoor garden terrace, especially if you fancy a little shisha after dinner. The waiter explained that the theme of the night was seafood, and we spotted various live cooking stations where different fish dishes were being prepared by chefs.

    The experience starts with the chef’s daily mezze, which encourages you and your dinning companions to share and interactiveThe Terrace on the Corniche has embraced the concept of ‘social dinning’. The experience starts with the chef’s daily mezze, which encourages you and your dinning companions to share and interactive. We were impressed with the variety of hot and cold options, and filled our plate with vegetarian and non-vegetarian starters.

    Yum! Next up, we ventured towards those cooking stations, which showcase the depth and diversity of Arabian cuisine. The chefs have selected traditional dishes from Turkey, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and even Armenia.

    On a normal night, the signature dishes range from classic Ottoman Almond Soup to Jordanian Lamb Mansaf, consisting of slow cooked lamb shank with cardamom, cinnamon and garlic seasoning. Sounds mouth-watering! The focus on Wednesday and Thursday theme nights is a little different. During our visit on Wednesday, fresh seafood was cooked to order with an Arabian twist. Thursday offers a ‘Best Cuts Evening Brunch’ with hearty steaks and cold cuts to celebrate the weekend.

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON ABU DHABI'S ONLY REVOLVING RESTAURANT, STRATOS!

    We tried a bit of everything and thankfully, our stomachs were not feeling too heavy. Dessert seemed the obvious option, but before that, the cheese section caught our attention. Here you will find all the usual suspects – from cheddar to brie – plus some more unusual selections. There are ample crackers, nuts and sauces available too.

    During our visit on Wednesday, fresh seafood was cooked to order with an Arabian twistTo be honest, this section was a highlight of our visit and a treat for cheese connoisseurs. The desserts didn’t disappoint either, with a variety of Arabic and international favourites, and not to forget the chocolate fountain, to end the night on a more gluttonous note. We’ll worry about our waist lines another time!

    All-in-all, The Terrace on the Corniche will certainly appeal to those looking for a centrally-located buffet with a nice setting. What’s more, there is a special introductory price at the moment of AED150++ for the dinner (add AED50++ for shisha and AED100++ for unlimited grapes & hops), so it’s a good time to visit!




    Monday, April 13, 2015

    Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa is a large hotel, with 475 rooms, suites and beach villasWhether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend break or a fun-filled family staycation, Ras Al Khaimah is packed with several different options! A personal favourite of the AroundTheUAE.com team is Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa, which we have wanted to re-visit for some time now, after last staying there around five years ago.

    Following a two-and-a-half hour drive from Abu Dhabi, we arrived feeling a little tired on a Thursday night. Thankfully, the check-in desk was relatively quiet at the time, allowing staff to quickly process our details and hand over the keys. Fantastic!

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa is a large hotel, with 475 rooms, suites and beach villas. We booked one of the three room options (the difference in sizes is minimal, ranging from 48 to 51 square metres). If you’re looking for more space, or have extra cash to splash, there are three villa options (from the 66 square metre Junior Beach Villa to the 145 square metre two-bedroom Family Beach Villa) and five suites (from the 79 square metre King Deluxe Suite to the 227 square metre Royal Suite with its own sauna, steam room and Turkish hammam)… we wish!

    Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa offers 1.5km of private beach Having settled in our room, it was dinner time. We were initially tempted to order room service, but considering there are 14 restaurants and bars on offer at Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa, it would have been a shame to not venture out and try one. After much consideration, we opted for the quick and easy international buffet, although the Thai, Italian and Brazilian restaurants were very tempting. Luckily, our decision paid off. The buffet had a massive range of starters, mains and desserts, so there is something for everyone and we were very well looked after by the staff too.

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON RAMADA DOWNTOWN DUBAI, NEXT TO BURJ KHALIFA!

    We booked one of the three room options (the difference in sizes is minimal, ranging from 48 to 51 square metre)
    Feeling a little stuffed, we headed back to our rooms. As expected from a Hilton resort, the beds were extremely comfortable and following some much-needed sleep, we woke up feeling energised and ready for a full day of activities ahead.

