This Is What $65/Night Gets You In The Maldives

There’s no pleasure without a bit of pain, and I think there aren’t many better examples of that in the travel hobby than getting to the Maldives.

Let me tell you, the journey to the Maldives wasn’t an easy one. I flew from New York to Hong Kong to Bangkok to Colombo to Male, getting in at 1:30AM.

Then at 7:30AM I had a flight on the local Maldivian airline to the airport closest to the Park Hyatt.

Realistically I couldn’t make it to any hotel near Male Airport before 2AM, and I’d have to leave by 6:15AM to catch my domestic flight.

That left me with four hours, and a wide selection of pretty crappy looking hotels, all of which hovered around ~$65 per night.

So I booked the Ui Inn, which is located about a 10 minute drive from the airport. It took over 30 minutes for a car from the hotel to arrive at the airport, so it was about 2:15AM before I got to the Ui Inn.

Beach-Palace-MLE-Airport-01

Upon arriving at the Ui Inn I was told that I would actually be staying at a nearby hotel, the “Beach Palace.” I guess that was a polite way for them to tell me I was being walked, though with a name like “Beach Palace” I figured it couldn’t be worse than this place.

The Beach Palace was about a two minute drive away.

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The property faced a lot with garbage on it.

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Though the person inside was friendly and quickly brought me up to my room.

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Which was… colorful.

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And I wasn’t the only inhabitant in the room…

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And it had a box of tissues right next to the bed (which nicely accessorized the white stains on the bedding)…

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And it had an awkwardly placed closet which couldn’t actually be accessed, given that there was no room for a human when the door opened.

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The bathroom was, erm, functional, with no separation between the toilet and the shower. Not to mention the fact that there wasn’t really hot water. Or the fact that the bathroom smelled like a rotting corpse.

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I spent the first 30 minutes sort of just standing there surveying the place, since I couldn’t quite figure out what I got myself into. Then I decided to just sit outside on the shared deck and watch the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber… for the third time. Because I figured sleeping in that bed wasn’t the best option.

Then at 5AM I was so tired I figured I had to at least nap, so I napped for 45 minutes, before trying to shower while holding my nose.

So yeah, the lesson here? If you’re going to the Maldives, make sure your flight arrives at a time where you can make a same day transfer…

But suffice to say the Park Hyatt was even more gorgeous after my not-so-fun night…

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Comments

  1. These are the kinds of real world experiences and reporting that are needed. I appreciate the brutal honesty. Did they have a breakfast spread rivaling the Conrad?

  2. Lucky,

    Time for you to add a black light to your carry-on to properly… document places like this.

  3. @ Lucky – hope you get a chance to relax at PH. If you hadn’t needed a vacation before undertaking this journey, you certainly need it after all the travel to get there šŸ˜‰

  4. this is pretty standard for cheap hotels in developing countries… not sure why you act so surprised.

  5. The bathroom with the shower/toilet in the same room is pretty common in a lot of Indian/Sri Lankan homes so think of this as a realistic experience of what most locals have to live with every day.
    Enjoy Maldives!

  6. I did the exact same thing in Dec, i.e. overnighted at UI before catching the early flight to PH the next morning. In hindsight, the bench outside the airport was probably the better option.

  7. considering, as others have said, that this is a fairly normal hotel in the developing world, you may wish to modify this.

    based on tripadvisor, most people review this place quite favourably. it certainly looks decent to me, though of coursenot close to luxurious. a single bug (not a bedbug!) in the tropics is fairly expected. and the bed looks comfortable and clean, even if the sheets have been exposed to too much bleach. the smell in the bathroom is unfortunate; though it may be due to an overly sulfurous water supply? I’m not sure, as I’ve not been to Male.

    this is not to be harsh and indict your way of traveling. it’s great that you can travel the way you want. but most people of even some means can’t consider $1800 tickets and $300 rooms ‘good values’, especially on a frequent basis.

    understanding that this is actually a pretty decent basic hotel is important not simply so that you understand your advantaged position (which you already do), but also because posting an arguably poorly considered review of a perfectly functional small hotel may negatively impact that hotel’s business in a way you didn’t intend. your blog is prominent enough that searches will be directed here.

    obviously you’re intending this to be read by people hopping over to the uber-luxury resorts. to many, your review will be helpful. but to those staying in male, this just unfairly criticises a hotel that is, by all appearances, not even close to as ghastly as you imply.

    sure, give it a fair review. the bathroom smell is unacceptable, potentially. but on the whole this place is more than adequate, even if most of us (myself included) would prefer to stay elsewhere given the means and resources.

    regardless, enjoy the park hyatt! šŸ™‚

  8. I second Roger’s comment!
    @Lucky, maybe you should stay at these kind of places every once in a while to reset your expectations and enjoy the luxury hotels more.

