Finolhu Maldives

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The brains behind Finolhu threw out the Maldives rule book when they created this fresh, funky resort. With fantastic restaurants, tongue-in-cheek design quirks throughout and a party vibe that’s anything but typical of the Maldives, this is an island getaway with a difference.

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Location

Set in the postcard-pretty Baa Atoll, Finolhu can be reached in half-an-hour by seaplane or by a domestic flight and speedboat from Male International Airport.

Style & character

To stay on this island is to take a trip back in time. The resort epitomises retro luxury, with fun, bold design touches throughout: sheep sculptures that playfully make reference to the fact you’re in the Baa Atoll, vintage-style telephones that only call for champagne, record players in the bedrooms, and rustic signs declaring holiday mantras such as “if you’re not barefoot, you’re overdressed”. It’s colourful and playful, but ultra-luxurious.

Service & facilities

There’s an old myth that all there is to do in the Maldives is lie on a beach, but that’s not true, and especially here: with a tennis court, four restaurants and a lively pool area full of bright inflatables, pumping music, stilt walkers and acrobats, you certainly won’t be bored.

Finolhu Maldives via Turquoise Holidays

The spa, named The Cove Club, is a real highlight: you’ll enjoy a pampering treatment in one of ten charming pastel huts, each of which celebrates a famous musical diva. Rather than typical spa music, you’ll have the choice of playing these divas’ hits; it’s unusual to have a massage to the sounds of Aretha Franklin or Janis Joplin, but you’ll soon wonder why more hotels don’t opt for quirky experiences like this.

As for service, the staff are friendly, helpful and energetic: they’re happy to chat, and even invited my husband to play football with them after dinner. You’ll be looked after by a ‘Mojo Agent’ who can book you dinners, tennis lessons or simply whisk you around in a buggy – but this isn’t a formal butler service where you’ll feel awkward, as the focus is always very much on fun.

  • Bar
  • Beach
  • Fitness centre
  • Kids’ club
  • Laundry
  • Pool
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Sauna
  • Spa
  • Steam room/hammam
  • Tennis court
  • Wi-Fi

Rooms

Unlike most hotels in the Maldives where you’ll pay lots extra to stay in an overwater villa, Finolhu’s entry-level rooms are over the water, with direct access to the sparkling lagoon and its magnificent marine life, as well as beautiful views of the sandbank, the longest in the Maldives. Getting from the enormous, comfortable bed to the warm Indian Ocean takes less than ten steps.

Finolhu Maldives via Booking.com

As well as the splashes of retro cool that you’ll come to expect from this resort (Marshall sound systems, for example), there’s a distinct design style, with influences from Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam, to name but a few. The colour scheme is unusual but interesting, full of golds and purples, while the bathrooms are enormous, with large standalone baths, an abundance of Neal’s Yard products, and both indoor and outdoor showers.

Food & drink

There are four restaurants and two bars, from relaxed, beachside snacking to more formal dining: among the options are Asian-style Kanusan, Baa Haa Grill, which serves North African flavours, and the 1 Oak Beach Club, where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner while trying to spot dolphins in the sea.

The most spectacular restaurant of all is the Fish & Crab Shack, not least because you have to walk down the sublime sandbank to reach it. Once you’re there, it’s relaxed, unpretentious and simple, a rustic shack with plenty of delicious dishes and cocktails: you’d be hard-pressed to match these surroundings anywhere else.

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