    It seems Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa is truly a haven for foodies, because the breakfast was fantastic and again offered a large variety of options, catering both to the health conscious and those looking for early morning indulgence. We were careful not to fall into the latter category on this occasion, as we wanted to try some of the hotel’s water sports activities and therefore needed to avoid full stomachs.

    In addition to seven (that’s right, SEVEN!) swimming pools and 1.5km of private beach at the resort, guests can participate in diving, fishing, kayaking, jet skiing and sailing. They can even practice yoga, request an aerobics class at Hilton Fitness, or unwind in a spa equipped with Turkish baths, saunas, whirlpools and steam rooms.

    There are 14 restaurants and bars on offer at Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa
    What did we select? Our day started with a private boat ride into the Arabian Sea, where we tried, for the very first time in our lives, a fishing trip! The waters were very calm at the time, lending itself to perfect conditions… but alas we failed to catch anything (boohoo!). Still, it was a fantastic experience that we really enjoyed.

    Back on land, we took our daughter to the 200 square metre kids club and swimming pool, which she absolutely loved, especially the fantastic water slide. And then it was time for the parents to enjoy a rejuvenating massage at the spa (which was surprisingly busy, considering there are nine treatment rooms, so book early to avoid disappointment). A blissful end to the day!

    Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa has seven (that’s right, SEVEN!) swimming pools And our final memory of the resort was an Arabian-themed dinner near the beach. This was a special night organised by the hotel, which proved so popular it was actually sold out… and we can understand why! The food was great and the entertainment even better, with live singers, belly dancers and even a whirling tanoura dance. It was the perfect end to one of our favourite staycations in a while.

    All-in-all, we give the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa our thumbs up. Although it’s an older building and there are plenty of newer options in the emirate, Hilton has done well to keep it refreshed, and the activities and restaurants on offer are pretty hard to beat. No wonder it remains so popular with local residents and tourists alike.

    HOTEL REVIEW: Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa

    Posted at  1:35 AM  |  in  Hotel  |  Read More»

    Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa is a large hotel, with 475 rooms, suites and beach villasWhether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend break or a fun-filled family staycation, Ras Al Khaimah is packed with several different options! A personal favourite of the AroundTheUAE.com team is Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa, which we have wanted to re-visit for some time now, after last staying there around five years ago.

    Following a two-and-a-half hour drive from Abu Dhabi, we arrived feeling a little tired on a Thursday night. Thankfully, the check-in desk was relatively quiet at the time, allowing staff to quickly process our details and hand over the keys. Fantastic!

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa is a large hotel, with 475 rooms, suites and beach villas. We booked one of the three room options (the difference in sizes is minimal, ranging from 48 to 51 square metres). If you’re looking for more space, or have extra cash to splash, there are three villa options (from the 66 square metre Junior Beach Villa to the 145 square metre two-bedroom Family Beach Villa) and five suites (from the 79 square metre King Deluxe Suite to the 227 square metre Royal Suite with its own sauna, steam room and Turkish hammam)… we wish!

    Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa offers 1.5km of private beach Having settled in our room, it was dinner time. We were initially tempted to order room service, but considering there are 14 restaurants and bars on offer at Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa, it would have been a shame to not venture out and try one. After much consideration, we opted for the quick and easy international buffet, although the Thai, Italian and Brazilian restaurants were very tempting. Luckily, our decision paid off. The buffet had a massive range of starters, mains and desserts, so there is something for everyone and we were very well looked after by the staff too.

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON RAMADA DOWNTOWN DUBAI, NEXT TO BURJ KHALIFA!

    We booked one of the three room options (the difference in sizes is minimal, ranging from 48 to 51 square metre)
    Feeling a little stuffed, we headed back to our rooms. As expected from a Hilton resort, the beds were extremely comfortable and following some much-needed sleep, we woke up feeling energised and ready for a full day of activities ahead.

    It seems Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa is truly a haven for foodies, because the breakfast was fantastic and again offered a large variety of options, catering both to the health conscious and those looking for early morning indulgence. We were careful not to fall into the latter category on this occasion, as we wanted to try some of the hotel’s water sports activities and therefore needed to avoid full stomachs.

