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The thousand or so tiny islands of the Maldives have some of the world's most perfect beaches. Fine, white sand underfoot with perfectly clear aqua water lapping against it. On one side are the fringes of tropical forest and on the other spectacular coral reefs. Mmmm…. heaven. And a heaven you should see before it's submerged. The Hotel Guru's selection of the best places to stay in the Maldives offers something for everyone, whether you want good value family friendly or romantic barefoot luxury.
Every Maldivan resort has its own private island, so there's plenty of choice if your idea of the best place to stay in the Maldives is a secluded luxury resort on a tiny island. The world's biggest hotel brands fight it out, trying to outdo each other with luxury extras like wish-fulfilment services, private pools, pillow menus and personal butlers. But as well as the five and six star resorts there are also specialist resorts for divers and families and eco-resorts.
These days it's also possible to skip the resorts and experience the Maldives on your own. You can stay in privately run guesthouses and island hop at your own pace using the local ferry serves. If you do travel independently bear in mind that the Maldives are a Suni Muslim nation, so alcohol, pork and dogs are banned and the weekends are Fridays and Saturdays.
Staying near the capital, Malé, means you're close to the airport, and the kind of attractions you'd expect from most capitals. There's a museum exploring the nation's history, a beautifully ornate ancient mosque, a large choice of places to eat and drink, and plenty of cruising, sailing, diving and other watersports options.
If you stay in the more remote resorts you're more limited to the facilities your resort offers. Malé is also home to the 'Whale Submarine', which isn't a submarine used for whale watching, it's for exploring the reefs.
The more remote your island resort the better chance you have of seeing totally clear night skies if you're a stargazer. You also have the opportunity to spot dolphins and baby sharks in secluded lagoons, or meet turtles, dolphins, coloured swarms of tropical fish or maybe even a whale shark. Yes, you can see amazing marine life all over the Maldives, but the more remote the island, the more at home the marine life is and the better your chances of spotting large pelagics.
Some of the more remote islands are also some of the best places to stay in the Maldives if you're going on a family break. You'll find brilliant kid's clubs, and plenty of resort entertainments - these resorts have to have everything as it's a long journey to the next island!
Malé: the best place to stay in the Maldives for buzz
- On South Malé Atoll, Anantara Veli is only 30minutes from Malé International Airport. So no relaxation time is wasted transferring you to the island paradise of your dreams. It's difficult to differentiate the Maldives's daydream island resorts from each other, they all look so perfect, but Anantara Veli offers the chic simplicity of those huts that sit out over the water.
- If you prefer sleeping above land, but still want to be close to Malé, one of the best places to stay in the Maldives is the Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu. This eco resort looks like a village of huts, fitting seamlessly into the tropical surrounds. But inside the 'huts' are quite luxurious.
For divers and snorkellers
- Anantara Dhigu on South Malé Atoll is another of those beautiful collections of thatched bungalows on stilts. This one overlooks a stunning calm lagoon brimming with spectacular corals.
- The Banyan Tree Maldives Vabbinfaru's private yacht makes this one of the best places to stay in the Maldives for sailors. This resort also has its own dive centre, so there's plenty to do without leaving the resort. Each of the 48 units has it's own private pool, so this is also a nice private spot for honeymooners.
- Sand this white and powdery, and water this aqua doesn't come cheap, but if you're looking for something at the more affordable end of the Maldivian scale, try the Hilton Iru Fushi. This is a large resort, which is how they can keep prices down, but it takes up the whole island, so outside of meal times, you can still have that feeling of desert island seclusion. Both the prices, and the generous sized villas, make this one of the best places to stay in the Maldives for families.
- The Sunsiyam Iru Fushi is another large resort able to keep their prices family friendly. There are tons of activities for all ages, the beach villas are some of the largest in the Maldives and they even some how manage to manage the buffet madness so it doesn't feel too crowded.
- For a real tropical island experience the Four Seasons Resort Maldives, Landaa Giraavaru, offers true open-air living. On one of the more remote islands, this a real castaway experience - but with a dining pavilion and internet access.
