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Belmond Reid's Palace 4.5

Funchal, Madeira, Madeira Islands

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Enduring luxury landmark hotel with lavish interiors
  • Dramatic clifftop setting with lush tropical gardens
  • Bright rooms have furnished balconies or patios with garden or sea views
  • Five on-site restaurants including two fine dining options and most with ocean vistas
  • Glitzy cocktail bar and lovely afternoon tea terrace
  • Seafront spa with ocean view treatment rooms
  • Three swimming pools including one cut from rock
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout

Cons

  • Ambience may be too stuffy and formal for some
  • Afternoon tea service lacks polish
  • Room decor old-fashioned in places

Bottom Line

The 163-room Belmond Reid’s Palace is a historic luxury hotel perched dramatically on a clifftop a short drive from the center of Funchal. Awash with antiques and period touches, this traditionally elegant property has lost little of its original 19th-century elegance -- though some might find the overall vibe a little stuffy. The classic vibe extends to the bright rooms, complete with furnished balconies or patios; some suites have kitchenettes. Stunning sea views are found from numerous vantage points, the property offers extensive dining options, and leisure facilities include several outdoor pools, lovely gardens with lounge chairs, outdoor tennis courts, and a spa. For top-notch amenities and sea views without the old-fashioned formality, check out The Cliff Bay nearby.

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Scene

Grand, palatial hotel with opulent interiors and a rich history

With its stately, pastel-pink facade instantly recognizable from the road, the landmark Belmond Reid's Palace is a local institution. While entry to the hotel is through an unassuming gateway, inside the hotel has retained plenty of its traditional glamour with marble pillars, grand chandeliers, and numerous pieces of antique furniture scattered throughout. The sprawling property’s many elegant lounge areas are lavishly furnished, while black-and-white historical photos of the hotel highlight its glitzy and glamorous past. It was founded in 1891 as a luxury retreat for the upper classes with the likes of George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill famously frequenting the hotel (Churchill came to Madeira to write his war memoirs). 

In the lush grounds, winding paths lead through tropical plants past many secluded spots and to the seafront spa. One of the hotel’s three swimming pools is also built into the rocks to dramatic effect and an elevator gives direct access to the sea -- once used to provide access to the property from cruise line passengers. The hotel now attracts a healthy mix of retired travelers and well-heeled families, as well as a fair share of honeymooning couples splashing out on a special stay -- though some younger guests might find the atmosphere a little too formal or even stuffy.

Location

Dramatic clifftop setting a short drive from Funchal city center

The hotel’s dramatic clifftop setting is located in the Sao Martinho area of Funchal and accessed via Estrada Monumental -- a busy main road that winds along the coast. Popular with tourists, the area has many shops, restaurants, and bars, while the city's historical center is a short five to 10 minutes away by car. The long stretch of beach at Praia Formosa is a 10-minute drive away, while Madeira Airport is around a 20-minute drive.

Rooms

Classically styled rooms with floral accents and luxury touches

The hotel has 163 rooms and suites, with most styled in floral fabrics, period furnishings, and muted color schemes -- an overall effect guests find either old-fashioned or elegantly classical. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, iPod docks, and flat-screen TVs with DVD players. Bathrooms mostly have shower/tub combos and all have luxury Penhaligon toiletries as well as robes and slippers. Furnished balconies or patios have views of the gardens or, far more impressively, over the Atlantic. 

Styling in the suites is generally more elegant with most featuring impressive marble bathrooms (though wardrobes in the bathrooms can feel odd). Deluxe Suites also have kitchenettes. The two Presidential Suites -- the Churchill and George Bernard Shaw -- are definitely a cut above the others with dual aspect views and French doors leading out to large furnished balconies with impressive views over the gardens and sea. The bathroom in the Churchill Suite has stunning azulejo tiling and marble sink, and separate shower and tub, but again the wardrobe is a bit out of place.

Features

Several dining options, multiple terraces with views, outdoor pools, tennis courts, and a spa

A buffet breakfast with Champagne is included in the rate and served in the elegant Garden Room. Further casual dining is available by the pool (including a buffet, snacks, and drinks) or in Villa Cipriani, the hotel’s Italian restaurant with a scenic outdoor deck on the clifftop. Fine dining is available in a choice of two restaurants with The Dining Room (formal dress only) hosting a weekly Champagne Gala Buffet and Reid’s Dinner Dance, and William Restaurant serving a modern international menu with sea views. There is also a glitzy cocktail bar and traditional afternoon tea served on a lovely terrace -- though some guests find that the tea lacks polish. Sunbathing decks and a sea pool are built into the rocks and the hotel has a further two outdoor pools, one of which is a large saltwater pool. A luxury spa is nestled in the gardens atop the cliffs with a private sun terrace and sea-view treatment rooms. There is a small business center on-site and Wi-Fi is free throughout. 

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Things You Should Know About Belmond Reid's Palace

Address

Estrada Monumental 139, Funchal, Madeira Islands 9000-098, Portugal

Also Known As

  • Reid's Palace by Orient-Express