Room Service: Belmond Reid's Palace – Funchal, Madeira

A century-old Madeira icon, this grand dame hotel overlooking the Atlantic offers upscale amenities with vintage charm.

The Vibe

Belmond Reid’s Palace exudes the posh, stately vibe you would expect from a hotel that counts Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw and Pablo Picasso among its past guests. Set on a dramatic cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by 10 acres of colourful gardens, the property has been consistently regarded as one of Madeira’s top hotels since opening in 1891.

The hotel’s interior pays homage to its rich history, brimming with traditional touches like antique furniture, marble pillars, opulent chandeliers and black-and-white photos of the many celebrities and political figures that have stayed here over the decades. The atmosphere may be a bit formal for some, but it’s sure to appeal to those with an affinity for classic luxury and historic charm.

The Rooms

Rooms also play up the hotel’s heritage, decorated with floral fabrics and retro furniture. While the decor channels decades past, the technology is thankfully modern, with all rooms offering flat-screen TVs, iPod docks and fast Wi-Fi.

The marble bathrooms have deep tubs that beckon you to cancel your evening plans in favour of a long soak. Soft drinks from the minibar are free (alcohol is extra) and all rooms come with big balconies with lovely ocean or garden views. Upgrade to a suite for a separate living area and the possibility of chilling out on the same veranda where Winston Churchill once kicked back.

The Features

Gorgeous ocean views are a common theme throughout, from the outdoor pool terrace to Michelin-starred William Restaurant. An ocean-level pool is built into the rocks, giving swimmers contained access to the ocean waters. There are two large heated pools as well, one with fresh water and the other with salt water.

In addition to William Restaurant, there’s The Dining Room, a formal space that hosts twice-weekly dinner events, along with a glamorous cocktail bar and casual poolside dining. The buffet breakfast is an excellent spread that includes plenty of fresh fruit and cheese as well as sweet and savoury hot items, plus free champagne. Afternoon Tea on the terrace of the Garden Room, complete with over 20 kinds of tea, finger sandwiches and scones with clotted cream is not to be missed. Tennis courts and a swish spa with ocean-view fitness centre round-out the amenities.

The Location

Belmond Reid’s Palace is located in the Sao Martinho area of Madeira’s capital, Funchal, just off a busy main coastal road. It’s about a 10-minute drive to the city’s historical centre, where you’ll find attractions like the Funchal Cable Car. The closest beach is Praia Formosa, a 10-minute drive away and it’s a 20-minute drive to the airport. With lots of shops and restaurants within walking distance, it’s a convenient base for exploring Funchal.

Rooms start at $425 per night

Estrada Monumental 139, 9000-098 Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, +351 291 717 171,