Forget bar hopping. Try bath hopping. Specifically, go bath hopping in the Maldive’s sun-kissed islands. The South Indian nation known for its luxurious resorts is home to some of the most rockstar-worthy bathtubs on the planet. Here are five of the best.
One&Only Reethi Rah
Even in the luxury-on-steroids world that is the Maldives, One&Only Reethi Rah stands out as a money-is-no-object pleasure-dome where Russian billionaires and Chinese nouveau riche rub shoulders with celebrities like Naomi Campbell, Mariah Carey and the Beckhams.
Even when it's fully occupied, this whole-of-island resort with six kilometres of sugar-white beaches feels semi-deserted. That’s because most guests spend their days hiding out in one of 128 Asian-accented villas set over the water or in private tropical gardens.
The most ostentatious accommodation option are the beach villas with 10m slate-lined plunge pools, outdoor dining and lounge areas plus expansive wooden decks leading right to the beach. Inside the villa is 165m² of floor space outfitted with a seemingly endless cacophony of creature comforts: a 30cm-deep king-size bed, 300 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets, espresso machine, indoor and outdoor showers, and a terrazzo stone bathtub with Dornbracht faucets.
Bath Ritual: Large enough for two, One&Only’s bathtubs are made for lovers. The resorts Sensual Indulgence experience will see your private concierge – contactable via the pre-sets on your villa's cell phone – fill the bath with essential oils of palmerosa and myrth. They'll also leave a bottle of Moët and Chandon Vintage Rosé 1998 on ice and a plate of petits fours.
Per Aquum Niyama
When overwater al-fresco fine-dining restaurants and water sport centres replete with jetpacks and transparent kayaks become commonplace, extreme measures are required to stand out from the crowd. Enter Per Aquum Niyama, a twin island resort where guests can dance the night away at Subsix, the world's first underwater nightclub.
With a whopping 255m² of floor space, the resort's beachfront suites are just as flamboyant. The plunge pool is large enough for a family. The bar fridge is full-size – a retro black beauty manufactured by Gorenje in Slovenia. There's a popcorn maker in the snack bar, electronically controlled curtains and a supersize semi-outdoor bathroom straight out of Cleopatra's Palace. There, set among a jungle of tropical plants, an outdoor rain shower and ponds with glass mosaic tiles, is a square-edged freestanding porcelain bathtub with meter-high Laufen faucets from Switzerland.
Bath Ritual: Surprise your better half by placing a discreet call to your tharuku (butler), who'll sneak into your suite while you dine in one of Per Aquum Niyama's seven restaurants and prepare a bubble bath scattered with hibiscus petals.
Anantara Kihavah Villas
With a suite management have nicknamed after regular guest Roger Federer, one of only two underwater restaurants on earth and a 3:1 staff-guest ratio, Anantara Kihavah Villas (pictured) in the Baa Atoll UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve is one of the Maldive’s most resplendent resorts.
Poised over a lagoon with sweeping ocean views are the overwater bungalows. There are 40 in total, arranged in a colossal circular formation and interlinked by an overwater bicycle pathway.
With vaulted ceilings and dark hardwood floors, the main bedroom of each villas opens up onto a wraparound deck that epitomises Maldivian luxury. It's furnished with a queen-size daybed that swings from the ceiling, hammocks that hang over the lagoon and a ladder that drops you straight into the water.
Then there's the bathroom. Fronted by floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors with step-through access to an oversize plunge pool, it features a glass shower box with sweeping Indian Ocean views, outdoor rainforest shower, his and hers vanities, pearl white chaise lounge and, the piece de resistance, a glass-bottomed bathtub that peers down into the sparkling turquoise waters.
Bath Ritual: Anantara's Maldivian Signature Bath ritual is a soothing caress of coconut milk and peppermint oil. But why muddy the bathwater when you can glance down to see tropical fish and spotted eagle-rays sweep along the bottom of your tub?
Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
As if being on a private island wasn't decadent enough, Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa's Island Spa is set on its own islet spa. From the main pier, guests alight a luxed-up traditional Maldivian boat known as a dhoni for a short ride across Kuda Huraa's neon-blue lagoon.
After alighting, walk along a raised wooden walkway that leads to a reception area and through to seven different over-water pavilions. Each pavilion has an open-air treatment room with two massage tables set over glass peep holes cut in the floor, and a separate change room with an outdoor shower, Romanesque columns and steam capsule. In the centre of the room lies an oversize square bath that replicates those of Ancient Rome.
Bath Ritual: Ask your Four Seasons bath butler to pour a milk and honey bath. The ritual includes an oatmeal face scrub, sweet lassi smoothie plus a side plate of guilt-free homemade cookies while you soak your troubles away in two of nature's oldest beauty elixirs.
A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group of boutique hotels and resorts, Kandolhu Island is a pimple of an island, only 200m across at its widest point. It offers the same fastidious attention to detail found at large-format brand-name 5-star alternatives but with an understated, informal feel and only 30 guest rooms.
The ocean pool villas are the pick of the crop. Set over Technicolor coral gardens brimming with rare Hawksbill turtles, they offer all the luxury features one comes to expect in the Maldives: infinity-edge plunge pool, private deck replete with sun lounges, white parasols, a king size bed and wine fridge.
With floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors on two sides of the room, the bathroom is a prism of light and luxe virtually hovers above the reef. The bathtub – an egg-shaped freestanding Laufen made in Switzerland – completes the Bond-like scene and stakes a claim as the Maldive's most impressive place to get clean.
Bath Ritual: Kandolhu can deliver just about any kind of bathing ritual your heart desires. “We can put elixirs in it, create a bubble bath, we can get rose petals in it or surround it with any kind of tropical flower arrangement given 24 hours notice,” says assistant manager Laura Robinson. “We can even fill the bath with Champagne – so long as you can foot the bill.”