During our one week in the Seychelles (well, 8 days!) we visited four properties to dig a bit deeper on a few of the Seychelles’ premier accommodations. I often make our trips a recon mission for Compass & Vine, and with East Africa being a core focus for me, Seychelles are a perfect add-on for post-safari beach breaks. The Seychelles are made up of over 100 islands, but there are only a handful that are inhabited. For most travelers to the region Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue are the most popular given the ease of travel between them (ferries and flights exist). We also added on two nights at Four Seasons Desroches to scope out a private island feel (similar to what you may also experience at North Island or Six Senses Zil Payson, for example).
Below, I’m sharing a rundown some insight on what to consider when choosing a luxury hotel in the Seychelles, including knowing which island is right for you – or which combination of islands – plus what to consider about where to splurge or save. In all honesty, the Seychelles, like many resort islands, is a destination where the hotel is just as much of a factor as the island (more so, arguably). Your hotel will be your haven for pool time, some dinners, spa services, etc. so choosing the property that you’re most connected with is incredibly important. Unlike some city hotels that are primarily a place to lay your head, I find resort hotels a place where a splurge makes more sense since it’ll be the centerpiece of your getaway with water sports, activities, and pampering.
Choosing the Island(s)
Technically there are many islands that make up Seychelles, but for purposes of a travel-focused conversation and choosing a hotel in the Seychelles, let’s talk about the islands you’ll likely be considering. I’m sharing a brief description of each island, plus a note of how to get there as a basis of your conversation on choosing where to go. The reality is that logistics will likely play into your decision-making to an extent depending on the time you have to allocate plus the budget you have for this trip.
- Mahé – The main island. Mahé is the most accessible of all of the islands as it’s Seychelles’ main hub, home to the islands’ international airport. Here you’ll fly into Mahe and taxi to your hotel, making for simple logistics. Mahé is a great option for a portion of your stay or for all of your stay if you have limited time or want to limit your spending on travel within the islands. We found ourselves really marinating at the Four Seasons Seychelles our entire time so focusing on a property that has beautiful beach and great service is key! We met a number of couples who were spending the entire week at FS in Mahé, and you could easily do this quite happily — in fact, I might on a future visit! For the explorers out there who are keen on seeing what the other islands are about, I’d pair Mahé with one other island if you only have one week in the Seychelles.
- Praslin – The nature island. I previously thought of Praslin as the Anguilla to Mahé’s St. Maarten (my Caribbean folks will understand this comparison). Praslin is a step removed and accessible by ferry or by a small flight on Air Seychelles from Mahe (recommended). Home to around 7500 people, Praslin is a smaller island that’s easier to explore than Mahé, and a destination that offers a bit more in terms of nature given the UNESCO-protected nature reserve. That all said, I take that comparison back as I’d really now say that La Digue is the Anguilla in terms of vibe and charm. Being based on Praslin allows for some great boat trips to smaller islands like Curieuse (home of the giant tortoises!), St. Pierre, and others for those keen on exploring by water. We enjoyed Praslin but also found that without a car it was a bit isolating; it’s big enough to make a car or taxi necessary to cover real distances but small enough that options are still rather limited for dining, etc. We found the most action in Cote d’Or where there are a handful of restaurants within walking distance of one another.
- La Digue – The tiny postcard. Home to the most photographed beach in the world, L’Source d’Agent, La Digue was my favorite island overall as far as island vibes are concerned. La Digue can be a day trip or you may opt to stay in La Digue overnight or for an extended stay. There are virtually no cars on the island so getting around is done by bike, which is so fun given the flatter terrain here. Bike rentals are around €20/day and the island is small enough to be easily explored this way. Hotel-wise, Chateau de l’Orangerie is really the only luxury offering in La Digue, and while it’s a great option, it still feels a bit packaged as it caters to many tour operators and travelers spending just a night in La Digue (given this, it doesn’t really have the chance to develop a personality since it’s more of a check-in/check-out experience for many). You can do a day trip from Mahé (a helipad is available, too) or take a 15-minute boat ride from Praslin for a quick and easy day trip.
- Desroches – The private island with a castaway feel. Desroches is home to Four Seasons Desroches which is the only resort on the island. To say it’s a ‘private’ island is a bit misleading as the island is quite a bit larger than you’d expect, extending way beyond Four Seasons into areas where local residents reside. To reach Desroches, take a small plane from Mahé which operates three days per week for $400 per person round trip. This property is easily paired with Four Seasons Mahé and a great contrast. Desroches’ small size means that like La Digue, you can explore by bike and it has major castaway vibes that really make you feel like you’re somewhere extra special.
