Cloistered in a coconut grove, adults-only boutique resort 20 Degres Sud has 36 colonial-style rooms and suites by a quiet beach, with some just steps from the water’s edge. The hotel’s informal and intimate style, with bookshelf-lined lounges and there-when-you-need-them staff, lets you daydream that you’re in your own island home.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of champagne and 25 per cent off spa treatments
11.30am, but flexible, late check-out is available for 75 per cent of the room rate a person. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £367.95 (€418), including tax at 15 per cent.
Rates include breakfast (Continental, full-English or American) and à la carte dinner, plus daily transfers to Grand Baie in a motorised pirogue (longboat).
Bikes and helmets, snorkel masks and flippers, sea kayaks, laser dinghies, Hobie Cats, stand-up paddle-boards and windsurfing boards are available to hire for free.
At the hotel
Free nautical activities (kayak, laser, hobby cat, paddle, windsurf), bikes to borrow, free snorkelling twice a day, free boat shuttle to Grand Bay, daily tea time (4pm to 5pm), two library lounges with board games, gym, a boutique, billiard table, parking and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV and films on-demand, minibar, kettle and cafetière. The Beachfront, Suite and Austral Suite categories have Nespresso machines and iPod docks and speakers.
Our favourite rooms
Rooms are in mod-colonial style, with dark wood and leather against white walls and linens, gauze-veiled four-poster beds and designer Belgian furnishings from Flamant. Room 4 is a large suite, with a sprawling deck for tropical views, and has a Jacuzzi. Room 2 is equally elegant, with a little pool on its deck.
Both of the hotel’s pools are lined with schist rock tiles and fringed with coconut palms. Day-beds, and wicker tables and chairs line the decking. The larger pool is by the bar and heated to 26 degrees in the winter. The more petite pool is in palm-shaded seclusion behind the spa. Alternatively, take a cool dip in the Indian Ocean from the nearby beach.
The spa has comprise three treatment rooms – one for couples – a hammam and whirlpool bath. Enjoy massages, wraps, body scrubs and rejuvenating facials. Couples can treat each other to the Lovers Retreat ritual with over two hours of pampering featuring a flower-petal scrub, a Monticelli mud wrap, and relaxing hot oil massage followed by a flower petal bath.
A kaftan for après-swim drinks and some basic French for polite exchanges with the friendly staff.
The hotel isn’t suited to guests with mobility issues.
Over 12s only – this sophisticated hotel is more of a ‘let’s leave them with the grandparents’ kind of place.
The hotel is entirely plastic free and grows its own herbs and vegetables in the on-site garden.
By the window in the on-site restaurant watching the boat lights twinkle in the Indian Ocean.
Be an angelic beach bunny in floaty white linen with minimal gold accessories to glint in the sun. Mr Smith should don untucked white shirts with tailored shorts.
The hotel has jaw-dropping settings for the fabulous sea-to-table dishes crafted by local chef Sanjeev Purahoo. Overlook the waves at the seafront restaurant, or get even cloaser to the ocean by chartering vintage motorboat Lady Lisbeth for a meal in its teak-lined cabin. The food is as spectacular as the settings, with a six-course lobster menu, tender cuts of meat from South Africa, and a caught-that-day sushi spread (must be ordered in advance).
The bar is a bright space with white wooden walls, rattan furnishings and 19th-century antiques. Be sociable at the long slate bar, or pluck a book from the shelves by the door and delve into the fine wine list.
Breakfast is from 7am to 10.30am; lunch from noon to 2:30pm; and coffee, tea and home-made cakes are served at 4pm. Dinner on site is from 7pm to 9.30pm; on the Lady Lisbeth it runs from 7.45pm to 11.30pm.
20 Degres Sud is set in a coconut grove on the northerly tip of Mauritius, close to the sheltered beaches of Grand Baie and Pointe aux Cannoniers.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport is an hour and a half away from the hotel by car. There are daily flights to international hubs such as London, Singapore, Paris and Dubai. Private transfers can be arranged for two people for €65 each way.
