The world's largest Hampton by Hilton opened in Ras Al Khaimah in July. Boasting 515 rooms and suites, the sprawling hotel is the fourth global hotel brand to open on Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah's man-made archipelago.
Joining a portfolio of more than 2,450 Hampton by Hilton hotels in 27 countries, the new property is part of a brand that has a reputation for offering good-value, high-quality accommodation combined with fantastic service.
The National travelled to the northernmost emirate in the UAE to find out first-hand if Hampton by Hilton Marjan Island ticks all those boxes.
You can't miss the Hampton by Hilton when driving along Marjan Island Boulevard, thanks to its gleaming red Hampton sign both on the roof and at road level.
Turning into the ramp that takes us up to the entrance, we stop outside the four-star hotel and leave our luggage with the door staff, before driving down to self-park in the covered garage. There are plenty of spaces and it's an easy transfer from there to the lift that brings us into the huge lobby.
Inside, the reception is bright and has a welcoming vibe that's not too formal with plenty of cosy-looking sofas and armchairs and a useful central computer hub that's being well-used by some other guests.
A very enthusiastic member of the front-desk staff completes our check-in process with ease, including providing us with turquoise fabric wrist bands that we must wear to avail of the hotel’s all-inclusive offerings during our stay. We’re on our way to the room in less than 10 minutes.
Part of Ras Al Khaimah’s developing Marjan Island, Hampton by Hilton is the newest hotel to open on this coral-shaped isle. There are already a few other hotels on the island, so there are nearby options if you want to venture elsewhere one evening. Hampton guests also get discounted dining at the nearby DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa.
As the island is still being developed, guests can expect to encounter a bit of construction noise or views during their stay, but it’s not enough to affect your enjoyment. In fact, the noise of jet skis criss-crossing in the bay in front of the hotel is decidedly more disturbing than any of the construction work.
If you want to get out and explore the island, the hotel is about a 15-minute walk to the public park where there’s a padel court, children's playground and a small cluster of food trucks and picnic tables. A springy jogging track runs along the coastal road for those keen on keeping fit and there are also plenty of electric rental scooters dotted around the island if you want to pick up some speed as you tour around.
The safety measures
The hotel follows Hilton’s Clean Stay policy so guests can rest assured that rooms are clean and sealed when they arrive. All staff are wearing face masks, there are contactless menus and an abundance of sanitising stations in public areas. There’s also signage dotted around the hotel reminding guests to social distance and wear masks.
That being said, the recommended two-metre distance doesn’t seem to be strictly adhered to at busy times in the buffet restaurant or when guests are using the lifts, perhaps because there is a bit of a wait for them at busy times of the day.
After switching from the first room we were allocated (more about that later) we settle into our 10th floor, pool-facing family Dream Suite which comes with views over the Arabian Gulf.
The room is spacious with a dining area and lounge making up one section of a central wooden dividing wall, and a bedroom and bathroom on the other. Floor-to-ceiling windows line one side of the room, letting in lots of natural light and opening out on to a balcony with two easy chairs, perfect for taking in the sunset.
Interiors are modern and fun, and our suite has an open wardrobe, orange bucket-style vanity stools, nautical mirrors and colourful wooden oars as a decorative feature above a king-size bed. There are two televisions, a sofa that easily converts to a bed and an interconnecting door which is useful if travelling in a larger group.
Rooms use the latest technology with light-up control panels for the air conditioning as well as lights that glow when you hover your hand over them, and turn off completely when not in use. It's a definite win when compared to many other hotel lighting systems that almost need an instruction manual to figure out.
Despite the hotel being new, or perhaps because of this, there's a couple of minor maintenance issues such as a bathroom door that does not close, a balcony door that won't seal and a living room light that flickers on and off. However, these are all quickly resolved by the maintenance team while we head out for dinner.
Word is certainly out about the new Hampton by Hilton Marjan Island and the hotel is busy when we check-in and stays that way most of the weekend. Guests are predominantly families, with a few older couples and some groups thrown into the mix.
The wave-shaped swimming pool is divided into two sections, a shallow side for children and a deeper side that encompasses the infinity edge. There’s also a splash pool for the littlest guests.
