I recently enjoyed a sublime holiday in one of my favorite destinations in the world, the Seychelles, an astonishingly beautiful island archipelago in the Indian Ocean. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Qatar Airways A350 Qsuite from Frankfurt to Doha (world’s best Business Class)
- Review: Qatar Airways A330 Business Class from Doha to the Seychelles
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles (Mahe island)
- Review: Raffles Seychelles Resort (today)
- Review: Banyan Tree Resort Seychelles (Mahe island)
- Review: Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (Mahe island)
- Review: Constance Ephelia Resort (Mahe island)
- Review: British Airways B787 Dreamliner Business Class Seychelles to London
Today (1 May 2019): Review of Raffles Seychelles (Praslin island).
- Location: Google Maps
- Hotel website: Raffles Seychelles
- Tip: enjoy exclusive VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso
Cradled at the heart of the original Garden of Eden, the island of Praslin, the Raffles Praslin has 86 architecturally exquisite villas, all of them with private plunge pools and outdoor pavilions to soak in breathtaking views of the opal-hued ocean, white sandy beach and lush green hills. This luxurious hotel is infused with Seychellois spirit and traditional Raffles service. The magnificent hotel pool is one of the largest in the Indian Ocean territory. Swim, sunbathe, snorkel, sail, kayak, walk, or just do nothing at all, Raffles Seychelles has it all.
Have you ever stayed at Raffles Seychelles ? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Reviews of other luxury hotels in the Seychelles
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
*** Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to the Seychelles with my online Seychelles travel guide ***
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Raffles Seychelles is located on the north-eastern top of Praslin island, one of the world’s most far-flung destinations, nestled in the Indian Ocean. Ringed with exquisite white-sand beaches and impossibly clear waters, Praslin is the Seychelles’ second largest island, with only a handful of villages scattered around its territory. The island was named Praslin after the Duc de Praslin, the French minister of marine in 1768 when the original ‘Stone of Possession’ was erected on the island in what is still known as Anse Possession. Praslin is home to natural wonders such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site Vallée de Mai and Anse Lazio, one of the best beaches in the world (located just minutes away from Raffles Seychelles).
- Getting to Praslin from the Seychelles International airport on Mahe island is a sightseeing trip and adventure in itself (although some may find the extra travel efforts to get to the resort annoying). You can travel to Praslin airport in true aviator style with a 15-minute turbo propeller plane ride or you can take a leisurely pace across the turquoise blue ocean in a catamaran ferry. I used the ferry and had a gap of 4 hours between my arrival at the airport and my ferry departure, but the Raffles Praslin has a private lounge near the airport, where you can relax in style while waiting for the ferry. The resort itself is located on the east side of Praslin, a 15 minute drive from the jetty (20 euros by taxi or 45 euros by resort car) or a 45 minute drive from Praslin airport.
- Opened in February 2011 as the first Raffles purpose-built resort, the property was designed by Ross Macbeth from Macbeth Architects & Designers. Macbeth was awarded the Young Architect of the Year award for his work here. As coveted sanctuaries of luxurious living, the resort’s contemporary architecture integrates the practical features of the island’s alfresco lifestyle into stylish resort chic. Exclusive use of wood and natural materials, complemented by Creole and Seychellois influences in calm, soothing colors create a pleasing balance to the eye. The interior of the property was designed by Wilson & Associates, consistently named as one of the top interior design firms in the world.
- Although the resort grounds are clinging to a steep hillside in secluded Takamaka Bay, the property features a convenient and easy to navigate layout. When you arrive at the resort’s massive entrance gate, you are driven to the (slightly underwhelming) open-air reception area, where you will feel instantly relaxed as you enjoy the breathtaking views of the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean and Curieuse Island at the horizon. Most of the resort’s public facilities – restaurants, pool, and spa – are located below the reception area in the vicinity of the white sandy beach. From the reception area, several paths irradiate in all directions, leading to the villas that are built on stilts on the hillside, tumbling down towards the waters of the Indian Ocean.
