Chateau St Cloud is situated in the quiet and lush centre of La Digue Island.
Chateau St Cloud: Our full report
Chateau St Cloud lies in the quiet, lush centre of La Digue Island, at the foot of its tallest peak: Belle Vue or Eagle's Nest Mountain. The location may lack beach frontage but it is a mere 10 minutes' walk from the coast and is far from lacking in scenic attraction. A hillside road runs from the hotel to the 300m summit, from where panoramic views of the green interior and neighbouring islands make a hike here well worthwhile – especially if timed to watch sunset over Praslin with a drink from the low-key 'Snack Bellevue'.
Back at base, Chateau St Cloud offers a surprisingly informal retreat given its arresting appearance and colonial history. The main building, now housing the 'deluxe' rooms, was once the heart of an extensive vanilla plantation. A striking white-and-grey manor house, it was built for its French owners at the height of the Napoleonic era and named in memory of the small town of St Cloud, just south of Paris.
There will soon be 20 rooms at Chateau St Cloud, divided into three categories – four 'standard' rooms, four 'superior' rooms and 12 'deluxe' rooms. These vary significantly in size, style and location, with some comfortably capable of accommodating a family of two adults and two children.
Chateau St Cloud's 'superior' rooms are wooden hillside cabins which offer private terraces and great seclusion, fine for those who don't mind the steep stair access. By contrast, the 'deluxe' rooms are tasteful contemporary suites in the plantation house, with vast, cool interiors, albeit no outside space. In comparison, the 'standard' rooms are really rather basic and we don't generally recommend them.
Every room, regardless of level, boasts air conditioning, a fan, international direct-dial telephone, mini-fridge, safe and tea/coffee station. In the 'standard' rooms only showers are available, but both their 'deluxe' and 'superior' counterparts offer a bath too.
Chateau St Cloud makes a good base for activities around La Digue island. Getting around is easy with most attractions within walking distance. Alternatively, there are bicycles are for rent and traditional ox-cart transfers to La Passe village and La Digue's main beaches. Full-day excursions can also be arranged, with fishing and diving both popular pursuits.
For those seeking simply to chill within Chateau St Cloud's small complex, the swimming pool and bar are open all day, there is a large pen of giant tortoises for the curious, and internet access is available in the reception area. A small 'boutique' sells some standard essentials, like suncream and postcards, though these are curiously displayed alongside a selection of polyester Communion dresses and – sadly – some large conch shells (we actively discourage the sale and purchase of shells). The reasonably large gardens also offer scope for simple racket games and children's play.
Our viewIf you are happy to accept the 10-minute trip to the sea, and opt for one of the hotel's larger rooms, then Chateau St Cloud can be a good choice on La Digue – though don't go looking for luxury or perfect service,. The swimming pool is a real asset, especially when the temperature or humidity is high, and the hotel's relaxed atmosphere is equally appealing to families as to couples.
Ideal length of stay: 2-3 nights
Directions: Transfers on arrival can be arranged by ox-cart or small painted bus. For those choosing to walk or cycle, take the tar road heading inland off the main coastal route at La Passe harbour. Follow this road inland, slightly uphill, until it veers to the right. After a further five minutes, the large Chateau St Cloud entrance sign and flag will appear and the hotel will be visible on the left-hand side of the road.
Owner: The St Cloud estate has belonged to the St Ange family for many generations.
Staff: The managing director is Carl Mills.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: B&B
Food quality: Guests can stay at Chateau St Cloud on either a bed-and-breakfast or half-board basis. (Non-residents are also welcome to the restaurant at any time.)
Meals – of a consistent quality but nothing special – are served in the shaded, poolside restaurant. With open sides to catch the breeze, timber floors, a wood-panelled ceiling and casual tables, it has a distinctly rustic charm.
Breakfast,is a tropical buffet with seasonal fruits and juices available alongside toast and eggs to order.
In the evening, traditional Creole cuisine is a speciality. A couple of times a week Chateau St Cloud hosts a local buffet dinner with live entertainment, and lays on free island transfers for guests from other hotels.
The rest of the week, dinner is a four-course set menu (soup, starter, main course, dessert) with an emphasis on seafood and local flavours, though a selection of international dishes are also available. During our last visit in April 2010 we had chicken curry for main followed by papaya for dessert.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Outdoor Dining
Attitude towards children: Chateau St Cloud accepts children of all ages.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions on guests.
Special activities & services: There are no dedicated children's facilities or activities at Chateau St Cloud, though a swimming pool and giant tortoise enclosure are popular with guests young and old. There is also a good amount of space in the garden for games.
Equipment: A cot is available for babies and babysitting can be arranged through reception.
Generally recommended for children: In general we would recommend Chateau St Cloud for families, though care must be taken with the pool, road access and uneven ground on the hillside. The cabin-like rooms at the top of the hill are not suitable due to their steep access and open balconies; 'deluxe' rooms in the plantation house are the most secure and spacious.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There are IDD telephones in every guest room and internet access is available at the hotel reception.
TV & radio: There are televisions in the bedrooms.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: No
Medical care: La Digue Logan Hospital is approximately 5–10 minutes from Chateau St Cloud. It offers basic services 24 hours a day, including dental care and a child health facility. There is an ambulance available for emergencies.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Extra Charge
Accepted payment on location: Euro, US$, travellers' cheques, Visa, MasterCard