Hotel Review

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Review


Immanuel Debeer | 09/02/2021

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93/ 100

Our Rating

The Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is a stunning new resort in the Hilton portfolio that should be high on your “to stay” list.

  • 20/ 20
    Room & Villa
  • 18/ 20
    Food & Beverage
  • 20/ 20
    Service & Staff
  • 17/ 20
    Hotel Location
  • 18/ 20
    Price & Redemption Cost


  • Affordable when booked with Hilton points
  • Huge villas with private pools
  • Exceptional service
  • Great food, drinks and Hilton status recognition


  • Everything is extremely expensive
  • Transfer to the resort is pricey $$$

The brand new Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi was probably one of the most anticipated hotel openings in 2019, especially for points/miles enthusiast!

The resort is a short 40-minute boat ride from Male which is both far enough to get the secluded island vibe and close enough to be convenient.

Let’s get started with the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Review! It’s long…

Booking Waldorf Astoria Maldives

I wrote an extensive post on how I booked this hotel on points and how you can do precisely the same (even if you don’t have or collect Hilton Honor points). In short, I booked this hotel for 120k Hilton Honor points per night, and of course, if you’re a Hilton Honors Silver or higher member, you can take advantage of the book “book 4 nights, get 1 free” for a total of 5 nights.

Best Times To Visit The Maldives

The Maldives enjoys sunshine all year round with average temperatures ranging between 22ºC and 31ºC. The best times to visit, however, is outside of the rainy season. This timeframe is between November and April with the high season being December until March (expect occupancy to be higher during this time too!).

The monsoon or rainy season runs from May until November with the peak being June. Considering you’re stuck on an island, there’s not much to do when it rains so I would recommend going outside of the monsoon season to avoid disappointment.

Upgrade Prices

There are 5 main category room types at this resort. Those are:

  • Beach Villa
  • Reef Villa (half on land, half over water)
  • Overwater Villa
  • Stella Maris
  • Private Island

The 3 first categories have a range of subcategories ranging up to 2 bedroom villas.

On a points booking, you will get the “base” villa which for me was the “beach villa”, but the base room type will change to the overwater villa in 2020 since beach villas are in higher demand with families.

When I enquired about an upgrade (technically this hotel excludes itself from giving free upgrades to Gold and Diamond members), I got quoted USD 400 per night subject to 10% service charge and 12% goods and taxes.

I decided not to plan anything until we were there, which was the smartest move. Things seemed much more flexible once we were there and we got upgraded to an overwater villa for the last 2 nights so we could experience both options.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Boat Transfer

While booking a stay on points seems like a cheap value proposition initially, things change when you learn the price of a boat transfer.

The website reads:

A shared return transfer on the resort’s yacht is US $700 subject to 23.2% tax and service charge per adult. Children aged 6 to 11.99 (I assume they mean under 12 years old?) charged at US $300 subject to 23.2% tax and service charge with complimentary transfer for children below 5.99 (I assume they mean under 6 years old) for the year 2019 from Velana International Airport, Male.

Transfers for the year 2020 are US $600 per adult and US $300 for children aged 6 to 11.99, subject to 23.2% tax and service charge with complimentary transfer for children below 5.99.

The other kicker is that this is a shared transfer. This means that if you’re the first one to arrive but more people are landing within 1 hour after you; you’ll be waiting for them. Considering the price, it’s not exactly the most inspiring way to start a holiday.

How to get there cheaper?

Technically, third party vessels aren’t allowed within the resort boundary “to protect our guest’s privacy” is the official statement. However, there are a range of services which provide transfers around US$180 each way, so if you want to be the first one to try it…this is it. A quick google will bring up a range of third-party service providers for the area.

Arrival At The Resort

Upon landing, we were greeted inside the airport terminal by 2 team members of the Waldorf Astoria ground staff. Our bags were taken for us, and 2 minutes later, we were on board the yacht. As it turned out we were the last guests to arrive that day, and since no one else landed within our time slot, the whole boat (including 2 bedrooms) was ours and left as soon as we boarded.

