Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives

Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives

Positioned on the eponymous island of Lankanfushi, a 20-minute
speedboat ride from Male airport in one of the Maldives
northern atolls, Gili Lankanfushi has garnered
many accolades. We knew of this before arriving – not to mention of
the Maldives
reputation for
Insta-worthy beaches
and incomprehensible luxury – but nothing
could have quite prepared us for the elation that would follow.

On arrival, you’re introduced to your “Mr Friday” (ours was the
impeccable Shaan), a linen-clad butler who’ll arrange everything
for you. By anything, we mean snorkelling, dolphin-spotting trips,
surfing lessons and, of course, which restaurant(s) you’ll eat in
that day. You name it, Mr Friday will make it happen.

Adopting the principle of “no news, no shoes” the resort’s
remote positioning means you’ll be headline-free for the duration
of your stay (just remember to deactivate your news alerts). Your
shoes can also be deemed redundant – unless, like us, you decide to
make use of the tennis court.


Entry-level lodgings come in the form of overwater villas double
the size of most London
flats. Positioned along a jetty that overlooks bright-blue
nothingness, a sea so clear allows glances at poetically named
panoply of sea creatures: Picasso triggerfish, sergeant major
damselfish and (harmless) black-tip reef sharks meander between the
wooden stilts of the water huts. Large living areas extend onto a
private jetty. Upstairs (yes, upstairs) there’s a rooftop with a
bed for those who want to sleep under the stars. Those feeling even
more flush (or travelling with a family) can invest in a
two-bedroom Crusoe villa, accessible only by boat. There’s even the
Private Reserve – the world’s largest standalone overwater villa
with four bedrooms, staff quarters, a spa, a games room, private
pool and a water slide. All the basics, then.

What’s for breakfast?

What isn’t! After a rousing juice and plate of freshly cut
tropical fruit, every morning is an odyssey of cuisines, starting
with local speciality mas huni (chapatti with cooked tuna, seaweed
and chilli sauce) followed by sushi and sashimi, cold cuts, curry
and rice, some unfathomably delicate (and buttery) pastries,
homemade jams, cheese and chocolate. If third helpings are not
quite indulgent enough, crack into the champagne.

How about lunch and dinner?

At lunchtime there are a number of à la carte choices – the
Maldivian fish tacos with fried reef fish, mango and chilli are
standouts. Word to the wise: don’t skip the salad bar. With leaves
picked in the Gili garden, house pickles and infused olive oils and
vinegars, its a great shout when the heat demands a light lunch.
And more likely than not, you’ve little space after breakfast

Guests can expect a different dinner option from the resort each
night. Taste multiple dishes from their knockout tandoori night or
sample smaller bites at a pop-up Asian street food market on the
beach – the pho, satay, udon and pad thai are all excellent.
Alternatively, dine privately with a personal chef and Maldivian
barbecue on One Palm Island or at By The Sea, Gili’s Japanese
restaurant (and our favourite). Here, the fish menu is extensive
and the island’s sommelier, Fabrice, will give you a crash course
in sake to wash it down.

Is there a bar?

Why, of course; there’s nothing they can’t whip up for you from
arak sours to negronis.


The Meera spa, offers
Ayurvedic therapies
and couple’s treatments. Put your head
through the hole on your massage bed and stare straight through the
floor into the sea beneath. If curiosity has got the better of you
during your treatment, the marine centre’s knowledgeable biologists
will give you a school indigenous sea life. There’s also a surf
school, a tennis court (the one time the “no shoes” policy can be
forgotten) an ice-cream parlour, a yoga champa and a well-equipped
gym if you feel inclined to burn off some of the Maldivian
indulgence. Fancy snorkelling with manta rays or seeing spinner
dolphins dance in the waves at dusk? Your wish is their

Things you should know

Make sure you ask your Mr Friday to book the restaurants in
advance, they book up fast – especially the Japanese option, By The

Within a short walk you can find…

All of the above. The resort is the island – part of its beauty
is there’s nothing else around…