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13
Apr 16

A foodie weekend in South Wales

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South Wales is one of the most interesting places in the UK to visit for a foodie minibreak. It is so easy to drive to and with so many delicious places to discover, I recently hopped in the car and headed off on a gourmet luxury weekend, to discover the best South Wales has to offer.

Where to stay

Celtic Manor is a very well established 5 star hotel just outside Newport in South Wales. It has hosted hundreds of well-known faces and high profile events including the G20 and Ryder Cup. Celtic Manor actually calls itself a resort. It is an enormous enterprise incorporating a handful of individual, characterful hotel properties, a world-class gold course, a fantastic gym, spa and pool.

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You’re guaranteed a warm, Welsh welcome here. The staff are exceptionally friendly and helpful, and we really appreciated their unstinting cheeriness. This hotel is huge. Set in a building over 10 floors tall, it has enormous bedrooms with 360-degree views and luxurious marble bathrooms. We stayed in one of the original bedrooms which was very comfortable, but I believe quite a number of rooms have been modernized and refurbished, so I’d recommend investigating which room you would like when booking.

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Where to eat

There are two very new restaurants at Celtic Manor, and I had the great pleasure of visiting both during my stay.

Chef Richard Davies opened Epicure, the flagship fine dining restaurant at Celtic Manor back in February. Richard worked at Celtic Manor at the very start of his career, leaving around the time of the Millennium, and going on to work at Gordon Ramsay in London, and most recently, the Manor House at Castle Combe, where he won a Michelin star. Great British Menu viewers may also recognize Richard, who was a 2013 finalist, cooking in the Royal Albert Hall.

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Epicure is set at the front of the hotel in a smart, white dining room, decked out with opulent chandeliers and really is a wonderful setting for a special meal. Richard’s food is the kind of fine dining I love; a focus on superb ingredients, quality and provenance, and a style of cooking that emphasizes the individual flavours of the ingredients and makes them sing using a combination of classic and more unusual combinations of ingredients and fresh and intense flavours. This is supremely elegant cooking, and our dinner here was really memorable. The wine list is excellent, too, making an evening here really special indeed.

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Our second dinner was taken at The Manor House, which is adjacent to the main resort building. Cen is a brand new Asian fusion restaurant, run by Larkin Cen who is a Masterchef 2013 finalist. Dinner here was absolutely wonderful. Every dish was perfectly executed, interesting and full of complex flavours in an atmospheric, intimate but informal dining room. Cen’s cooking is so exciting with his short menu offering so many scrumptious dishes; we just couldn’t decide what to choose. It is also exceptional value, too.  We started with a selection of starters, including a sea bass ceviche with lime, chilli and black sesame, a Korean chicken bao filled with yuzu mayonnaise and spring onions and scallops with bacon dashi. All were sensational.

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For our main course, we moved on to sharing the incredible Peking duck, which was absolutely exquisite. I can’t recommend a visit more highly. Wines are served from the bar, and the selection is good. A pre-dinner drink by the fire in the Manor House should be an essential part of a visit, so do arrive with plenty of time before your reservation, if you can.

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Breakfast at Celtic Manor is taken in the Olive Tree restaurant at the front of the hotel. As expected with such a large hotel, this is a huge restaurant and quite an operation with so many guests to feed in the morning. Open from 7-10am, it gets very busy towards the end, so early is best if you fancy a quieter breakfast and no queue to be seated (although it is very well managed, and not too lengthy a wait).

What to do

The Celtic Manor Resort has so much to offer, I’d actually recommend taking the opportunity to stay for the weekend and enjoy all the facilities. There really is something for everyone. We started our weekend with fantastic Forum Spa signature massages using indulgent Elemis products. The spa, gym and pool at Celtic Manor are supremely luxurious and an essential part of a weekend. There’s a lot more to do at the hotel, too. We played a round of golf, there are bikes to hire, and an excellent crazy golf course, which will keep older children well amused – it is actually really quite challenging!

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The town of Caerleon is just a mile or two away and is home to quite the collection of Roman ruins which are worth a look. Or, head up the Usk valley for a walk, a drink in the Newbridge on Usk pub. Tredegar House and Chepstow Castle are both really enjoyable to visit, too.

Getting there

South Wales is very well connected by road. Celtic manor is just 15-20 minutes drive from the M4 road crossing into Wales, which passes right past Celtic Manor. The resort is sat on top of a huge hill, which is really rather steep to climb. There is some parking underneath the hotel, but otherwise, the majority of the spaces are situated a short walk back down the hill. I had just taken delivery of my lovely new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV just a couple of days before we visited, giving me plenty of space to fill with my luggage, and a supremely comfortable ride there and back. We took advantage of the rather indulgent Valet Parking service, which added an even greater sense of luxury to our stay.

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Exploring further afield

Newport is just 20 minutes’ easy drive up the motorway into Cardiff City Centre, which offers an amazing selection of restaurants, shops and culture. Real foodies may like to head up to Abergavenny, home to one of the UK’s leading food festivals, and is a true foodie town. Finally, Penderyn distillery is a must, to discover their amazing selection of Welsh whiskies and spirits, all distilled on the edge of the Breacon Beacons.

Thank you to Celtic Manor for inviting me to stay as a guest and to Mitsubishi for providing the Outlander PHEV.


25
Mar 16

A chocolate themed cruise with Paul A. Young

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Setting sail from Southampton

A couple of weeks ago, I set sail on a short European cruise with P&O cruises, on a chocolate themed cruise to Amsterdam and Belgium, hosted by master chocolatier Paul A. Young on board Ventura.

Sailaway from Amsterdam

Sailaway from Amsterdam

My trip was one of a most interesting range of food themed cruises organized by P&O. The Southampton-based company works with a number of celebrity chefs as their Food Heroes, including Michelin-starred Atul Kochhar, James Martin, Eric Lanlard and Marco Pierre White – and most have their own restaurants on board every ship in the fleet. P&O also work with food and wine experts Paul A Young, Charlie Turnbull and Olly Smith to curate their food and wine menus on board. The P&O food ambassadors regularly sail, which provides the unique opportunity to spend time with them as part of a very small group – either on a shore excursion, masterclass or talk on board. Britannia, P&O’s flagship vessel even has its own top-of-the-range cookery school from which it runs cookery classes with James Martin and Mary Berry.