While the ground staff waived us good-bye in synchronised fashion (the kind of waive where they don’t stop until you’re out of sight), our crew popped a bottle of champagne to keep us hydrated on the 40min trip to the resort. Considering I managed to lock in the transfer price at $370++, (due to a pricing error when the bookings opened), all of a sudden the value proposition didn’t feel so bad.

Arriving at the resort was one of those “wow” moments as you cruise past the impressive Stella Maris ocean villas before docking at the main pier. Of course, a full waiving party was anticipating our arrival, and we were whisked away to the reception for a few formalities, a welcome drink and an introduction to our personal butler who would be assigned to look after us during our stay.

Our first villa was located at the sunset side of the island (the best side – more on that later), and after a 5-minute buggy ride (and a quick tour and explanation of the places along the way) we arrived at our Beach Villa.

Island Time

Many resorts in the Maldives set their own time to make sure tourists can maximise the number of sun hours during the day. Waldorf Astoria Maldives time is 1 hour ahead of Male, and since it’s an unofficial time zone, you’ll have to set your phones and watches manually.

Butler Service

Every villa gets assigned a dedicated concierge/butler (whatever you want to call it) who is responsible for you from the moment you set foot on the island. Our Butler Yoontey was terrific and made sure we were very well looked after. As a guest, you get a mobile phone so you can call your butler whenever you want to book or need something organised, or simply if you want to be chauffeured around. The hotel also offers packing and unpacking as a service but having a stranger folding up my boxers is a bit much for me.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Beach Villa (Twin)

Our beach villa was 209, which is on the far side of the island and from there you can enjoy the most perfect sunsets. The beach villas end in 213 before going to overwater villas in the 100’s.

Even the base villas here are huge, I had booked a twin queen room since king-size villas had already sold out on points, but apart from the 2 queen size beds, the villa was identical to the others. The interior and exterior design of the place is fantastic, I love the colour pallet and the incredibly high ceilings and large bathrooms are stunning.

Outside, each villa enjoys a private pool with direct beach access. A vast deck has a six-seater table, lounging area under a pagoda and a hanging sun-bed. Tiled steps lead towards the beach where you can enjoy a hammock and your own set of beach sun loungers.

Even though the beach is accessible to neighbouring villas, the shrubs growing around the pool and villas offer enough privacy while still allowing you to soak in the ocean vistas.

Each villa is equipped with snorkelling equipment, and while the whole island is human-made, the reef is only 10-20m away from the shore. On our second day, we even witnessed a pod of around 20 dolphins swim past right outside our room.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Overwater Villa

On our final 2 nights, we received a complimentary upgrade to the overwater villa. Our villa was 713, and I would say the 700’s is the “worst” side of the island. From here you don’t get to see the sunset, but instead, you’re greeted with light pollution from Male, and you can also see the tallest building in the country (the hospital) in the distance. It’s not a big deal but of course, if you go for an overwater villa; 100’s are where you want to be.

The villa interior is almost identical to the beach villa with the key difference being the glass floor leading to the bathrooms. The other thing is the outdoor shower, the one at the beach villa is much nicer while in the overwater villa they feel like an afterthought.

Overwater villas also come with their private pool, and instead of a hammock at the beach, there are 2 hammocks connected to the deck (lounge chairs are way more comfortable).

The water around the villas isn’t very deep so jumping in is not an option. However, just like the beach villas, the reef is a short 20m swim away from where it drops off into the blue (my guess, 30-50m deep).

Island Villa VS Over Water Villa

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I still can’t make up my mind on which one is better. I know a lot of people would want the overwater villa since it’s such an “iconic” Maldives experience, but I was impressed by both.

The downside of the beach villa is that people walk past your villa throughout the day and while in most cases this isn’t bothersome. It could easily be a nightmare if you had a bunch of screaming kids running around while you’re trying to enjoy peace and quiet.

In the overwater villa, you have people swimming past, but they are generally swimming out by the reef and have their heads down snorkelling, so it’s hardly a disturbance.