- The resort’s 86 beautiful pool villas (1-2 bedroom) represent some of the largest accommodations in the archipelago, ranging from 125 to 275 square metres (1345 – 2960 square feet). During my holiday, I stayed in an ocean view villa, which commanded superb views of the Indian Ocean and the island’s lush greenery. The villa came with an outdoor pavilion with sundeck beds and dining table, and an open air balcony with a (small) private plunge pool. Inside, the villa featured a spacious bedroom with a stylish sitting area and a separate dressing area. An easel with sketching paper was set up next to the bed to draw out my inner artist with the beauty of the island serving as inspiration. The bathroom was equipped with a deep soaking tub positioned to offer stunning views of the ocean and a private outdoor rain shower.
- Steps away from the coastline of Anse Takamaka, amidst stunning tropical surroundings, the resort’s elegant spa facility – the largest in the Seychelles – is carefully designed to calm the spirit and awaken the senses. The luxurious spa features 12 treatment pavilions, showcasing the spectacular view of the blue ocean, tropical gardens and dramatic granite boulders. Two spa suites, a first in the Seychelles, are fitted with steam showers, Japanese soaking tubs, and observation decks where guests can enjoy stunning vistas in privacy. The spa takes its inspiration from the pearl which is found in abundance in local waters; it has a reputed ability to calm the spirit, open the heart chakra, stabilize emotions and rejuvenate the skin.
- Combining the best of the local culture and cuisine with dishes from around the world, Raffles Seychelles features six outstanding restaurants and bars, each with its own unique atmosphere and setting – something to suit every mood and every occasion:
- Losean Restaurant is the main dining venue, offering a lavish buffet breakfast (complemented by an a la carte menu), buffet-style themed evenings, and contemporary Mediterranean cuisine with influence from the Indian Ocean.
- Curieuse is the resort’s signature restaurant, offering a gastronomic journey tracing through India, China and South East Asia. Infused with oriental spice and aromatic ingredients, the menu varies from Thai salads and spicy sour soup to Indian curries and Chinese stir-fries.
- In a location famed for its fresh fish, the ‘Sushi Room’ is set in a glass-sided space inside Curieuse restaurant, celebrating the island’s world-class catch with an exciting menu of sushi and sashimi.
- The Pool Restaurant & Bar offers a casual poolside lunch setting, perfect for refuelling during a busy day of soaking up the Seychellois sun.
- Taking its name from a local promontory, the resort’s main bar – called Danzil – serves perfectly prepared drinks against a backdrop of inspiring views towards the ocean. You can choose from a rich selection of fine wines, rums, spirits and tropical cocktails.
- Takamaka Terrace & Shisha Lounge is a rooftop lounge, located below the reception area and offering dramatic vistas over the sea. Specialties are mojitos, cosmopolitans, champagnes, shisha and stargazing
- Raffles Seychelles claims to have the largest swimming pool in the Indian Ocean with a length of 45 meters or 150 feet. The large, dark-tiled, split level swimming pool is centrally located and lined by several rows of comfortable sun loungers where you can spend time soaking up the sun. The pool is overlooked by a bar and opens up to Takamaka Beach, whose white sands and turquoise blue waters are framed by beautiful boulders on both sides, with great views across the water to the island of Curieuese. The hotel does operate a beach club here, providing beach chairs, towels, and iced water to guests. Here, you also find a water sports center, offering an array of activities including non-motorised water sports like kayaking and snorkeling.
- Although it will be difficult to drag you out of the resort during your stay, the Raffles Seychelles is an excellent base for excursions to neighboring islands. Right in front of the resort is Curieuse island, a bio-reserve notable for its giant tortoises and bare red earth intermingled with the unique Coco de Mer palms, one of the cultural icons of the Seychelles. Also close to the resort is St Pierre whose granite profile interspersed with coconut palms makes it the quintessential Seychellois island, appearing in numerous advertisment campaigns, posters and evocative photographs. La Digue island – word-famous for its spectacular beaches, including legendary Anse Source d’Argent (known as the world’s most beautiful beach) – is only 20 minutes by boat.
