The Best Luxury Hotels to Book in the Maldives

COMO Cocoa Island is one of the top resorts in the Maldives for a luxurious stay
COMO Cocoa Island is one of the top resorts in the Maldives for a luxurious stay | Courtesy of COMO Cocoa Island /
Siobhan Grogan

Everyone feels like a VIP in the Maldives, where tropical island fantasies really do come true. From glamorous transfers in seaplanes and yachts to all-inclusive champagne, these wildly decadent luxury hotels in the Maldives redefine luxury for jet-setters, frazzled A-listers and couples seeking alone time. Think world-class spas, underwater restaurants, dedicated butlers, starlit picnics and bucket-list villas worth blowing the budget on.

1. Taj Coral Reef Resort & Spa Maldives, for a reef-conscious stay on Hembadhu Island


Lounge chairs on outdoor deck overlooking small private pool, a hammock and the ocean at Taj Coral Reef Resort & Spa Maldives
Courtesy of Taj Coral Reef Resort & Spa Maldives / Expedia

A resort so romantic, even the island where it’s located is heart-shaped. Taj Coral Reef Resort & Spa, on Hembadhu Island, is a tropical haven surrounded by corals and turquoise waters. Check into one of the 62-luxurious thatched-roof villas before going for a dip in the Indian Ocean or strolling along sandy white beaches. You can also embrace your inner ecowarrior by taking part in the Custodians of the Reef conservation programme that aims to protect the fragile ecosystem while allowing you to explore it.

2. Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, for oversized glamour


Aerial view of the small island resort Waldorf Astoria Maldives
Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi /

The pampering starts the moment you are greeted with champagne and canapes on the hotel’s private transfer yacht in Malé. All 122 beach, reef and overwater villas will take your breath away too, with huge private infinity pools, hammocks, a 65-inch TV and an oversized bathtub with ocean views. You won’t want to leave, but you should, if only to marvel at the glass-bottomed spa, two huge pools and 11 restaurants and bars, including romantic treetop eaterie Terra.

3. Baglioni Resort Maldives, for Italian flair on Dhaalu Atoll


Sunset aerial view of beach villas, white sands, palm trees and crystal-clear water at Baglioni Resort Maldives
Courtesy of Baglioni Resort Maldives /

Bringing Italian flair to the Indian Ocean, the Baglioni Resort in Dhaalu Atoll offers thatched beach or over-water villas with covered open-air bathrooms, rain showers and immaculate interiors. Those craving serious luxury can even opt for a presidential water villa, including daily champagne, a 24-hour butler and buggy service and a dedicated waiter and barman. Break up beach days with pasta-making classes, movies at the open-air beach cinema or a cruise on the hotel’s Hobie Getaway catamaran.

4. Kudadoo Maldives Private Island, for all-inclusive luxury on Lhaviyani Atoll


Aerial view of a circular arrangement of on-the-water villas at Kudadoo Maldives Private Island
Courtesy of Kudadoo Maldives Private Island /

At Lhaviyani Atoll’s all-inclusive Kudadoo, guests are entitled to anything they desire at any time. Think free-flowing top-brand champagne, mind-boggling minibars, unlimited spa treatments, watersports, a cheese and wine cellar and a personal butler making it all happen seamlessly. There are just 15 exquisite over-water villas, each with its own 44sqm (474sqft) infinity pool, though you can hire out the whole island if you want to be really flash.

5. JOALI Maldives, for an immersive art experience on Raa Atoll


Interior of on-water villa featuring a baby blue couch, two armchairs, an outdoor deck and views of the ocean at JOALI Maldives
Courtesy of JOALI Maldives /

A resort committed to doing things differently, Raa Atoll’s JOALI is the first and only immersive art resort in the Maldives. Guests are provided with a map to pinpoint art pieces around the hotel (including underwater sculptures), there’s an on-site gallery and art studio, and even the minibars feature striking artist-designed decanters. Elsewhere, there’s a chocolate and ice cream shop, an ESPA wellness centre, a whiskey and cigar lounge and a divine Italian fine-dining restaurant with a Bellini bar.

6. COMO Cocoa Island, for an over-water villa on South Malé Atoll


View of villas on the water in the background as an employee sets up a table for two surrounded by candles right on the beach at COMO Cocoa Island
Courtesy of COMO Cocoa Island /

Just a 40-minute speedboat ride from capital Malé in South Malé Atoll, this resort will have you strolling on sugar-white sand while other travellers are still waiting for their seaplane transfer. Thirty-four secluded over-water villas are inspired by local dhoni boats and reached on wooden walkways stretching over the lagoon, all with private terraces to slip straight into the sea. Optional activities, including chartering a private boat or snorkelling at night with UV torches for an underwater light show, up the luxe factor.

7. One & Only Reethi Rah, for endless amenities near Malé


Classy bedroom, outdoor deck and private pool in an on-the-water villa at One & Only Reethi Rah
Courtesy of One and Only Reethi Rah /

Families and famous faces adore this chic resort, 40 minutes by speedboat from Malé. Every possible desire is anticipated here, from the gin bar to the ice cream shack, alongside a vast array of sports and games, an art studio, 12 gobsmacking beaches and even mini sun-loungers by the children’s pool. Want to really splash the cash? Copy the Beckhams and Tom Cruise and book the extravagant Grand Sunset Residence, with two pools, an outdoor cinema and a garden with its own sunken fire pit and shisha lounge.

8. Gili Lankanfushi Maldives, for true solitude near Malé


Picture of a stretch of white sand and 3 groups of villas on the water at Gili Lankanfushi Maldives
Courtesy of Gili Lankanfushi Maldives /

Shoes are left at the jetty at this barefoot, award-winning resort, a brief 20-minute speedboat transfer from Malé. Inspiration for the 45 thatched over-water villas comes from Robinson Crusoe – there are even seven standalone Crusoe residences reached by private boat for the full castaway experience. When you’re ready to emerge, there is an outdoor cinema, a dive centre, to-die-for dining and a heavenly spa with daily complimentary yoga sessions.

9. Mirihi Island Resort, for an intimate stay on South Ari Atoll


View of a hammock on a white beach near the ocean at Mirihi Island Resort
Courtesy of Mirihi Island Resort /

True peace and quiet is the ultimate luxury on Mirihi in South Ari Atoll, one of the smallest island resorts in the Maldives, just a 30-minute seaplane ride from Malé. The focus here is on disconnecting and taking it easy; the 39 villas don’t have televisions, and there are no motorised watersports or nightlife. Instead, guests are invited to snorkel in gin-clear water, stroll powder-soft sand or sample the Indian Ocean’s largest collection of rums, including the hotel’s own house-made brand.

10. OZEN Life Maadhoo, for all-inclusive luxury on South Malé Atoll

Resort, Luxury

Aerial view of a row of on-the-water villas at sunset at OZEN Life Maadhoo
Courtesy of OZEN Life Maadhoo /

No need to spend even a moment of your holiday worrying about that devastating final bill at this resort in the South Malé Atoll. A hefty and gloriously indulgent all-inclusive package includes a raft of extras, such as a generous minibar, non-motorised watersports, a sunset fishing excursion, champagne breakfasts and dining options including hand-made sushi poolside and gourmet fine-dining at underwater restaurant M6m.

In need of somewhere more accessible? Discover our guide to the best hotels catering for those with additional needs, and book now on Culture Trip.

Pierre de Villiers contributed additional reporting to this article.

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