1. Cheval Blanc Randheli: For sky-high standards
You don’t come to Cheval Blanc to scruff around in Havaianas, neck bottles of local beer and eat catch of the day. You go for augmented reality, a surreal pinch-me-is-this-real perfection, and it does it blatantly, brilliantly well. You’ll find this Maldivian mirage 40 minutes north of Malé by the chicest seaplane EVER. The villas (conjured up by Jean-Michel Gathy) are cathedral-big and the ideal combination of slick and rustic-chic. The Guerlain spa is on its own fragrant island a little boat ride away, and the service? En pointe.
Double, from £1,400 (randheli.chevalblanc.com).
2. Kanuhura: For double the fun
Oh, Kanuhura – you little beauty, with your white, white sand and your blue, blue sea, which is the perfect temp for a bath. But wait. What is this added bonus to your idyllic island? Oh, only another island just a short swim or boat ride away. Yep, that’s right – the resort also includes Jehunuhura, where you’ll find the Drift restaurant and can order yourself juicy grilled prawns or go exploring (should you wish, the team can set you up for a private picnic, towels folded to look like crocodiles optional). But don’t worry, you don’t have to swim for your lunch if you don’t want to. Stay on the main island, which takes about 30 minutes to walk around (you can also cycle or drive a golf buggy), then choose where to eat: at the Italian restaurant, the beachfront joint – the live kitchen will whip up literally any food you desire – or at a table set within the chef’s charmingly green herb garden.
Double, from £525 (kanuhura.com)
3. Niyama Private Islands Maldives: For children
There’s the original, peaceful and terrifically stylish Chill, but we love Play, Niyama’s family-friendly island, which has everything you’d ever need with small people in tow but with none of that sticky, primary-coloured naffness. There’s a cracking forest-set kids’ club (which takes them off dolphin-spotting), a blissful spa, all sorts of places to eat and – if you can stay up late enough – an underwater nightclub. Oh, and it’s the only luxe resort with a surf break.
Double, from £440 (niyama.com).
4. Soneva Fushi: For barefoot everything
They actually make you hand over your shoes when you arrive, which gets a big tick from us. The original Maldivian eco-resort is the model for how a luxury lodge should be run. Villas, set between waving palms, are enormous and ravishing. Service is off-the-chart, and the food is sublime. Kids can go feral without anyone lifting an eyebrow; couples can hide away and never see another soul. And you can rest your head with a good conscience: this place has banned plastic bottles and funds all sorts of clever environmental and social projects.
Double, from £810 (soneva.com).
5. Finolhu: For partying
OK, we know this isn’t technically a classic, but we had to include it since all our favourite people went there for the world’s biggest, swankiest, most Instagrammed beach party last December. Cara, Chloe and Poppy Delevingne and a few of their closest pals, including Martha Ward, Jack Guinness and Arizona Muse, descended on the island for a week of riotous fun, soaking up the Sixties vibes (staff in faded denim, vintage turntables and a sunbleached VW van), lounging in the glass-walled over-water villas and shimmying to the live band by the pool. Cue hitherto unknown levels of FOMO.
Double, from £690 (finolhu.com).
6. Gili Lankanfushi: For over-water magic
Looking for a Robinson Crusoe-style getaway? Gili is the real deal. All 45 villas are over water, including the seven Crusoe Residences, which can only be accessed via your own private boat and have hammocks swinging in the middle of the ocean. You’ll even be assigned a Mr Friday, who’ll organise spa treatments, book you in for a game of tennis or make up a bed on your rooftop terrace so you can sleep under the stars. Being marooned on a tropical island? Not so bad after all…
Double, from £1,110 (gili-lankanfushi.com).
7. One & Only Reethi Rah: For bells and whistles
You could spend two weeks here and still not have time to explore all of the 12 beaches, or have a go on the climbing wall, or learn to paint in the artist’s studio. Then there’s the garden restaurant, Botanica, the sushi at Tapasake, the risotto at Rabarbaro and Fanditha’s enormous Middle Eastern buffet. And the socking great spa, with its outdoor vitality pools and crystal steam rooms. So much to do… you’ll just have to come back.
Double, from £1,090 (oneandonlyresorts.com).