- Soneva Fushi Resort & Six Senses Spa is the definitive example of the term 'barefoot luxury'. There's an outdoor cinema, for entertainment under the stars, a Robinson Crusoe style treetop restaurant and each villa has an open air bathroom leading onto its own stretch of private beach. Having won a Green Resort Award, this is also one of the best places to stay in the Maldives if you're looking for somewhere eco-friendly.
- Cocoa Island has just 33 rooms, so it's a small resort in these parts. There's a yoga pavilion, a world class spa, amazing snorkelling opportunities and an award winning chef.
For complete relaxation
- Huafen Fushi on North Malé Atoll has differentiated itself from the other idyllic tropical island resorts by building its spa underwater.
- Don't think the Maldives is all thatched huts, if you're looking for chic you'll find it at W Retreat & Spa. The W concept has made it to the tropics, and has been seamlessly integrated into the beautiful surrounds. Creating one of the hippest, grooviest, best designed back to nature resorts in the world. And there's even a bar with dancing.
- One&Only Maldives at Reethi Rah promises heaven on earth. Which might sound like a steep challenge, but when you see their facilities - 130 villas and suites set in 190 acres of tropical gardens - many with private pools and butlers, you'll get a sense of what you're in for. They give you a bike to get around to your spa treatments and meals...
Still not sure which to book? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in the Maldives, or contact one of our friendly gurus for advice. Nothing here that suits? Check out our recommendations in Sri Lanka or Mauritius instead.
Best Hotels in Maldives
Anantara Dhigu 110 rooms from $582Male, Maldives
Uncompromising luxury on this secluded island paradise. Understated elegance and chic simplicity. Informal dining options in stunning locations. Fantastic watersports and spa facilities. A brilliant romantic getaway or family holiday.Romantic Break - Peaceful, private with lovely open bathrooms and the simple romance of beach living.Beach Life - Pefect white sandy beaches and clear turquoise seas.Cooking classes - Learn Maldivian or Thai dishes from the resident chef.Sailing - Explore desert islands on the hotel's motor yacht.Recommended by - Tablet, Kiwi Collection
Island Hideaway 103 rooms from $532Maldives
A luxury boutique resort situated on a privately owned virgin island. Exclusive villas come with personal butlers and some with private pools. An extensive spa uses Natura Bissé products. Five star cuisine served in a truly romantic setting. Plenty of activities on offer. Complete bliss.Beach Life - White sands, crystal clear waters and a watersports centre offering water skiing, wake boarding, jet skiing and diving.Romantic Break - Secluded and spacious Villas boasting private pools or Jacuzzi's, with romantic couples dining under a canopy of stars.Diving - Meridis is a PADI 5* Gold Dive Resort licensed centre, so get out there and explore the fish filled waters!Fishing - Head out on sunset and sunrise fishing trips, fish pole and line as well as night and big game.Recommended by - Kiwi Collection
Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu 98 rooms from $610Male, Maldives
Eco-friendly resort on its very own tropical island reachable by sea plane. Thatched villas offer a barefoot luxury chic to your hideaway stay. Romantically decorated rooms with fourposter beds and ethereal drapes. Eat well at the restaurant, enjoy the water sports and relax at the spa.Beach Life - Whether its exploring the white sandy beaches, hunting out turtles or diving the deep- there is something for every beach bum!Honeymoons - An ideal honeymoon hideaway with private couple dining, romantic boat trips, tandem massages and your own secluded love nest.Great walks - With acres of sandy beaches and jungle to explore there is plenty to keep you entertained.Birdwatching - Check out the islands bird life in the mornings, or head out on a turtle spotting trip!Recommended by - Small Luxury Hotels
Banyan Tree Maldives Vabbinfaru 48 rooms from $717Maldives
