As Montenegro’s star continues to rise, Victoria Gabriel checks in to the Aman Sveti Stefan and finds a beautifully restored seaside hideaway
As I walk along the picturesque isthmus bridging mainland Montenegro to the islet of Sveti Stefan, I find myself in a small world of impressively preserved history. Tiny 15th- century churches, decorative frescoes, and other discreet relics serve to remind me of the contrast between Europe’s rich history and my standard modernisms.
This small island, now solely Aman Sveti Stefan, was formerly a tiny fortified fishing village dating back to the 15th century.It was revitalised by Aman with doors opening in 2008, but don’t remorse any lost history – they have done a fabulous job of maintaining the small-village feel and conserving the original history. In typical Aman fashion, it feels like a true hideaway, but Sveti Stefan takes the sanctuary vibe to another level as you’re quite literally on a private island
I take some time to wander up and down stairs through the stony village ‘homes’ that house individual guest rooms and stumble upon the resort’s three infinity pools overlooking the Adriatic Sea as well as the two fine-dining restaurants, each emanating the understated opulence of Aman. However, you’re just as likely to happen upon a historical artefact as you are a modern jet-black pool, which is what makes this place so special.
The whole island exudes serenity and this is reflected in the decor, views and scenery. Guest rooms are spacious and calming, decorated with minimalism in mind – think earthy tones and timber accents, natural light, and an inviting spaciousness. And, because of the nature of the island, each window seems to boast a water view even more incredible than the last. In my room, the lower level houses a grand bathroom, which is incredibly spacious and features double sinks, a huge standalone tub and separate shower.
Each afternoon I find a new bottle of delicious complimentary red wine in the living room. The Aman has partnered with local Radevic Estate Wines and produced this variety specifically for resort guests. It is my first taste of the delicious world of Montenegrin wines and I’m impressed.
Aman Sveti Stefan extends beyond the island and on to the mainland, and a three-minute boat ride, available on-demand, will take you there. I get dropped off at a private beach for guests only and take an impromptu afternoon dip as the sun goes down. I have the beach to myself as well as plenty of photo opportunities as the sun sets with the island in the foreground.
Wandering beyond the beach after my swim, I come across the gym, spa, magnificent indoor pool and, finally, Villa Miločer. The mainland portion of Aman Sveti Stefan, Villa Miločer houses eight luxury suites, its own lobby and library, and a restaurant, complete with a large patio garden overlooking the shore. I eat breakfast here one sunny morning; the kind that makes you want to linger for hours as you read the paper, sip another coffee and stare out at the endless views.
Finally I am ready to explore beyond the Aman and, after a short drive, I discover the tiny old town of Perast on the Bay of Kotor. It looks just like you’d expect a European town of just 350 residents to look – so picturesque it could have come straight from the imagination of Walt Disney. I had a great time walking along the waterfront and wandering into small stores and cafes.
Kotor is another great day excursion and contains one of the best-preserved medieval towns along the Adriatic. While the businesses in these medieval towns can be touristy given the influx of cruises stopping through, you’ll find more authentic stops outside the old-town walls. After a casual-but-delicious barbecue lunch at Tanjga, I come across an outdoor market where I purchase local honey, prosciutto, and an olive wood chopping board. However, my memories of interacting with each stallholder, all locals with great passion, will outlast any purchase.
Excursion complete, I am buoyed by the scene of glorious Sveti Stefan rising out of the water as I approach, knowing I will soon be enjoying that famous Aman hospitality once more.