Four of the best private island retreats

Get away from the crowds by hiring your own idyllic private island retreat


Velaa Private Island: submarine comes as standard

Velaa Private Island is “a resort for billionaires, by billionaires”, says Adam Hay-Nicholls in City AM. Where else does the hotel provide a personal submarine? The aquatic garage also includes a traditional Maldivian wooden bahtheli boat, a flybridge motor yacht and a luxurious dive boat. It boasts powerful jet skis and, “with my butler dispatched with a Chablis and sashimi-filled hamper, I’m pointed in the direction of ‘Picnic Island’; a 45-minute ride away, most of which I spend a couple of feet in the air”.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Afterwards, you may wish to relax at “the out-of-this-world spa”, with private suites that hover above the lagoon. Should you require absolute privacy, the whole island can be hired by one guest.

Villas start from $1,815 per night;

Pangkor Laut: postcard-worthy white sandy beaches

At a ramshackle fish farm floating off the coast of Pangkor Island, west Malaysia, I was attempting to catch my dinner,” recalls Hannah Britt in the Daily Express. On a field-to-table food excursion, the plan was to cook up whatever we found. Pangkor Laut – a four-hour transfer from Kuala Lumpur – “provides everything you would expect from a private island: peace in spades, exceptional service... and palm-lined white sandy beaches worthy of a postcard”.

Each villa at the Pangkor Laut Resort is equipped with a sunken bath and “a sleek wooden terrace with views out over the water”. The resort also promises to turn “even the most dreadful of cooks” into the next Raymond Blanc. So after the excursion, it’s time to cook. Britt’s feast, served on a smoked banana leaf, was Malaysian spiced red snapper and sticky white rice. “It’s not every day you get to cook on your own private island.”

Villas start from £302 per night;

Alphonse Island: a snorkeller’s dream

Alphonse in the Seychelles has long been famed among fishermen for its marine life and salt-water fly fishing, says Teresa Levonian Cole in Spear’s. In 2016, the only hotel on Alphonse reopened, revamped to cater for leisure guests as well as the fishing fraternity. Here blue is the operative word. The clear waters range from deep cobalt, through brilliant turquoise, to pale jade. Snorkellers will experience “a silent world of balletic fish painted in the garish primary colours and bold prints of Fauvism”, while scuba diving is “like swimming in an aquarium”. But you hardly need to leave the shore. Some 80,000 bonefish live on the shallow flats, and paddling in a glass canoe reveals turtles, barracuda, peppered rays and lemon shark.

Bungalows start from $6,000 per person for seven nights;

Mayo Landing: a private island closer to home

(Image credit: Copyright:David Hall)

Burst through the doors of the Mayo Landing cabin in the Cotswolds, take in the nature reserve, private beach and lake encircling you, and you’ll feel the only thing missing is a herd of giraffes, says Becky Lucas in GQ magazine. Part of the charm is not only the fact that it’s a private island, but also that it feels like you’ve just hopped into a car and shortly found yourself in what seems to be either a Tanzanian range, a corner of Newfoundland, or maybe Finland – “but certainly not somewhere near Cirencester in Gloucestershire”.

The cabin itself has all “the markings of a five-star Scandi ski chalet”. An eco-friendly heating system uses heat from the lake to warm the interior. Outside, a wooden veranda wraps the building, full-stopped by a heated swimming pool, where all furniture is positioned to gaze across the lake or towards the sauna and hot tub. It’s popular, too; the island is booked up almost a year in advance.

Mayo Landing costs £1,155 for 11 people and seven nights;

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.