The best luxury hotels in the Maldives

It’s a bold move to call yourself the One&Only, but this is the original, inimitable Maldives luxury hotel. It opened in 2005 and has set the bar high for upscale resorts in the country ever since. You hear whispers throughout the islands about the service (the staff to guest ratio is around three to one), the good treatment of staff and, of course, its high-profile guests (though you’d be hard-pushed to get a discreet employee to share any gossip). The palm-lined paths encourage adults to be big kids and cycle around all day. Even the sand is raked to manicured perfection.

The service is uniformly faultless, from your butler who will appear in a buggy at precisely the moment you need one, to being greeted off your long flight by the airport manager Hussein, a chat with whom is almost worth missing your speedboat transfer for.

Since so many of the guests are “repeaters” (some lucky families have spent every Christmas here since the mid-Noughties), staff have to keep thinking outside of the box – whether that’s by building a treetop dining area for the couple that returns for Valentine’s Day each year or delivering a floating breakfast to your private pool before you wake up. The timeless thatched villas have elegant interiors, but it’s the outdoor area in each – with a private pool, hammock, day-bed and even your own beach – that steals the show.

For such a discerning clientele, the restaurants have to stay ahead of the game, too – along with dinner among the treetops in the aforementioned (and amazingly positioned for sunset) treehouse, there’s an excellent Japanese restaurant (so good that a family of sharks stops by every evening to try and get in on the action), Middle Eastern plates served at tables on the sand at Fanditha and a plant-based restaurant in a beautiful garden, where even the most committed carnivore won’t be crying out for some steak.

At the spa, the state of bliss continues long after your treatment has ended thanks to the garden you can relax in afterwards, which leads down to the sea and a yoga pavilion. It has a Bastien Gonzalez nail studio, Espa menu and a Watsu pool – plus the wonderful Aussie spa manager is a deft hand with a Dyson Airwrap and can take on even the most humidity-expanded hair.

One&Only Reethi Rah, from £1,662 a night B&B plus tax.