Prepare for a major crush on Madeira, that island that will keep you coming back – and not just for the sun and sangria (though we prefer the traditional poncha cocktail).

It’s ideal summer destination, with the Gulf Stream warming the sea for blissful swims, though thermometers never get lethal, so you can actually do things during the day. Winters are famously mild, although you might catch the locals in the latest faux-fur fashions, the capital city Funchal rarely goes below 14°C and the days are long and filled with sunshine. The fun of Madeira is the sheer variety of things to do – from mountains to sea – and all within easy reach.

TO STAY

Belmond Reid´s Palace

Evil under the Sun could and should have been set here, and Poirot would have loved it. It’s the quintessential grand hotel, when Madeira set the bar for luxury travel over 150 years ago, with dictators, royalty and Churchill all mingling on the terrace. Don’t let that put you off, as there isn’t a whiff of mould in the air. On the contrary, the hotel is keen to embrace all our modern love of aromatherapy spa treatments, sunsets with a DJ on the terrace and stand-up paddle lessons. The natural rock pool and sea access are Instagram gold. Two further swimming pools, a large spa, tropical seafront garden and views, views, views make this an utter paradise. Culinary treats include three restaurants (try the Michelin-starred William), afternoon tea and a divine buffet breakfast bursting with local fruits. With the purchase of Belmond Reid´s Palace by the LVMH group, the future looks exciting for the hotel shop too.

  • +351 291 717 171
  • Go to Website
  • Estrada Monumental 139
    9000-098 Funchal

Quinta da Casa Branca

An oasis in the city centre, this stylish 49-room boutique hotel is set in the manicured grounds of what used to be the Leacock family home, once considered the most lavish private house on the island. A contemporary glass hotel which reflects the surrounding exotic plants and flowering trees, with a main Hollywood-Regency style house that has been transformed into large suites with a fine-dining restaurant. Banana trees flank the gorgeous swimming pool – you really get the point of Madeira here. Don’t miss the Dining Room restaurant, which has a stunning outside terrace facing the garden.

Quinta da Penha de França

With the much-loved Muriel Ribeiro at the helm, this cosy hotel offers real value for money. The central Funchal location could not be better, and the same can be said for the large solarium, swimming pool and oceanfront base ideal for that perfect morning swim. Alongside the old house, higgledy-piggledy cobbled paths with bougainvillea pergolas lead to the newer hotel built in a Madeira style with balconies facing the sea. The owners are keen fishermen and in the clubhouse you might bump into legends of the fishing world, who love the fresh tuna served here Joe´s Restaurant.

  • +351 291 204 650
  • Go to Website
  • Rua Imperatriz da Amélia nº 85
    9000-018 Funchal

The Vine Hotel

This award-winning hotel is located in a building designed by architects Ricardo Bofill and João Francisco Caires and has moody dark interior designs by Nini Andrade Silva. The dramatic interiors and spa are inspired by Madeira wine, with sculptural installations of vines. The hotel is so central that it’s actually set inside a shopping centre in town – that’s the gifts sorted. A rooftop pool and 360-degree views of the tiled houses in the Sao Pedro borough make for a great backdrop to the mountains, even more so at night. The restaurant is excellent and the feel here is a bit more hip, minimalist and modern.

  • +351 291 009 000
  • Go to Website
  • Rua das Aranhas
    Nº 27- A – Funchal
    9000-044 Portugal

Pestana Carlton

This capital destination has an ample sunbathing deck, swimming pier and a diving school onsite. Expect a large five-star hotel featuring 288 rooms, with magnificent views of the Belmond Reid´s Palace gardens and the port of Funchal. Take the short stroll into town and escape from the half-board with a good choice of nearby restaurants. Try and get a room as high up as you can with a balcony facing the sea.

  • +351 291 239 500
  • Go to Website
  • Largo António Nobre nº 1
    9004-531 Funchal

Pirate House

If you fancy a change from hotels, this seafront villa sleeps four lucky guests and has a private swimming pool and large garden. The traditional facade on the Rua do Lazareto street with its ancient wooden gazebo looks unassuming, but once through the door, reveals a jaw dropping surprise: a wild tropical oasis with unlimited sea views. This is the old town proper – the house dates back to 1866, but is renovated in a stylish and relaxed way with mod cons including a concrete kitchen floor and chic pool area.

