Landing in Madeira is an adventure itself. Often heavy crosswinds combined with mountainous terrain can make for a bumpy ride but, come touchdown, it’s smooth sailing on the island of ‘Eternal Spring’.
After a scenic, 15 minute journey past leafy banana plantations flanked by peach coloured, sunshine-lit homes, and never ending views of the crystalline Atlantic to your left you’ll arrive at Belmond Reid’s Palace. Situated to the West of Funchal Bay, arriving at the hotel is a treat, and you’re quickly enveloped in old school charm and service, with nods-a-plenty to the hotel’s British heritage.
WHAT TO PACK
Located along the verdant ‘Garden Isle’ of Madeira, this Grande-Dame of the Atlantic perches high on the cliffside, with panoramic views of the ocean. Behind the pink-lady façade, a newly designed lobby – with its detailed, high ceilings, crystal chandelier and stylish tea terrace – is a befitting introduction to the hotel’s botanical gardens. This is Madeiran authenticity, in an epic setting.
Opened in 1891, Reid’s Palace was born from the vision of William Reid, a 14-year-old cabin boy from Scotland with £5 to his name when he first set foot on the island. His vision saw Reid’s Palace come to life, and, with endless, sparkling blue views of the Atlantic, remarkable subtropical gardens, and natural salt water pools it’s no surprise that it become one of the most glamorous spots for the European elite to holiday.
Knowing the hotel’s long history and the building’s fascinating heritage, the traditionally designed rooms make sense. The rooms are equipped with local handicrafts from tiles to linens, with floral bedding, grand headboards and lush marble bathrooms. All of this is neatly enveloped with an endearing charm and, whether you opt for sea or garden views, expect exceptional views with the sparkling sea and black-and-white check balconies.
The Little Extras
A cliffside hotel, you’ll find direct access to natural salt water pools, and plenty of spots to tan, dip, and repeat. Hours can pass as you listen to the waves crash against the rocky façade of the property. A special mention must also be made to the genuinely friendly and attentive service received from the staff at the front desk all the way to the fruit station at breakfast. People here are so incredibly proud of their island and this enthusiasm carries through to every interaction and element of service.
The Food + Drink
Days could pass without having to leave the hotel for a meal. Their breakfast is outstanding serving everything from classic omelettes to local delicacies including sweet potato bread and regional jamón.
Inside the Michelin starred, fine-dining restaurant, William, the finest island produce is celebrated in a setting that is as pleasing as the gastronomy itself. Don’t miss the fish with saffron and cider emulsion or the yellow pumpkin yolk with sweet potato and roasted vegetable jus. And, for a midday treat, head to the exceptional tea terrace for classic afternoon tea on the checkerboard tiled balcony and take in idyllic views of the property, gardens and the Atlantic.
The To-Do List
Funchal, the island’s capital, is close by, so exploring the small town is a fun and easy outing, loaded with great restaurants, shops and treats.
The hotel has also curated some very special, exclusive experiences for Belmond guests including motor yacht trips with Champagne butlers, ‘sunrise above the clouds’ at the Pico do Arieiro, and a hike along the Sao Lourenco peninsula.
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A standout Belmond experience is the opportunity to visit the home of chef and Bon Vivant Eugénia Piedade, one of Madeira’s most magnetic women for an incredible feast in the kitchen of her family home. Anyone who knows Eugénia – born and raised on Madeira Island – knows her deep passion for the traditional culture and dishes of the island. As a young girl, she followed her mother around the kitchen, enchanted by her flavoursome creations. Now a grandmother, Eugénia creates that same feeling for her own family, and invites Reid’s Palace guests to learn about the cherished family favourites, passed down through generations. As far as authentic adventures go, this one is unmissable.
Belmond also hosts an annual food festival, ‘The Art of Flavours’. An incredible curation of leading chefs from across Portugal come together at Reid’s Palace for two nights of extraordinary feasting starting with ‘The Stars Dinner’; an 8-course gastronomic dining experience, ending with the ‘Food Party’; a relaxed street-style food festival surrounding the pools at the base of the hotel. Great music, drinks, food, and ambience make for a wonderful night.