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The Top 15 Luxury Resorts in the Maldives 2020-2021

Zeldiva luxury

Planning the perfect beach holiday? Pick the best island resort!

If anything deserves to be called “a postcard destination”, it has to be the Maldives. Picture those islets of white sand topped by tropical palms, strung like pearl necklaces onto dreamy atolls, seemingly afloat on the turquoise ocean. Better still, imagine them as a setting to some of the best luxury resorts in the world. 

When planning to visit here a holidaymaker is faced with a problem: which luxury resorts in the Maldives will deliver on the promise of the perfect beach vacation? But it’s a good problem to have. There are few other destinations that spoil for choice quite like this one.

If your idea of the perfect resort involves the great design, unostentatious luxury, and personalized service, if your best possible time off involves utmost exclusivity and authentic experiences—then look no further: this list is for you.  From simple island life to a sprawling luxury playground—these fifteen have one thing in common: they are all the very best luxury resorts in the Maldives.


“It took over twenty years of setting the barefoot luxury trends for Soneva to re-focus on the Maldives. In their latest project, the philosophy and the aesthetics of the brand come together in shaping Jani to be a perfect escapist resort”

We kick off with a real star. The design of Soneva Jani is perfectly tuned-in to the idea of the idyllic barefoot beach holiday, with architecture and interiors celebrating the Soneva’s unique brand style. The seamless service contributes to making every day here very special, and the location is as pure as they get. The resort is situated off a large island and is surrounded by vast, blue shallows of one of the largest lagoons in the country.

We love it for: The massive over-water villas, each with private infinity pools and a movable roof above the bedroom (wonderful for stargazing as you fall asleep). Many villas have water slides, they are great fun! There is plenty of attractions for all, but Soneva Jani is ideal for couples. It’s one of our favorite resorts in the Maldives.

See our review of Soneva Jani for Need-to-Know tips and more.


“Quietly fabulous and effortlessly sophisticated, Joali Maldives introduced its own unique brand of luxury to a destination that has seen it all”

It’s not easy for a new resort to truly stand out, especially in a destination teeming with some of the most attractive hotels in the world. But Joali managed to do it, and made a huge impression on us, earning a place among the few properties in the country we consider as having the wow factor. The resort emphasizes the essentials of luxury experience, craftsmanship, and service, honed to perfection.

We love it for: Our beautifully designed water villa was enormous! The spaciousness felt like part of the physical design, contributing to the sense of beauty. We loved the sophisticated interior design and the overall carefree atmosphere of the island. Also, picnic in a house-sized manta ray, anyone?

See our review of Joali Maldives for Need-to-Know tips and more.


“This resort is a gem that wows with the astonishing contemporary design, set against the pristine beauty of its secluded lagoon location”

You should expect the unexpected from the Maldivian resorts, as they share one common trait: the desire to wow and enchant with something new or unique. That something at the St Regis Maldives Vommuli is its striking architecture, by the Singapore-based WOW Architects. While we saw plenty of photos before visiting, to see these sharp, sleek, bold and almost otherworldly structures with our own eyes was quite another thing. The most eye-catchy creations here are the beautiful spa, inspired by the shape of a lobster, and the bar evoking a whale shark.

We love it for: Other than the incredible architecture, we also have to mention our over-water villa. It was elegant and eminently comfortable, with a private deck and a swimming pool (see this video on our Instagram!). The food was amazing too, and in many ways a true highlight of the stay.

See our review of St. Regis Vommuli for Need-to-Know tips and more.


Located only a boat ride away from Male and the Velana International Airport, this new resort promises an experience of luxury from the well-respected Waldorf Astoria brand. The guest accommodation includes expansive pool villas that stand out thanks to ample indoor and outdoor space. The resort features as many as 11 specialty dining outlets.

We love it for: The Terra Restaurant dining. The seven exclusive “nests”, built out of bamboo and elevated to the treetop level offer a unique experience.

See our review of Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi Maldives for Need-to-Know tips and more.


Designed by Jean-Michel Gathy, the creative mind behind some of the world’s most stunning resorts (including the  Chedi Muscat and many  Aman resorts ), Randheli brings to the Maldives the latest in contemporary luxury.

We love it for: Among the top 15 luxury resorts in the Maldives, the design of Cheval Blanc is perhaps the most glamorous and sleek — and its villas are simply stunning. They are absolutely massive, and their décor stands out with superb craftsmanship and detailing. Every single one of these sophisticated sanctuaries comes with a huge infinity pool.

See our review of Cheval Blanc Randheli Maldives for Need-to-Know tips and more.


After a few days at One&Only Reethi Rah, we felt like we could stay here for a month and not get bored. With its fabulous style, glamorous atmosphere and sheer wealth of attractions Reethi Rah are like a cross between a spa resort, an exclusive country club, and a billionaire’s playground. It’s a beautiful world unto its own.  

We love it for: The Beach Villa with Pool we stayed in. Luxurious, sleek, and offering a copious amount of space in and out. We also spent a few days in a Water Villa, which has a multi-level deck surrounded by lounging nets, spread over blue shallows. Occasionally, we’d dip into the calm waters, directly from the deck. Pure bliss!

See our review of One & Only Reethi Rah Maldives for Need-to-Know tips and more.


Known as one of the finest water villa resorts in the world and located on a beautiful coral island surrounded by a shimmering blue ocean, Gili Lankafushi offers a truly serene experience that epitomizes a relaxed island luxury. 

