I’m not even sure where to begin… the magnificence of the landscape, the colour of the water, the softness of the white sands, the sound of the tropical forests… the giant tortoises, the colourful birds, the sheer beauty of every place we visited. And on top of that we stayed in a truly wonderful hotel, nestled into the hillside with a view out to sea. The food was beyond delicious, the hotel team beyond welcoming. I’m really at a loss for words!
I suppose the reason I’m so dumbstruck is that I wasn’t expecting The Seychelles to be like it was. We’ve been to the Maldives before and I naively thought it would be similar but with a few more trees. Its completely different. Its visually more like the Caribbean but with even friendlier people!
So to get started, lets set the scene with a few snaps of Praslin island’s natural beauty:
Our hotel – Raffles
We booked with Emirates holidays at very short notice (one week!) and chose Raffles Hotel as it was a five star resort, within budget and had great reviews on Trip Advisor. Every single glowing review was correct. We absolutely loved it. I think its the best hotel we’ve ever stayed in!
Each hillside villa has its own infinity pool and terraced area. There was also a wonderful outdoor shower that I miss more than anything! Showering outdoors at sunrise, listening to the birds singing, made me feel so connected to nature – and The Seychelles is literally teaming with nature!
Speaking of nature, I got bitten on the first night by a giant centipede on the beach – bad luck really – it stung like hell but the staff were amazing and used a combination of natural remedies (lime juice) and modern medicine (pain killers!) to calm it down. I kept my eyes open after that and didn’t wander around barefoot on the beach in the dark!
We spent a lot of time in our room as it was so wonderful. The huge terrace featured a private infinity pool, covered lounge area and a view out to sea. We were visited by various tropical birds and lizards as we relaxed in the hot sunshine and took dips in the pool. A well stocked minibar and coffee machine meant for the first few days we had no reason to leave our little mini paradise!
Although there are 86 villas in total spread out across the hillside, the resort has an intimate feel. We didn’t see many other guests during the day and often had the main pool to ourselves. Golf buggies whisk guests around the resort, although we preferred to walk as the resort has such beautiful lush tropical gardens to enjoy.
We spent a bit of time down by the main pools, which were fairly quite. Most guests seem to spend time in their villas or out exploring.
There were a few delicious options for food in the evening, plus special cuisine nights – Indian food by the pool (with a Bollywood film), Creole bbq and live music, fish night… all of which were wonderful, but our absolute favourite was the Asian fusion restaurant which offered a mix of sushi and eastern cuisine. A great deal of wasabi shrimp was consumed!
We also went to a couple of the Manager’s Cocktail evenings – something we’ve avoided at previous hotels – but this one was special. As the sun set, an array of Gin & Tonics were served, along with tasty canapes and we met some fascinating fellow guests who shared their travel stories with us.
The 500m private beach is a dream come true. We’d grab a bean bag or lounger in the shade and watch the tide come in. There is free snorkelling equipment and kayaks which kept Matt and Coco busy. The sea is full of friendly fish and we even saw sting rays further along the coast.
Day trips to the National Park, Curieuse Island and La Digue Island
We ventured out a few times – a visit to see the huge Coco de Mer palms in the UNESCO Vallée de Mai is a must (take insect repellent).
The hotel’s brilliant concierge team organised a couple of island trips for us – one to Curieuse island just across from the beach, a former leper colony which now houses a Giant Tortoise sanctuary and nursery. A speedboat whisks you directly from the hotel’s private beach and drops you by the sanctuary. After hanging out with the tortoises (and glimpsing the TINY babies) we trekked 30 mins across the island to a wonderful beach where we found the old doctors house before cooling down in the sea, until the boat picked us up again.
We also visited La Digue island, taking the ferry there and hiring bikes to explore for the day. This was GREAT fun! The island is very similar to the Caribbean with beautiful beaches and lovely little restaurants. Its largely car-free, so safe to cycle and gives a glimpse into island life.
Travelling to and from The Seychelles was a piece of cake. After a very long, delayed flight back from Sri Lanka a few years ago I vowed never to fly more than six hours without a break. We flew from London to Dubai (five and a half hours), stretched our legs and then took a four hour flight to Mahe, the main island in The Seychelles. From there we took a taxi to the port and an hour’s ferry ride over to Praslin, which is the second largest island and home to Raffles Hotel. On our return journey we flew in a small aircraft back to the main island – just a 20 minute journey and the most wonderful views at sunrise.
We opted for a half board package which suited us perfectly. Lunch by the pool was an easy option, with great kids meals, salads, sushi and fresh coconuts. There is a kids club which caters for babies through to teens, although our ten year old daughter was more than entertained down on the beach with the free snorkelling and kayaking.
The hotel has a lovely gym which we used a few times (to offset all that Wasabi shrimp!), and a spa which we actually didn’t try as we were so busy sunbathing and exploring.
Its not often we return to a hotel, but we definitely plan to return to Raffles in the future. The staff were absolutely wonderful and this, alongside the scenery, facilities and food made this one of the most memorable holidays we’ve ever had.