However, one downside of the overwater villas would be the noise from the passing buggies. Since the walkways are wooden planks, you can hear them zoom past “dood-doof-doof”, and there is a reasonable amount of traffic, so it’s noticeable when you go to bed.

Island Connectivity

Throughout our whole stay, I kept my phone in flight mode and connected to wifi only. The connectivity throughout the entire resort is outstanding, and while speeds aren’t mind-blowing. It’s sufficient enough to keep up with your daily Instagram struggles.

Transportation Around The Island

Your island concierge will provide you with a cellphone which you can use to speed dial him/her. Part of the service includes buggy rides to wherever you want to go. However, bikes are also provided (kids bikes as well), and this was our preferred way to get around at our own pace instead of waiting for a buggy.

Surprisingly, a lot of guests seemed to prefer the buggy transport so there is quite a bit of traffic. At night, buggy drivers are clearly trained to turn off their headlights and slow down or stop driving when they see cyclists, but on occasion, this seemed to be ignored. I found it rather dangerous since the bikes don’t come with lights and the pathway isn’t all that wide.

Dining At Waldorf Astoria Maldives

The island features 11 dining venues (some of which are only one and the same place).

On our first night, we went to The Ledge, this is by far the best restaurant on the island, and it’s a spin-off of the Burned Ends establishment in Singapore (which has both a 1 star Michelin rating and is also featured on the 50 Best List Asia in 10th place.

The kitchen is run by the same team who’ve also worked at the Singapore venue so the quality… and prices are incredibly high.

On our second night, we visited the Arabic restaurant Yasmeen which is located oceanside and does a pretty good mixed grill and excellent hummus.

On our third night, we visited Glow. An organic restaurant concept which is also connected to Amber Bar (the perfect place to watch the sunset and open from 6-7 pm before it all turns into the dining setting for Glow.

Personally, I didn’t enjoy the food here. Portions were tiny and way overpriced (well, all food at this resort is extremely expensive). The whole meal was uninspiring, and considering the money you’re paying for food, the least they can do is offer something good.

On our fourth night we tried the Chinese restaurant, which has a beautiful setting overlooking the lagoon side of the resort. The food here was delicious, even though we went for a rather basic option.

On our final and fifth night, we decided to head back to The Ledge, but it was closed so instead we opted for Yasmeen again.

For sunset drinks, you can’t beat going past Amber, which is built out over the ocean in front of Glow. It’s a fantastic spot to have a drink and watch the sun go down over the Indian Ocean. Get there early to secure one of the daybeds right on the edge!

The resort has a few more casual dining options as well, such as the wood-fired pizza bar called Nava at the pool (next to the Ledge). There’s also a casual restaurant called Tasting Table, which is the same place you go for breakfast in the mornings.

A few places we didn’t visit were: The Rock; a wine cellar where you can have set menu wine-paired dinners, Tangled (same building as Tasting Table) which is a noodle/dim sum restaurant and Terra, which is the restaurant built up on bird nest looking structures.

While Terra looks cool during the day, the set menu was a big turn off. A table for 2 would set you back around $900 for a 3-course menu, and that’s before you order any drinks….no thanks!
At night when you head out for your expensive dinner (sun sets pretty early), you won’t be able to see a thing, and your Instagram worthy dining experience could be anywhere in the world for that matter. During the day, most of the tables look out over the kids club, so it’s not like you get terrific views up there anyway. Instead, head to The Ledge for a much better dining experience!

Hilton Honors Happy Hour

Both Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond members get complimentary access to the happy hour at Peacock Alley (the lobby bar at the resort’s entrance). This runs every afternoon from 4 PM-5 PM and consists of a free flow of cocktails, wine/beer & some spirits. There are also some canapés on offer but don’t count on this as dinner since you only get a few each.

If you like a few drinks, this offer for elite Hilton members is incredible value when you consider how expensive drinks are at this resort. While we missed the cocktail hour on our first night, we made up for it on the following 4 days!

