You heard it here: Madeira is one of Europe’s trendiest summer destinations. Move out of the way, Sicily: there’s a new “it” island in town.
While White Lotus fans are en route to Sicily, the simmering allure of Madeira is becoming less and less of a secret each coming day. The Portuguese island’s semi-tropical landscape lends it some of the best weather, which, in turn, has helped foster its nickname as “the Hawaii of Europe.”
When in the capital Funchal, make a beeline for Reid’s Palace, a Belmond Hotel. The luxe retreat dates to over 125 years ago — in fact, William Churchill was one of the many illustrious guests who frequented the island.
The hotel’s privileged location atop a cliff spawns unfettered views of Madeira’s paradisal coastline — and lucky for guests, each one of the hotel’s 111 rooms and 77 suites has balconies that look out at it. When it comes to style, the stay’s kept décor brims with old-world charm and storied-yet-alluring elegance.
Perhaps the hotel’s most notable feature is one of its two swimming pools— specifically, the saltwater pool alongside the craggy yet ocean-accessible lido, reached via an elevator ride down a dramatic precipice from the hotel’s main edifices and expansive garden.
Those seeking an unforgettable dining experience (then again, aren’t we all?) should look to dine at the hotel’s Michelin-starred William Restaurant. An ever-changing, modern international menu showcases the island’s seasonal delights and collectively contributes to the overall modern international menu.
If you are in the mood for some Italian food, dine at the onsite Villa Cipriani, which boasts a dreamscape open-air terrace that looks out at the sea.
Afternoon Tea here has been a tradition since the hotel’s inception. Taking place on the hotel’s main terrace, right off the lobby, guests can look forward to a menu comprising a wealth of finger sandwiches, homemade pastries, and a selection of 24 teas. The cherry on top is the late afternoon view of Madeira’s scenic shoreline.
The hotel’s garden spools with fauna tamed just enough to look natural and sufficiently fettered, made easily spectated via interweaving paths across ten lush acres. An assemblage of over 400 plant species suffuses the gardens, from eye-catching Bougainvillea to tropical-tinged Birds of Paradises. The hotel can set up romantic picnics or garden tours, allowing guests to explore the island’s “eternal spring” reputation.
Other perks include a tantalizing spa with cocooning treatments by Aromatherapy Associates and Natural Bissé, a fitness center, and a beachwear boutique.
Location: Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
The vibe: A storied retreat on an island that’s becoming less and less of a best-kept secret every coming day.
Amenities: Pools, garden, fitness center, beach access, restaurants & bars, and spa
Food + Drink: Four restaurants, an afternoon tea terrace, and a cocktail bar — all with sensational views of the Madeiran coastline.
What’s nearby: Lago da paz, Jardim do Lido, Funchal, and Praça Dom Francisco Santana
Any personal neighborhood recs? Yes! The town of Funchal is a 25-minute walk from the hotel and is great for ambling around, with its plethora of shops & restaurants (don’t go on Sundays, as most establishments are closed). This next recommendation, even though a 30-minute drive away, is worth grabbing dinner at as the golden hour views of the sea are mesmerizing — it’s the restaurant at the Socalo Nature Hotel.
Our favorite thing about the hotel: The hotel has botanical tours of the garden — you learn so much about botany and the wide diversification of fauna packed at the sea cliff-fringing garden at the hotel.
Room count: 126 rooms & suites
Closest airport: Funchal (Madeira Airport International Cristiano Ronaldo)
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