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Sailaway

Cruising

When considering a cruise, I’m always guided by the destinations. Cruising offers such a unique opportunity to visit so many interesting destinations and the most comfortable, hassle-free base from which to travel. One thing I love about cruising that I hadn’t considered for experiencing it were the sea days. I now look for a cruise that offers sea days as part of the schedule. Unlike any other type of holiday, you are simply forced to relax and enjoy the facilities, which makes a wonderful change. The enforced relaxation on a cruise is hugely appealing aspect of this kind of holiday.

Our base for the week was a Deluxe cabin on board Ventura, which was extremely spacious, with a giant bed, sitting room area and balcony and bathroom with bath and shower. The cabin was comfortable, spotlessly maintained by our cabin attendant, and very well equipped with everything we needed for this week. The bathroom was a good size too and generously stocked with White Company toiletries. It was particularly nice having the cabin available at any time of the day, again, which is a experience you don’t get in a hotel, meaning you have your own private base any time you want it. Guests do still enjoy luxuries such as twice-daily housekeeping, breakfast in bed, should you wish, and full room service, which help make the cruising experience even more relaxing. The standout experience however, had to be waking up in a new place every day, and enjoying the ever-changing surroundings from the comfort of your own cabin.

Of course, there is so much to see and do on board, you could choose just to stay on board in port – and many guests do – with swimming pools, a spa, a theatre and a huge array of activities to choose from, you needn’t leave the ship for the duration of your holiday.

Amsterdam skyline from Ventura

Amsterdam skyline from Ventura

If you are keen to head out and explore, you’ll be able to leave the ship at your leisure and do your own thing, or participate in one of the organised tours ashore, which are hugely enjoyable, and of course, an easy way to enjoy the very best to see and do ashore.

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Paul was our Food Hero on board this cruise, staying on for the duration, and hosting a range of talks and events every day. On our sea day, Paul hosted a fantastic masterclass in the kitchen of Sindhu restaurant. Over two hours, Paul showed a group of 15 participants just how to buy, melt, temper and cook with chocolate, making a wide range of ganaches and truffles with a range of ingredients. This was particularly interesting, as we learnt a very wide range of ways to work with chocolate, tasted a selection of great quality chocolates, and discovered some particularly innovative flavour combinations.

Paul's Masterclass in action

Paul’s Masterclass in action

In Belgium, we headed off to Ghent for the day with Paul, where we took a walking tour of the city, followed by a chocolate making demonstration and tasting at the most wonderful artisan chocolate shop, with Luc van Hoorebeke, master chocolatier showing us just how he makes his top quality chocolates in the kitchen in his eponymous shop.

Paul A. Young & Luc van Hoorebeke

Paul A. Young & Luc van Hoorebeke

Dining

The food on board Ventura is excellent. The choice and availability is very good indeed. No matter what time of day or night, you will be able to enjoy a good meal. There is a large self-service restaurant at the back of the ship, which offers the most basic dining options, but is open throughout the day or night, so you can drop in for some food whenever you fancy.

For a more luxurious experience, then the fine dining outlets are highly recommended. They offer a very high level of cooking, service and surroundings, for a relatively small additional charge for dinner (£20-30 per head).

First up was Sindhu, Atul Kochar’s restaurant, serving Atul’s signature style; refined modern Indian cooking. Starters include scallops with parsnip and nigella seeds, pan fried with the spices, and a delicately spiced puréed parsnip, and a fantastic soft shell crab. Main courses feature a selection of curries. The lamb rogan josh was the standout dish, with a deeply flavoured sauce, spiked with black peppercorns and served with cumin seeded pilau rice, naan and a paratha roti. The food at Sindhu is consistently delicious, and the menu is perfectly judged to offer both an interesting range of Indian dishes, as well as some superbly executed British curries.

We also visited Ethicurian twice, the fine dining restaurant at the back of the ship. Serving classic European dishes with a contemporary twist, and a large deck with outside seating at the back of the ship, this was a particularly lovely spot, serving top quality, perfectly-executed cooking. The whisky cured smoked salmon was my very favourite starter, and the chateaubriand carved at the table was superb. This is luxurious, traditional cooking, done really well, and served with style from an excellent team of waiting staff.

Travellers with food allergies can rest assured that they are well-looked after. The kitchens are experienced at dealing with food allergies and intolerances, and make a heroic effort to cater for anyone with restrictions with the utmost care.

Wine lovers will adore the incredible selection of wines on board, offering a selection of really interesting wines from all over the world at a very competitive price, too. I really, really recommend an evening in the Glass House, Olly Smith’s bar and restaurant. It offers a rare and wonderful opportunity to try so many exceptional wines, both by the glass, and at a really reasonable price.

There really is something for everyone on board P&O cruises. A cruise on board Ventura is one that would appeal to couples and families alike – with plenty of activities and night-time venues for adults, and a day and night kids club, meaning that everyone in the family can have a good time, too.

Getting there

This trip was a drive cruise from Southampton, which was another revelation. Honestly and truly, it made the experience so easy. Avoiding the hassle of a an airport and luggage restrictions is a joy. I wasn’t expecting embarkation to be so easy. Simply drive up to the cruise terminal, and you are met, in the car, by P&O staff who take your luggage from the boot and park your car for you. If only that happened ever time I travelled.

Thank you to P&O Cruises for inviting me to experience a cruise on board Ventura. We travelled on a 4-day cruise to Amsterdam and Zeebrugge as guests. Thank you also to photographer Mike O’Dwyer. I have used some of his images in the piece. Mike travelled with me on the trip.


18
Dec 15

A foodie guide to Madrid

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El Retiro

Madrid is one of my favourite European cities and so I was thrilled to return last month to put together a list of foodie recommendations for a trip for you.

I lived in Madrid a decade ago, which was an extremely happy time for me. I have very fond memories of Madrid, but I was interested to return and see if it lived up to expectations, no longer having a direct connection to the city.

We headed off to Madrid at the end of last month for a long weekend and left very reluctantly. Madrid was even better than I remember, with many interesting developments on the food scene. It’s not a capital city that offers a long list of landmark attractions, but it’s relaxed atmosphere, elegant buildings and rich culture make it a wonderful weekend destination.