    In addition to seven (that’s right, SEVEN!) swimming pools and 1.5km of private beach at the resort, guests can participate in diving, fishing, kayaking, jet skiing and sailing. They can even practice yoga, request an aerobics class at Hilton Fitness, or unwind in a spa equipped with Turkish baths, saunas, whirlpools and steam rooms.

    There are 14 restaurants and bars on offer at Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa
    What did we select? Our day started with a private boat ride into the Arabian Sea, where we tried, for the very first time in our lives, a fishing trip! The waters were very calm at the time, lending itself to perfect conditions… but alas we failed to catch anything (boohoo!). Still, it was a fantastic experience that we really enjoyed.

    Back on land, we took our daughter to the 200 square metre kids club and swimming pool, which she absolutely loved, especially the fantastic water slide. And then it was time for the parents to enjoy a rejuvenating massage at the spa (which was surprisingly busy, considering there are nine treatment rooms, so book early to avoid disappointment). A blissful end to the day!

    Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa has seven (that’s right, SEVEN!) swimming pools And our final memory of the resort was an Arabian-themed dinner near the beach. This was a special night organised by the hotel, which proved so popular it was actually sold out… and we can understand why! The food was great and the entertainment even better, with live singers, belly dancers and even a whirling tanoura dance. It was the perfect end to one of our favourite staycations in a while.

    All-in-all, we give the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa our thumbs up. Although it’s an older building and there are plenty of newer options in the emirate, Hilton has done well to keep it refreshed, and the activities and restaurants on offer are pretty hard to beat. No wonder it remains so popular with local residents and tourists alike.

    Saturday, March 28, 2015

    Tilal Liwa is located on the edge of the Rub Al Khalil desert in Abu Dhabi’s famous Empty Quarter areaAfter reviewing a variety of city and beach hotels across the UAE over the past year and a half, we decided it was the perfect time to experience a more secluded resort in the middle of the desert for the first time… and what better place to visit than Tilal Liwa, located on the edge of the Rub Al Khalil desert in Abu Dhabi’s famous ‘Empty Quarter’ area.

    The four-star property, which is managed by Danat Hotels & Resorts, took a couple of hours to reach by car from Abu Dhabi City. The journey is quite scenic. You will pass some of the highest sand dunes in the world, which are stunning, and might even spot a camel or two along the way, so keep those cameras at the ready!

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    Our excitement about finally arriving at Tilal Liwa was somewhat dampened by a bad check-in experience. Despite asking for an early check-in on a couple of occasions, and not receiving the courtesy of a response, we decided to arrive at a respectable 1pm. Our room would be ready in 30 minutes, we were informed, but two hours later and we were still waiting. Not the ideal start to our weekend away, we must admit.

    Tilal Liwa Hotel has a large outdoor pool that overlooks the sweeping desertA number of different rooms are available at Tilal Liwa. We selected one of the 32 square metre options (the Tilal Room, Courtyard Room, Oasis Room and Al Sahab Room, which as their names suggest, offer different views). Alternatively, those looking for extra space can book the 64 square metre Executive Suite, the 96 square metre Royal Suite, or the lavish two-bedroom 175 square metre Majaheem Suite.

    The Arabian-style décor inside the rooms are understated and visually appealing. Guests have access to a range of standard in-room facilities to make them comfortable, including a 32-inch television with multiple channels, tea / coffee making facilities, mini bar, safe, and coffee table with chairs. The larger rooms also have DVD players.

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON RAMADA DOWNTOWN DUBAI, NEXT TO BURJ KHALIFA!

    Once we settled into our room, our grumbling stomachs needed to be filled. There are four different restaurants at Tilal Liwa – we headed to a buffet at Al Badiya, which boasted a wide variety of cuisine from around the world. We were impressed, not only with the selection and quality of food, but also the incredibly friendly staff. Indeed, we were back there hours later for dinner and then again in the morning for breakfast. Kudos to the team there for making us feel so welcome.

