Dreaming of a picture perfect island vacation? Maldives hotels are undoubtedly among the most beautiful in the world. Think isolated private islands, seemingly illusory over-water villas, and sparkling pristine lagoons.
There are actually more than 1,000 coral islands in the Maldives, spread over a line of 26 natural atolls. Resorts are located on just over 100 of the islands, which range widely in size. Part of the appeal of the islands is their uniqueness -- no two are the same!
The largest islands with the biggest resorts are mostly situated closer to Male, the capital of the Maldives. North Male Atoll is one of the most developed atolls in the Maldives. Its resorts are readily accessible by boat and don't require long transfers by seaplane. This is important to note, as transfer costs are additional to room rates.
When to Go: February to April is the peak period. Low season extends from May to November, with often cloudy skies and higher humidity.
Velaa Private Island
Location: Noonu Atoll. 45 minutes north of Male by seaplane (or four hours by luxury yacht).
Ever wondered what you'd do if you were rich enough to afford your own island? Velaa Private Island is the 'beyond luxury' boutique hideaway owned and created by a Czech billionaire. Word has it that he invested $220 million to realize his dream.
The name Velaa comes from the sea turtles that inhabit the island, and they feature prominently in the hotel's contemporary design.
Privacy and comfort are the focus at Velaa Private Island. You'll find it hard to choose between the beachfront and over-water accommodations, as they're both sumptuous and subtlety classy in muted colors. All come with butlers, and alluring outdoor spaces with alfresco dining areas, bathrooms, day beds, and private swimming pools. However, those above the water also have glass viewing panels in the floors of their living rooms, and face either the sunrise or the sunset. For the ultimate honeymoon, look no further than the exclusive one-bedroom Romantic Pool Residence. It's only accessible by boat.
- Rooms: 47 villas, houses, and residences, 18 of which are over-water. The largest has four bedrooms, spread over two levels on a private stretch of beach.
- Rates: Expect to pay around $2,750 USD upwards per night, during peak season. This includes breakfast and taxes/service charges. Rates drop to around $1,800 USD upwards per night during the low season.
- Facilities: Spa, yoga, golf course, tennis court, dive center, fleet of marine vessels (including a submarine and luxury yacht), kid's club, swimming pool, boutiques, library, three restaurants, two bars (including one by the poolside with DJ), and the largest wine and champagne collection in the Maldives.
- Hotel Website.
Cheval Blanc Randheli
Location: Randheli Island, Noonu Atoll. 40 minutes north of Male by seaplane.
You'd expect a hotel owned by luxury fashion group Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy to be spectacular, and Cheval Blanc Randheli certainly doesn't disappoint. It was conceptualized by architect Jean-Michel Gathy, who's widely known for his decadent hotel designs.
Cheval Blanc Randheli is sleek, stylish and glamorous -- and it has what are possibly the best villas in the Maldives. They're modern, with natural materials and textures effortlessly blended in. Can't decide if you'd prefer an island or water villa? The Garden Water Villas are built on stilts over the lagoon and open to a lush private garden in the back, so you get the best of both.
Art is a feature at the hotel, with many pieces that have been especially commissioned by Vincent Beaurin. Don't expect to see the flashy showcasing of Louis Vuitton logos and labels though. The hotel goes beyond that!
- Rooms: 46 villas, all with private swimming pools. The four bedroom Owner's Villa is situated on its own private island.
- Rates: Expect to pay around $3,500 USD upwards per night, during peak season. This includes breakfast and taxes/service charges. Rates drop to around $2,300 USD upwards per night during the low season.
- Facilities: Spa, yoga, dive center, kids club and teens club, Turkish hammam, swimming pool, boutique stocking exclusive products, five restaurants, thee bars, wine and cigar cellars. Bespoke experiences and activities are offered.
- Hotel website.
Location: Medhufaru Island, Noonu Atoll. 45 minutes north of Male by seaplane.
When intimacy is essential, head Soneva Jani. Opened in late 2016, this new hotel has only 25 villas, making it one of the smallest in the Maldives. It's low on density and big on privacy.