A hideaway resort in utter paradise with an array of temptations for guests. The 48 private villas have their own swimming pools, fantastic watersports including the use of a yacht, marine biology, PADI diving, and a world class spa - barefoot luxury, romance, and adrenalin rushes.Beach Life - With turtle rescues, diving, snorkelling, sailing, walking and much much more you'll find plenty of things to fill your days.Honeymoons - Achingly romantic with private villas overlooking the crystal clear waters and candlelite dining under the stars.Cooking classes - Learn how to whip up a scrumptious Maldivian meal during your stay.Sailing - The hotel has its own yacht that can accommodate 12 people.Recommended by - Kiwi Collection
W Retreat & Spa, Maldives 78 rooms from $934Maldives
Surely the hippest and grooviest place in the Maldives - sleek style and contemporary comfort without getting in nature's way. The ultimate gourmet, spa, and romantic lifestyle where all your wishes will be fulfilled, and more.Honeymoons - Private villas with stilted terraces, couples dining wherever you fancy, his and hers spa treatments and sundowner boat trips.Foodies - Everything from international KITCHEN, to bbq's at FIRE, superbly cooked local seafood at FISH and knockout cocktails at SIP.Total relaxation - Relax in the world class spa, lounge beside your own private pool, sip cocktails on the beach and listen to the waves lap.Sailing - Charter or skipper the hotel sailing boats, the perfect way to explore this enchanting haven.Recommended by - Kiwi Collection
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru 103 rooms from $951Maldives
The ultimate luxury resort on a remote desert island in the Indian Ocean. The turquoise waters can be seen from bed, spa bath or infinity pool. Romantic dinner with sand underfoot or sip on cocktails while the sunsets. Oozing opulence and style.Eco break - Luxury resort with responsible tourism practices such as turtle conservation, coral preservation & recycled building materials.Romantic Break - Private villas, spa treatments and sunsets strolls along deserted beaches are just the tip of the iceberg.Families - There are suites aimed for the whole family to stay in plus a kids club and kids menus.Diving - 45 minute orientation dive.Recommended by - Kiwi Collection
Lily Beach Resort and Spa 125 rooms from $785Maldives
A stunning 5 star resort on a pristine island. Villas and suites are the height of luxury and offer wonderful sea views. A kids club will keep little ones entertained whilst an over-water spa is total bliss. A wide array of restaurants assures evening variety. A perfect escape.Honeymoons - Exclusive, private and wildly romantic location for honeymooners- think luxorious beach villas and couples dining on the beach.Spa breaks - Pamper yourself at the glorious semi-outdoor spa that benefits from the relaxing sounds of the lapping waves.Diving - Some of the best diving in the Maldives surrounds the island, don't miss an opportunity to explore!Remote - Off the beaten track.
Taj Exotica Resort & Spa 62 rooms from $826Maldives
The Taj has outdone itself with this Maldives paradise. Every detail oozes opulence and relaxation. With stunning interiors, spectacular views, award winning restaurants, pampering spa, knockout cocktails and an extensive wine cellar. Prepare to be treated like royalty.Great walks - Wander the beaches and through the lagoons, this unspoilt paradise is made to be explored.Fishing - Head out on one of the deep sea fishing trips, a wonderful experience not to be missed.Diving - Dive into some of the clearest seas in the world and explore the exquisite coral reefs.Swimming Pool - There is an infinity pool an some private villas come with plunge pools.Recommended by - Tablet, Kiwi Collection
Anantara Veli 67 rooms from $1031Male, Maldives
A blissful island resort, with romantic seclusion in luxurious surroundings. A fantastic array of watersports for thrill seekers and an Anantara Garden Spa for those who like to take things easy. Romance, action, and maximum pampering. A chic slice of heaven.Romantic Break - A wildly romantic resort oozing tranquility and luxury from it's private villas, sandy beaches and fine dining restaurants.Sailing - Take a romantic cruise around the island at sunset.Restrictions on children - Adult only propertySwimming Pool - Large Outdoor Pool
Cocoa Island 33 rooms from $1101Maldives
