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With new flight routes to Montenegro opening up every month, the country is keen to put itself firmly on the tourist map. Its resident Aman hotel, the Sveti Stefan, has been here for almost a decade, and a visit has been on my ‘must do’ list for a long time. I was excited to discover its lure.
The hotel’s setting is dramatic, with majestic mountains in the background sloping down to the cool, clear waters of the Adriatic. The combination of colours, landscapes and calm waters is reminiscent of an Italian lakeside – trust Aman to snap up such a glorious location. Furthermore, they have done the place justice in the restoration of the property.
Comprising two separate residential areas (Sveti Stefan promontory and Villa Milocer on the mainland) plus a spa complex, the image that best conjures up Aman is of the pretty, stone village jutting out from the mainland. The village dates from the 15th century, and every effort has been made to retain the character of the place to lull you into feeling that you’ve stepped back in time. Footpaths wind between the houses, the walls of which haven’t been over-finished so there are still enough cracks and crumbles to maintain a sense of history. Nice touches such as ivy growing all over, fig trees dotting the path and charming little chapels here and there lend the place a beautiful atmosphere. The footprint of the village part of the hotel is small enough to walk around in a few minutes but the paths are narrow and winding to ensure you get lost in the most delightful way.
Villa Milocer, the other wing of the hotel, is on the mainland and is a more modern building, although as the former residence of both Yugoslavian Queen Marija Karadordevic and later the same country’s President Tito, it has a fascinating history. It also offers a great alternative for anyone (particularly families) wanting to stay on land, at the seaside and with a private beach.
Aman Sveti Stefan is a fabulous hotel, true to the brand, and my experience here was a wonderful getaway break.
The first impression of the hotel is of a very pretty setting, though rooms on the Sveti Stefan Island (this part only opens in summer months) are difficult to reach. Upon approach, I had to work my way through the mainland crowds before crossing the connecting walkway on foot. It was somewhat underwhelming considering the beauty of the island, but I was told the long-term plan is to have clients arrive by boat.
The lobby area is a very charming, modest-sized house within the fortified walls. Taken straight to my suite, however, I only visited the lobby again on departure. The check-in process involved handing over my passport in the room. Supremely efficient.
Rooms and suites
The rooms are quite different from one another in terms of layout, location and view, even if they do maintain a consistent Aman aesthetic inside.
Mine was in the heart of the village and although without a view, it was elegantly appointed. The bedroom only had one window and could have felt quite dark were it not for the light tones used, predominantly white and beige, and the carefully placed lighting, blissfully operated by tactile, old-fashioned switches. The homely feel was accentuated by crisp white linens, a cosy blanket on the bed, polished marble floors and exposed stone walls. Elegant fixtures and fittings included plenty of plug points, all in logical positions, including one on the desk in the bedroom. Access to wi-fi was straightforward and the signal strong.
The open-plan layout, similar across the room categories, had a bath in the bedroom, an archway leading to the bathroom/wardrobes and another to the living area with two simple, Danish-style sofas, reading lamps and a doorway opening onto a small, private patio. While there was no seating outside when I arrived, I requested a table and chairs, which were promptly provided.
While the flow of the rooms suggests that it would be suitable for any visitor, the village comprises so many steps and narrow walkways that anyone with mobility issues should give Sveti Stefan Island serious consideration. Villa Milocer is much more accessible.
The bathroom layouts vary but in my room the bathtub was in the bedroom, and I have to say that while I’m a fan of this set-up for a couple, for two friends it might be a little too cosy for comfort. The rest of the bathroom is nestled between the bedroom and the living room. There are large, twin wardrobes and twin vanity units. The lighting is subtle but surprisingly effective for make-up, and magnifying mirrors are provided. There is a modern hairdryer and plug points galore.
Dinner at the signature restaurant at a high point of the island was a real highlight.
It faces a magnificent sunset and, after dark, the twinkling lights ashore. My table overlooked the peak of a chapel, which reminded me of a pretty Greek island. Seafood here is a real highlight and incredibly fresh. My octopus carpaccio was smooth and velvety. The main course of baked sea bass in salt was sublime: buttery, tender and delicately flavoured. However, the biggest surprise was the selection of wines from a huge range of local vineyards. The sommelier was able to recommend some truly superb ones for dinner at exceptionally reasonable prices.
