One of our most discerning connoiseurs of luxury takes a look at an iconic resort in wild Montenegro, dating back to the 1400s. Has Aman Sveti Stefan managed to become a den of luxury and yet keep authenticity?
Aman Sveti Stefan is located on the island of Sveti Stefan. It is a legendary island which was first mentioned in history books in the year 1442. Originally built as a fortress with homes it has fought and survived many attacks. Over and over again it has been rebuilt.
In the 1930s the island was a settlement and the village became a bustling market and trade centre. At its peak over 400 people lived on the island. In 1954 only twenty citizens remained in Sveti Stefan and a year later all moved out. In 1960 the island was converted into an exclusive hotel where the rich and famous would come for glitz and casinos. Then the island was left to decay... until Aman took it under its arms to restore the island.
After years of love and care it reopened as an Aman.
|Walking between beaches over a causeway to Sveti Stefan|
It is a compact island full of buildings, alleys and narrow streets. It is cute and realistic and like no other resort we have ever seen. The cottages/suites have been adapted to the layout of the original buildings so no two are alike. They have all the comforts but are on purpose rustic and true to its origins. Don't expect dressed up luxury.
I am a fan of authenticity and found this place to be real and genuine.
|Rustic, genuine, seeped in history|
|The private cove beach below the newly built spa|
|Nature touching a centuries old stone wall|
|View from the Aman spa.|
The island has two black slate pools. One is adults only in a well tucked away/difficult to find location. The other is on top of the main restaurant, complete with sun loungers and captivating ocean and land views (pictured above).
|Private black slate pool belonging to the biggest suite|
|Another black slate pool, complete with sunloungers|
As for the food you have 3 1/2 options:
The restaurant on land in the villa Milocer.
The main restaurant on the island
And finally the casual restaurant on the piazza which is split in three areas. An indoor cosy hut with wood fired oven for pizzas, an outdoor area and the deli in a separate building.
|All the Amans worldwide offer daily compimentary afternoon tea. This is Aman Sveti Stefan's display of home made cookies along with Mint and herbal teas.|
We preferred the casual restaurant for both lunch and dinner. For lunch it has a great outdoor terrace with stunning views. We had pizzas, souvlaki skewered chicken and pasta with spicy meatballs and a rustic tomato sauce reduced for a good amount of hours.
For breakfast we preferred the indoor main restaurant where the fishermans breakfast was our favourite. It is a plate of cold cuts and cheese, local quiche and yoghurt with bee pollen.
On land the hotel has a newly built spa and gym. Indoor/outdoor pool, a private beach with service in a hidden cove. It is a 15 minute walk from the island or a 5 minute ride in one of the hotel's Audi A8.
|At the spa in a hidden cove|
Closer to the island just across the walking bridge are two crescent shaped pink grained beaches. One is reserved for hotel guests the other open to the public.
On land is also Villa Milocer which has a few rooms and a restaurant. The rooms here are much less rustic but if you go to Sveti Stefan the whole point is to stay on the island.
|Villa Milocer on the beach on the mainland|
So what about the destination?
Montenegro is exciting and beautiful. The water is crystal clear and turquiose from a distance. The green hills that embrace the coastal communities create a nice backdrop when viewed from the island.
|The green mountains of Montenegro embracing the shoreline communities|
Who should go?
Aman Sveti Stefan is for the informed traveller who wants a totally unique experience as a break from your standard luxury resort. You are moved back in time and asked to settle for a less luxurious but still very rewarding experience. But it would be a mistake to evaluate the value for money based on hardware, this place can simply not be compared to any other resort we have ever seen.
You need to love it for what it is and just accept that it will cost you a lot and that you will remember it forever.
How to get to Aman Sveti Stefan
It is best to fly to Tivat if you can find a flight there. It is only 25 mins from the hotel. Podgorica is 1
hour away on quite entertaining roads. Dubrovnik is 3 hours.
I flew Air Serbia to Tivat via Belgrade. And on the return from Podgorica via Belgrade. Great connections both ways if you choose the right days of the week.
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