- Other Tiny Islands – Home to Six Senses, Zil Payson is an option accessible by boat from Praslin or by privately arranged transfers. North Island is home to the famed Luxury Collection hotel. North Island is arguably the most exclusive offering in the Seychelles with prices to match. To reach North Island, take a helicopter from Mahé.
We chose to split our time between four resorts: Raffles (Praslin), Domaine de l’Orangerie (La Digue), Four Seasons Mahé, and Four Seasons Desroches island. All were great in their own way, each with a unique personality and also unique locations though the FS properties were undoubtedly standouts. I’m sharing a quick overview of each below, and also including 4 other properties on the islands to consider.
We began our time in Seychelles on Praslin at Raffles, located on Baie Sainte Anne, about 30 minutes away from the airport. The property is one of the best in Praslin (the other option would be Constance Lemuria but their team wasn’t responsive with questions when booking which was a huge red flag for me – I’d never send clients to a place where I couldn’t collaborate with the hotel team when needed). The villas here are spread out over a large area with a lush jungle feel and pretty beach views. Private plunge pools are standard here as are indoor/outdoor showers. The property has a great pool, a fantastic breakfast spread (so international!), and a nice beach (nice, though doesn’t compare to FS Mahé’s beach). Their concierge team is also able to assist with boats to/from Curieuse and other islands nearby!
Domaine de L’Orangeraie
La Digue is a challenge as far as luxury properties gom though Domaine de L’Orangeraie is arguably the top property on the island. The rooms are well appointed and comfortable and the pool is nice, though can feel crowded when the hotel is at full occupancy. The hotel falls solidly into the 4* range with its only downside being the turnover that happens with guests which likely makes it challenging to manage as a hotel. Many guests spend short stays on La Digue given its small size (1 – 2 nights) which means the hotel is constantly dealing with check-ins and check-outs by the busload (literally, we checked in with at least a dozen other couples on our ferry). That said, they do a nice job of handling the flow. While breakfast is just okay here, I was surprised by the quality of dinner; a buffet that’s included in your stay but nicely done with crab curries and fresh whole fish on offer at different stations (not the kitschy buffet that normally comes to mind). La Digue as an island was a fun standout to me, with chill Caribbean vibes (think rasta-inspired outposts serving up coconuts with rum). The island offers a barefoot vibe with bikes as the de facto method of transportation making it super fun to explore. The beaches here, including Source d’Argent and Patates Beach are beautiful with the rugged iconic boulders that are synonymous with the Seychelles.
Four Seasons – Mahe
Four Seasons flagship Seychelles property is located on Mahé, about 40 minutes from the international airport, making it an easy place to settle in, and one of the most spectacular offerings on Mahé for a stay. Mahé’s perk, as I noted, is that it’s logistically incredibly simple. You’ll fly into SEZ airport and be within driving distance of Mahé; no ferries or flights are required. From here, you can get to neighboring islands to combine for a longer stay or visit on a day trip. This property is an absolute star within the Seychelles accommodation scene: the views, the rooms, the F&B offerings are incredible; the beach and the service are true standouts. The beach was the most pristine and wow-worthy of the beaches we visited in the Seychelles and the service was over-the-top notable on every level. The property is built in a way that makes it feel incredibly organic, with villas tucked into the hillside. All villas offer private plunge pools and garden or ocean views. Ours was a garden view that still offered glimpses of the ocean but the privacy of the natural surroundings. When choosing a hotel in the Seychelles, if I could pick just one property to return to as a home base for a weeklong stay, it would be this one.
Four Seasons – Desroches
Four Seasons Desroches is Four Seasons’ desert-island property with an intentional luxury castaway vibe. It’s perfect for a honeymoon, anniversary, or babymoon, where you want to disconnect and really feel off-the-grid and exclusive. Price-wise the property itself costs roughly the same as FS Mahé but expect a property that feels a bit more removed – because it is! The villa aesthetic was my favorite across the board of all hotels; beach chic with gorgeous touches that feel like you are on the most plush desert island. The villas offer private plunge pools and outdoor sitting areas for sunning. One thing to note about FS Desroches is that there’s less of a main area to congregate as the beach here isn’t as much of a star as it is in Mahé (this was a surprise to me). The general feel during our visit was that guests enjoyed their private spaces (private pool, beach near villa, etc.) vs. using the main pool. There are some other nice beaches in Desroches that you can visit by bike or golf cart – bicycles are complimentary for all FS Desroches guests – though none of the beaches we saw in Desroches compared with the quality of what we saw at FS Mahe. This property is great to combine with FS Mahé. I’d do 3 nights here + 4 nights in Mahé if given just one week in the Seychelles.