- The property is managed by Raffles, one of the world’s most acclaimed hotel brands which traces its roots to the 1887 opening of the original Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The group operates several ultraluxe properties, from the classic colonial splendour of Raffles Singapore where it all began to Dubai, Seychelles, Cambodia, Paris, Hainan, Makati, Makkah, Warsaw and the Maldives. The Raffles name is synonymous with luxury, glamour and extraordinary service. The hotel chain is owned by Paris based AccorHotels, the largest hotel group in the world outside of the United States. Besides Raffles, AccorHotels also manages other luxury brands such as Fairmont, Swissôtel, and Sofitel, in addition to well known medium and budget hotel brands such as Ibis, Pullman, Novotel and Mövenpick.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The 5-star Raffles Seychelles is an excellent choice for a relaxing holiday in the Seychelles. Nevertheless, it does have some minor drawbacks that you need to know:
- The beach of the hotel is lovely according to global standards, but it’s not the most spectacular one compared to other Seychelles beaches. The white sand is incredibly soft and the water ridiculously clear, but the beach is narrow and nearly covered entirely when high tide arrives. It definitely lacks the expansive feel you get on other Seychellois beaches. However, that should not put you off as the hotel is a short 5 minute drive by car or 15 minute ride by bicycle (provided by the hotel at no extra charge) from Anse Lazio, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
- The hotel is located on a hill on Praslin’s east coast, so it enjoys an oceanfront sunrise every morning but does not offer sunset views. This also means that the sun disappears behind the hills about one to two hours before sunset, putting the resort in the shade by late afternoon (around 4.30 pm). But, there is some good news as nearby Anse Lazio offers fabulous sunset views in case you want to catch the last rays of sunshine.
- Not all rooms offer complete privacy because the vegetation on Praslin is dry and the villas are tightly packed. In fact, Raffles Praslin is the most densely built, all-villa resort in the Seychelles. The decks of some (lower end) villas look out over the lobby, the service area, or the decks of other villas (so there is some vis-a-vis). It’s nothing too bad, but nonetheless, I recommend that you request a villa with complete privacy (e.g. the villas on the outer edges of the resort) at the time of booking in case you don’t want other guests to stare into your pool deck.
- Praslin’s main road is running like a loop around the resort and the higher located villas are built directly beneath that road (although none of them looks out on the road as they all have splendid ocean views). This may cause some traffic noise from time to time during the day, and although it did not disturb me, it may be annoying to others.
- The expansive and hilly resorts grounds can be a challenge to navigate on foot. The property does provide reliable 24/7 buggy service though, so you never have to worry about having to walk too far to reach the main hubs of the hotel. At times when a lot of guests are moving around (mainly around breakfast & dinner time), the wait time for a buggy may be a bit longer.
- The resort’s large pool is a magnet for families with young, playing and screaming children and that may ruin the experience for those looking for tranquility (especially when the hotel is at full occupancy, which often happens during the European school holidays). Unfortunately, the resort lacks a tranquil, adults-only corner on the ocean front where – if wanted – you can truly relax and take in the peace of the environment.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 8/10
- Pool: 9/10
- Villas: 8/10
- Food: 9/10
- Breakfast: 9/10
- Spa: 9/10
- Service: 8/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: very good 8,6/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Raffles Seychelles (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and complimentary lunch or dinner for up to two people per room, once during stay).
- Room tip: request a villa that is not looking out over the lobby or service area. My villa (nr 183) offered complete privacy, so ideal for honeymooners and those in need of tranquility.
- Travel tip: I highly recommend hiring a car on Praslin or alternatively, booking a chauffeur via the resort. It’s very easy to drive around the island and it allows you to explore spectacular beaches and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vallee de Mai (take one of the guides who are available at the entrance, as they will point you out things that you would otherwise walk straight past).
- Travel tip: There is a public footpath in front of the property which runs parallel to the beach. Following this path, you can walk towards a small grocery at Anse Boudin, where you can buy drinks to stock up your outside fridge for sundowners.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
REVIEWS OF OTHER LUXURY HOTELS IN THE SEYCHELLES
- Hotel review: Six Senses Zil Pasyon Seychelles
- Review: PHENOMENAL North Island Seychelles
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles
- Review: Raffles Seychelles Hotel
- Review of Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (Seychelles)
- Review of Banyan Tree Seychelles Resort
- Review of Constance Ephelia Resort (Seychelles)
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Seychelles is often sold as a year round destination and it is. However there is more chance of bad weather, that is to say rain, from November to March. The transitional months of October and April are excellent for a visit as the oceans are very calm and the weather balmy. During the dry seasons (May to September), it can be windy (causing seaweed on the south or south-easterly side of the islands) with rough seas.
HOW TO GET THERE
The resort is located on Praslin Island, a 15-minute flight or 1 hour ferry trip away from Mahe Island. The latter island is the home of Seychelles International Airport (SEZ), the archipelago’s main point of entry. Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to the Seychelles.