Perched on isthmus in the Adriatic Sea, Aman Sveti Stefan hotel occupies a converted 15th-century fishing village and a shoreside, turn-of-the-century royal villa. Rooms in red-tiled cottages and sea-front suites let you live like a local throughout your stay. It’s a devastatingly romantic place, which will inspire fantasies about medieaval Montenegrin living. However, spa cottages, three pools and restaurants, and attentive beach service are a reminder that this is a wholly modern seaside stop.
Double rooms from £810.72 (€883), including tax at 18.2 per cent.
Rates usually include a generous breakfast spread with baked goods, eggs, fruit and Montenegrin pies (savory hand pies).
The pink sandy causeway connecting the island to the mainland is set up as a private beach, with shaded lounge chairs beside the placid, warm water. The shores are stoney, so beach shoes are recommended.
Sveti Stefan Island is closed from October to May, but Villa Milocer on the mainland remains open.
At the hotel
On-site parking, private pebbled beaches, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, air-conditioning, a minibar, a coffee-maker and a fireplace.
Our favourite rooms
Inspired by traditional Montenegrin fishermen's homes, the one-bedroom cottages on Sveti Stefan are blissfully secluded, and rather handsome, with beamed ceilings, stone accent walls and ocean views. Off the island, Villa Milocer, open year-round, holds sea-facing suites with Juliet balconies.
There are three. Tucked into the hillside overlooking the Adriatic, the heated, adults-only Cliff Pool is a pine-shaded, infinity pool with black tiles that create a striking reflection. The family-friendly, heated, indoor-outdoor infinity pool is large enough for laps. There's also a heated 25m pool in the spa.
Sveti Stefan’s minimalist, wood-accented spa is reason enough to visit. The team uses hundreds of foraged local herbs, concocting treatments that would probably work equally well on the restaurant menu. In addition to massages and hydrotherapy, the spa offers exfoliation with mint-infused olive oil and wild honey, and hydrating oat-and-milk soaks.
Mariner’s maps will help aspiring sailors chart courses to seemingly untouched villages along the Adriatic.
Salute the sun with private classes in the yoga pavilion.
All ages are welcome, although steps and winding paths can be difficult to navigate with a pram. Up to two extra beds can be added on request (free for under-11s, €150 a night for over-11s). There's a kid's club, family-friendly pool and gardens.
All ages are welcome.
Up to two extra beds can be added on request (free for under-11s, €150 a night for over-11s).
The kid’s club is open daily from 9am to 5pm. An arts and crafts area, music, books and toys wait at the ready; there’s also a range of engaging kid-friendly activities, including pizza-making, treasure hunts, yoga classes, martial arts and fish feeding.
Splash about in the family-friendly pool.
Babysitting can be arranged on request – prices vary.
Take a table on the lower terrace of Arva, for extra privacy and a view of the historic church.
Suit the setting with maxi dresses and linen in stony neutrals and sea blue.
Up on the cliff, with sweeping Adriatic views, Arva serves Mediterranean and classic Montenegrin dishes, made with locally sourced ingredients, including regional cheeses, cured meats and octopus and sea bass fished from the surrounding waters. A local specialty, lamb in milk, is perfectly tender and ideal with a glass of Vranac Reserve red wine. The aptly named Piazza is an alfresco restaurant set over several terrace levels in the village square. The menu includes snacks, pastas and seafood, served on candlelit tables. There's also a beachside restaurant with alfresco snacks.
Rakija Bar, an open space attached to Arva restaurant, is an ideal spot to try the hotel's signature cocktail, with local fruit brandy, elderflower extract, grenadine and vanilla. Guitarists play live music twice a week.
Arva serves breakfast from 7am to 10am, and dinner from 6pm to 10pm; Piazza offers food all day, from 7am to 10pm.
In-room dining is available anytime on the main island, and from 7am until midnight in Villa Milocer. The menu includes a selection of baked goods, salads, seafood dishes and sandwiches.
Aman Sveti Stefan sits south of Budva town on an isthmus in the Adriatic Sea.
Tivat Airport, 35 minutes away, offers flights to major European countries, including London, Paris and Rome. Transfers are available for €80. Slightly further afield, Podgorica Airport is a 45-minute drive from the hotel; transfers can be arranged for €110.
All you require for island exploring is your own two feet – and occasionally the hotel's boat.
Worth getting out of bed for
Less a hotel than a private island village, Aman Sveti Stefan offers plenty of crannies for aspiring explorers. For those who prefer to laze in the Mediterranean sun, the pine-shaded infinity pool and sleepy pink-sand beach await with sunloungers at the ready. The Aman spa is a luring knot-shouldered guests and locals in search of herb-oil massages or hydrotherapy sessions. The staff can arrange day trips throughout the region, including sailing trips with picnic lunches and hikes in Lovćen National Park. Head out by car or boat to explore the architectural bounty north of the hotel: Montenegro's Adriatic coast is dotted with breath-snatching medieaval towns, including the centuries-old walled town of Budva and Kotor, a Unesco World Heritage Site with Romanesque churches and striking red-tiled roofs.
Sea views mean unparalleled sunset vistas at Restaurant Konoba Langust, a 10-minute drive north of the hotel, in the fishing village of Przno (Obala 34; +382 33 468 369). As its waterfront setting should indicate, seafood is the specialty, including bass hauled in by the owners. Just outside the mediaeval fortress walls of Budva, Demizana serves destination-worthy seafood. Though it's a 20-minute drive north of Aman Sveti Stefan, the restaurant (Slovenska Obala 3; +382 33 455 028) is renowned for its grilled fish and fresh pasta, all best enjoyed at tables in the private garden.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in Montenegro and unpacked their swimwear and sun hats, a full account of their Adriatic Coast break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Aman Sveti Stefan…
Aman Sveti Stefan is less like a boutique hotel than an opportunity to make believe you live in a tiny, 15th-century Montenegrin fishing village, tethered to Europe by one tiny stone path. The island is a warren of beautiful nooks to poke into with eye-drawing vistas at each turn. Lining cobbled lanes, the hotel’s suites have been meticulously restored, adding warm lighting to original accents, soaking tubs and windows places to maximise views. Interiors of the island’s cottages were inspired by old fishermen’s dwellings, with stone walls, neutral textiles and views of the Adriatic. As a local might have done, head to the main square for Adriatic-sourced seafood at Piazza, a restaurant set across terraces with sea views. Though the world-class spa and sensational service are entirely new, they contribute to fantasies of an entirely modern nature.