Madrid is a great year-round destination for a city break. The winters are cold (comparatively), as Madrid is a high-altitude city surrounded by mountains, but it enjoys glorious sunshine and blue skies, even if it’s cold outside. We found this greatly uplifting, and even sat in short sleeves in the sunshine to have an alfresco picnic in the park on 1st December. Summers are hot – I recall August being unbearable – so I’d suggest avoiding July and August for a visit, as it will probably be 45 degrees Celsius plus.

The food scene in Madrid has improved greatly over the last decade. The best of Spanish food is celebrated, and the opening of new, sophisticated food markets has made a great addition to the city. Whilst there is a great range of cuisines on offer in Madrid’s restaurant scene, we found ourselves returning to Spanish food. I really like traditional Spanish food. When the ingredients are first-rate, it really is excellent. Gastronomically, it’s not the most varied or refined cuisine, but when it’s good, it’s very good indeed, and as it is so difficult to find really good Spanish food out of Spain, I never miss the opportunity to make the most of it when I’m there.

El mercado San Miguel

El mercado San Miguel

Where to eat

One of the most famous restaurants in Madrid is Casa Lucio. It’s a celebrity favourite and has been visited by anyone who’s anyone in Madrid. We sat next to some very famous diners on the next table. This is a traditional Spanish restaurant, both in terms of menu and experience. A very discreet entrance leads to a bar, above which rows of seriously amazing quality hams hang. You need to book well in advance to get a table, and your name is carefully checked against the list before leading you round to the dining room.

Casa Lucio

Casa Lucio

The house speciality is huevos rotos to start – a plate of chips topped with fried eggs. Order some jamón on the side for the most authentic accompaniment. I had never tried egg and chips before – it was never something I would have eaten at home or have made, but it was delectable. It’s a must-try. Moving on to the main course, the suckling pig is a house speciality. It’s sweet and tender with thick, crispy skin. Expensive, but a lovely experience. A great wine list, too.

El Ñeru is an Asturian restaurant just a few steps away from the Plaza Major and the Opera House. I first visited a decade ago, on the recommendation of a family friend based in Madrid. It’s a very traditional restaurant again, serving super traditional dishes, but the food is delicious and the service is lovely. You must try the Asturian cider to drink. The tortilla and chorizo en sidra make a gorgeous starter. For the main, the fabada is a must; a bean and pork stew, served with crusty white bread to dip into the flavourful sauce. The fish is also lovely. I chose the merluza a la plancha, or grilled hake and it was superb.

La Dolores

La Dolores

For a traditional and delicious tapas, great wines and beer, then try La Dolores on Plaza de Jesús. I first visited with my parents years ago, and it was just as good when we returned on this trip. The bar is packed out, and there are a small number of cosy tables at the back. The tapas are lovely, especially the crisps (yes, crisps), jamón, and queso, which is an aged manchego. We spent an excellent evening sat in the window, nibbling away on delicious tapas and enjoying an excellent Ribera del Duero 2010.

The Mercado San Miguel is a fairly newly restored wrought iron and class market just next to the Plaza Mayor. It’s full of interesting stands selling wines, beers and a very wide range of Spanish food, from meat to seafood, to bocadillos, tapas, croquetas and montaditos. It is an absolute must visit for any foodie, even for a look. It gets very busy at weekends, but do try and stop for a drink and something to eat. The cava and croquetas de jamón are to die for.

La Mallorquina

La Mallorquina

Madrileños have a sweet tooth. The most traditional cake shop in town is La Mallorquina in the Puerta del Sol. I first visited with Spanish friends around 12 years ago, and this was my first visit back. It’s a traditional family owned cake shop, selling takeaway Spanish cakes and sweets, with a bar downstairs and tables and waiter service upstairs. I imagine it’s hardly changed since the 1950s but in terms of Spanish cakes, this is as good as it gets. Try a coffee – which has to be a café con leche (always made with hot, UHT milk – you get used to it) and a napoletana de crema, which is a sort of pain au chocolat type pastry, filled with custard. Spanish cakes lack the refinement of French pâtisserie, but some are very nice indeed, and a stop off here gives you a glimpse of real life Madrid, which you don’t get at San Ginés, the famous chocolate con churros establishment nearby.

And to drink, try typical Spanish drinks, such as some excellent Spanish cava, red wines which are most commonly Rioja or Ribera del Duero, a lager, such as Mahou, or a tinto de verano, which is a light drink made from red wine and Fanta limon. It sounds atrocious, but it’s actually really rather good.

NH Paseo del Prado

NH Paseo del Prado

Where to stay

Our hotel was the NH Paseo del Prado. NH is an upmarket hotel chain, which has very recently refurbished this 5* hotel. The location is absolutely amazing, right on the Paseo del Prado, and very close to all the superb museums and galleries in Madrid. It’s also in walking distance of the city centre. We walked for miles, but the Royal Palace, which is probably the furthest point in the city centre from here is only about 30 minutes walk from the hotel. We only took public transport to and from the airport, as we were able walk everywhere we wanted to go comfortably.

The service in the NH Paseo del Prado was really excellent. The welcome was incredibly warm and staff couldn’t do enough to help us, especially Raul on Reception, who willingly rang round and made restaurant reservations for me each night. Rooms are on the small side, as is the way with city centre hotels, but very comfortable and clean. The marble bathrooms were nice, too. Breakfast was a highlight. The choice was just amazing, the quality of items on offer was really excellent, and the staff, charming and helpful. An excellent base, and one I’d wholeheartedly recommend.

El Prado

El Prado

What to do

Madrid really is a capital city to be explored on foot. Whilst walking around, you can really appreciate the lovely squares and shady streets in the heart of the city. You’ll find many sunny spots along the way to stop for coffee or a beer in the sunshine. Plaza Santa Ana, Plaza Mayor and El Palacio Real are all must-see places.

El Palacio Real

El Palacio Real

Art and culture are real highlights in Madrid. The Prado Museum is simply world class. Half a day is enough to touch the surface there, for me. The Spanish Old Master collection is exquisite. The Thyssen Museum is also very, very interesting and contains a really broad collection of pieces.

The Retiro park is an absolutely lovely spot for a walk, a coffee in the sunshine, or even a row around the lake. The Crystal Palace often houses temporary art exhibitions.

How to get there

Madrid is reasonably well-served by airlines operating from all over the UK. We flew from Gatwick with Easyjet, which was a fairly miserable experience, but the flights are quite regular and we paid around £80 per head for a return.