Like its predecessor Soneva Fushi, the hotel was designed by Eva Shivdasani, one of Soneva’s co-founders. The highlight of some of the villas are undoubtedly its retractable roofs in the master bedroom, so you can stargaze in bed at the touch of a button. Some of the water villas also feature slides from the top deck directly into the sea.
Medhufaru Island used to be a farming island, and guests can follow walking trails through the organic gardens that supply the hotel's kitchen.
- Rooms: 25 villas (24 water villas and one island villa). Each has its own saltwater pool.
- Rates: Expect to pay around $3,200 USD upwards per night, during peak season. This includes taxes/service charges. Rates drop to around $2,000 USD upwards per night during the low season.
- Facilities: Spa, yoga, dive center, dolphin cruises, tennis court, kids club, observatory with high powered telescope, outdoor cinema, library, boutique, swimming pool, several restaurants, wine cellar.
- Hotel website.
Location: Baa Atoll. 30 minutes by seaplane northwest of Male. Or 10 minutes by speedboat from Dharavandhoo Domestic Airport in Baa Atoll.
While over-water villas are plentiful in the Maldives, the tree house villas at Amilla Fushi are something extraordinary. Nestled into the palm trees on 12 meter high stilts, they even have their own spa rooms and swimming pools. Of course, if you'd prefer to be closer to the water, reef houses and beach houses are also available (all with private pools as well).
Meaning "Island Home", Amilla Fushi opened in early 2015 and was conceived by a company owned by two Australians. The hotel's chef, Lucas Varin, is a citizen of both France and Brazil. The hotel is all about lifestyle, where the focus is on getting together with family and friends for yummy food and fun, in a laid back atmosphere. One of the features is a food bazaar that serves up diverse cuisine from around the world. You'll never go hungry!
- Rooms: 67 villas.
- Rates: Expect to pay around $1,800 rupees upwards per night, during peak season. This includes breakfast and taxes/service charges. Rates drop to around $1,200 USD upwards per night during the low season. Various packages are offered.
- Facilities: Spa, yoga, huge water sports hub (the hotel is 10 minutes by speedboat from marine hotspot Hanifaru Bay), tennis courts, soccer field, kids club and child minding, photography studio, several restaurants, rooftop bar, swimming pool, wine cellar.
- Hotel website.
St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
Location: Vommuli Island, Dhaalu Atoll. 45 minutes by seaplane southwest of Male.
Not only can you stay over the water at the new St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, you can dine and drink over the water as well, for the ultimate sea experience. The hotel's tapas Whale Bar juts out into the ocean and is the perfect sunset spot!
If that's not enough, the hotel also has a massive signature over-water Iridium Spa. Focused on wellness, it comes with an Ayurvedic specialist, acupuncturist, hydrotherapy pool, private steam rooms, and spa cuisine.
This stunning new luxury Maldives hotel opened in late 2016, on a leafy 22 acre private island, and it's certainly been set up to facilitate relaxation and rejuvenation.
- Rooms: 77 villas, all with their own pools.
- Rates: Expect to pay around $2,500 USD upwards per night, during peak season. This includes breakfast and taxes/service charges. Rates drop to around $1,300 USD upwards per night during the low season.
- Facilities: Spa, dive center, water sports center, tennis court, fitness center, kids club, recreation area, four restaurants plus a pop-up dining experience, two bars, swimming pool, library, underground wine cellar.
- Hotel website.
Six Senses Laamu
Location: Olhuveli Island, Laamu Atoll. 40 minutes by plane from Male to Kadhuhoo Airport and then 15 minutes by boat.
The Six Senses Laamu resort has perfected the art of eco chic, with a Robinson Crusoe castaway feel. The rustic yet hip villas and their furniture have been made from timber grown in sustainable forests. Cushions in vibrantly colored fabric add a modern twist. Highlights in the Water Villas include glass sunken bathtubs and glass-bottomed dining areas.
Much of the resort is situated over the water as well, including lobby, restaurants and bars, wine cellar, dive center, library, and gift shop. The spa, on the island, is just as striking. Its cocoon shaped treatment rooms are made from twigs and branches twined together!
What's more, Six Senses Laamu is the only luxury resort in Laamu Atoll, where dolphins swim. Outstanding surfing is also to be had there, with the world-class Yin Yang surf break nearby.
