I've usually formed an impression of a hotel before I've even stepped over the threshold. That's because around a month before I travel, I go into full 'stalker' mode. Well, I prefer to call it investigative research! From checking out the hotel's social channels (on an almost daily basis) to reading independent reviews and pouring over all the information on the hotel's own website.
But, Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel in Mauritius is SO MUCH BETTER than the photos, the reviews and their beautiful website. It is, indeed, paradise personified.
So let's take an honest review of our absolutely fabulous two-week stay at this beautiful 5-star adults-only boutique hotel in Mauritius.
Arrival at the airport: whilst COVID is still a 'thing', be prepared for a few queues. In all it took us 2.5 hours to first clear immigration and then the separate health desks. But we really didn't mind the time it took as it meant that we felt really safe on the island knowing there were such rigorous controls. Before we departed the UK, we had to complete a digital travel form (link here) detailing our vaccination status, accommodation etc. and it was checking all out documentation that took the time. Don't let this put you off - the short time spent in the airport is more than compensated when you get to the hotel!
Transfer: after such a long flight a private transfer to the accommodation is a welcome sight. The Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel is located in Anse de Raie in northern Mauritius and it takes around 1 hour to reach the hotel and offers plenty of time to take in the local scenery or catch up on a few zeds after an overnight flight.
Layout of the resort: Despite being a relatively small resort, it never feels busy at Paradise Cove. There is always a spacious feel whether you're on the beach, in a bar or at a restaurant. It is almost a resort of two halves. The bedrooms, most of the restaurants and bars are on one side with the beach and small cove in the centre. Over the 'hill' you find the Peninsula with the bar and restaurant of the same name. The Peninsula also has small beach huts dotted around the cove where you can while away the time in the sun or shade.
Bedrooms: If you're looking for a small, luxury hotel in Mauritius then Paradise Cove is the perfect boutique hotel experience as there are only 75 rooms. All of the rooms are in either two or three storey buildings that stretch in a half horseshoe around the cove. So, every room is guaranteed a view of the beach and the cove.
We stayed in the entry level room which was a Deluxe Premium Room and size-wise it was spacious but not huge. Our bedroom was light and furnished with neutral tones making it a really relaxing space. A super-king sized (and really comfy) bed with cute canopy was the focal point of the room and there was a separate small seating area with table and chairs where we found a very welcome fresh fruit platter.
The room had all the facilities that you would expect including interactive TV (more on that later), bathrobes, slippers, laptop sized safe, plenty of hangers and some really luxurious and lovely smelling soaps. To enjoy drinks in the room, there is a kettle with tea and coffee as well as a mini bar / fridge. Some rooms also have a Nespresso machine (which we would have loved but wasn't included in our room category).
Mini Bar: This gets replenished daily. Whilst some may say the drinks are limited (in terms of choice and amount), for us there was enough choice. There are a couple of local beers as well as around 3 soft drinks (cola, sprite, iced tea). These are all complimentary on the all-inclusive plan. There are also jars of nuts and jellied sweets but these are chargeable.
Balcony Area: Our room was located on the second floor, where we had fantastic views from the balcony through the coconut palm trees onto the beach and the peninsula in the distance. The balcony was a good size with a two-seater sofa and dining table with two chairs. There was also a small wooden drying rack, perfect to air off wet swimwear.
It was a lovely place to enjoy an early morning coffee watching the exotic birds fly by. And, if you experience inclement weather, the balcony is covered so despite any rain you can still enjoy sitting outside. Ground floor rooms have garden terraces instead.
Bathroom: This is a largish space with dual sinks and also double rain showers. But if you like a bath - sorry you'd be disappointed. Between the sinks and showers there are large double wardrobes with lots of hanging space. There are also plenty of drawers within the bedroom - so if you've over-packed (like I always do) then don't worry there's plenty of storage.
There are four restaurants each serving different cuisine styles. The food quality is exceptional and even after our two-week stay we weren't bored of the food. In fact, it's some of the very best we've ever had. That, I think is testament to just how good it is. Each restaurant is also very accommodating for those with special diets, indicating which dishes contain allergens (with the likes of gluten, dairy, fish, mustard, soy etc. all highlighted). If you're vegan I think you'd possibly struggle as Mauritians are big meat and fish eaters and most vegetarian dishes include a dairy or egg element.
This isn't unique to the hotel, but much more so across the wider island. So, to enjoy a plant-based diet, eating in the hotel is likely to be the best option.
The Dining Room - this is the main restaurant that's open every day for both breakfast and dinner. There are live cooking stations as well as a chilled / cold room.
