A weekend at the Hilton Northolme, Seychelles
Sometimes things come completely different than you may expect them. Life is full of surprises and altough I was not the biggest fan of them, I started to accept them from time to time. One of the most recent big surprises was the Hilton Northolme. In contrary to our colleague Niklas who is in charge for reviewing chain hotels, I feel more comfortable in unique, boutique luxury hotels (in best cases still family owned). If I have the choice between the Hilton Rome or the JK Place, I would more likely go for the latter as I feel the local feel much more than any chain hotel will ever reach. But why was I surprised? Well it is as easy as that: this Hilton is not your regular Hilton hotel - you are in for a pleasant surprise.
It was the birthday of my colleague Lukas and we stayed one night already in th south of Mahé at the Banyan Tree and then changed to the north with Hilton Northolme for the last two nights. While the Banyan Tree did not care at all about my colleague's birthday, as soon as our driver picked us up in the South, he gave his congratulations to Lukas in the most friendly way. He was so funny, friendly and lovely so that we ended up chatting the entire 1 hour drive instead of sleeping. When we approached the main gate of the resort, the car stopped and we left the driver and our luggages behind us. Maria - the outrageous Sales Manager - welcomed us personally and of course congratulated my colleague again. It's all about the little details, but that's how I reveal real luxury hotels from "luxe wannabes". It indeed makes a difference if the staff has this feeling for its guests and while the Banyan Tree failed to deliver in this case, the Hilton Northolme impressed us even more when we arrived at the main front desk and the General Manager himself was waiting with two Pina Coladas in a coconut before congratulating as well. It was that moment when you feel you made the only right decision in terms of the accommodation. It's like flying - you trust the crew more if they are keen and helpful.
Well, we were even luckier when we found out that we have been offered an upgrade to their biggest villa: A Deluxe Two-Bedroom Pool Villa! While it does not sound that glamorous, it is actually their Presidential Suite and we were blown away. But first we got a little tour of the resort for orientation which followed by a lunch with Maria who introduced us to the Creole cuisine. In general lunch is served at the Ocean bar while dinner is offered at the main restaurant or the gourmet restaurant Les Cocotiers. Due to the special occassion we were offered a very special en-villa dining on the vast terrace next to the second biggest private pool in the entire Seychelles. To sum it up, our villa was gigantic, two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms as big as our entire bungalow at the Banyan Tree. Not to forget the most amazing private infinity pool we have ever dived in. 18 meters long and perfectly tempered, it was the highlight of our trip. To be honest, this place urged to kill a bottle of bubbles or two :). Which occasion is better to open a 2006 Dom Perignon other than that? Guess what, this is the most exclusive way to celebrate an anniversary, birthday or honeymoon on the entire Seychelles and you might only feel more glamorous by renting either North or Fregate Island.
Some facts about our villa included a jacuzzi bath inside the bathrooms, a huge walk-in shower, double vanities, Peter Thomas Roth toiletries, coffee machine, dining area, living room and two bedrooms - each with a double bed and walk-in wardrobe as well as fully separated toilet and bidet. The welcome amenity consisted of a fruit basket, pastry basket, birthday cake and a bottle of my colleague's favorite wine. I really felt like staying in the best resort we have stayed at but I don't like to be so general since a small resort in Italy with tiny rooms can also be gorgeous just as a beachside resort in the Caribbean. However the service at Hilton Northolme was above the top and on par. They really cared about the little details - also the entire hardware in the room was flawless: state-of-the-art technologies, super clean, new furniture and heavenly beds - I could not find a thing that was not 5-star like. They convinced us in terms of friendliness, service, room, comfort and views already.
When the sun finally set, the champagne dropped and we ready to have dinner, the lovely guy from the room service team arrived and prepared the outdoor dining table, put on table cloths, glasses and electric candles. We had a seat and the food was served. Guess what - it was the first time we had in-room dining. Due to our work as travel blogges it is essential to experience the various restaurants of a hotel including the service and performance of the staff. This time we let the hotel surprise us with a delcious four course menu including shrimp tartare, ravioli and red snapper grilled and served in one piece. The two staff members left in between the dishes so that privacy is guaranteed. Sometimes pictures speak more than thausand words so just inspire yourself and do the right choice for your next trip to one of the most magnificent archipelagos in the world.
Breakfast is served in the main restaurant on top of the hill on the hotel's small peninsula. I would say it was a very international breakfast with egg preparation station, fresh juices and good quality of the products. Just below the main restaurant is the Ocean bar where we had lunch every day. They have a very international menu with steak sandwich, tuna tartare, burgers, grilled fish, meat and some creole dishes. Next to our amazing villa, I loved to spend time at the bar since they have an happy hour from 5-6 pm (50% off the menu), offered amazing shisha as well as the possibilty to play pool. Being situated above the turquoise sea and hotel's private sandy beach was also a big plus why we spent the second most time there.
While I was really sad not to be able to swim in the sea in the south, I was so happy to see the calm private beach of the Hilton Northolme with a private house reef. They had all the equipment down at the beach just as sun beds, stand-up paddle board, canoes and snorkeling gear. The main pool looked wonderful as well but we preferred to spend most time in our private infinity pool - well who wouldn't! I have to admit this was not my first time with Hilton, however it was not really a Hilton experience. While you would expect a Hilton to be solid, clean and alright for a business stay or less sophisticated vacatio, the Hilton Northolme really stands out with excellent service, gorgeous hardware and wonderful amenities. If a Hilton resort is better than another property of a more upscale luxury hotel brand (let's take Banyan Tree) than this is a sign of how excellent this property is managed. If I may suggest, I would recommend going for a newly built pool villas (all villas without pool are not new tough still have the typical Seychelles look) and you still pay less than at the other expensive resorts in Mahé. The value for money is extremely good and the Hilton Northolme is my only choice for a stay on Mahé.