- Rooms: 72 over-water villas, 25 beach villas. Some have private pools.
- Rates: Expect to pay around $2,100 USD upwards per night, during peak season. This includes breakfast and taxes/service charges. Rates drop to around $800 USD upwards per night during the low season.
- Facilities: Extensive spa with Ayurvedic therapies, dive center, water sports center, kids club, six restaurants and bars, swimming pool.
- Hotel website.
W Maldives Retreat & Spa
Location: Fesdu Island, North Ari Atoll. 25 minutes by seaplane or 1.5 hours by speedboat from Male.
Beauty at the Starwood Group's W Maldives Retreat & Spa comes in the form of chic, sexy and social. It's one of the few adults-only Maldives hotels (guests must be aged 13 or over), and has a distinctive youthful vibe. Weekly pool parties and international DJs spinning at the underground nightclub make this hotel super fun! It's not short on luxury either.
With names ranging from Wonderful Beach Oasis to Extreme Wow Ocean Haven, the villas at the W Maldives Retreat & Spa are undeniably gorgeous. Classic white features prominently in their sophisticated minimalist design. They're equipped with built-in surround sound systems, so you can keep the party going.
Plus, the hotel has one of the best coral reefs in the Maldives!
- Rooms: 78 villas, 49 of which are over-water. All have their own pools and sundecks.
- Rates: Expect to pay around $1,400 USD upwards per night, during peak season. This includes breakfast and taxes/service charges. Rates drop to around $670 USD upwards per night during the low season.
- Facilities: Spa with over-water treatment rooms, dive center, water sports center, three restaurants, two lounges, nightclub, swimming pool with bar.
- Hotel website.
Maalifushi by COMO
Location: Maalifushi Island, Thaa Atoll. 60 minutes by seaplane from Male.
What makes the COMO Maalifushi extra special? It's the first luxury Maldives hotel to open in remote and pristine Thaa Atoll, renowned for its diverse species of marine life, in the archipelago’s southwest. This makes it a top destination for diving. Surfing is excellent there as well.
Like other COMO properties, eco-friendly, understated luxury is the premise at COMO Maalifushi. It's a peaceful yet family-friendly resort (more so than COMO Cocoa Island, which is aimed at couples) with plenty of activities for children.
The standout accommodations are the elegant, light-filled Water Villas and COMO Villas. Their full-length windows slide back to let the tranquility of the ocean in. However, the accommodations on the island have a wonderfully wild feel of living surrounded by jungle.
- Rooms: 65 rooms and villas. All have their own pools, except for the cheapest garden rooms.
- Rates: Expect to pay around $1,700 USD upwards per night, during peak season. This includes breakfast and taxes/service charges. Rates drop to around $900 USD upwards per night during the low season.
- Facilities: COMO Shambhala spa, healthy cuisine, yoga, water sports and dive center, luxury yacht, swimming pool, kids club, two restaurants and a poolside bar, plus private destination dining.
- Hotel website.
Location: Naladhu Island, South Male Atoll. 30 minutes by speedboat from Male.
Boutique Naladhu certainly lives up to its name, which means "Beautiful Island". You don't need to take a costly seaplane to find solitude there. Although the hotel is conveniently close to Male, the fact it has only 20 villas on the island ensures exclusivity.
For the utmost seclusion, choose one of the Ocean Pool Houses, overlooking the open sea on the sunrise side of the hotel.
The only drawback is that Naladhu doesn't have over-water villas. If that is a must, staying at one of the hotel's sister properties, Anantara Dhigu or Anantara Veli, is recommended. Both are situated on nearby islands, and Dhighu has the best beach. However, Anantara Veli is for adults only. Do note that Naladhu guests can visit the hotel's sister properties and use their facilities (although Naladhu is restricted to guests only).
- Rooms: 20 villas, all with their own pools, steam rooms, personal chef and butler service.
- Rates: Expect to pay around $1,200 USD upwards per night, during peak season. This includes breakfast and taxes/service charges. Rates drop to around $700 USD upwards per night during the low season.
- Facilities: Spa, yoga, gym, diving and water sports, luxury yacht, cooking classes, one restaurant and bar (with eight more at the hotel's sister properties),
- Hotel website.