Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 November 2019

Hotel Insider: Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa Mahe

A favoured hangout of James Bond author Ian Flemming, this property offers stunning vistas and warm service

Northolme Les Cocotiers restaurant. Courtesy David Dunn
Northolme Les Cocotiers restaurant. Courtesy David Dunn

The welcome

We are met with a choice of beverages and a cold towel at a reception office close to the resort entrance – with the Indian Ocean and adjacent Silhouette Island serving as a dramatic backdrop. Electric buggies whisk guests to their villas, but our room is a two-minute walk downhill. After form-filling and card authorisation, we’re soon settled.

The neighbourhood

Hilton Seychelles Northolme hugs a forested corner of Beau Vallon Bay on the main island of Mahe, and is a 25-minute drive from the international airport in the capital, Victoria. Before the Hilton’s tenancy, James Bond author Ian ­Fleming favoured the hotel in the late 1960s, as the bar confirms with a photo display. Beyond the gates lie mostly homes and a supermarket, but a free shuttle takes us 15 minutes around the bay to Bazar Labrin for barbecued fish at the lively weekly night food market.

The room

We are in the “entry-level” King Sunset Villa and there is plenty of space between units for privacy, even when using the walk-in open shower or whirlpool stand-alone tub. All dark-wood construction – bar tiling in the bathroom area – there’s an immediate homely feel to the main room, which is spacious enough for a four-poster bed, with mosquito netting, a sofa, armchair and ottoman coffee table. While a little dark, the myriad lighting options reveal interesting design details. You’ll want to spend time reading on the generous terrace, where three loungers, plus a table and chairs, face the sea. Villa choices include oceanfront options, 15 with a private infinity pool, and others, such as ours, set a little further back within tropical vegetation, beside epic boulders and a gentle stream.

The service

Hilton’s hiring policy mixes professional standards with island charm and genuine smiles from Seychellois and international resort staff. Housekeeping is discreet and staff appear engaged when chatting to guests. In the various food and beverage outlets, service is efficient, informed and warm.

The scene

The all-villa resort blends well with and makes the most of its location – and allows only ­children age 13 and above. Guests can access two beaches, one tended by in-house marine conservationists who take us snorkelling around the hotel’s coral nursery, designed to replenish bleached reefs (you can actually adopt ­fledgling coral online). The resort is banishing ­single-use plastic from rooms and its restaurants and bars. Be sure to spare some time for the Eforea spa treatments.

The food

Few breakfast locations can beat the Hilltop Restaurant, which opens out to the elements on three sides and offers breathtaking views. The effect is largely lost during dinner service, beyond sunset, but food is good throughout. The outlet operates culinary themed nights, although the Creole barbecue option arguably lacks some key local dishes. More stunning views greet terrace diners at Les Cocotiers, a fine-dining restaurant powered by Creole fusion cuisine, including tasty local catches; the inspired jobfish Wellington merits the 30-minute preparation time and Dh107 price. Oceanview Bar and Restaurant runs a generous happy hour and a menu beyond regular bar food fare, such as Creole seafood chowder (Dh64) and octopus curry (Dh88).

Loved

That panorama in the Hilltop Restaurant at breakfast is something to savour.

Hated

Nothing, although the nightly tour to switch off the numerous room lights and lamps that are put on during the turndown service is a minor chore when tired.

The verdict

Stunning natural views, pleasing food and keen, warm service has us feeling welcome – and genuinely sad to leave.

The bottom line

Rooms at Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa cost from Dh1,775 a night, including taxes and Wi-Fi.

This review was done at the invitation of the hotel.

Updated: June 26, 2019 09:14 AM

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