  9. I actually wouldn’t pay this price for this hotel… While I could have a four-star(real four-star) hotel with this price in China.

  10. Looks like lots of places I’ve stayed over the years – not only in the developing world but in Europe, too. I know your travel patterns are what they are, but I’d love to see you review a broader range of lodging options to provide helpful context like this. Comparing Hyatts and Hiltons is all well and good, but just once in a while it’d be fun to see you try out a hostel, or an Airbnb, or a mom-and-pop independent hotel. Not asking you to completely change your blog’s focus or your style of traveling – just suggesting you sprinkle in some variety every so often!

  11. If they walked you to this property did you actually have to pay? I thought if the hotel couldn’t accommodate you on a guaranteed reservation that they cover the cost at the alternative hotel that they walk you to.

  12. Terrible indeed.

    In places where I need to overnight, and there is no decent Airport Hotel, I will be very concerned.

    That said, is it not a better idea for you to overnight at CMB, and take the first flight to MLE and do your transfer from there after?

  13. @ Nappy Boy – Why are you here?

    @ Ben – I’ve stayed at places like that a couple of times for destinations that have very late night arrivals or super-early departures (e.g., in Negombo in Sri Lanka, where a lot of the popular priced short-term arrival/departure lodging is located), and while I don’t love it, I just suck it up and deal with it. If it wasn’t a bedbug (and I’m not sure I would ever know) I would have just stayed and fallen asleep for as long as I could, though if you couldn’t sleep you certainly did the right thing for yourself.

    The shower-toilet thing is only something I’ve ever seen on Amtrak before.

  14. @Lucky

    Well I’m not surprised considering the score these hotels gets on booking.com
    Ui Inn Score 6.7
    http://www.booking.com/hotel/mv/ui-inn.en-gb.html
    Beach Palace Score 6.4
    http://www.booking.com/hotel/mv/beach-palace.en-gb.html

    If you need a place too stay on your return might I suggest either of these 2 properties?
    Maakanaa Lodge Score 9.3
    http://www.booking.com/hotel/mv/maakanaa-lodge.en-gb.html
    The Sand Gate Inn Score 8.3
    http://www.booking.com/hotel/mv/the-sand-gate-inn-hulhumale.en-gb.html
    Normal bathrooms in both of these properties.

    The lack of good airport hotels in MLE might explain why your flight was so empty.

  15. What? No review of the club lounge? No review of the welcome amenity? No mention of the gym, pool, spa, or breakfast?

    I think we need a few (but not many) more of these “common man” hotel reviews… How about a review of the Hotel Carter in NYC? Since they aren’t affiliated with a chain rewards program, I’d be willing to throw some money towards the cause. And we know Ben’s in NYC reasonably often. Okay, maybe the Carter is too cruel… I’ll spring for the Hotel Pennsylvania instead.

  16. Are those bedbugs? If you infest the PH with bedbugs, I will be a seriously unhappy camper.

  17. This was actually much, much nicer than I was expecting. I would have no problem staying in that hotel for a night, especially at that price.

    The shower smell would seem to me to be the only unacceptable part. But seeing as how you seem to have made an overly big deal about everything else, my guess is that the smell wasn’t really even that bad.

    Seriously, with how much you claim to love going to Asia, you have never seen a bathroom with no separation b/tw shower and toilet like that before?

  18. @Lucky
    I’m actually disappointed with this blog post today. With all the blog trip reports out on the Web and your own experiences, one should know to avoid a late evening arrival into Male. Unless staying at a resort that does transfers that late.

  19. @Alex says:
    April 7, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    I second Rogerā€™s comment as well.

    In southern Asia (usually in tropical and subtrop) this is quite normal indeed. Give this Lucky poor guy a break since his normal standard for a bathroom is European or American style. Something normal in a certain area could turn to abnormal or outrageous to folks came from another world/class.

    No offense

  20. That shower setup is also typical in east Asia (China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, etc.) That’s why when I lived in Asia and was looking for an apartment, I searched until I found a Western-style bathroom. Couldn’t stand the fact that when you take a shower in the hand-wand-on-the-wall style showers, the entire bathroom gets wet.

  21. Hmm, get out more? Everything has been said above already and I don’t mean any offense, but… this is a perfectly standard/acceptable room in many, many parts of the world. Perhaps a bit overpriced, although it’s the Maldives and you don’t specify whether taxes, breakfast, etc. were included.

    You couldn’t sleep in that bed, really? A bit sad, frankly. I being a germophobe, I bring my own small pillow when I’m not sure about the quality of my accommodations. I’m reasonably sure that the bed was as clean as an airplane seat, whatever that involves. Congrats on your first experience of a real local hotel.

  22. You can (in effect) call Ben a spoiled snob and repeat as often as you like how “normal” this is in Asia and the developing world — and you’re all surely right on at least one count and perhaps both — but none of that changes the fact that this hotel does, in actual fact, suck. So Ben’s a snob, this is Asia “normal,” and the hotel sucks. The first two points have nothing at all to do with the 100% validity of the third. Think about it.

