I absolutely recommend this place :)) We were a travelling party of 3 adults and 3 children (aged 8, 6 & 2) and stayed for 6 nights at the Clef Des Iles in early June 2014. We chose this accommodation because of generally great reviews but also because of its location and its a self serving apartment which is what we wanted. We were given the bigger of the four villas which is two large bedrooms (both with king size beds), a bathroom upstairs including a small living area with TV & DVD player (which we never used because we wanted an unplugged holiday) and even another single bed there. Upstairs there was also a safe mounted onto the wall, iron, board, foldable baby cot, clothe hangers and air-conditioning and ceiling fan in both rooms. Downstairs there was fully equipped kitchen (microwave, toaster, kettle, coffee machine, pots & pans, cutlery, salt & pepper, instant coffee, sugar, plates & bowls, cooking utensils and a chopping board), a separate toilet, brooms, high chair, comfy sitting area, radio, dining area and two sun chairs you could take out onto the beach. Everyday we were delivered fresh juice and a fresh platter of local fruit. Our apartment was cleaned daily and they even loaned us some beach toys the children played with the entire time there :))
The location is absolutely fantastic. The beach is literally on your backdoor step, the water only 30metres ahead. It is next to a road, but we never heard traffic passing by. Two minutes walk away is a little shop where you can buy simple basics - bread, milk, canned goods, nappies, ice-cream etc There are several restaurants within walking distance, and we dined at several. One of our favourites was the pizzeria literally next door. The service is a little on the slow side but the food comes out quite fast and is mega tasty. I recommend the prawn pizza, very yum! We also tried the other pizza and pasta place across the street (next to the souvenir shop)...service was VERY slow and not very friendly. Even though we were the FIRST ones in the restaurant one night, it took almost 30 minutes for our food to arrive, and other people who came after us were delivered their food first! But the worse thing is that I got a bout of food poisoning from the seafood pasta I ordered, was on the toilet all that night - so I wouldn't recommend that place unfortunately. We also tried the Boathouse restaurant (on the corner) but found the food a bit bland, the batter on the fish and chicken drumsticks were over the top when we went there for lunch, so we didn't return to try the Creole dinner buffet which its apparently known for. We also tried the La Pague (?) restaurant near the Boathouse (white building, two storey) - the food and service there is quite nice, went twice (one time we had three courses). I recommend that place for a nice dining experience, not cheap but worth it. A little further down that lane, a further 5minutes walk, next to the Coral Strand Hotel are two restaurants we also tried - the Indian restaurant was quite tasty, but its how long it takes for your food to come which is a let down - over 20mins for dessert? When two of the orders was simply just scoops of icecream? And they even forgot my husbands dessert order, so his came when everybody else had finished theirs. So if your patience is better than ours (or you don't order dessert), definitely try the Indian restaurant, its nice enough. But the one we REALLY liked was another restaurant (cant remember the name sorry!) which is about 2minutes walk further past the Indian one - friendly service, great ambience, very yummy food! I ordered the seafood platter which is 900rupees but that's about AUD$80 which is super cheap for a seafood platter. Nothing was left on my plate haha It was full of couples tho, which was a good thing coz we went there for a Date Night without the kids. But yeah, that place is nice but I wouldn't say its the type of place you'd want to bring the kids too :)
Next to the Clef Des Iles is also the Blue Sea Diving Centre which we went with one day for an awesome snorkelling experience with our two sons (aged 8 & 6). Read my separate review for the Blue Sea Diving Centre, Seychelles on Tripadvisor for details on our experience :) But definitely recommend that place for a professional, safe experience.
Another recommendation is this: on our second day we were approached by a guy with a clipboard on the beach. His name was Barry and he was selling day tours. We saw the brochures and he was friendly and approachable, so we went with it. Not cheap, 1500rupees PER person but it turned out to be a REALLY REALLY fantastic experience! We went a few days later. It started at 9 and ended around 4pm. We were taken by a glass bottomed motorboat (there was another couple with us) to one of the little islands about 20minutes away. We got to see the "postcard" Seychelles with crystal clear water and sand soooo white (be sure to check out my travelling photos attached). There we also went snorkelling and the kids had a blast because the water was shallow and clear for a long way out. Even our two year old loved putting her head under water with her goggles on looking for fish. Afterwards, for lunch, we were taken to another island where we were served a yummy lunch by locals - very tasty and fulfilling. The only small letdown is that the toilet available there was missing a seat, and the bathroom was a little on the musty and not-so-clean side. But the people who own the house are very friendly. We were taken a little up the hill to a tortoise farm where the children got to hold a baby tortoise and sit on one haha Afterwards we spent the rest of the day on the beach (not so clear as the first island) but nice enough, before going for a small water ride around the coast before being taken back home. So if a skinny guy about 50 years old approaches you named Barry selling tours, this particular Day Tour for 1500rupees p/p was worth it.