We love it for: The celebrated villas-on-stilts have a real wow factor: it’s the ultimate paradise living. The best ones are sprawling standalone “islands”, to which you can only get to by boat. Ah, and, underground chocolate cave, anyone?  

See our review of Gili Lankafushi Maldives for Need-to-Know tips and more.


“Exploring the picture-perfect island (with its mature greenery and lovely beaches) on bikes provided by the resort was always fun”

We were perfectly happy to not do much at Vakkaru, other than relaxing by the pool, paying a visit to the overwater spa, or enjoying the beach and the intensely blue water of the lagoon. The creators of this resort artfully combined a simple Maldivian feel with contemporary style, and sophisticated luxury with a “down to earth” feel. With white sandy beaches and excellent food, Vakkaru Maldives is a lovely island getaway, set up well for romantic couples, but particularly popular with families with children.

We love it for: The villas are well-appointed and beautiful, with great attention paid to the smallest of detail. The bedroom was our favorite, with a romantic four-poster bed and an overall open feel.

See our review of Vakkaru Maldives for Need-to-Know tips and more.


This 45-villa resort is the latest in ultra-luxury. Built for over $200 million, it is designed to attract the world’s 1%, and by that we mean the kind of people for whom spending thousands per night is a matter of course. And from among all the Top 15 Luxury Resorts in the Maldives, it is one of the most expensive ones.  

We love it for: This place is all about realizing extravagant fantasies. Velaa offers a walk-in snow room (literally) in the spa, a three-person submarine, a stunning purpose-built yacht, the largest collection of wines in the Maldives, a roofed tennis court… we could go on. 

See our review of Velaa Private Island Maldives for Need-to-Know tips and more.


“For the ultimate treat, go for one of the two Ocean Pavilions with Private Pool, packed with the best the top luxury can offer”

Not one, but two idyllic islands, Embudhufushi and Olhuveli are home to NIYAMA. This top luxury resort in the Maldives embraces elegance and tranquillity, balancing it with stimulation and fun, with cutting-edge design and plenty of quirky ideas.  

We love it for: A range of fun activities include a 24/7 spa, an underwater nightclub, an interactive hub of remote control helicopters and buggies, weekly movie nights, and more.

See our review of Niyama Private Island Maldives for Need-to-Know tips and more.


This resort seems to have it all: something on the water (spa), something underwater ( the Sea restaurant and wine cellar ), and something bigger and better from what its competitors in the Maldives could offer (the longest swimming pool).

We love it for: The huge Over-Water Residences, which come with massage pavilions and stunning views of the ocean.

See our review of Anantara Kihavah Villas Maldives for Need-to-Know tips and more.


During our stay here we discovered just how much Huvafen Fushi is about pure escapism: it offers a refreshing return to some true Maldivian basics. But the resort does not lack in the department of cool ideas, with their famous underwater spa or the twinkling-stars infinity pool, which is still among the most iconic in the country.  

We love it for: Superb over-water bar for gazing at sunsets and our Ocean Bungalow with Pool. Its thatched rooftop looks rustic, but the interior is anything but, with a touch of a “contemporary urban loft” style and high-tech features to match.

See our review of Huvafenfushi Maldives for Need-to-Know tips and more.


In the luxury hotels enigmatically called “W”, the Marriott International emphasizes a confident, youthful brand—focused on fun, recreation, and music. But only after visiting W Retreat Maldives, we realized that what truly defines the W experience is the excellent service and attention to the smallest of details.  

We love it for: W Retreat Maldives is perfect for anybody who appreciates a young vibe, good design, and fashionable music. It’s sexy, seriously indulgent, and eminently luxurious.

See our review of W Maldives for Need-to-Know tips and more.


Located near the equator at the southern edge of Maldives, this is a debut in the Maldives for the world-famous Raffles hotel brand. The resort’s thirty-eight guest villas are accompanied by four dining outlets, a Spa, and a fitness center. Raffles Maldives Meradhoo is accessible by an hour-long flight from Male to Kaadedhdhoo Airport in the Gaafu Alifu Atoll.

We love it for: The unique over-water villas. They are located away from the main island and are set up in shallows, and seemingly afloat in the ocean. The only connection to the main island is by boat.

See our review of Raffles Maldives Meradhoo for Need-to-Know tips and more.


“For the ultimate treat, go for one of the two Ocean Pavilions with Private Pool, packed with the best the top luxury can offer”

Conrad Maldives Rangali is set on two idyllic islands, with all the children activities confined to the larger one, and the romantic smaller island reserved for couples seeking some peace and quiet. This stylish resort offers glamorous luxury in chic surroundings, with some of the most exciting underwater attractions in the Maldives. This includes Ithaa, the restaurant located 5 meters below sea level, where we popped in for afternoon champagne. Thanks to the transparent acrylic roof and walls, Ithaa allowed us a full “immersion” for fantastic views of marine life on the reef.

We love it for: Underwater bedroom! The Muraka residence is a unique accommodation featuring fully integrated living space, with a private infinity pool, a chef and butler — and a stunning master suite, located fully underwater.

See our review of Conrad Maldives Rangali Island for Need-to-Know tips and more.


Our ideas as to which hotels deserve to be included in a list such as the Top 15 Luxury Resorts in the Maldives will be evolving. After all, new properties here are being launched constantly.Bookmark us for more hotel reviews, as well as “the best” lists —and in the meantime, make sure to follow us on Twitter and  Instagram, and join us on Facebook too, for a daily dose of travel inspiration. See you there!