    The Arabian-style décor inside the rooms are understated and visually appealingWe were also informed that a family cooking contest was about to start in a different part of the hotel, which sounded like fun. After eating, we headed there to participate. Families were competing to make the best pasta dish, with all ingredients, cooking utensils and chef’s clothing provided. Needless to say, everyone had a great time and the families were cheering each other on as the winners were announced by staff. This was definitely a highlight of our trip and a really nice touch from the hotel.

    After all of the excitement, it was time to rest in our rooms for a while and then venture to the swimming pool, which overlooks the sweeping desert. Unfortunately due to a menacing sandstorm, we only had a short dip before admitting defeat and exploring the rest of the hotel, including the spa facilities. Unable to resist temptation, we booked ourselves in for a relaxing 30 minute massage. This was a pleasant (but way too short) way to unwind, although there was some noise from the kids club, which is located directly outside the spa entrance.

    A range of outdoor activities are also available at the hotel, such as sand boarding, cycling through the desert, camel riding and quad bike safarisA range of outdoor activities are also available at the hotel, such as sand boarding, cycling through the desert, camel riding and quad bike safaris, but again due to that nasty sandstorm, we were unable to try them on this occasion. However, despite the unpredictable weather, we happily spent the rest of our time relaxing and enjoying our break from the city. The unfortunate experience from our check-in was almost forgotten by the end of our stay!

    We say “almost” because at the time of check out, we once again experienced an unnecessary delay due to staff miscommunication, resulting in another unwanted stretch at the lobby. This was frustrating, to say the least (especially at a time when hotels are trying to outdo each other with world-class customer service levels in the UAE) and hindered what would have otherwise been a pleasant family staycation. As Tilal Liwa undergoes a revamp and expansion in a bid to become a five-star resort, this is one area that we hope is not overlooked.

    HOTEL REVIEW: Tilal Liwa, Abu Dhabi's Empty Quarter

    Posted at  7:43 AM  |  in  Hotel  |  Read More»

    Tilal Liwa is located on the edge of the Rub Al Khalil desert in Abu Dhabi’s famous Empty Quarter areaAfter reviewing a variety of city and beach hotels across the UAE over the past year and a half, we decided it was the perfect time to experience a more secluded resort in the middle of the desert for the first time… and what better place to visit than Tilal Liwa, located on the edge of the Rub Al Khalil desert in Abu Dhabi’s famous ‘Empty Quarter’ area.

    The four-star property, which is managed by Danat Hotels & Resorts, took a couple of hours to reach by car from Abu Dhabi City. The journey is quite scenic. You will pass some of the highest sand dunes in the world, which are stunning, and might even spot a camel or two along the way, so keep those cameras at the ready!

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    Our excitement about finally arriving at Tilal Liwa was somewhat dampened by a bad check-in experience. Despite asking for an early check-in on a couple of occasions, and not receiving the courtesy of a response, we decided to arrive at a respectable 1pm. Our room would be ready in 30 minutes, we were informed, but two hours later and we were still waiting. Not the ideal start to our weekend away, we must admit.

    Tilal Liwa Hotel has a large outdoor pool that overlooks the sweeping desertA number of different rooms are available at Tilal Liwa. We selected one of the 32 square metre options (the Tilal Room, Courtyard Room, Oasis Room and Al Sahab Room, which as their names suggest, offer different views). Alternatively, those looking for extra space can book the 64 square metre Executive Suite, the 96 square metre Royal Suite, or the lavish two-bedroom 175 square metre Majaheem Suite.

    The Arabian-style décor inside the rooms are understated and visually appealing. Guests have access to a range of standard in-room facilities to make them comfortable, including a 32-inch television with multiple channels, tea / coffee making facilities, mini bar, safe, and coffee table with chairs. The larger rooms also have DVD players.

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON RAMADA DOWNTOWN DUBAI, NEXT TO BURJ KHALIFA!

    Once we settled into our room, our grumbling stomachs needed to be filled. There are four different restaurants at Tilal Liwa – we headed to a buffet at Al Badiya, which boasted a wide variety of cuisine from around the world. We were impressed, not only with the selection and quality of food, but also the incredibly friendly staff. Indeed, we were back there hours later for dinner and then again in the morning for breakfast. Kudos to the team there for making us feel so welcome.

