With Ras Al Khaimah increasingly figuring on the weekend escape plans of Dubai residents, it’ll come as good news the northern emirate has a new pocket-friendly hotel on its skyline.
Words by David Dunn
Savvy staycationers will be familiar with Citymax – the homegrown mid-market brand most of us know for its property opposite Mall of the Emirates.
Now the chain has added RAK to its portfolio as the first of its hotels sporting a bright new image, while still promising not to bruise your wallet.
Opened late last year but recently given its official launch, Citymax Hotel Ras Al Khaimah showcases the refreshing new vibe that will be the template of the chain, soon to expand with further hotels in Al Barsha and Business Bay, plus Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Think bright and lively public spaces with eye-catching artwork and props, and rooms that mix adventurous colours and youthful comfort into a largely functional design. Yes, you are in a three star, but there’s a cheerful, modern warmth to the mix that lifts it above the ‘built on a budget’ character of some mid-market rivals you’ll find around the world.
While you might not get an array of swanky toiletries in the bathroom, you do have a walk-in power shower and tea-making facilities for a cuppa while you watch the TV or take in a great view of RAK harbour. There are also plenty of power and USB sockets to charge your devices and when hunger strikes, there are five eating options in this 204-room hotel.
Down on the mezzanine floor, you have the hotel’s main restaurants. Here, Claypot serves familiar Indian dishes – it also pops up at CityMax branches in Al Barsha and Deira – as well as Arabic and other food varieties in Lavazza, where breakfast is also served. Popular sports bar The Huddle also appears here. What this RAK version lacks in size compared with Al Barsha it makes up for in screens – namely lots of them – showing a mix of sporting action. Several seating spots allow you to glimpse any of the TVs or a stage featuring regular live music. There’s also a pool table and a decent-sized menu featuring more than basic bar snacks.
If you are feeling more active, there’s a rooftop pool large enough for some short lengths and keeping cool, flanked by windows out to the harbour and wooden loungers. Next door is a small gym featuring a selection of cardio machines and free weights.
But this is RAK, ladies and gentlemen, the activity emirate for those craving high altitude action. Jebel Jais – the nation’s highest peak – is about an hour away with all the hiking, walking and scenery-based selfies you could desire. Not to mention a certain record-breaking zip-wire.
Alternatively, the hotel provides a regular shuttle to the public beach and across the road, you can rent kayaks for the harbour – follow the path down beside Al Naeem Mall. To discover some history, walk or taxi to RAK National Museum or The Old Market area. Head left out of the hotel and you’ll find a bowling centre and, further on, the large Manar Mall if those dirhams saved on your hotel room are burning a hole in your pocket.
RAK’s Citymax comes as the chain, part of Landmark Group – think shop chains such as Splash, babyshop, homecentre – seeks to not only refresh its brand but also significantly expand.
“We describe our personality as vibrant simplicity,” says Citymax chief operating officer Aly Shariff. “We’re very straightforward, but we do it in a very bright, fun, colourful, playful – sometimes even a little bit cheeky – way to make our guests remember every visit.”
At the time of writing, prices at Citymax Hotel Ras Al Khaimah start from AED 206.23 (inclusive of taxes, charges), for two to stay in a non-refundable standard double room, including breakfast. For bookings and more click on www.citymazhotels.com and choose your property.