However another a tour we bought from him for our last day, which was 1800rupees p/p turned out to be not as nice as the first one. Firstly it was only 9-3pm but the beach we were taken to wasn't as blue as that first island we went to. The waves were FAR more choppy, so swimming wise for the kids it wasn't as safe - went from shallow to deep very very fast, even I struggled to find my footing at times. The snorkelling side was a little better tho, we saw a turtle swimming under the water! there was no toilet on the premises which was a little gross.The lunch they served us was decent enough, cooked on the premises but there was no tables to sit at (unlike first tour, we had chairs and tables) and trying to get three small children to sit on the sand and eat from their plate is very hard work, ended up having to spoon feed them their lunch. Privacy wise was a little off putting too - other tours joined that same beach, one was a large group of Indian men who just sat under a tree and watched us - very uncomfortable! Afterwards that boat took us another cove where it was nice to go snorkelling, turquoise waters but they didn't have any child life vests, so trying to strap the boys to the adult ones was very hard for them to float around in. Afterwards we were taken to this other beach area where there was SUPPOSE to be a waterfall - Barry originally told us there would be one, one of the reasons why we bought the tour - but there was none! Apparently it ONLY sometimes occurs, like what the? A bitter disappointment but there we collected, as a family, lots of pretty coral which we took home with us at the end to put in a jar. Overall tho, it was a nice enough day but not worth the 1800rupees per person we paid. So if Barry approaches you on the beach, and he offers u the 9-5 tour, I'd recommend that one, but not the 9-3pm one with the 'waterfall'.
Other tips & recommendations:
- Every Wednesday night down the laneway next to the La Pague restaurant they have a market festival - you can buy locally cooked food and souvenirs. There is music and entertainment and pleasant to walk through with the family. You can bargain there for some goodies :)
- We went to Victoria one of those days and had Elsie drive us around. Clef Des Iles give you a mobile phone to use during your trip and her number is on that mobile phone. She's super friendly and gives you some information about the town as you're walking around. She recommended the Bravo restaurant on Eden Island for lunch first (great experience), afterwards we went to the Botanical Garden where she personally walked around with us and showed us the huge 100 year old tortoises there. We were even given permission to pass the gate and pat the amazing creatures. Kids were fascinated! Afterwards she drove us to some kiosks that sold souvenirs and we were able to buy heaps for great prices, you can bargain there very well as they are all in competition with each other. The biggest tip is see what people are charging from each shop for particular items, and visit as many kiosks as you can before you go back to the shop you want and get the price you want.
- If you're after water bottles, the bottles at the market shop are cheaper than the restaurant ones, so every time you visit the shops, make sure you stock up on water because the humidity makes you drink a lot.
** Noteworthy Praises:
- Our plane landed at 6.30am and upon arrival, were able to check in straight away at no extra charge. THANK YOU!!!!! After a long flight we appreciated that very much.
- Marquise is very friendly and approachable, such a nice lady! The rest of the staff working there are also nice. The general rule of thumb is, if you're genuinely nice to people, they are nice to you back. Although there were SOME people we met (mostly waiting staff) who were unfriendly or rude, the majority of folks in the Seychelles are beautiful, friendly, warm people.
- The loaning of the beach toys was a very special touch for us, because we forgot to pack ours before our trip. It meant the kids had a ball, and were on the beach about 90% of the whole vacation.
- Being loaned the mobile phone was very handy. Also having free FAST wifi on the premises was fantastic.
- It was a really good idea to have that grey bucket on the backdoor steps to wash our feet before we walked into the villa, but the mat you stand on to dry your feet could use a wash! And maybe something a little thicker to actually absorb the water??
** Criticisms/Notes for Improvement
- We ALMOST didn't go with Clef Des Iles because we originally had A LOT of trouble emailing Marquise back and forth. We had to resend emails because sometimes didn't hear from her in many days (like over a week), she didn't answer specific questions I asked in emails (had to repeat myself many times, important questions too - like what were their cancellation policy, what size bed was in the second bedroom etc), some emails she got the dates we were after wrong, so we had to write back to reconfirm she had the right dates - it almost became so frustrating we almost didn't book. Eventually we decided we'd make an international phone call (didn't want to, was very expensive) but we wanted to give her one last chance to see if we could sort out the reservation. The phone call did the trick, being able to speak to her in person and confirm everything verbally made the rest of the reservation smooth. But yeah, just that original email communication matter was slightly annoying as we were getting closer and closer to when we were due to leave. Glad it got sorted at the end, but perhaps something to monitor in the near future please? :)
- There are no hooks in the bathroom! There are shelves but no hooks at all to hang anything. There is also no where to put your soap in the shower, which was disappointing.