    The Arabian-style décor inside the rooms are understated and visually appealingWe were also informed that a family cooking contest was about to start in a different part of the hotel, which sounded like fun. After eating, we headed there to participate. Families were competing to make the best pasta dish, with all ingredients, cooking utensils and chef’s clothing provided. Needless to say, everyone had a great time and the families were cheering each other on as the winners were announced by staff. This was definitely a highlight of our trip and a really nice touch from the hotel.

    After all of the excitement, it was time to rest in our rooms for a while and then venture to the swimming pool, which overlooks the sweeping desert. Unfortunately due to a menacing sandstorm, we only had a short dip before admitting defeat and exploring the rest of the hotel, including the spa facilities. Unable to resist temptation, we booked ourselves in for a relaxing 30 minute massage. This was a pleasant (but way too short) way to unwind, although there was some noise from the kids club, which is located directly outside the spa entrance.

    A range of outdoor activities are also available at the hotel, such as sand boarding, cycling through the desert, camel riding and quad bike safarisA range of outdoor activities are also available at the hotel, such as sand boarding, cycling through the desert, camel riding and quad bike safaris, but again due to that nasty sandstorm, we were unable to try them on this occasion. However, despite the unpredictable weather, we happily spent the rest of our time relaxing and enjoying our break from the city. The unfortunate experience from our check-in was almost forgotten by the end of our stay!

    We say “almost” because at the time of check out, we once again experienced an unnecessary delay due to staff miscommunication, resulting in another unwanted stretch at the lobby. This was frustrating, to say the least (especially at a time when hotels are trying to outdo each other with world-class customer service levels in the UAE) and hindered what would have otherwise been a pleasant family staycation. As Tilal Liwa undergoes a revamp and expansion in a bid to become a five-star resort, this is one area that we hope is not overlooked.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2015

    Asia de Cuba has a prime location at the St. Regis' Nation Towers Beachfront on the cornicheIf there’s a new restaurant that has generated a lot of buzz in Abu Dhabi over the past couple of weeks, it’s Asia de Cuba. Some of our readers might already be familiar with the brand, as it’s a well-established ‘Chino-Latino’ restaurant in New York and London, but will Asia de Cuba replicate its success in the Middle East?

    Early indications suggest the answer is a resounding yes, as people are flocking to experience the unique combination of Asian and Cuban cuisine on offer. Naturally, AroundTheUAE.com didn’t want to miss out and booked ourselves a table for dinner!

    Asia de Cuba, which boasts a prime location at the St. Regis' Nation Towers Beachfront on the corniche, has been designed to offer guests a vibrant and upbeat atmosphere. Aside from the main restaurant, the multi-faceted space includes a lounge, terrace bar and beach-side cabanas with stunning views of the Arabic Gulf.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    One of Asia de Cuba Abu Dhabi's specialities... the Seared TunaWe must admit the restaurant interiors are amongst the best we have seen in Abu Dhabi… incredibly stylish and chic, but also playful and full of life. Designer Ian Baylis has combined touches of Cuban décor, beautiful Italian furniture and quirky lighting to create a venue that appeals in equal measure for lunch and dinner.

    And now, onto the food! The menu has been created by Executive Chef Luis Pous with inspiration from Havana’s China Town, otherwise known as Barrio Chino de La Habana. There are two menus on offer, the main food menu and bar bites, depending on whether guests would prefer a full-on meal or lighter snacks. After struggling to decide between the two, we ended up ordering from both menus!

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON ABU DHABI'S ONLY REVOLVING RESTAURANT, STRATOS!

    From the bar bites, we selected Goat Cheese Fritters (with mango cucumber relish and jalapeno aioli), Chicken Chicharrones (with honey soy glaze) and Tuna Pica on crispy wontons, which is Asia de Cuba’s signature classic. From the main menu, we had Wagyu Strip Steak (with crispy chipotle soy potatoes and fresh hearts of palm salad) and Rocoto Miso Glazed Black Cod (with vegetable escabeche and avocado poblano purée). And finally for sides, we went for the Wok’d Yuca with Cuban mojo.

