Accommodation should always be booked in advance, particularly during the November-to-April high season.

* Vacation rentals Self-catering villas or apartments can be excellent alternatives to the hotel experience. Many are right by the sea and can be quite luxurious.

* Guesthouses The most personal option, these places are often family-run, offering simpler rooms but a warm welcome. Many are called chambres d'hôtes.

* Hotels and resorts The choice here is seemingly endless; many resorts offer all-inclusive packages and a range of activities, spas and restaurants. Top-end resorts can be exclusive and spectacularly luxurious.

Apartments & Villas

Renting a holiday apartment or villa is by far the most economical option in Mauritius, especially if there are several people in your travelling party. There are hundreds of rental options, ranging from small studios in factory-sized complexes to lavish seaside mansions fit for a movie star. If you're travelling with family or friends, a large high-end property can cost as little as €25 per person, which more than rivals the island's hostel-esque relics from an earlier era of travel. But remember, even though rentals represent a better price-to-value ratio on the whole, you always get what you pay for and meals are never included.

Most of the accommodation in this category is privately owned and managed by an umbrella agency that markets a large pool of crash pads. While choices can vary greatly, you should expect, in all but the cheapest places, that your home-away-from-home comes with daily maid service, a fully equipped kitchen, air-con, and concierge service provided by the property manager (make sure to double-check).

Some of the larger agencies:

Guesthouses & Chambres d'Hôtes

If you're looking for an island experience that doesn't involve the term 'all-inclusive', Mauritius' guesthouses and chambres d'hôtes (B&Bs) are well worth considering. This category of accommodation is managed by locals – often families – who as a rule dote on their guests with genuine hospitality. It's a fantastic way to learn about the real Mauritius. In fact, you'll sometimes have the chance to dine with your accommodation's proprietors at their tables d'hôtes, which can be equally rewarding experiences.

Over the last few years the government has begun increasing regulations for all tourism-related properties. Panic buttons and 24-hour security have, for example, become a compulsory expense for owners, forcing guesthouses to jack up their prices beyond the budget range to pay the bills. As a result, the island's chambres d'hôtes are starting to be under threat, especially since all-inclusive resorts have been known to offer bargain-basement prices to stay competitive during the economic downturn. Nonetheless, there's still a scatter of charming spots sprinkled around the island that are, now more than ever, promoting a 'local experience'. You'll find a cluster in Pointe d'Esny, and chambres d'hôtes are particularly popular in Rodrigues.

Hotels & Resorts

Rounding out the sleeping circuit is Mauritius' best-known brand of accommodation: the dreamy resorts found on the pages of magazines and in TV commercials for credit cards. And, despite the global economic recession, dozens of these opulent properties continue to spring up each year.

There are, however, two distinct categories of hotel in Mauritius: the luxury resorts that stretch along the coast, and the old-school midrangers that need some serious TLC. It's best to avoid the latter, as many of the top-end properties offer vacation incentives that rival the has-beens, and the guesthouses (which are often cheaper) are generally in better shape.

Upscale properties come in various tiers of luxury – there are three-, four- and five-star resorts. You'll do perfectly well with a three-star charmer, and while the five-star price tags may be high, it is well worth checking with travel agents about hotel-and-flight vacation packages. In fact, no upmarket sleeps should be booked with the public rates – agency rates are always cheaper. If you have your sights set on a luxury vacation, expect to pay €150 per person per night (including half board) at the very minimum. Prices quickly climb all the way up to €1000 per person per night.

Seasons

In general, high season runs from around October to March, with a focus on the European winter months. Prices soar at the end of December and the beginning of January. Travellers can expect prices to dip during the low-season months (May to September), often called 'green season'.