Once you arrive in Madrid, you can take the Metro into the city centre very easily and inexpensively, at 5 EUR per adult. It should take around 30-45 minutes, depending on your destination. Trains are every 5-6 minutes. There are plenty of taxis available too, which cost around 35 EUR for a single journey into the city centre.


18
Nov 15

A guide to eating out in Dubai, 2015

Dubai’s restaurant scene is constantly evolving, so I’ve recently been back to eat my way around the city and bring you my favourite places to eat out now.

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The best Italian restaurant in Dubai right now has to be Ronda Locatelli, Giorgio Locatelli’s restaurant at the Atlantis The Palm. The menu is extensive, offering a wide range of regional Italian foods, and, most impressively, a superb range of gluten free foods, from pastas to handmade pizzas. The restaurant itself is set around a round wood-fired oven, in which the pizzas are cooked, and which are a popular choice here. We tried the gluten free pizza, which was excellent, and made to order from scratch, including the base, which we watched being stretched and shaped as we waited. We also tried the excellent lamb cutlets, cooked pink to order and served on a generous base of delicious roasted Mediterranean vegetables. This is generous, authentic yet refined Italian cooking, served in stylish yet relaxed surroundings.
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In terms of best cheap eats, I find Karam Beirut at the Dubai Mall still as good as ever. It’s a convenient place to stop when shopping, and the food is just as fresh and flavoursome as ever. The hummous is perfectly seasoned, the lamb and pistachio kebabs are to die for, the salads are perfectly balanced and super fresh, and everything comes accompanied by the freshest pitta bread, piping hot from the oven, and a platter of delicious fresh vegetables. A real gem, and great value, too.

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For a special meal to remember, I recommend Rhodes W1, Gary Rhodes’ restaurant at Grosvenor House. The menu here is Modern British, with a focus on fresh, British, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours, and an emphasis on a sharing concept, and so we tried a four course sharing menu, with two small different plates comprising each course, which was a lovely way to try as much as possible from the menu. Not only that, but the sharing concept provokes conversation and thought with your dining companions, which makes the experience even more memorable. The food at Rhodes W1 is not only fantastically executed, but the exciting, complex and well-developed flavours in every course were hugely satisfying, interesting and enjoyable. The wine list is interesting and varied, and the staff are hugely knowledgeable, and will advise on what suits your tastes and pairs best with the food. I highly recommend trying the matched glasses of house wine to accompany the courses, as we did, which offers interest and good value for money.


11
Nov 15

A trip to the Dubai Marina

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Dubai’s Marina area is one of the most vibrant and exciting parts of this exhilarating 24-hour city. Its glittering skyscrapers; extensive waterways and vibrant restaurants make for a thrilling visit, both at day and night. Many regular visitors to Dubai will always stay in this part of town, so I recently paid a visit to experience it for myself.

My hotel for this visit was Grosvenor House, the renowned destination hotel, which was the first hotel to be built in Dubai’s Marina back in 2005. In the following decade, Grosvenor House has expanded by building a second hotel tower in 2011, and the site is now spread across the two buildings, with an interconnecting walkway. Many other hotels have opened in the area, but Grosvenor House still retains its popular reputation, and so I was keen to experience what keeps drawing guests back time and time again.

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Grosvenor House is a little older than many Dubai hotels, but it retains its very high level of comfort and luxury in the rooms, and a real sense of glamour and fun in the lobby, restaurants and bars. There are a number of different types of accommodation available, from hotel rooms, to apartments and residences split across the two towers. We stayed in Tower One in a standard room, which was extremely comfortable and had an excellent corner balcony with views running down Dubai’s coastline, past the Palm and Burj Al Arab. The beds are enormous and extremely comfortable, with crisp sheets and sumptuous pillows. There is plenty of space to work and unpack, even in the entry-level rooms. The bathrooms are decked out in two types of marble and are equipped with Bulgari toiletries. Upon check in, guests are invited to upgrade their room to a suite, complete with access to the Level 5 lounge in Tower 2 for an additional 350 AED per night. We didn’t take this offer up, but it would appeal to anyone interested in a quieter communal space to eat and relax, and it includes all food and drink throughout the day from the bar.

Breakfast is taken in Sloane’s, the buffet restaurant on the Mezzanine level, which sits above the lobby area. As with many hotels in the Middle East, the choice is enormous and extremely international, as is often the case in this part of the world. Sloane’s is a large restaurant with mostly indoor seating, and a few outside tables set on a sunny terrace overlooking the Marina entrance. The breakfast here was, without question, the best hotel breakfast I’ve ever had. From beautifully made coffees, to beautifully fresh, sweet fruit juices, the butteriest croissants and individual brioche that look and taste as though they have just been baked in the very best Parisien boulangerie. Food intolerances are extremely well catered for, and the chefs and staff are willing to go out of their way to make you pretty much anything you like that suits your requirements. All the hot food on the buffet is made in-house from scratch, too, so you can easily find out exactly what it contains easily. Allow a good hour to take a leisurely breakfast if you can each morning. Even after staying in the hotel for several days, there is always something new to try every day.

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Grosvenor House is famous for its social scene and its bars and restaurants are legendary in Dubai, frequented by non-residents, too. The hotel’s three bars include Embassy, Toro Toro and the Buddha Bar, which is currently under refurbishment and will open again in November. We visited Embassy for a couple of cocktails, and absolutely loved it there. Set at the top of Tower 2, it offers sumptuous and exclusive surroundings in which to unwind, and the cocktails are divine, too. The Palm and the Blackberry and Black Pepper Margarita were firm favourites.

But the best experience of all was dinner at Rhodes W1, Gary Rhodes’ restaurant, also situated on the Mezzanine floor. The restaurant has been recently refurbished, and offers a clean, light and bright dining room and bar with a white walls and stylish yellow and green furnishings, with a bright, garden-like theme. It is a great space, and the elegant surroundings have a wonderfully lively feel, in keeping with Grosvenor House’s atmosphere, with an open kitchen and really upbeat music, which really makes the restaurant feel fun and relaxed.

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The first impression of Rhodes W1 was the warmest of welcomes. Gary has assembled a great team here, who are extremely friendly, welcoming, knowledgeable and passionate about what they do. This is no mean feat, and the smooth, slick operation between the staff is a real pleasure to experience throughout the night.

