“This is not a hotel. This is a private home.” With these words, Indra Tinkler, widely referred to simply as “Madame” by taxi drivers and other tourism providers across the south of Mauritius, introduces us to Chantemer, her small guest house. There is a flourish of the hand in the delivery. I assume–it turns out correctly–that we are in for an entertaining stay.
Located at Pointe d’Esny near Mahébourg, Chantemer’s neighborhood is a prosperous one, occupying an idyllic stretch of coastline between a resort called Preskil and the town of Blue-Bay. The surrounding area is full of lovely villas, none garish or McMansion-like. Most of these villas boast a stretch of white-beige beach of their own.
Chantemer is the sort of quiet, good value guest house that cost-conscious travelers yearn for, treasure, and then recommend to the like-minded. The house’s downstairs, where Madame lives, is stylishly appointed. Guest rooms are tasteful and simple, with many of Madame’s own paintings hanging throughout. The basics for budget-minded and midrange leisure travelers are all there. The water heater works. The breakfasts (fruit, bread, and coffee) are fresh if small, though a boiled or fried egg can be ordered for an additional 25 rupees, which is less than $1. Rooms also have refrigerators, and two of the three rooms have balconies with sea views. Rooms do not have televisions. If anything, this amenity absence adds to the bolthole atmosphere. Chantemer’s backyard, which leads down to the beach, is populated with palm trees and bougainvillea, among other tropical flora. After nine days spent checking out many different beaches on Mauritius, we came to the conclusion that Chantemer’s beach was the best on the island. That claimed, the constant presence of windsurfers and kiteboarders playing with the robust wind means that it’s infrequently completely empty.
To be sure, there are some downsides. The wireless Internet did not work while we were there, and there are no phones in rooms. This latter fact means that, until they get their bearings, guests are dependent on Madame to call for taxis. As the guest house is a good 20-minute walk from the nearest restaurant and taxi availability slows down dramatically at night, this dependence can be a little bit difficult, especially in light of Madame’s busy social calendar. These logistics can be handled with a little advance planning.
While Mauritius has its share of extravagant five-star resorts, the island is less well-known for small, unassuming guest houses. Chantemer is the perfect pick for anyone looking for a simple, relatively inexpensive retreat. There are three rooms currently on offer. Ours, with a direct view (see below) of the beach, ran €78 per night. A more expensive unit has a kitchen. My sole recommendation, if you find yourself considering a booking, is to request a room with a sea view. Chantemer is one place where a kick-ass dawn view is certainly worth a few extra euros.
Check out other posts in the Capricorn Route series here.