Breakfast is all buffet and the choice is immense. From a wide choice of fresh and preserved fruits, cereals, cold cuts and cheese to live cooking of pancakes, eggs (any way, including Eggs Benedict) and the traditional hot options of bacon, sausages, vegetables and also local delicacies like samosas and chutneys. Oh, and if you have room there is a huge choice of freshly baked pastries and breads.
The choice in the evening varies. Sometimes there is a themed evening which is a buffet - during our stay we enjoyed both a barbecue and Indian theme. On the nights where there is no 'theme' then the restaurant offers a hybrid service where the starter and dessert are served a la carte as usually a choice of two dishes whilst the main course is offered as a buffet. We actually liked this style as we're not always that keen on buffets as we don't find them particularly relaxing, so having two courses served to the table was a really good balance.
The remaining three restaurants - Peninsula, XO and The Cove require advance bookings in the evening. Make your reservations via reception. The Cove is the only restaurant that incurs an additional charge when staying on a half-board or all-inclusive basis.
Peninsula Restaurant and Bar
Located in the furthest part of the resort, the Peninsula restaurant has a beautiful setting overlooking the smaller islands to the north. Plenty of breeze, it is also covered which gives some welcome shade. There is a bar to the side of the restaurant, which is a great place to relax in a comfy sofa and watch the sunset or to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail. At weekends, the hotel hosts an early doors 'sundowner' party with a DJ playing some laid-back tunes.
The Peninsula restaurant is open every lunchtime from 12 noon - 3pm. No reservations are required. As for the menu, you can enjoy as little or as much as you'd like - even a full three-course meal if you're hungry. We had some fantastic pizzas, beautifully presented and super-tasty salads and kebabs - we didn't get around to the curries.
Sample lunch time fare! Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken, Chicken Kebab with Salsa, Mango Cheesecake
In the evening, you will need to reserve a table (available from 7pm) but make sure that you're hungry! To start with there are some small tapas-style plates and you can have up to 4 each and that's before you move onto the starters, of which there are about 8 to choose from. The main course consists of a platter of meat, fish, surf & turf or vegetarian. If you've room for pudding - then we can confirm they're delicious (especially the Churros with hot chocolate & chilli dipping sauce!). We did make a rookie error on the first evening ordering too much food - we soon realised that sharing is caring when it comes to the food!
This is only a small restaurant with enough seating for about 18 people, so book in advance! Set up high, XO overlooks the main pool, The Cove and beach.
The menu is Japanese in style with sushi, sashimi, gyoza and tempura as well as curries and stir fries. It's flavoursome, fresh and a good combination of sweet and sour. We ate here on three occasions and had different food each time. Our photo doesn't really do it justice!
This restaurant is located on the edge of the beach so over dinner, you get to hear the gently lapping waves as they break on the shore. The Cove is a premium restaurant with a menu to match. Think lobster and scallops. It's a great place to dine if you're celebrating a special occasion. It is especially popular with honeymooners as they receive a complimentary meal as part of their stay.
Be prepared for a huge choice of cocktails, mocktails, wines and spirits. Oh, and rum. The Mauritians love their rum - spiced, dark or white. Guests staying on all-inclusive are served drinks by the glass.
Stay Bar can be found just along from the reception and adjacent to The Dining Room. With indoor and outdoor seating it's a good spot for lunchtime, pre-dinner or post-dinner drinks.
It has a distinct colonial feel with wooden shutters and verandas, and has a very relaxed vibe. Open from 10am, the bar also serves a daily snack menu that includes the likes of burgers, sandwiches and small plates which is available until 7pm.
This could be harking back to the days of British rule, but tea is a big thing. Afternoon Tea is available from 4pm - 5pm - just pick your blend!
As the picture suggests, the Tea Bar is only small and can be found in the reception / lobby area but there's plenty of places to enjoy afternoon tea.
Swimming Pools, Fitness & Gym
With such wonderful food to enjoy, you will definitely feel the need to balance this out with some swimming or time in the gym. If swimming is your thing then there are three pools to choose from. An Infinity Pool can be found on the Peninsula. It's large enough to swim in but in all fairness, most people use it to just cool off, watch the kite surfers, boats and to generally contemplate life! The main pool is large and again, a good place to swim or cool off. For real swimming and to burn off those calories, head to the Lap Pool which is a generous size of around 18m in length. Please note that there are no lifeguards on duty and lilos / inflatables are not permitted.
The gym is well equipped (so I'm told, I'm no gym bunny!). It opens early to get in that pre-breakfast workout and fully air conditioned. There are also morning yoga classes twice-weekly and a tennis court too.
