The best luxury hotels in the Maldives
It’s a bold move to call itself the One&Only, but it’s the original and inimitable luxury resort in the Maldives. It opened in 2005 and has set the bar high for the country’s upscale resorts ever since. You hear whispers across the islands about the service (the staff to guest ratio is around three to one), the good treatment of the staff and, of course, their distinguished guests (although you’d be hard pressed to get a discreet employee to share any gossip). The palm-lined paths encourage adults to be big kids and ride their bikes all day. Even the sand is raked to perfection.
The service is uniformly impeccable, from your butler who will appear in a buggy at the exact moment you need him, to the welcome of your long flight by airport manager Hussein, a conversation that is almost worth missing. your speedboat transfer.
Since so many of the guests are “repeats” (some lucky families have spent every Christmas here since the mid-2000s), the staff must continue to think outside the box – whether building a room dining atop the trees for the couple who return for Valentine’s Day each year or delivering a floating breakfast to your private pool before you wake up. The timeless thatched-roof villas have stylish interiors, but it’s each one’s outdoor space — with a private pool, hammock, daybed, and even your own beach — that steals the show.
For such discerning clientele, the restaurants also need to stay one step ahead – in addition to the treetop dinner in the aforementioned tree house (and surprisingly positioned for the sunset), there is an excellent Japanese restaurant (so good that a family of sharks stop by every night to try and get in on the action), Middle Eastern plates served on tables on the sand at Fanditha and a plant-based restaurant in a beautiful garden, where even the most committed carnivore won’t cry out for a steak.
At the spa, the state of well-being continues long after your treatment is finished thanks to the garden in which you can then relax, which slopes down to the sea and a yoga pavilion. It has a Bastien Gonzalez nail studio, an Espa menu and a Watsu pool. Plus, the wonderful Aussie spa manager is a deft hand with a Dyson Airwrap and can take on even the wettest hair.
One&Only Reethi Rah, from £1,662 a night B&B plus tax (oneandonlyresorts.com).