Set the scene for us: Where is this place, and what’s the vibe?
With amazing Beverly Hills-like villas, this is a deeply ambitious hotel full of big-hitters. Then you land and you can’t quite believe the water is that clear, or the sand is that white, and apart from the smart wooden overwater villas curling around to the left of the jetty, it seems like there are hardly any structures here at all. The ones that are here are all-white, clean-lined, and minimalist—the opposite of the palm-roofed tropical cliché.
That sounds divine. Is there a story behind it all?
It’s part of the Small Maldives Islands Company, which means it’s the opposite of a big global brand. Cara Delevingne has spent New Year’s here.
Got it! What can we expect from our room?
My overwater villa opened right onto the lagoon (as blue as a blue curaçao-laced cocktail), where manta rays swim right past in the shallows. There’s an infinity pool for prime sunset views, and the color scheme reflects the watery setting with navy-blue striped cushions, turquoise mosaic tiles in the huge bathrooms, and sailor’s rope repurposed as a light shade.
That description alone is relaxing. How about the food and drink?
There’s a clever mix of restaurants, so you can be as low-key or as dressed-up as you like: wood-fired pizza for poolside lunches; Asian-spiced Wok for dim sum and noodles; fish and chips. The standout is Koi, the candelit Japanese restaurant at the end of the jetty where you should request a table right by the water. The sushi and sashimi are delicious. Afterwards, head upstairs for cocktails at the Oak Lounge. The island is all-inclusive.
Perfect—we love options. Anything to say about the service?
The yoga teacher Kelzang Dorji from Bhutan, dressed all in white, has the gentlest spirit—but he makes you work. There’s a dive center at the end of the island’s jetty, and your personal butler will whizz over snorkeling gear that’s yours for the length of your stay.
What about the other guests? What sort of person comes here?
Expat British families with teenagers who can’t get enough of all the water sports, young Parisian couples wearing French linen everything, and body-beautiful Australians whose base is Byron Bay.
Alright. And if you zoom out a bit more, what are the environs like?
Amilla’s setting in the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO biosphere reserve, means you are just a five-minute boat trip away from the so-called Blue Hole, one of the best dive sites in the Maldives—look out for turtles, triggerfish, and guitar sharks.
Excellent. Anything we missed?
As well as waterfront villas, Amilla also has treehouses up in the jungle canopy. One is dedicated to personal training with the cult London-based trainers Bodyism, so you can spend a day up in the cool, green treetops having a one-on-one workout session and a nutrition-packed, gluten-free, sugar-free lunch from the Bodyism café. Also the overwater yoga pavilion on the other side of the island is a beautifully peaceful spot to practice at dawn.
Anything you’d change?
Add more local Maldivian food options—the restaurants tend to focus on the crowd-pleasers of Italian, Japanese, and Southeast Asian.
So is a stay here worth it—and why?
Amilla is worth coming to for its spectacular tropical setting. The unhurried sense of calm—such a foil to warp-speed life in the big city.