- Many times large bull ants wind up in the kitchen, they come from underneath the front door. So a recommendation for Clef Des Iles would be to supply one of those sand-stuffed door barriers so you can stop little critters from crawling in underneath.
- There was no bug spray in the apartment, which was important for things like roaches (one big one crawled into our bedroom one night before we turned off the lights, thank goodness we saw it in time!) and little ants and the occasional mosquito. We had to buy our own.
- The stairway is VERY steep and there are no railings! It meant ALWAYS supervising the children whenever they walked up or down, ESPECIALLY when they were wet from swimming because the steps got slippery. One entire side of the staircase is COMPLETELY open, no barriers or railings whatsoever, not even a rope. Which means if anybody fell over they'd land right into the kitchen...hard. My suggestion as a parent would be to invest in some sort of barrier for that opening because going up and down those stairs everyday was also a little nerve wrecking, especially when kids were involved.
- When we first opened the cutlery draw, there were little baby roaches right at the back (alive) - so we had to take everything out and clean it and sterilize the cutlery with boiling hot water before we used it. My suggestion to Clef Des Iles would be to invest in some roach bait around the kitchen to avoid future incidents.
- The airconditioning in our room was cool but not COLD, which only very very slightly dampened our sleeping experience but the air con in the second bedroom was perfect and the kids always slept sooundly. A suggestion would be to check the aircons, or upgrade as it appears the air conditioning situation is a common complaint for other reviewers.
** Extra Tips for Future Travellers:
- DO NOT REPLY ON GOOGLE FORECASTS!!!! haha This is a big one - when we searched MANY weather websites for the upcoming forecast for our time at the Seychelles, EVERY SINGLE DAY predicted rain. We were devastated but determined to make the best of our trip. But guess what - it drizzled lightly when we first landed (but cleared up the rest of the day), rained heavily ONCE one evening (but we were already indoors by then) AND rained heavily a third time the MORNNG we left. Every other day was fantastic sunshine and warmth. A little overcast SOME days but mostly sunny and bright! So yeah, some prayers before you leave always helps :))
- Before you book your holiday, see in advance if any public holidays are coming up. We didn't know that the last day of our vacation there was a public holiday, but thankfully we weren't planning on going into town, and it meant festivities were set up nearby and we were able to enjoy walking through that. But keep in mind that if there ARE public holidays, lots of normal touristy places and shops MAY be closed, so just research in advance for public holidays in the Seychelles.
- My tip about Barry and his Day Tours is a good one to remember.
- My recommendations and reviews about the restaurants mentioned above is also something to keep in mind when dining out nearby.
- Bring lots of sunscreen coz buying it there is EXPENSIVE!!! We bought three bottles!
- Close the middle doors downstairs when its night-time and if you go out, you don't want mice or rats to climb in sniffing out your kitchen haha
- Close your balcony doors after the sun goes down, you don't want roaches or anything crawling in!! We're pretty sure that's how the big roach originally came in, because we left our balcony doors open well past 8pm haha
- Getting Elise to drop us back to the airport in TWO cars was cheaper than hiring the original guy to drop us to Clef Des Iles in one big car. Shes really friendly and nice too, so go with her.
- We didn't think it was necessary to hire a car. We spent the majority of our time within that area, and the only time we went into town we got Elise to drive us - and she was great. For a young family like ours, the beach, Day Tours and festivities happening locally was enough :)
Overall - we had an AMAZING time at the Seychelles and highly recommend Clef Des Iles as your accommodation choice for a young family with small children. There were other families with young kids there during our stay so our kids had other kids to play with too. Bonus! :))
If you have any specific questions, feel free to message me on Tripadvisor and I'd happily answer them as honest as I can xx
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Clef des Iles is composed of 4 duplexes located literally on the beach. Each duplex (around 120 m2 each) has two large attic bedrooms facing the majestuous Silhouette and North Island. The kitchen is fully equipped and internet is freely available through a wireless system. This ideal “on the beach home” is surrounded by charming restaurants and offers easy access to water sport facilities. The discrete Clef des Iles team takes care of daily cleaning. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Clef Des Iles Hotel Mahe Island
- Clef Des Iles Mahe Island
- Clef Des Iles Seychelles/Mahe Island