Daytime & Evening Entertainment
The hotel works really hard to offer activities throughout the day and into the evening. To find out what's going on, there's an interactive TV in your bedroom which updates to show the coming events for the week - from evening entertainment, rum tasting, yoga etc.
There is some form of entertainment every evening. There are singers, saxophonists, pianists as well as dancers. They're not particularly intrusive and provide some atmosphere whilst you enjoy dinner.
One for the water babies and lovers of all things aqua. Get your snorkelling gear or take a windsurfing lesson. For a genteel trip, book a complimentary glass bottomed boat trip. It's an hours trip taking in the outlying reefs to see the coral (unfortunately we didn't witness many fish). In the afternoons, discover what lies beneath the ocean in a snorkelling trip to the outlying reef.
If you love a big boat, then twice a week, the hotel charters a Catamaran. You can head out to the outlying islands on a Catamaran with all-inclusive drinks and a beach barbecue. Pre-booking is a must as there is only around 10 spaces each day.
The jewel in the hotel's crown has to be the staff. From the front of house team to the housekeepers, chefs and grounds people everyone was friendly, helpful and genuinely keen to ensure you had a fantastic and memorable holiday. Nothing is too much trouble.
Perhaps the best example is that we mentioned we preferred fresh milk to make an in-room coffee. Within 30 minutes a carton of milk was delivered to our room. It's this attention to detail that sets the hotel apart.
Heading Out & About
There are bikes for hire from the hotel, but sometimes the roads are like Wacky Races so it wasn't for me! I did notice there were helmets though!
An easy way to get around is by taxi. You can book this through reception who have a list of charges for one-off trips to local towns, attractions and even a full days hire. As you would expect, booking via the hotel isn't the cheapest option and if you walk out onto the main road, it won't be long before a taxi stops and offers you a "very good price". If you do book via the hotel, it's their own private, branded taxi but you do have to pay the driver directly so make sure you have cash handy.
There is a small public beach to the side of the hotel which you can walk to but there really isn't much else within walking distance to the hotel. It definitely calls for transport! The nearest town (Grand Baie) is around 10 minutes drive and the capital Port Louis around 20-30 minutes (depending on traffic).
Arrivals and Departure Lounge
Many flights arrive early and depart late and the hotel has a fantastic lounge area to use if rooms are not available. There are showers, hairdryers, toiletries etc. as well as large changing areas. So if your room isn't ready you can easily shower and freshen up.
Grounds and Security
Paradise Cove is set in very established grounds so there are huge plants like aloe vera, bourgainvillea, cacti and frangipane. Each day the hard working gardeners produce some beautiful floral displays.
If you love wildlife (and birds in particular) then you'll see some brilliantly coloured feathered friends. But a note of warning that some of them can be quite familiar and love to jump onto a recently vacated table to steal bits of food - with a particular passion for pineapple chutney!
We travelled here in November / December 2021 when COVID measures were still in place. So all information here is our experience at that time - check with your tour operator or government website for the most up-to-date requirements.
We needed to have a negative PCR test no sooner than 72 hours before departure. On arrival in Mauritius we had a lateral flow test on arrival at the hotel and again on day 5 (your arrival day is classed as day 0). The hotel also undertakes regular temperature checks at breakfast and there is hand sanitiser available all through the hotel.
Plenty of high factor sun cream. Being this close to the equator, sitting in the sun wearing low-factor or no sun cream is a very risky choice, especially if there is a gentle breeze. Chances are you'll be singing "burn baby burn" come the end of the evening.
Mosquito Repellent - it's a tropical island and the hotel grounds are well-established making it the most perfect of home for those pesky mozzies. The hotel does try and eradicate the bugs as best they can by fogging every week or so but if you've got irresistibly tasty skin it's best to protect yourself and your ankles!
Plug Adapters - Mauritian hotels can have either 2-pin or 3-pin plug sockets (sometimes both in the same room). At Paradise Cove, it's the 2-pin plugs in the rooms so remember to pack your adapter.
Cash - the local currency is the Mauritian Rupee and if you want some for travel, tips and taxis, then it's best using the many exchange booths at the airport (find them in the arrivals halls). We took British Pounds but all major currencies are accepted.
One for the boys - remember long trousers and closed shoes are required for dinner, which I believe is the norm for Mauritius. The hotel is very strict on this policy so not packing anything suitable may mean a quick trip to the on-site boutique.
If you're looking for an adults-only luxury hotel in Mauritius then you won't go far wrong with booking Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel and Resort.
We undertook this trip in November 2021 and booked through Trailfinders.