The menu here is Modern British, with a focus on fresh, British, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours, and an emphasis on a sharing concept, and so we tried a four course sharing menu, with two small different plates comprising each course, which was a lovely way to try as much as possible from the menu. Not only that, but the sharing concept provokes conversation and thought with your dining companions, which makes the experience even more memorable.

We started with some small bites, which include an excellent plate of citrus cured scallop slices in a delicately flavoured sauce made with fennel and salted lemon and topped with micro leaves. The scallops were absolutely sublime, melting in the mouth and whetting our appetites for more. This was followed by a superb orange, black olive and fresh herb salad. It was beautifully prepared and presented and was a sensationally balanced dish, with each mouthful punctuated with sweet, sour and salty flavours, and interesting textures of the cool orange and little nuggets of crystallised hazelnuts. I’ll be trying to recreate this at home.

Next up was a dish of pan-fried sea bass, with beautiful flakes of fish and crispy skin, sat on a bed of richly flavoured shrimps with tomatoes and lentils. The complex, savoury flavours paired fantastically well together. We then moved on to a dish of juicy deboned and sautéed chicken thighs, baked with a honey pine nut pesto and nicely al dente sugar snap peas and asparagus, with a lime crème fraîche, which I could have happily eaten on its own, and found myself mentally recording every detail of the dish to try and make it at home.

The main course comprised another plate of supremely succulent chargrilled sirloin steak, topped with buttered spinach, tomatoes and black olives, and a highly successful basil cream hollandaise, which provided a wonderful balance of herby acidity and rich creaminess to accompany the steak. Then we enjoyed some superb Welsh lamb cutlets with a deeply flavoured sesame cabbage with ginger, which was not an accompaniment I had ever considered to pair with lamb, but again was hugely successful.

We finished our meal with another amazing duo of plates, including a perfect raspberry soufflé and a roast pear with Stilton ice cream and a red wine syrup, which was a really great balance of sweet and savoury flavours and made a fantastic end to the meal.

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The food at Rhodes W1 is not only fantastically executed, but the exciting, complex and well-developed flavours in every course were hugely satisfying, interesting and enjoyable. The wine list is interesting and varied, and the staff are hugely knowledgeable, and will advise on what suits your tastes and pairs best with the food. I highly recommend trying the matched glasses of house wine to accompany the courses, as we did, which offers interest and good value for money.

We informed Rhodes W1 of dietary requirements in advance and were produced with a special menu on arrival, which we were told Chef Lee Adams had personally prepared for us, which was much appreciated. It made the experience easy and enjoyable, knowing they had prepared for us in advance.

Grosvenor House is a sumptuous, sophisticated hotel, which, quite uniquely, offers all elements of Dubai life to guests, from glamour, to fine dining, to nearby shopping, exciting nightlife, swimming pools and beach access at sister hotel Le Royal Meridien. It is a very special place indeed.

Thank you to Grosvenor House for inviting me to stay as a guest.


10
Nov 15

Top Activities for Foodies in Dubai

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This may come as a surprise, but the Atlantis Aquaventure waterpark is a tremendous place for foodies to visit. Stop for lunch or dress for dinner and head to Georgio Locatelli’s Ronda restaurant, which is situated right by the Atlantis restaurant. This is a stylish restaurant with a varied, interesting menu. The food is delicious, freshly cooked and beautifully presented. The Atlantis waterpark is easily the standout water park in Dubai and the UAE. There is a great range of thrilling rides suitable for all ages and levels of adventure. From circumnavigating the gentle waterways in a rubber ring, to firing yourself out of an eagle’s beak atop a pyramid into a near vertical drop, there is something for everyone here. It’s newly built, incredibly clean and very large as a park, so you shouldn’t have to queue for long to get on the rides. A really fun day, and evening and a rare find to enjoy such excellent, family friendly food at a major tourist attraction.

For a taste of old Dubai and a chance to shop for food, head to Bur Dubai and explore the spice souq. Situated in the oldest part of Dubai, the old heart of the city, the souk is very easy to find. You’ll find bags of spices piled high, boxes of saffron, dried flowers and herbs and other local delicacies, such as honey, dates and saffron. Check the freshness of what you’re buying by trying some, if you can, as vendors are always willing to allow you to taste. Don’t be swayed by pushy sales people, and head further into the souq, down the narrow pathways to discover more authentic, quieter shops, where you can browse in peace. A really fun experience.

Visit the farmers market. You might not know this, but the UAE is a large producer of fresh dairy products, fruit, vegetables and meat. The market operates every Friday morning from November to early May on the terrace outside the Jumeirah Emirates Towers. You’ll find produce from Oman, India and Pakistan here, too. Try the jiggery palm sugar and Sidr honey from Yemen.

Head to the Al Fahidi neighbourhood near to the creek for a strong feel of traditional Arab culture. The Dubai Museum is just around the corner and absurdly cheap to visit. This is a small settlement of low-rise clay buildings, built closely together and connected by narrow, shady streets. Here, you’ll find traditional cafes, where you can stop for a fresh mint lemonade or a bright green freshly made juice, providing welcome respite from the heat. Coffee lovers may also be interested in the Dubai coffee museum here too. It’s small but interesting for serious coffee lovers, who’ll find a café upstairs to sample a wide range of international coffee beans and styles of production.


2
Nov 15

Luxury in the desert

WA_pool_28_745x420_FitToBoxSmallDimension_Center There are many wonderful reasons to visit the UAE, but as a holiday destination, its main draws are its excellent weather, particularly in the winter, and the superb level of luxury and service in the hospitality sector.

Ras Al Khaimah is around an hour away from the mind-blowing city of Dubai, yet it feels a world away. Sat between the Arabian Gulf and the majestically beautiful Hajar mountains and rolling, red dunes.

Ras Al Khaimah, or RAK as it’s known, is the northernmost of the seven United Arab Emirates (UAE), and is fast becoming a major tourist destination, favoured for being much less developed than Dubai, and for its miles of coastline, untouched ancient sites and incredibly laidback and relaxing atmosphere.

In search of a break and some serious relaxation in the lap of luxury, we headed to the Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al Khaimah. A good friend recommended it: “you won’t be disappointed”. Our expectations were high.

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On arrival, we were swiftly checked in and shown to our room, a junior suite. Rooms here are seriously impressive, even by UAE standard and we had our own dressing room, sitting room and balcony, plus giant bedroom. This hotel is enormous, and rooms are huge, too, the corridors are wide, and there is plenty of room on the beach. There is space for everything here. Bedrooms are exquisitely designed, with hand carved wooden headboards, custom made stag coral lights, sparkly tiled and marble decked bathrooms, enormous beds with supremely soft sheets and your choice of pillow to suit you. The attention to detail and craftsmanship in this hotel is quite something.