    Tempted? Don't miss out on Asia de Cuba's Guava Whipped Cheesecake with coconut tuile
    The food was extremely well cooked and full of flavour. To be honest, there was not a weak link amongst the dishes we selected and our plates were soon cleared. Top marks for the excellent presentation too, and a special thanks to our helpful waitress, who asked a few simple questions about our personal tastes and used the information to make some excellent recommendations from the menu.

    To complement the dining experience, an expert bar team will create tailored beverages to suit guests tastes. We ordered refreshing non-alcoholic cleansers, which were fantastic. A variety of handcrafted cocktails are also on offer, built from classic formulas and drawing inspiration from the national spirits of Cuba and Asia. Examples include signature Classic Heritage Rum Cocktails like the ‘Fresh Sugarcane Mojito’ and ‘Cuba Libre’, plus Original Craft Cocktails like the ‘Dihigo Martinez with Japanese whiskey, gin, sweet vermouth and Chinese plum’.

    Aside from the main restaurant, the multi-faceted space includes a lounge, terrace bar and beach-side cabanas with stunning views of the Arabic GulfDespite our full stomachs, the dessert menu was calling and we couldn’t resist! Again we turned to our waitress, who recommended the Tres Leches De Chocolate (with chocolate Szechuan peppercorn ice cream) and Guava Whipped Cheesecake (with coconut tuile). These are apparently the most popular dessert options at Asia de Cuba and were the perfect ending to our meal. Both come heavily recommended!

    After our visit to Asia de Cuba, we totally understand the hype this restaurant has generated. The venue was heaving and it’s obviously attracted a very high-end clientele, with everyone dressed to impress. While many restaurants take time to attract their target audience, this one seems to have become an instant hit.


    RESTAURANT REVIEW: Asia de Cuba, Abu Dhabi

    Posted at  2:00 AM  |  in  Restaurant  |  Read More»

    Asia de Cuba has a prime location at the St. Regis' Nation Towers Beachfront on the cornicheIf there’s a new restaurant that has generated a lot of buzz in Abu Dhabi over the past couple of weeks, it’s Asia de Cuba. Some of our readers might already be familiar with the brand, as it’s a well-established ‘Chino-Latino’ restaurant in New York and London, but will Asia de Cuba replicate its success in the Middle East?

    Early indications suggest the answer is a resounding yes, as people are flocking to experience the unique combination of Asian and Cuban cuisine on offer. Naturally, AroundTheUAE.com didn’t want to miss out and booked ourselves a table for dinner!

    Asia de Cuba, which boasts a prime location at the St. Regis' Nation Towers Beachfront on the corniche, has been designed to offer guests a vibrant and upbeat atmosphere. Aside from the main restaurant, the multi-faceted space includes a lounge, terrace bar and beach-side cabanas with stunning views of the Arabic Gulf.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    One of Asia de Cuba Abu Dhabi's specialities... the Seared TunaWe must admit the restaurant interiors are amongst the best we have seen in Abu Dhabi… incredibly stylish and chic, but also playful and full of life. Designer Ian Baylis has combined touches of Cuban décor, beautiful Italian furniture and quirky lighting to create a venue that appeals in equal measure for lunch and dinner.

    And now, onto the food! The menu has been created by Executive Chef Luis Pous with inspiration from Havana’s China Town, otherwise known as Barrio Chino de La Habana. There are two menus on offer, the main food menu and bar bites, depending on whether guests would prefer a full-on meal or lighter snacks. After struggling to decide between the two, we ended up ordering from both menus!

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON ABU DHABI'S ONLY REVOLVING RESTAURANT, STRATOS!

    From the bar bites, we selected Goat Cheese Fritters (with mango cucumber relish and jalapeno aioli), Chicken Chicharrones (with honey soy glaze) and Tuna Pica on crispy wontons, which is Asia de Cuba’s signature classic. From the main menu, we had Wagyu Strip Steak (with crispy chipotle soy potatoes and fresh hearts of palm salad) and Rocoto Miso Glazed Black Cod (with vegetable escabeche and avocado poblano purée). And finally for sides, we went for the Wok’d Yuca with Cuban mojo.