    For a train compartment, having a shower at all, even one like this, is actually pretty good. But this is a hotel, not a train.

    At least I learned something new today: “normal” non-Western hotels in Asia suck. Gee, what a surprise!

  23. Indeed…the shared shower/toilet room is normal in developing countries, like the United States. One of my own condos has such an arrangement and I rather like it. The space allotted for the shower/toilet area is small, so by combining them both…ahem…functions…feel like they’re taking place in a much larger room. The toilet doesn’t care if it gets wet, at least if you don’t have a washlet attached to it. If it’s been a “bad night”, then the shower’s right there. Easy peasy.

  24. I completely second (or third) Roger’s comment. You have experienced a night in the Real World, Lucky. There are many people on this planet who don’t even earn that $65 in a month!

  25. @ Fester — Practically speaking there was no alternative. I could have spent the night in Colombo and then flown to Male and connected there next day, but an airport hotel near Colombo likely wouldn’t have been better.

  26. I had the “pleasure” of staying at the UI Inn on a layover and my wife almost divorced me. šŸ˜‰ There’s something very cheap and off putting about these places, although the staff is at least pretty good. I know that we are spoiled, but when you go to the Maldives for a luxury vacation you don’t want this dump to be the way you start your vacation. For our next trip to the Maldives we’re arriving early morning at Male, lesson learned.

  27. @ Neil S. — I could have done HKG-CMB nonstop on Cathay Pacific, but I figured I’d add one connection so I could experience SriLankan.

  28. While I have not been to CMB, I do remember CMB has an airport hotel –
    Serendiva Transit Hotel – located on the 2nd level, above the main pier of the Arrival / Departure area.

    I believe CMB is still better place to over night than MLE. Hopefully you can review the CMB Transit Hotel the next time. I think between the 2 options, MLE’s away from Airport Hotel is a weaker offering.

    Did Park Hyatt Maldives suggest any other options for you?

  29. I absolutely prefer luxury, Western style hotels. When we travel, that is what I look for.

    That being said, the above room looks just fine to me. It looks clean, fresh and as if the owner is taking care of the property. Not every place in the world has the money to put into the fancier, ‘fluff’ that most of us enjoy.

    I’ve stayed in plenty of places that look like this room…and oftentimes the shower/bathroom has been down the hall in a shared arrangement with other residents. Sometimes that’s all that’s available to stay in when visiting a location I want to see. It’s not in the least distressing really if you don’t allow it to be. Being grateful for a roof overhead, running water, and someplace safe for a rest is a good quality to cultivate.

    Enjoy the Maldives, the pictures you’ve posted are gorgeous!

  30. Lucky I’m surprised you didn’t stay at Hulhule Island Resort which is right next to the airport and also probably the only 4 (streeeetching it to a faint 5) star hotel that does not require you to go to Male city proper. Most flights to Male from Asia arrive late at night or midnight so an overnight in Male or an airport hotel is necessary.

  31. In a developing country that room wouldn’t cost $65 lol šŸ™‚ convert that to local currency and you’re actually getting ripped off.. Immensely. But of course this is one of the perks of paying in $$ on your travels lol

  32. @ Jean — It was ~$450, which didn’t seem worthwhile for a stay of just a couple of hours.

  33. @Lucky

    You never did tell us how you came to chose this particular hotel in the first place? Did you just google MLE airport hotel last minute?

  34. @ No Name — I looked at the hotels near the airport pretty closely, and given the overall value figured it was the best option.

  35. I stayed at hulhule hotel when my singapore airline arrived at late night at 11pm the staff upgraded us with their own private breach front .the room wasn’t fancy but was cleaned and nice even offered us a breakfast And arranged our hotel pick up and drop off at the airport for transfer . The morning when we saw the beach we couldn’t imagine what Conrad would be like. The night was 300 booked from agoda .

  36. @Tom

    Take it easy. We are just simply point out this kind of set up is common in Asia. This hotel might not consider okay in many ways but how the shower and toilet is being set up should not be one of them.

    “normal non-Western hotels in Asia suck” is simply your stereotyping opinion which is based on your lifestyle and cultural background (western/white/whatever~). It is biased as well as some part of this hotel review.

    Here is a story when I was visiting Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo back in 2013. It was a imperial garden in 18th century and rebuilt in 1949, so it is all equipped with squat toilet (which is another common thing in Asia). There was a young European woman in front of me going to the restroom. She left with a “eww face” right after she saw it, while the toilet itself was quite clean and dry and smells fine.

    By all means, you can (in effect) complain/judge/refuse/hate things you are not familiar with. Just consider being neutral and understand the local custom before doing such thing. After all, the world is not revolving around you, or anyone else.

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