Driving in Mauritius is relatively stress-free. Roads are well signposted and there are some jaw-dropping coastal routes. Just remember to drive on the left. There’s free parking at the hotel and an Avis car-hire booth at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport.
Worth getting out of bed for
Grand Baie sits at the northerly tip of Mauritius, close to Point aux Cannoniers: the more touristy side of the island, with postcard-perfect beaches and sheltered bays. There are sprawling resorts close by, but 20 Degres Sud has a peaceful spot to itself, with an elegantly landscaped beach. You needn’t rouse yourself from your sunlounger to organise holiday fun – the hotel can plan it all. Watersports equipment can be hired for free on site, and the shuttle to Grand Baie will drop snorkellers off at the best sites, such as Coin de Mire island or Black River, where dolphins frolic. For an extra charge, guests can waterski, paraglide, or kitesurf just off-site. Play a few rounds at Mont Choisy Golf Club, a five-minute drive away, or haul in your own supper on a big-game fishing excursion. Blue- and yellow-fin tuna, marlin and sea bream populate the turquoise waters, and you can spend a relaxing full or half day spotting and catching them (advance booking is recommended). Excursions to Mauritius’s greener south side and the Central Market in Port Louis let guests experience the islander lifestyle. Or take a peek at the giant lilypads of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, hop back in time at the Sugar Museum and Factory or explore colonial castle La Bourdonnais. In Grand Baie, experience the serenity of the oldest temple in Mauritius, Shiv Kalyan Vath Mandir, haggle in the Grand Baie Bazaar or don a Spongebob Squarepants-esque helmet for a Solar Under Sea Walk.
Just south of the hotel, Royal Road has a string of eateries: family-run Restaurant Coolen Chez Ram is a local favourite for its sea-fresh fish curries and way with crabmeat. And elegant waterfront eatery La Terrasse has a globtrotting menu that travels from Mauritian seafood grills to house-made Italian pizzas to Chinese Peking duck. Sauterelle, on the Eastern curve of the bay, sits atop an upmarket shopping mall and serves inventive flavour pairings, such as duck with a spiced sauce and rosti with citrus zest, carrot and orange velouté with cumin-infused peas and shrimp rolls with a fresh mint sauce.
Coffee Garden (+230 263 2270) is a sweet, unassuming joint that’s brightly painted in citrus hues inside, but has a serene garden for alfresco dining. Coffee is good, but their menu of paninis, omelettes and brochettes is worth dipping into – the smoked marlin sandwiches are excellent. Café Müller's German-accented cakes and crêpes will satisfy sweet-tooths; on Saturday its brunch draws a crowd.
Sleek club Les Enfants Terribles has three sections, (one each for hip-hop, pop and R’n’B). There are coloured lights and a laser show, plenty of bars to prop up and a VIP room.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this serene beach hotel in Grand Baie and unpacked their spices and brightly coloured baskets, a full account of their luxury beach break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a postcard from 20 Degres Sud in Mauritius…
Mauritius doesn’t have to try hard to be romantic: its powder-soft beaches and tropical foliage immediately suggest sun-kissed seduction. But the island’s beachfront resorts can be impersonal passion killers, so head to boutique hotel 20 Degres Sud for knock-your-socks-off (and several other items) ardour. The hotel’s coconut grove buffers guests from the touristy trappings of Grand Baie, and its beach is usually empty but for a few locals and some shaded rattan day-beds. The cosy, colonial rooms may not boast gadgets and gizmos, but they won’t be missed. Instead, you’ll be gazing over the ocean from your terrace, meandering to the bar for balloon glasses filled to the brim, or having a meal in the tree-pronged ruin of a governor’s house on a nearby private island. This bite-size boutique paradise has all the trimmings and we challenge you not to get carried away.