    Tempted? Don't miss out on Asia de Cuba's Guava Whipped Cheesecake with coconut tuile
    The food was extremely well cooked and full of flavour. To be honest, there was not a weak link amongst the dishes we selected and our plates were soon cleared. Top marks for the excellent presentation too, and a special thanks to our helpful waitress, who asked a few simple questions about our personal tastes and used the information to make some excellent recommendations from the menu.

    To complement the dining experience, an expert bar team will create tailored beverages to suit guests tastes. We ordered refreshing non-alcoholic cleansers, which were fantastic. A variety of handcrafted cocktails are also on offer, built from classic formulas and drawing inspiration from the national spirits of Cuba and Asia. Examples include signature Classic Heritage Rum Cocktails like the ‘Fresh Sugarcane Mojito’ and ‘Cuba Libre’, plus Original Craft Cocktails like the ‘Dihigo Martinez with Japanese whiskey, gin, sweet vermouth and Chinese plum’.

    Aside from the main restaurant, the multi-faceted space includes a lounge, terrace bar and beach-side cabanas with stunning views of the Arabic GulfDespite our full stomachs, the dessert menu was calling and we couldn’t resist! Again we turned to our waitress, who recommended the Tres Leches De Chocolate (with chocolate Szechuan peppercorn ice cream) and Guava Whipped Cheesecake (with coconut tuile). These are apparently the most popular dessert options at Asia de Cuba and were the perfect ending to our meal. Both come heavily recommended!

    After our visit to Asia de Cuba, we totally understand the hype this restaurant has generated. The venue was heaving and it’s obviously attracted a very high-end clientele, with everyone dressed to impress. While many restaurants take time to attract their target audience, this one seems to have become an instant hit.


    Tuesday, January 27, 2015

    Boasting a central location in Al Khalidiya, Mikado Café is different to the capital’s other Japanese offeringsWe’re big fans of Japanese cuisine at AroundTheUAE.com, as you might have gathered from our rave review of Inakaya. Imagine our delight, therefore, after hearing about the opening of a new Japanese café in Abu Dhabi!

    Boasting a central location in Al Khalidiya, Mikado Café is different to the capital’s other Japanese offerings. In contract to the high-end appeal of Inakaya – which promises a lavish, theatrical dining experience – Mikado Café is a more casual, down-to-earth option, where customers can relax with their family and friends, and enjoy an array of Japanese comfort food with subtle influences from the west.

    We ordered a selection of breakfast items, such as the peanut butter and marshmallow toast with chocolate toppingMikado Café is open between 8am and 11pm, seven days a week. We decided to visit in the morning and try the breakfast menu, although the lunch and dinner options seemed equally appealing… maybe next time!

    After receiving a warm welcome at the entrance, we were guided to our booth and handed the menu. The service here is excellent, the staff are really friendly and know the menu inside out, so don’t be afraid to ask if you need advice or information about the dishes on offer.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    To be honest, we were tempted by everything on the menu and struggled to make a decision. In the end, we ordered a massive selection of different items, such as the Nutella and banana crepes, the waffles (served with fruits, whipped cream and maple syrup), and peanut butter and marshmallow toast with chocolate topping.

    Breads and pastries are baked daily by Head Pastry Chef Angelica Brioschi and Head Baker, Chef Yoshio NishiyamaWhy stop there? We also selected the pancakes and, for a touch of savoury, an omelette with chicken sausage and buttered shokupan toast. Although the risk of a gluttonous food coma was high, we savoured each and every bite. The food was delicious and a notch above the routine breakfasts that are often served in the UAE.

    A Japanese breakfast is also available, consisting of miso soup, Japanese omelette, grilled fish, rich and pickles. On this occasion, we were simply too full to consider it!

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON ABU DHABI'S ONLY REVOLVING RESTAURANT, STRATOS!

    The drinks menu is also impressive. The iced teas at Mikado Café are really popular and we tried a couple of the jasmine green tea options (the passion fruit and grape flavours) and an uber healthy matcha green tea option (with mint and lime). Any beverage involving matcha is bang on trend at the moment, especially amongst the health conscious crowd. Mikado also offers the traditional hot latte and a soothing latte version… all the drinks we tried were incredibly well made, so take your pick!