Relax in privacy at this supreme getaway island - stretch out in the stilted yoga pavilion, unwind in the world class spa, feast on nature's larder in the fantastic restaurant, and dream about the next day's snorkelling in the lofty-chic stilted villas.Eco break - Cocoa Island has an comprehensive eco-policy and takes great care of its pristine natural environment and house reef.Beach Life - White sands, blue waters and tropical fish swimming around the stilts of your private beach villa.Honeymoons - Honeymoon heaven- world class spa, phenomanal food, astonishing views and total tranquility.Sailing - For those with sailing experience the hotel catamaran is lent out for dolphin watching and island hopping excursions.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape, Tablet, Kiwi Collection
Four Seasons Kuda Huraa 96 rooms from $1100Maldives
Ultimate pampering a short boat ride from MaleSwimming Pool - Infinity PoolKids Club - Fully staffed.Barefoot Luxury - For total relaxation.Cooking classes - Check for timings.Recommended by - CN Traveller
Huvafen Fushi 44 rooms from $1160Maldives
Unique Maldivian luxury resort that combines the wonders of nature with the luxuries and style of the 5*. Sleek villas mirror the surrounding crystal blue water. Fantastic watersports, the ultimate pampering in world's first underwater spa and delicious meals. A true hideaway in utter bliss.Eco break - This resort gives back to the local community, supporting coral-reef rehabilitation projects and sustainable local businesses.Honeymoons - Honeymoon heaven- destination dining anywhere on the island, sunset cruises, tandem massages and long walks on the beach.Spa - The world's first underwater glass-walled spa.Swimming Pool - Lovely outdoor pools.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet, Kiwi Collection, Small Luxury Hotels
One&Only Maldives at Reethi Rah 130 rooms from $1550North Male Atoll, Maldives
Luxury and sophistication makes this resort heaven on earth. A jewel among a string of coral atolls, lagoons and white sands. Tapasake offers Japanese, Fanditha for Eastern and Reethi for Mediterranean cuisine. Private pools, spa treatments and ample activities for all. Memorable hideaway spot.Honeymoons - Achingly romantic from the moment you set out on the luxury yacht, to watching your final sunset from your private villa.Back to Nature - The Beach Huts sit in dense tropical vegetation, facing out to sea where you can explore the reefs and swim with turtles.Families - The resort has a KidsOnly Club tailoring to younger kids, and a range of fun activities for teenagers.Diving - Head to the PADI National Geographic Dive Centre and explore some of the most remarkable reefs in the world.Recommended by - Tablet, Kiwi Collection, Mr & Mrs Smith
Soneva Fushi Resort & Six Senses Spa 55 rooms from $1735Baa Atoll, Maldives
The finest barefoot luxury can offer with an Eco-conscious ethos - rustic-chic villas, a Robinson Crusoe tree-top restaurant, and outdoor cinema. The land of milk and honey with spa, dive centre and astrological observatory!Romantic Break - One of the most romantic spots in the world, head off to a tiny private island for a picnic, or take a Dhoani on a sunset cruiseEco break - Committed to preserving the natural beauty of their island, using indigenous materials and employing eco friendly policies.Beach Life - Each hut nestled into the jungle, with private stretch of white sand, feels like a desert island.Cooking classes - Take part in the weekly cooking classes with the resort's chef, using local organic ingrediants.Recommended by - Tablet, Kiwi Collection, I Escape, Mr & Mrs Smith
Anantara Naladhu 20 rooms from $2447P.O. Box 2014, Maldives
A Maldivian dream brought to life. Peace, tranquility, and privacy in either an ocean or beach house with private pools. A romantic seclusion from which to indulge in the fantastic watersports and beach life, and unwind later in the luxury spa. Complete paradise.Romantic Break - Arrive at your private beach house by boat, enjoy couples dining on the beach and romantic outdoor baths.Sailing - Take a romantic sunset cruise around the island, the perfect end to your evening.Surfing - Great surfing particularly in the months between April and October.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Recommended by - Kiwi Collection, Small Luxury Hotels, Mr & Mrs Smith