Hilton Honors Gold Benefits At Waldorf Astoria Maldives

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi Benefits:

  • Complimentary daily breakfast for two at Tasting Table.
  • In-villa VIP welcome Champagne, sweet and savoury amenities
  • Complimentary daily afternoon delights with a fine selection of beverages crafted by mixologist and sommelier from 16:00 to 17:00 at Peacock Alley
  • 50% special offer on selected beverages at Nava Beach Club from 22:00 to 23:30

Hilton Honors Diamond Benefits At Waldorf Astoria Maldives

  • Complimentary daily breakfast for two at Tasting Table.
  • In-villa VIP welcome Champagne, sweet and savoury amenities
  • With a selected 60-minute massage, enjoy a complimentary additional 30-minute at Waldorf Astoria Spa
  • Complimentary daily afternoon delights with a fine selection of beverages crafted by mixologist and sommelier from 16:00 to 17:00 at Peacock Alley
  • 50% special offer on selected beverages at Nava Beach Club from 22:00 to 23:30

In-Villa Dining

For somewhat cheaper alternatives, in-room dining is a good option. I’ve taken pictures of the full menu, but it’s pretty much all the hotel classics you might want: burgers, club sandwich, salads etc.

Waldorf Astoria Breakfast At Tasting Table

Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond members enjoy complimentary breakfast at this hotel which is outstanding value (Hilton Honors Gold comes free with cards such as the Amex Platinum).

Generally speaking, I’m not a buffet fan. However, the buffer at Waldorf Astoria Maldives is next level. Everything looked and tasted amazing and if the food selection is overwhelming; there’s also an a-la-carte menu from which you can order the classics such as eggs Benedict and a range of healthy juices (and free flow champagne!).

The breakfast location is picture perfect and right on the beach overlooking the lagoon, make sure you get a table on the deck!

Water Activities

There is a range of activities at the resort, some are free and some are paid. For the most part, you can participate in complimentary water sports for a set amount of time for everything that isn’t motorised. This includes kayaking, sailing, windsurfing etc. If you want a jet ski, you’ll pay.

We didn’t spend much time here, but it’s nice to see the resort doesn’t charge for renting out kayaks etc.

Snorkelling & Diving

While the island is entirely human-made, the reef it has been built upon is not. This means every villa has direct access to some pretty good snorkelling. The reef is around 20 meters from the beach or your overwater villa and drops off to (my guess) about 50m on a steep wall. There’s plenty of marine life to see, and one day we even got a pod of around 20 dolphins swimming past. We also spotted some sharks and stingrays. I expect the snorkelling will only get better as time goes on and the reef has time to recover from the construction damage (you can see some sediment on the coral). For better snorkelling, choose an oceanside villa. Each guest receives a brand new set of snorkelling gear, so no need to bring your own.

Diving at Waldorf Astoria is pretty good! It’s been about 6 years since I’ve been for a dive and even though I’m a PADI divemaster with around 150 dives, I decided to do a quick refresher course and dive in the lagoon first.

Diving in the lagoon is not worth it, it’s pretty dead, and the wall is covered in sediment. However, it’s a perfect spot to learn or refresh your skills. That said, if you are interested in diving, get your open water certificate in your home country, it’s much cheaper, and most of the skills are pool/classroom-based anyway so it would be a waste of time to do it in a beautiful location such as the Maldives.

Diving was one of the more affordable activities at the resort. From memory, a boat dive was US$80+++ with some extra if you need to hire gear.

After my refresher, we headed out for 2 dives with my guide Ricky from Spain (who was fantastic!). It also turned out I was the only guest diving that day! The downside of diving with tourists is that you depend on the person with the worst skill level to end the dive; this means if you’re out in a group and one person gobbles up all their air in the first 20 mins, everyone has to come up!

Luckily it was just the two of us, so we visited some pretty lovely walls which were about 20-30 mins from the resort. On the first dive, I saw at least 4 sharks and the second one we spotted a bunch of turtles. Overall the diving is highly recommended!

