So, you’re going to The Maldives! Before being whisked away to your private island resorts, you need to spend time in Malé, the throbbing capital of The Maldives. Only 3 square miles, it is an easy city to discover. Malé is where everything happens and is your stop off point for seaplanes and international flights too.
We wanted to start our Maldivian adventure at JEN Maldives Malé by Shangri-La. This is a brand we have trusted for years so we wanted to discover the other properties in the Shangri-La family. You can also use and collect your Golden Circle points here.
JEN Maldives Malé by Shangri-La is right in the heart of the action right by the harbour and 7 minutes by speedboat from Velana International Airport. There is also a free airport shuttle by road which only takes 15 minutes and you get to cross the controversial China-Maldives Friendship Bridge. Speed boats will be the norm by the end of your Maldives trip!
This is the kind of hotel you can just relax. The team here are charming and nothing is too much trouble. Use one night in Malé to get used to the time difference, rest and immerse in the culture and people. Remember, nightlife in Malé is mainly mocktails and coffee but at this hotel, there are also lots of special events and live music nights to keep you entertained too.
Clean, comfortable, quiet and wicked fast WIFI (if you are travelling from the UK, using data is expensive so fast, reliable WIFI in The Maldives is a bonus.) Our 11th floor Deluxe Ocean View room had Indian Ocean views, massage rain showers and a rather comfortable king bed. Even higher floor rooms have openable windows (one of our pre requisites) and there are also balcony rooms available.
Eating and Drinking
We had dinner at Azur on the rooftop. The menu has a little bit of everything from freshly made houmous to Maldivian curries. The star signature dish is a sesame crusted tuna. The fresh tuna is cooked pink and is the meatiest, fleshiest, tastiest tuna. And for those with a phobia of bones, not a bone in sight. Tuna is popular in The Maldives and this dish showcases this humble yet versatile ingredient. There are also some great mocktails and shakes to try. Don’t make the mistake of asking for a martini like I did (no alcohol is served in Malé according to law).
Breakfast on the rooftop was classically Maldivian or you can also enjoy fruits and other classic breakfast items. We saw a plate on the buffet and it was described as Mashuni which we discovered is the classic Maldivian breakfast made of tuna, coconut, onion and a little chilli. We had this with some Masala Chai, a dosa, a little vegetable curry and a coconut sambal with fresh curry leaves.
If you have late night jet lag munchies, JEN’s Kitchen on the Go downstairs is open till 2am if you fancy a cake, sandwich or a coffee (which wont help with jet lag).
This is the social hub of JEN Maldives Malé by Shangri-La. There is a gorgeous infinity pool with panoramic ocean views and lashings of sun. The rooftop is bathed in sunshine from 7am till late afternoon. Just roll up and towels are provided tool.
We had some more jet lag so checked out the gym. Air conditioning like the arctic, clean modern equipment, and open 24 hours. The gym also has ocean views so get used to these!
Overall, this was one night that really set the tone for our Maldivian adventure. We left JEN Maldives Malé by Shangri-La refreshed, reinvigorated and better educated on Maldivian food and culture.
To discover more and book, visit: shangri-la.com
Top 5 tips for one night in Malé
Walk around – This is a small and densely populated city which is very safe so walk around and discover the culture and local markets selling Maldivian products. Walking around Malé is easy and safe so go out and discover this city.
Go to the shops – Sounds silly but remember on many of the island resorts, there are no shops. So, grab the opportunity and buy any essentials / snacks you need before departing to your resort.
Eat – Some of the best curry in The Maldives is in Malé with a passionate combination of Sri Lankan, Indian and Bangladeshi influences. We had lunch at Seagull Café which was one of the best chicken curries ever. We were told it would take 20 minutes to prepare and wow it was worth every second of waiting and only cost £5.
Change money – Malé is the centre of banking in The Maldives so make sure you change any money you need here. US Dollars are popular as well as the local currency, the Rufiyaa.
Visit the Old Friday Mosque – Remember, The Maldives is a Muslim country and this is the oldest mosque in the country, dating back to 1656. It’s a beautiful structure made from coral stone into which intricate decoration and Quranic script have been chiselled which is well worth a look especially at prayer time.
All imagery courtesy of JEN Maldives Malé by Shangri-La.
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