Albergaria Dias

This hotel has a secret gate that opens magically onto the Rua de Santa Maria in the old town, where all the restaurants of the zona velha live. From here you can also go to the beach, catch the cable car up to the mountains and explore the city on foot. Guests love it when the owner Mr Dias cooks scrambled eggs and serves his homemade soup. The great reviews keep on coming, making it one of the most popular hotels on the Island.

  • +351 291 206 680
  • Go to Website
  • Rua Bela São Tiago, 44-B
    9060-400 Funchal

Porto Santa Maria Hotel

Right on the seafront of the old town, this is a comfortable four-star hotel with lots of sunbathing areas, indoor and outdoor pools and a spa. All rooms have a kitchenette and balcony, which is a real bonus, as the food market is across the street with delicious local products. It has a no-kids-under-16 policy, which would explain the mainly over 60s clientele. Ask for a room away from the public gardens on the right side of the hotel.

  • +351 291 206 700
  • Go to Website
  • Avenida do Mar e das Comunidades Madeirenses 50
    9060-190 Funchal

Casa Mar

Perched on a sea cliff in the old town, Casa Mar captures head-on the dramatic beauty of Funchal harbour. Booking a stay over New Year here is like winning the lottery, as you get a front-row seat to an epic fireworks display. A pretty three-bedroom blue house set on three floors renovated within a century-old house. Large seafront terraces, together with an infinity pool that blends naturally into the sea, complement the perfect location.

Quinta Jardins do Lago

If you don’t mind being slightly away from the sea and love gardens, this is your earthly paradise. This history-rich classically decked-out country house is in the district of Sao Pedro, from where you can view the bay of Funchal in all its glory. The walk into town is steep but there are free regular shuttle buses. The hotel commands a loyal army of repeat guests who love the attentive service, luxurious gardens and family-run feel of the place.

  • +351 291 750 100
  • Go to Website
  • Rua Dr. João Lemos Gomes, 29
    9000-208 São Pedro Funchal

Saccharum Hotel Resort & Spa

Head southwest past the sugar-cane plantations to the coast of Calheta and check into this luxurious, design-led hotel by the sea. There are three glamorous pools, a large adult-only spa and access to the sandy beach in front. Decorated by Nini Andrade Silva, it has first class suites in which you can spend hours gazing at the sea from your jacuzzi. Fishing vessels gather at the Calheta marina opposite the hotel for big-game fishing. Nearby attractions also include the Casa das Mudas contemporary art museum and plenty of countryside walks.

  • +351 291 820 800
  • Go to Website
  • Rua Serra d'Água No. 1
    9370-083 Arco da Calheta

Estalagem da Ponta do Sol

Known for its amazing climate, Estalagem da Ponta do Sol (tip of sunshine) is just 40 minutes’ drive from the airport on the southern coast. In a sleepy 500-year-old village, this 54-room modern design hotel has a minimalistic aesthetic. The elevated position on a cliff offers spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and banana plantations below.

  • +351 291 970 200
  • Go to Website
  • Quinta da Rochinha
    9360-529 Ponta do Sol Madeira

Quinta do Furão

This plantation-style hotel is set within three hectares of vineyards on the northeast coast of Madeira and has deep connections to the history of wine on the Island. It’s a good base from which to explore the levada walks that Santana offers as well as the famous hike between the two highest mountain peaks Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo. The magnificent terrace looks down onto the dark waves crashing onto the rocks. A wine cellar and vegetable garden offer the best of Madeira’s local bounty.

  • +351 291 570 100
  • Go to Website
  • Estrada Quinta do Furão nº6

    9230-082 Santana

Pestana Churchill Bay

Built in a former fish market this brand new 57-room hotel in the picturesque bay of Câmara de Lobos, was named after Churchill as he was fond of painting this exact view when he visited Madeira. Every room has a private balcony facing the harbour, so you can watch the fishermen arrive. The apple-green tiled swimming pool on the rooftop is the place to be, as you float above the port – plus it makes a killer mojito. The restaurant plays to the local strengths of fresh fish and seafood – from boat to kitchen is within walking distance – although meat lovers also have the traditional picadinho to try.

  • +351 291 146 440
  • Go to Website
  • Rua da Nossa Senhora da Conceição 17
    9300-113 Câmara de Lobos

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