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Gym

I love hotels that offer complimentary groups classes. For me, it’s a great way to stay motivated and force myself to wake up early and get a workout done before breakfast. It’s a great way to offset all the eating and drinking!

Waldorf Astoria has an excellent gym which is right next to the spa building. There’s a complimentary group class every morning which you have to register for. The first day we did a circuit class which was great, there’s also a yoga class and a guided run around the island (around 4.5km).

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Spa

Although we didn’t try out the spa, it did look very luxurious and absolutely stunning. The spa has therapy rooms which open up with views over the ocean; very relaxing!

What To Budget?

Getting to the Maldives can be incredibly cheap, even staying at a luxury resort such as Waldorf Astoria is cheap (if you learn how to use Hilton Honors points – check out this guide to see how I booked it for a fraction of the price!). But once you’re there, be prepared to open your wallet.

If spending at least AU$1000 per day makes you uncomfortable; DO NOT GO! When you go to these types of places, you need to accept the fact that you’re going to spend an obscene amount of money, especially on food. If you can’t accept that, you will have a terrible time here, and the place will turn into “survival island”.

For our 5 day stay, we spent a total of US$3200, which included transportation and diving (apart from that we didn’t do any paid activities). That works out to US$640 per day, which is around AU$930.

While that sounds like a lot, I would say it’s pretty conservative. We did make the most of the free breakfasts (and no I certainly didn’t bring a bag full of breakfast goods back to my room) and the cocktail hour. Apart from that, we didn’t cut back on dining, but we certainly cut back on drinking after we realised that negronis were costing us $60 per drink — yikes! For lunch, we either ordered in-room dining (usually came to around US$100 all up) or skipped it if we weren’t hungry.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives – In Conclusion

Since this was my first time to the Maldives, I can’t compare it to anything else. While a lot of Hilton enthusiasts try to compare Conrad with Waldorf, I think Waldorf is in a different league (and it should be due to the brand position). Conrad rooms look a bit dated from all the pictures I’ve seen, so it’s never been high on my to-do list.

While the boat transfer price is off-putting at first; it’s a huge convenience factor! Essentially, you can arrive late at night and still get transferred to the resort whereas if you need to transfer with a seaplane, it can only happen during daylight hours. Combine that with the 40 mins boat ride to the airport, in a very comfortable yacht with free-flow champagne… it’s not that bad (but still insanely overpriced).

Most importantly, will I go back? Yes most definitely! Waldorf Astoria Maldives is an incredible resort, and it should be high on your points redemption list.

Hotel Details

  • Location: Kaafu Atoll, Maldives
  • Phone: +9604000300

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Immanuel Debeer

Chief points nerd and travel hacker at Flight Hacks

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  1. Can you settle the $ bill using hilton points.
    What would 10000 points equal to in $? Trying to decide if it’s worth it and if I should buy points whilst bonus is on?

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Waldorf Astoria Maldives FAQ

Both Gold & Diamond Hilton Honors members get a range of amenities such as free breakfast, afternoon cocktails and a bottle fo champagne upon arrival. Waldorf Astoria Maldives has 11 restaurants on the island and a huge in-room dining menu to chose from. Yes, there’s a fitness centre which also offer complimentary group classes to guests. Yes, the only way to get there is by resort boat transfer from Male airport. Yes, there’s dry-cleaning and normal laundry services as an extra cost.
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What are some of the property amenities at Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi?

Both Gold & Diamond Hilton Honors members get a range of amenities such as free breakfast, afternoon cocktails and a bottle fo champagne upon arrival.

What food & drink options are available at Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi?

Waldorf Astoria Maldives has 11 restaurants on the island and a huge in-room dining menu to chose from.

Are there opportunities to exercise at Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi?

Yes, there’s a fitness centre which also offer complimentary group classes to guests.

Does Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi have an airport shuttle?

Yes, the only way to get there is by resort boat transfer from Male airport.

Are any cleaning services offered at Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi?

Yes, there’s dry-cleaning and normal laundry services as an extra cost.



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