    Mikado Cafe has chic wooden interiors and a highly trained team creating a welcoming ambience
    In conclusion, Mikado Café is a welcome addition to Abu Dhabi, and it’s great to have a new home-grown brand that has been specifically designed to meet the needs of UAE residents (kudos to Al Sayegh Group). Apparently it took over a year to develop the concept and finalise the right people, the right dishes and the right interior design.

    This attention to detail was obviously worthwhile and the café comes highly recommended. In fact, we were told a couple sitting in the booth next to ours have been visiting every weekend since the café opened, which speaks volumes.

    AroundTheUAE.com has been invited back to try the dinner options at Mikado Café and how could we decline? Stay tuned for a follow-up review in the near future!


    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Amalfi, Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

    RESTAURANT REVIEW: Mikado Café, Abu Dhabi

    Posted at  7:15 AM  |  in  Restaurant  |  Read More»

    Boasting a central location in Al Khalidiya, Mikado Café is different to the capital’s other Japanese offeringsWe’re big fans of Japanese cuisine at AroundTheUAE.com, as you might have gathered from our rave review of Inakaya. Imagine our delight, therefore, after hearing about the opening of a new Japanese café in Abu Dhabi!

    Boasting a central location in Al Khalidiya, Mikado Café is different to the capital’s other Japanese offerings. In contract to the high-end appeal of Inakaya – which promises a lavish, theatrical dining experience – Mikado Café is a more casual, down-to-earth option, where customers can relax with their family and friends, and enjoy an array of Japanese comfort food with subtle influences from the west.

    We ordered a selection of breakfast items, such as the peanut butter and marshmallow toast with chocolate toppingMikado Café is open between 8am and 11pm, seven days a week. We decided to visit in the morning and try the breakfast menu, although the lunch and dinner options seemed equally appealing… maybe next time!

    After receiving a warm welcome at the entrance, we were guided to our booth and handed the menu. The service here is excellent, the staff are really friendly and know the menu inside out, so don’t be afraid to ask if you need advice or information about the dishes on offer.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    To be honest, we were tempted by everything on the menu and struggled to make a decision. In the end, we ordered a massive selection of different items, such as the Nutella and banana crepes, the waffles (served with fruits, whipped cream and maple syrup), and peanut butter and marshmallow toast with chocolate topping.

    Breads and pastries are baked daily by Head Pastry Chef Angelica Brioschi and Head Baker, Chef Yoshio NishiyamaWhy stop there? We also selected the pancakes and, for a touch of savoury, an omelette with chicken sausage and buttered shokupan toast. Although the risk of a gluttonous food coma was high, we savoured each and every bite. The food was delicious and a notch above the routine breakfasts that are often served in the UAE.

    A Japanese breakfast is also available, consisting of miso soup, Japanese omelette, grilled fish, rich and pickles. On this occasion, we were simply too full to consider it!

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON ABU DHABI'S ONLY REVOLVING RESTAURANT, STRATOS!

    The drinks menu is also impressive. The iced teas at Mikado Café are really popular and we tried a couple of the jasmine green tea options (the passion fruit and grape flavours) and an uber healthy matcha green tea option (with mint and lime). Any beverage involving matcha is bang on trend at the moment, especially amongst the health conscious crowd. Mikado also offers the traditional hot latte and a soothing latte version… all the drinks we tried were incredibly well made, so take your pick!

    Mikado Cafe has chic wooden interiors and a highly trained team creating a welcoming ambience
    In conclusion, Mikado Café is a welcome addition to Abu Dhabi, and it’s great to have a new home-grown brand that has been specifically designed to meet the needs of UAE residents (kudos to Al Sayegh Group). Apparently it took over a year to develop the concept and finalise the right people, the right dishes and the right interior design.

    This attention to detail was obviously worthwhile and the café comes highly recommended. In fact, we were told a couple sitting in the booth next to ours have been visiting every weekend since the café opened, which speaks volumes.

    AroundTheUAE.com has been invited back to try the dinner options at Mikado Café and how could we decline? Stay tuned for a follow-up review in the near future!


    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Amalfi, Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

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