The Hulhule Island Hotel, known locally as 'HIH', is the airport's transit hotel located just a short bus ride from the terminal.
Tourists arriving into the Maldives on evening flights usually find themselves staying here or at a hotel in Male', as speedboat and seaplane transfers to many resorts rarely operate at night. Clientele also include large numbers of flight crew and package tour groups, particularly on flights from Asia which rarely arrive in the daytime.
The overall standard of rooms, food and service are lower than its upmarket competitor, Traders Hotel in Male', but HIH's location on the uninhabited airport island allows it a liquor license and ensures it retains a comfortable monopoly over the expatriate market, who can usually be found lined up at the bar on a Thursday night.
The inside bar, 'Champs', is a loosely sports-themed drinking hole thick with cigarette smoke and bowls of salty popcorn. Maldivians are barred from entering, so don't expect to meet with any locals here.
The hotel's highlight is its outside seating area, with chairs arranged around an enormous swimming pool that makes for an attractive spot to while away the hours before a transfer or international flight. The hotel does little to encourage walk-in guests by charging US$30 for a dip - 10 percent of the country's average monthy wage - so unless you are on layover, take care not to fall in.
The hotel's spacious gymnasium is also superb, better equipped than many resorts, and the helpful instructor gives it a bright, friendly atmosphere.
Food and drinks are not particularly overpriced - at least by resort standards - but neither are they particularly award winning. Service varies from enthusiastic to patchy, particularly during busy periods when the bar areas are typically understaffed and those on duty are run off their feet.
Despite the long list of 'best hotel' awards in the foyer, few transit hotels attract much character and HIH's dated exterior and relaxed monopoly make it no exception, espcially compared with the country's vibrant and competitive resort industry. But the location and the view more than compensate for the rough edges.
The hotel operates a free ferry transfer departing hourly on the half-hour at peak times from Republic Square in Male' (look for the HIH flag), making it easy to take in the capital's tourist circuit in between sunning by the pool.
Reviewed by JJ Robinson