The à la carte breakfast on the ‘patio’ is a real treat, with a creative and fresh menu. It’s worth getting a table tucked away from the main area, overlooking the coastline.
Down at Queen’s Beach in front of the spa there’s a casual lunch spot that offers grilled fish, pizzas and beach club-style fare. I enjoyed some delicious, local prawns cooked in a tomato sauce – perfect for a daytime snack.
Other restaurant options
It’s possible to eat at Villa Milocer, and while the outside dining on the terrace has a pretty setting overlooking the beach, the indoor dining room lacks atmosphere during the daytime but is rather attractive when lit up at night. Private dining set-ups are also possible, especially if you have a private terrace.
There are plenty of local restaurants, some within walking distance, others a drive away should you want a change of scenery.
Spa and wellness
The vast, purpose-built and beautifully appointed spa is on Queen’s Beach on the mainland. It’s a private beach for the exclusive use of Aman guests, which is especially nice as, after your treatment, you can enjoy a relaxing dip or even have lunch on the sand.
There is a large range of massages, cherry-picked from all over the world and for which therapists use both Aman’s in-house products and essential oils from a third-generation, local herbalist. There is also a selection of facials and salon treatments.
In addition to four double treatment rooms there are three steam/hydrotherapy suites and a large gym furnished with the latest equipment and commanding impressive views over the beach. There is also a yoga and dedicated Pilates studio offering both mat and reformer lessons. The spa houses the most spectacular indoor pool.
Pool and beach
There are three pools dotted around the property, two in the village and one in the spa. Unlike most resorts, the pools seemed to get minimal use, and for the most part are empty during the daytime. Unlike many Amans I’ve known, these are standard size, but it’s possible to do modest laps in the main indoor/outdoor pool, while the adult-only cliff pool is really just for a cooling dip. There were only a handful of sun loungers but, as I say, with very few people there, it didn’t seem to matter.
Most guests spent time at the beach, and with three to choose from, who could blame them? The beach next to the hotel is very pretty, if somewhat overlooked, so the one in front of Villa Milocer and the next one at the spa are the most popular. They both have crystal-clear water and attentive beach service.
Apart from the token paddleboard and snorkel, there isn’t much at the Aman in terms of watersports. If this is music to your ears, this is the resort for you. If you crave jet-skiing, you’re in the wrong hotel. Days out on yachts, however, can be arranged from the rather smart marina nearby.
While the hotel does welcome younger visitors, there is no specific kids’ club or facilities. Younger families tend to stay at Villa Milocer rather than the village. These rooms overlook a private beach, which is more convenient than commuting from the island, even though it’s only a three-minute journey.
Staff and service
Every member of staff I met was charming, impeccably mannered, friendly and efficient. There is a slightly different atmosphere to the Amans I’ve visited in Asia, with a more bustling and casual feel, although that doesn’t suggest anything other than the very best service.
There were touches here and there that reminded me of the subtle extra mile Aman goes to and the ‘nothing is too much trouble’ attitude. One evening, I had guests round for pre-dinner drinks and the table and chairs I requested for the terrace were delivered within a few minutes. Another time, I thought I had left my glasses in the car, and one of the staff went to fetch them so I could head straight for the beach. I don’t know how they do it but they do it beautifully.
In stark contrast to the Russian dominance at other local resorts and beaches, Aman Sveti Stefan seems to attract a nice mix of nationalities, a sophisticated but relaxed crowd. Most guests come to the hotel for three or four days, although those attracted by the wellness programs may stay for weeks. While there are some stunning inland and over-water excursions, many guests will remain within the confines of the hotel and its atmosphere of tranquillity and relaxation, so party revellers and raucous families might want to explore other options.
I had a very smooth departure: a quick luggage service and my bill was ready and waiting at check-out. My car was retrieved from wherever it had been parked and was delivered with the a/c up and running to ensure a cool journey ahead.
How to get there
40 minutes by road transfer from Tivat Airport
58 Rooms & Suites
First-hand knowledge from LuxuryBARED members who've been here.
What I liked
What I disliked