Until 2009, laws prohibited the construction of guesthouses on islands inhabited by locals. Since the change in the law under former president Mohammed Nasheed, guesthouses have sprung up all over the country and are continuing to affect massive social change in this traditional and conservative nation. ‘Guesthouse’ is a catch-all term used for any type of accommodation on an inhabited island, be it a hotel, boutique hotel or the closest thing to a resort.
Staying at a guesthouse offers a totally different experience to staying in a resort, and so your first important decision once you’ve decided to come to Maldives is whether you want a resort- or a guesthouse-based holiday. It’s quite possible to combine the two, of course. If you choose a guesthouse holiday, you’ll have far more contact with local life and far cheaper accommodation, but staying in one also entails certain restrictions, particularly with regards to alcohol and attire.