Mango House Seychelles Near+Far rating: 9/10
Why book Mango House Seychelles
A shoot for Vogue France first brought Italian photographer Gian Paolo Barbieri to Seychelles in 1975, the tropical archipelago cast adrift off the east coast of Africa. He loved it so much that he purchased a plot on the wild southwest coast of Mahé, and his beachfront bolthole became his ‘Mango House’, thanks to an abundance of mango trees. Decades later, the chic retreat was re-imagined as a hotel by Hilton’s luxury boutique-style brand LXR, bearing the same moniker given by Barbieri. The Mango House of today is a 41-room property built into the shoreline, retaining the same main house, with private villas, restaurants and additional swimming pools added. Barbieri’s stylish influence is felt in the beach-chic Seychellois decor, particularly in the main building with a vinyl player, bookcases, and walls dotted with nostalgic photographs of the house’s former glory. The property has five unique restaurants and bars, a beautiful spa, a petite private beach and three swimming pools, but what’s really special is its connection with the island – working with local artisans to create robes, artwork, ceramics and organising tours of the island’s key attractions for guests.
Barbieri chose his location well, nestled on the peaceful and less developed shores of southwest Mahé in an area known for its go-slow vibe, untrammelled beaches and art studios. The resort sits on the Anse Poules Bleux (translation to Blue Chicken Bay) and has silvery-hued sands and aquamarine sea that lights up with the sunshine. It’s easy to get around on day trips from the resort, and at the end of the drive is Michael Adams MBE’s traditional Seychellois house and art gallery, showcasing and selling the vibrant works of himself, his daughter Alyssa and son Tristan. Bigger beaches are nearby, along with hiking trails through the island’s granitic peaks and forests. Top sights include Cap Lazare – a nature reserve home to tortoises, untamed beaches and drinking and dining experiences, and the Jardin Du Roi Spice Garden – a glimpse into the Seychelles of yesteryear with a house museum, Creole restaurant, and hiking trails. Drinking or not, make sure to spend an hour or so touring (and tasting) at Takamaka Distillery, built on the site of a former plantation with historic ruins and fascinating endemic species. Despite its seeming seclusion, Mango House is just a 30-minute drive from Seychelles International Airport, and day trips to the capital Victoria and bustling north are easy.
Rooms and suites: 9/10
Bedrooms channel the same modern beach house of the main property, with 41 strung across the shoreline ranging from hilltop suites and villas to romantic couples retreats in the beach houses. A peaceful colour scheme of pearly white, cream, beige, blue and green mirrors the surroundings (sand, sea and palms) and plenty of design-led bamboo and wood touches. Among the most well-located are the beach house king suites, just a short potter away from the beach and main house, where most meals, the spa and the Spice Route-inspired cocktail bar are housed. Staying in a King suite, we loved the billowing white drapes framing each four-poster bed and sea-view terraces with perfect picture-framed views of swaying palm trees and the Indian Ocean.
There are no dud rooms – all offer ocean views, all have the same white-draped bedframes and amenities, and all have historic photos of Barbieri’s era hanging on the walls to carry the story. All guests have use of butter-soft kimonos, the signature Alyssa Adams Mango House print, along with a floppy sunhat and Panama for photo ops around the island. Marble bathrooms also have sinking bathtubs and coconutty local amenities.
Food & drink: 10/10
Mango House is not only a hotel but one of the island’s most exceptional drinking and dining destinations. F&B is at the core of the property, which has five unique outlets: a Spice Route-inspired cocktail bar, a Japanese, Creole, and Italian restaurant and an all-day lounge. Authentic Creole food is had at Moutya, where Seychellois cuisine cooked on sustainable coconut shell charcoal is a highlight. At the same time, Muse serves up fresh pasta, grills, carpaccios and pillowy Napoli-style pizza. Muse also sets the scene for leisurely a la carte breakfasts, so there is no need to rush for a buffet. Breakfast is a delight with inventive dishes like Creole eggs Benedict and truffle omelettes and coconut French toast, served alongside platters of fresh mango and papaya and freshly baked pastries. Anse Aux Poules Bleues translates to ‘bay of the blue chickens’, and it’s imperative to partake in a serving of blue-tinged dipping eggs and soldiers, just as Barbieri used to like it.
Tucked below the main deck is Azido, marked with a slick black plaque and transporting guests to a sushi bar in Tokyo with its open kitchen and a menu of sake, sashimi and robata. All evenings should start at Kokoye, Mango House’s Indo- Seychellois bar inspired by the Spice Route, complete with palm tree-printed wallpaper and wicker drinks cabinets and a mixology expert straight from Dubai. A laid-back pool bar also serves bento boxes throughout the day.
Spa and facilities: 8/10
The hotel is home to a small beach (perfect for sunbathing and dipping), and there are three swimming pools on hand, including the house’s original swimming pool transformed into an infinity pool overlooking the ocean and granitic hillside. The largest main pool is the departure point for non-motorised watersports. Rejuvenate between paddle boarding and sunbathing with a trip to the Anpe spa (meaning ‘at peace’ in Creole) – where fragrant coconut and local bigard (bitter orange) oils send you into a slumber. The property is also home to a handful of hidden lookout spots and hideaways, which the team can transform into a candle-lit romantic hideaway for dinner under the Seychelles stars.
The vibe and verdict.
Laidback yet elegant and upscale. Children and families are welcome, but couples and solo travellers won’t feel out of place. Service is exceptional, intuitive, caring and completely on it, and one evening, after a friendly staff member noticed a bad case of sunburn, we returned to the room to a basket of soothing local coconut lotions and potions. Mango House has gone out of its way to be eco-friendly and to leave an impact on the community, which is truly commendable. It might not offer the grounds and beaches of its neighbouring resorts, but the worst thing one can do in Seychelles, a nation so rich in history and attractions, is to hide away. Mango House Seychelles is a super-polished boutique hotel with the safety blanket and brand standards of a global giant often wanted on a tropical island. We’re sure Barbieri would be delighted at his former home.
Anse Aux Poules Bleues, Baie Lazare, Mahé, Seychelles; doubles from AED 2,500 a night; Ixrhotels3.hilton.com