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It’s only been open for two years, having been painstakingly designed by Gallery HBA in London, drawing inspiration from the Arabian palaces that dot the peninsula. Guests enter the hotel through a gargantuan archway, and meet a 10 foot Smith of Derby custom made clock, sweeping staircases and intricate fountains when entering the hotel. Wall panels are covered in turquoise silk, hand stitched with gold sequins flowing in a wave like pattern, reflecting the Arabian Sea. Again, quite something.

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There’s an enormous private beach here with friendly beach staff who arrange your towels with a smile and enquire about your plans for the day. There’s a swim up beach bar, several cabanas for those seeking shade, a proper swimming pool for adults and plenty of designated space for children to play and swim.

This is a hotel geared up around relaxation and pampering. There isn’t much to do nearby, and it’s situated around 20 minutes from RAK city, so make the most of being here and just chill. For anyone feeling active, there is a deluxe 18-hole golf course on site, plus a state of the art gym and of course, the warm, clear sea in which to swim, which I made sure I did at least twice a day – when it’s hot, it’s pure bliss to wallow in the water.

For a real treat, you can try the spa, which even has its own private VIP suite. Try a Bee-Sting facial, using bee sting venom to improve your complexion, and is finished with a 24 carat gold serum. Only in the UAE!

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Breakfast is taken in Qasr al Bahar, the hotel’s buffet style restaurant and is really excellent. There is a superb choice of food on offer, and all of it is nicely cooked and presented. This is a super elegant dining room, especially for breakfast, and the service is just great from really engaged, friendly staff.

We returned to Qasr Al Bahar for dinner one night too, which offers an international buffet, and was fantastic. The choice, again, is pretty staggering, but the food was really delicious, and cooked freshly for us. The chefs are incredibly helpful, and were more than willing to accommodate any special requests.
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The food here is really fabulous, too. Marjan is the top-floor Lebanese restaurant. Chef Mounir creates vibrant, authentic flavours, and everything on the menu here is so fresh, exciting and delicious. The dining room is also incredibly stylish and elegant, filled with plenty of quiet, private corners in which to dine. Start with the cold mezze, and the saffron hummus is unmissable. The fattoush was fantastic, and made without bread, and the tabouleh was superb with a delicious sweet and sour tang from pomegranate molasses. The hot mezze are excellent, too. The rakakat, a cheese filled pastry, were sublime. Must-try dishes are also the lamb meatballs with a tangy cherry sauce and the labneh bin awarma, which is labneh topped with confit lamb with some mint, garlic and pine nuts. Excellent mains include the shish taouk, which is grilled chicken with garlic sauce, and the camel kebab with saffron rice. Cocktails and juices here are excellent, too.  Service is slick and professional.

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Lexington Grill is a super glamorous New York style steakhouse at the Waldorf Astoria. The dining room is absolutely gorgeously decorated with wood paneled walls and a red marbled floor, and sets the scene for a grown-up, sophisticated evening. We settled ourselves in and made ourselves comfortable, and before we knew it, a trolley wheeled over, offering us our choice of champagne cocktail. Starters are a mix of American and French classics, and provide a light, fresh start to the meal. My Alaskan crab cakes were very good, and the thick slices of foie gras a real treat. Food intolerances are sensitively and helpfully dealt with here, and ever effort is made to accommodate. Chef Lij came out to discuss our requirements personally, which was much appreciated. For the main, course, decided to share two steaks, both rib eye and cooked medium rare. One was the U.S. Prime Black Angus Beef, and the other was the Australian Natural Kobe Style Wagyu Beef Grade 7. It was really interesting comparing the two cuts side by side. Both were excellent and seasoned using Lexington Grill’s fantastic seasoning blend, which is presented to diners as a parting gift. A perfect destination for a romantic, special evening.

UMI

UMI is one of the very best Japanese restaurants I’ve ever visited. The restaurant is decorated beautifully, and one feels almost transported to Japan on entering. There are two live cooking sections in the restaurant and visitors can sit either in the sushi section, the teppanyaki section, or somewhere in between, which is what we did. UMI is home to the largest collection of sake in the UAE. If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend you ask for Sunil to guide you through – which is what we did. It was fascinating to pair the sake with the food and try the different grades of sake. Sunil is a fountain of knowledge, too. There’s a huge amount of choice on the menu, and we really struggled to pin our choices down. Chef Yukatade came out to discuss our dietary requirements with us, which was helpful. We decided to share a selection of nigiri, which were extremely good, served with homemade pickled ginger, which was sensational. We followed this with the miso black cod, which was utterly sensational and I cannot recommend it highly enough. A platter of delicious exotic fruits completed the meal nicely. Great food, gorgeous surroundings and delicious sake.

One of the main advantages of staying in a hotel offering excellent house is you’re only a few steps away from the lift to whisk you back up to your room. There is something particularly special about returning to your room that’s been beautifully tidied, well furnished with Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries and spritzed with divine Neom room fragrances for you – it’s all part and parcel of the experience here – preparing you for a great night’s sleep so you can wake up and do it all again tomorrow.

Bed and breakfast rates are extremely good value. We paid 875 AED (£155 at the time of publication) for bed and breakfast in a junior suite, plus the standard 10% service charge. Expect to pay from £50 per head for dinner. Worth every penny.


28
Oct 15

Date Crumble Muffins

 

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This is a recipe I picked up on my visit to Ras Al Khaimah. Dates are a national staple of the UAE, and the quality of the dates grown here are just sensational. Visit the markets, and you can find fresh yellow dates for sale, visit the supermarket and you’ll find cheap dates and date syrup available, and visit the high-end boutiques for finger-sized dates, stuffed with whole nuts, enrobed in chocolate and spiced with cardamom. In fact, there’s even a date souk in Abu Dhabi you can visit.

I always return with plenty of dates in my suitcase, as well as a couple of bottles of date syrup to tide me over until my next visit. Although both are available in the UK, there’s nothing quite like UAE dates, to me.

