The Best Hotel in the Maldives
I have never had a more difficult time choosing a hotel than in the Maldives. They all looked equally luxurious, offered the same amenities, and made the same promises. At one point I found myself making an Excel spreadsheet comparing the different pros and cons of several resorts. The search went on for days. In the end I chose Gili Lankanfushi because their overwater bungalows were by far the largest, and in my mind, if we were going to pay an obscene amount of money for an overwater hut, we might as well get the largest one. Shortly after choosing, TripAdvisor named Gili the Best Hotel in the World! I gave myself a high-five.
We planned our honeymoon as a two-week trip through Rajasthan, India, but when we realized the Maldives was just a short flight away, we said "YOLO" and added four more days onto the end. We're suckers for anywhere that advertises that shoes are not allowed on the premises.
Gili Lankanfushi took my breath away from the moment we arrived via private boat transfer. Our personal butler met us and escorted us in a golf cart down the jetty to our enormous bungalow. She was there in a second with a huge smile any time we needed anything, but kept enough distance that we didn't feel like a party of three. She remains a friend a year later!
I have been to many a tropical paradise - but nowhere in the world compares to The Maldives. Each resort is on its own private little island, and the main city of Male is far away from all of them, so it is complete and utter seclusion. The stairs leading from your bungalow go right into the warm, waist-deep water and you can just walk out into the middle of the crystal clear ocean and see nothing around you but a scattering of brightly-colored fish and occasional reef shark.
I was not disappointed about the size or decor of these bungalows! They are called 'residences" because they are larger than most starter homes. It was easily 3x the size of our New York apartment, two levels, complete with bedroom, living room, enormous glass-bottom bathroom with indoor tub and outdoor shower. The upstairs has outdoor beds and a sitting area, and the huge patio extends out in the ocean with lounge chairs and hammocks. Every wall of the place is either a huge window or just open air. The decor is rustic and beachy with pops of bright yellow. We both agreed we could abandon everything we owned and everyone we knew to live there forever and never look back.
The resort has a main beach and pool area, but with private stairs right off your bungalow leading into the ocean, you need never leave except for meal times. If you're pining for an activity, Gili has paddle boards, kayaks, snorkel gear, and boats for your use. But I spent most of my days not budging from the water hammock to do anything but eat.
We only left our water mansion twice a day - once for breakfast and again for dinner at sunset. You arrive in the evening to a private table set up for each couple on the beach, inches from the waves. Each bungalow has two bikes that you can use to get around the island with ease. The distance to the dining area is never great enough to require a bike, but it's adorable and so we used them every day.
We booked a half-board status, so our breakfast and dinner were included each day. I was a little worried about the food quality, since we had once done this in Greece and the food was sub-par. My fears were shattered when I arrived the first morning to a bakery's-worth collection of fresh breads still warm to the touch, with a dozen types of jams and spreads to accompany, a station of fresh fruit (cut to order), a shelf of individually bottled health tonics, mini clay pots full of homemade yogurts, fresh sushi, a Mediterranean tapas spread, all varieties of breakfast meats and potatoes, homemade granolas, porridges, and a separate, downstairs cheese and chocolate cave! On top of the stunning buffet, there was a menu of hot, made to order dishes and bottomless champagne. The dinner was somehow more impressive, themed each night to a different cuisine. The quality of every morsel of they served was beyond my wildest expectation. Come mealtimes, we ate like complete loons.
Travel Tip: Since the Maldives are so secluded, everything needs to be flown in daily to assure it's fresh, so the food at the resorts is wildly expensive. (Think about $20 USD for a small cup of soup!) Being on half-board saved us hundreds dollars, and I can't recommend it highly enough!
I've never been so sad to leave a place as I was to leave Gili. The price tag on a Maldives trip is worth every penny, and I would never consider going anywhere else but Gili Lankanfushi because of both the stunning resort and wonderful people running it.