Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Belmond Reid’s Palace


Madeira's iconic 5-star grand island hotel

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Belmond Reid’s Palace


Funchal, Madeira

Travel Information

Madeira airport - 20 mins. Direct flights from London 3.5hrs, from Lisbon 1hr 40m.

Top Tips

Explore the wines of Madeira, some of the best value fine wines in the world. Don't miss Laurissilva, a UNESCO World Heritage site with lush tropical forest

5-Star X-Factors

Gazing out onto the Atlantic Ocean from the edge of Europe

Belmond Reid’s Palace

Perched on the edge of Europe, overlooking the vast Atlantic Ocean, amidst lush subtropical gardens, where hanging vines merge with glorious displays of geraniums and hibiscus, Belmond Reid’s Palace is Europe’s farthest-most grand luxury hotel.

For over a century, Reid's Palace has been the place to stay in the beautiful Portuguese archipelago of Madeira, Europe's outermost territory, 450 miles off the west coast of Africa. Here, set in verdant gardens, you can unwind under the sun, take a dip in one of two sea water pools or enjoy the Atlantic breeze from your suite's private balcony.

With direct flights from London (3.5hrs) or via Lisbon (1hr 40m) Madeira is an accessible sub-tropical destination with a mild climate that can be enjoyed year-round. The descent into Christian Ronaldo Funchal Airport - yes, the football star was born and bred here - is more interesting than most, with a short runway and an approach over mountains; but we find that just enhances the feeling of 'getting here'.

The hotel was founded by William Reid, a Scotsman who made his fortune in the Madeira wine trade, and then acquired the rocky promontory. Sadly he died before completion, and so it was his sons who opened the hotel to Victorian explorers in 1891. The hotel passed through the Blandy family before ending up with Orient-Express, which became Belmond a few years back. Apparently George Bernard Shaw learned to tango here, while Winston Churchill wrote his memoirs and painted on his balcony and in the lush gardens.

This is a large hotel by Luxury Explorer standards, with 180ish rooms and suites, all combining old-world charm with sophisticated elegance. Marbled bathrooms reign here, as do views, so we always gravitate to those rooms and suites with full sea views. After all, "views maketh the memories". So pick a room with a seaview balcony, or better still a Junior Suite. The Superior and Deluxe Suites have separate bedrooms with lovely views and the two Presidential Suites certainly justify their title.

Food for thought

Our favourite place to eat is on the alfresco terrace at the Ristorante Villa Cipriani, where beautiful Italian  cuisine is served with sensational horizons that lead the mind to wonder. In the Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant, William, vistas are also on the menu complimenting the fine cuisine and tasting menus. For tea, there is the famous, marbled Tea Terrace where the choice is champagne or 24 blends of fine teas. There is also a Pool Restaurant around the largest heated pool, featuring grilled fish and light lunches.

As you are on a wine island, it would be churlish to resist a glass of Madeira before, after or with dinner, as this is probably one of the most underarted fine wines on the planet. Explore crisp, tangy Sercial, medium-dryVerdelho, Bual with cheese or fruit tart, or rich Malvasia-based Malmsey, one of the few wines that works with chocolate - and try at least once the oldest you can afford. Some go back to the 19th Century and will blow your mind!

3 Pools

Reid's Palace has not one, not two, but three beautiful pools to choose between. Of these, the sea water rock pool is totally irristable and from here its only a short walk to the sea platfom where you can take a dip into the Atlantic.

There is, of course, a Spa retreat offering an array of body and wellbbeing rituals using only the purest natural products, from aromatherapy massages on private terraces to beauty treatments, detoxes and even kids treatments. For the more active, there are two tip-top tennis courts, with tennis coaching available.

Exploring Madeira

Beyond the lush sub-tropical grounds of the hotel you can hike along the São Lourenço Peninsula, take a private boat ride to the Desertas Islands, watching dolphins and whales along the way, or visit Fajã dos Padres on Madeira's south coast, where you can visit the first cultivated farm, and also taste Madeira wine with lunch. Also, don't miss Laurissilva, a UNESCO World Heritage site with lush tropical forest.

Madeira is a year-round destination and Reid's Palace is just such a welcoming place to stay to discover the delights of this most distant place in Europe. You will not forget your stay here and when its grey and rainy at home, you will always think of 'Reids' and want to return.

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