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Although date muffins are not necessarily the typical cuisine one might imagine found in the Middle East, that’s where the idea came from. I’ve adjusted the recipe quite radically, as I didn’t find the originally worked frightfully well. These muffins are easy to make, and rely on storecupboard ingredients, so they’re a good one to rustle up when the cupboard is bare. The quality of dates here is crucial – do be sure to choose good, fudgy dates, not the dry cubes so often sold for use in baking.

These are excellent served with good, strong coffee.

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27
Oct 15

A Foodie Guide to Ras Al Khaimah

The food in the UAE is incredibly good – you have the best chefs and ingredients from all over the world available to you, and the choice and variety is just astonishing.

Ras Al Khaimah has some really fantastic restaurants spanning a wide range of cuisines. As is the way in the UAE, they’re all based in hotels. Here are my top 5 restaurants in Ras Al Khaimah, plus some top tips for local food shopping, be it for some regional specialities to take home, or sampling the best local produce.

Marjan

Marjan

Where to eat

Middle Eastern

Emiratis have really adopted Lebanese cuisine as their own, and it is widely enjoyed throughout the country. Marjan is quite easily the very best Lebanese restaurant I’ve ever visited. Chef Mounir creates the most vibrant flavours, and everything on the menu here is so fresh, exciting and delicious. The dining room is also incredibly stylish and elegant, filled with plenty of quiet, private corners in which to dine. Start with the cold mezze, and the saffron hummus is unmissable. The fattoush was fantastic, and made without bread, and the tabouleh was superb with a delicious sweet and sour tang from pomegranate molasses. The hot mezze are excellent, too. The rakakat, a cheese filled pastry, were sublime. Must-try dishes are also the lamb meatballs with a tangy cherry sauce and the labneh bin awarma, which is labneh topped with confit lamb with some mint, garlic and pine nuts. Excellent mains include the shish taouk, which is grilled chicken with garlic sauce, and the camel kebab with saffron rice. Cocktails and juices here are excellent, too.  Service is slick and professional. A real find. 

Pura Vida

Pura Vida

Brazilian

Pura Vida is an excellent Brazilian restaurant situated at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa. Its signature dish is its churrasco grill, featuring an incredible range of cuts of meat, including five cuts of beef, lamb and chicken with a range of typical sides, such as mashed potato, black beans and plantain. Seating is mostly outside, where you can sit and look out across the ocean and watch your meat being grilled while you wait. On weekend nights, you’ll find live music on the terrace, too. Service at Pura Vida is one of its strongest points, and we were really well looked after. I’d recommend sticking to the churrasco, which I think is the strongest offering on the menu.

Basilico

Basilico

Mediterranean

Basilico restaurant at the Cove Rotana is a lovely place to sit and have lunch and look to sea. The resort is very attractive and sat right on the water’s edge. The menu is large and features a really wide range of meat, fish and vegetable dishes from all over the Mediterranean. Food allergies are well looked after, and we appreciated the extra effort the management went to in order to assist us in this respect. To start, we tried the buffalo mozzarella and beef tomato tartare, which was a really flavoursome. The beef tomato was hollowed out and filled with chopped tomato and black olive tapenade, which was superb. For the main course, we enjoyed the excellent steak, which was cooked and seasoned, to perfection and the baked salmon with fennel, caviar velouté and wild rice, which was generously portioned and nicely cooked. Service is attentive but leisurely. A great spot for both day and night time.

Lexington Grill

Lexington Grill

Steak

Steak is practically the national dish in the UAE: they just love it. Lexington Grill is a super glamorous New York style steakhouse at the Waldorf Astoria. The dining room is absolutely gorgeously decorated with wood paneled walls and a red marbled floor, and sets the scene for a grown-up, sophisticated evening.

We settled ourselves in and made ourselves comfortable, and before we knew it, a trolley wheeled over, offering us our choice of champagne cocktail. So far so good. Starters are a mix of American and French classics, and provide a light, fresh start to the meal. My Alaskan crab cakes were very good, and the thick slices of foie gras a real treat. Food intolerances are sensitively and helpfully dealt with here, and ever effort is made to accommodate. Chef Lij came out to discuss our requirements personally, which was much appreciated. For the main, course, decided to share two steaks, both rib eye and cooked medium rare. One was the U.S. Prime Black Angus Beef, and the other was the Australian Natural Kobe Style Wagyu Beef Grade 7. It was really interesting comparing the two cuts side by side. Both were excellent and seasoned using Lexington Grill’s fantastic seasoning blend, which is presented to diners as a parting gift. The perfect destination for a romantic, special evening.

UMI

UMI

Japanese

UMI is one of the very best Japanese restaurants I’ve ever visited. The restaurant is decorated beautifully, and one feels almost transported to Japan on entering. There are two live cooking sections in the restaurant and visitors can sit either in the sushi section, the teppanyaki section, or somewhere in between, which is what we did. UMI is home to the largest collection of sake in the UAE. If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend you ask for Sunil to guide you through – which is what we did. It was fascinating to pair the sake with the food and try the different grades of sake. Sunil is a fountain of knowledge, too. There’s a huge amount of choice on the menu, and we really struggled to pin our choices down. Chef Yukatade came out to discuss our dietary requirements with us, which was helpful. We decided to share a selection of nigiri, which were extremely good, served with homemade pickled ginger, which was sensational. We followed this with the miso black cod, which was utterly sensational and I cannot recommend it highly enough. A platter of delicious exotic fruits completed the meal nicely. Great food, gorgeous surroundings and delicious sake.

Where to shop

There is something irresistible about shopping for food abroad. I am endlessly fascinated by the food people buy and eat every day.

I recommend a trip to the Old Town in Ras Al Khaimah, where you’ll find quite a number of excellent neighbourhood bakeries. You can pick up a pack of their superb Arabic flatbreads for around 2 AED for six. Still piping hot, they are simply unmissable. You’ll find a range of freshly made sweets and baklava in many bakeries, too.

If, like me, you adore fresh tropical fruit, then I suggest heading to the Ras Al Khaimah fruit market. You’ll find a wealth of fruit shops selling everything from Pakistani mangoes to rambutan and fresh turmeric. Make sure you ask for a coconut, which will be cut down from a stalk and cut open and handed to you with a straw to enjoy, which is just the most refreshing drink. If you’re there earlier in the year, ask for Aphonso mangoes, which come from India and have the most heavenly flavour. They’re currently banned from the EU, so seize the opportunity to try them, if you can.