You can read my full piece on Four Seasons Seychelles Mahé vs. Desroches for more details on how to choose between these two (and why you may want to consider combining them!).
Other Hotels to Consider:
If you’re heading to the Seychelles, there’s little doubt that beaches are top of mind, and that same logic is true for choosing a hotel in the Seychelles where you’ll have premium access to some of the best beaches. In La Digue, you’ll feel like you fell into a postcard with the iconic boulder-laden scenes that have become synonymous with the islands. Those boulders are really concentrated in La Digue and Source d’Argent and Anse Patates are both stunning options for beachy moments. Anse Patates will likely be significantly less crowded than Source d’Argent and if your luck is like ours, you’ll have the beach all to yourself.
In Mahé, the beach at the Four Seasons was the most beautiful we’d encountered in the Seychelles. If you’re choosing a hotel in the Seychelles specifically with beaches in mind, this is the winner. You’ll have dedicated loungers and a beach that feels private. The beach is shallow here, and the waters are warm and crystalline.
Praslin’s beaches are nice, though we didn’t see any that compared with what we had in La Digue or at Four Seasons in Mahé. Constance Lemuria is alleged to have a wonderful beach though we didn’t have time to visit during our stay. While I adored the vibe and castaway feel of FS Desroches, the beaches themselves weren’t as beautiful as the Mahé property.
What to Consider with Pricing – and Half Board Packages
Dining in the Seychelles can vary hugely when it comes to restaurants, from local Creole places to super fine dining spots at luxury hotels. The choice of what vibe you want and how much you want to spend is yours but know that you’ll probably dine on your property a bit too if you’re looking for a chilled-out pace of life on vacay. Also worth noting: dining in general is somewhat pricey given many things need to be imported. If you’re on a smaller island in the Seychelles (like Desroches for example), that logistics expenses are exacerbated even more. Plus add to the fact that wine is dutied at 100%, which means wines are very expensive for the quality you’ll see available.
Anyone who’s read this blog for the past 12 years will know that we’re explorers – we can’t sit still! – but we opted to eat on the property nearly every night and just did lunches out by day. It made for a super relaxing approach and the cuisine was generally very good all around. Raffles breakfast was a highlight with their spectacular international spread, while Four Seasons Mahé’s dinner options (and their bar) wowed us every night.
Dining at the resorts will naturally be more expensive than at a local restaurant but you’ll also benefit from saving a drive or taxi fare for dining on-site. If you think you’ll end up eating dinners on-site, it’s worth considering the half-board packages where dinner is included. This is usually at a premium of around $150/day but you’ll likely end up spending that much on dinner anyhow and it makes it feel a bit more streamlined once you’re there knowing that you’ve already pre-paid that expense.
Water Sports and Activities
Lastly, water sports and activities to consider. Raffles in Praslin benefits from a location that allows easy boat trips to places like Cureiuse Island and other small Seychellois outposts. For those who enjoy boating and being on the water, you could easily do a couple of varied boat days here. FS Mahé is home to a range of complimentary water sports right on their gorgeous beach. Take out a Hobie Cat for sailing or head out kayaking. We couldn’t be pulled from our beach chairs but activities are available for those that want to be a bit more active. On Desroches, the Castasway Center is home to a wealth of water sports options. Grab a snorkel + some fins to head out on your own or schedule a boat day for fishing or sightseeing. For PADI-certified divers, you can SCUBA near here too or consider getting certified with their instructors. If water sports are a consideration when choosing a hotel in the Seychelles, you’ll find boat charters quite readily available from third-party suppliers and top hotels offering a selection of complimentary non-motorized options as well.
Our experience with the four hotels listed above just scratches the surface but hopefully helps as you work on choosing a hotel in the Seychelles. There are a range of stunning resorts to choose from though the true 5* space is home to a handful of real standout properties that are worth putting on your radar. As I mentioned above, Seychelles is a destination where splurging on your accommodation is likely worth it compared with a city hotel. You’ll use facilities on site quite often, enjoy pools or beach access, potentially water sports or plush amenities like spa services or yoga, and really allow yourself to downshift into the island mode you’re looking for in an escape like this. Want help planning your escape? Reach out and say hello so I can assist! Compass & Vine is a FS Preferred Partner which means lots of great perks and some secret agent-only offers for travelers.
Have you been to the Seychelles before? Which hotels were your standouts?