Despite lots of sunbeds around the pool, we struggled to find an open spot after 11am so instead make our way to the 750-metre private beach. Here, there’s no shortage of sunbeds and parasols, although the bar and shower facilities are quite a long walk in the midday heat from the beds located further along the coastline.
The Hub children and teen club is open daily and proves popular with younger guests, much like the outdoor playground and inflatable bouncy castle, which get plenty of use during the cooler times of the day. The hotel also has a fitness centre overlooking the sea, a gift shop and a hotel spa – unfortunately, the spa isn't yet operational.
All-day dining restaurant Flavours serves a buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s huge, with plenty of seating and even during peak periods, there's always a table to be had. During the cooler months, outdoor seating overlooking the ocean is also available.
There's a good mix of international food on offer, with plenty of choices for children and those with restricted diets, such as vegetarians. A central beverage station away from the food counters is a good idea to keep queues moving and staff are quick to clear away plates and cutlery as required.
The breakfast buffet seems to be a real hit with children, judging by the number of smiling, chocolate-smeared faces spotted tucking into giant waffles.
The View is the other hotel restaurant, open from 9am until midnight. It's located in the lobby and is relaxed with a curated menu offering sandwiches, snacks, oven-baked pizzas and salads, plus beverages and cakes. Live entertainment takes place on the weekends, and it’s a nice spot to sit with a beverage and take in the surroundings.
Elsewhere, Claw BBQ on the first floor of the hotel is a great place to go for grills, seafood and more. The All-American Friday brunch (Dh295 per person) is a real treat – with mountains of fresh lobster, crab, prawns and mussels on offer alongside some authentic American comfort food.
Throw in the free-flowing beverages and entertainment via pinball and basketball machines, mechanical bull contest, darts board and jukebox, and it's a clear winner.
Pan-Asian eatery Karma Kafe is set to open next door to Claw BBQ in October.
Highs and lows
There are great views over Marjan Island and the surrounding waters from almost every room in this hotel, and the suites are generously sized, perfect for families or groups.
Having Claw BBQ on-site is a great perk, and Adventure Sports on the beach is worth a visit if you want to try parasailing, kayaking, donut rides or other watersports. We also hear only good things about the children's club The Hub, although did not check it out ourselves.
The rooms have refillable toiletry bottles for shampoo, conditioner and body wash which is a good move for the environment, and there are signs reminding guests to re-use towels where possible.
But on the flip side, this effort to protect the environment is somewhat negated by the plastic in use elsewhere in the resort. Two plastic water bottles are left in our room each day, with no alternative offered for filling up our reusable bottles and all soft drinks are served with plastic straws, whether guests requested them or not. From a brand as savvy as Hilton, we’d expect a bit more awareness on this critical issue.
The insider tip
If you want a quiet room with uninterrupted Arabian Gulf views, avoid booking a suite on the ocean-side view of the 10th floor. Our first room was a stunning family abode with endless watery vistas but we had to move because of an incessant whirring noise, that was loud even when the balcony door was closed.
Maintenance visited and told us this noise was "normal" and came from some machines on this section of the roof. Our pool-facing room on the other side of the hotel was a lot quieter, so the problem only seems to affect certain suites, but if you want a guaranteed night of peace then book a lower room – they all have fabulous views anyway.
For a fun, affordable family break or a group weekend away in Ras Al Khaimah, Hampton by Hilton Marjan Island is a great choice. The swimming pool is huge, there’s lots of golden sand for children to run around on and plenty to keep little ones entertained.
Adults can also enjoy some chill-out time while children play at The Hub and groups can enjoy the large communal tables in the main restaurant and lively brunch options at Claw BBQ, all for a great price.
Couples seeking privacy or romance can probably find better options in Ras Al Khaimah.
The bottom line
Rooms at Hampton by Hilton Marjan Island start from Dh462 ($125), including taxes and breakfast and children up to 18 stay free when sharing a room with a paying adult. All-inclusive packages start from Dh708. Check-in is from 3pm and check-out is at noon.
Hampton by Hilton Marjan Island, Marjan Island Blvd, Ras Al Khaimah; www.hamptonmarjanisland.com