And if a look around a supermarket is an essential part of a trip for you, then head to Al Aswaq, which sells a wide range of interesting Arabian and Indian ingredients to stock up on.

Getting to and around RAK

Getting around in Ras Al Khaimah is easy: taxis are plentiful and cheap. Drivers are generally happy to wait for you, too, so do check at the start of the journey.

Ras Al Khaimah is easily reached from London, and we flew with boutique airline Royal Brunei, who offer a superb service. The flight time is around 7 hours to Dubai, and taxis to RAK from Dubai are regular and inexpensive. It should cost around 200-350 AED each way. Both Business and Economy classes with Royal Brunei are great. The service is fantastic, really charming, personal and gracious. Another plus is that Royal Brunei run brand new Boeing Dreamliners throughout their long-haul service, which offer fully flat beds in Business class and plenty of space in Economy. There’s a good and plentiful choice of food and drink available on board, making the flight a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

There are some excellent value packages to RAK available online at the moment. Southall Travel are currently offering a 3 night stay to RAK, travelling with Royal Brunei at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa in a Deluxe Beach Villa for £579 per person, including Economy flights, or £1979 per person, including Business class flights.


26
Oct 15

A Guide to Ras Al Khaimah

Ras Al Khaimah

Ras Al Khaimah

Ras Al Khaimah is the northernmost Emirate forming the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, and is fast becoming a popular tourist destination. At just an hour’s drive from Dubai, it is a relaxing, yet luxurious place to holiday, offering a flavour of traditional Emirati life alongside the service and luxury one expects from a trip to the UAE.

Ras Al Khaimah is much less developed than Dubai or Abu Dhabi, and is a stunningly beautiful part of the country, with mountains, beaches and desert to explore.

Ras Al Khaimah Camel Track

Ras Al Khaimah Camel Track

The UAE is a fantastic destination for a holiday, at just seven hours flight time from London. Visitors to Ras Al Khaimah, or RAK, as it is widely called, will find plenty to do. There are a huge range of activities and visitor attractions here, for families, couples, thrillseekers and sightseers, which are varied, high quality, and great value too. Here are my tried and tested recommendations of the very best Ras Al Khaimah has to offer.

Road Trips

Dhayah Fort is one of the most important historic sites in the emirate, which sits at the top of small hill with fantastic views across the mountains and out to sea. The Fort remains unchanged, but it was restored in 2001, with the creation of a good path running up to the top. This is a great place to visit in the early morning or late evening, as it is hot work climbing up the hill at other times in the day. It’s quite hard to find, so be sure to check a map properly before heading out, and take directions with you. Allow an hour for a visit. It’s free, too.

Dhayah Fort

Dhayah Fort

Jebel Jais is the highest mountain in the UAE, and a short drive from Ras Al Khaimah. In fact, you can see the mountain range from the city and even from the beaches on a clear day. This is a really interesting drive to take. The road is new, smooth and safe, and the views are interesting and, at times, exhilarating.

Jebel Jais

Jebel Jais

Thrill seeking 

Beach-based hotels generally offer water sports for guests, and there is generally a good choice of activities available. The water is warm, and safe, so you don’t need to worry too much about falling in. Jet skiing is great for beginners, and wake boarding is really fun, too. Donut rings and banana boat trips are great fun for a family activity. You’ll most likely find kayaks and paddle boards for hire, too. Most providers don’t take advance bookings, you have to turn up on the day, but availability is generally very good.

Ras Al Khaimah Desert

Ras Al Khaimah Desert

Head into the desert for some dune bashing and a taste of the real desert. Your guide will take you on an exhilarating drive up and over the dunes, which is quite an adventure. You’re guaranteed to see lots of camels, too! For a more relaxing experience, you can book a desert safari with camel riding, henna tattooing and a sunset barbeque with shisha and belly dancing, which is an unforgettable encounter.

For the ultimate adventure, visit the Jazirah Aviation Club and head up in a two-person microlight to see RAK from above. This is aviation at its most raw and thrilling. You’ll most likely fly over the man-made Marjan (meaning, coral, in Arabic) Island and over the clear, turquoise sea, where you can see turtles swimming and flamingoes gathering. If you are keen, you can take control for a while and experience flying for yourself. A truly memorable and exciting experience.

Luxury and relaxation

Ras Al Khaimah is well-furnished with spas, and you’ll find a lovely spa in each of the top-end hotels. For a really special experience, try a trip to the spa at Banyan Tree Al Wadi, which is based on a desert retreat. Treatments are completely divine, in the most opulent desert surroundings. If you’re lucky, you’ll find Oryx greeting you as you leave the treatment room! Well worth the 20 minute drive from RAK city.

Banyan Tree Al Wadi

Banyan Tree Al Wadi

Shoppers will find a number of malls to visit in RAK. Our favourite was the Manar Mall. Do venture into the old town though, as there are some really interesting shops to visit there, as well as a gold souk. There are a huge number of excellent fabric shops and tailors here. I had some lovely silk dresses made for around 300 AED. The quality of workmanship was fantastic, and the turnaround time was 24 hours. Really worth a visit.

Getting to and around RAK

Getting around in Ras Al Khaimah is easy: taxis are plentiful and cheap, and car hire is easy and inexpensive. Drivers are generally happy to wait for you, too, so do check at the start of the journey. If you are planning on hiring a car, do take printed maps and a sat nav, as signposting isn’t always clear. If you’re planning on traveling further afield, be aware that you generally can’t take a hire car across the border into Oman. 

Ras Al Khaimah is easily reached from London, and we flew with boutique airline Royal Brunei, who offer a superb service. The flight time is around 7 hours to Dubai, and taxis to RAK from Dubai are regular and inexpensive. It should cost around 200-350 AED each way. Both Business and Economy classes with Royal Brunei are great. The service is fantastic, really charming, personal and gracious. Another plus is that Royal Brunei run brand new Boeing Dreamliners throughout their long-haul service, which offer fully flat beds in Business class and plenty of space in Economy. There’s a good and plentiful choice of food and drink available on board, making the flight a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

There are some excellent value packages to RAK available online at the moment. Southall Travel are currently offering a 3 night stay to RAK, travelling with Royal Brunei at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa in a Deluxe Beach Villa for £579 per person, including Economy flights, or £1979 per person, including Business class flights.

With thanks to Ras Al Khaimah Tourism and Royal Brunei for their assistance with this trip.

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