A touch of luxury in Funchal, Madeira: Hotel Quinta Jardins do Lago

Madeira is a gorgeous Portuguese archipelago of four islands situated off the north-west coast of Africa. We had long wanted to visit it, as friends had spoken off its subtropical climate. The thought of sipping Madeira wine every evening was proving irresistible. It seemed the ideal starting point for of our Portuguese adventure. We chose Hotel Quinta Jardins do Lago as It is a small luxury botanical garden hotel, steeped in history and sitting atop one of the green hills that surrounds Funchal. We could enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the hotel and journey downtown in pursuit of the bright lights easily.

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On our arrival at Quinta Jardins do Lago, the manager welcomed us with the words 

‘It’s the best hotel, and when you enter this hotel, you will never want to leave”

– and this was to prove so true!

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Comfortable accommodation

We stayed in a spacious room with a garden view. On our arrival we found a big bowl of fruit and an envelope containing information about the hotel. Also, on the arrival we found a bag with sanitiser, gloves, and masks in the room – which is unusual for the hospitality industry nowadays.

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We fell in love with our room instantly. It had a pallete of cream, peach and the softest sage green. Our room was dominated by a beautiful lace-trimmed four poster bed. On one side there was a comfortable, carpeted sitting area with sofa and on the other, huge sliding doors leading out to our private balcony which overlooked the amazing gardens. The marble bathroom was both elegant and spacious. We had a perfect night’s sleep because of the comfortable bed and the blackout curtains.

Stunning gardens

The gardens are another stunning thing of the hotel and all rooms and suites overlook them. They cover 2.5 hectares and have more than 500 different plant species.

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Great cuisine

The Beresford Restaurant is where I honestly spent most of the time of our stay. The food is so delicious, the manager and waitresses are so attentive and professional. The service was impeccable. The menu is written in four languages and equally tempting in all! There is fresh fish and vegetarian options and the produce is incredibly fresh as it is locally sourced. 

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We had dinner al fresco in the garden, and it was one of the most romantic events of the trip. For a more casual meal, the Colombo Bistro nestles in the tropical swimming pool. 

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Amazing staff

The main feature of the hotel is not only the property and the garden, but the people. They are so thoughtful, attentive and kind that you really feel home away from home. They solved all our problems, big and small e.g. we needed to urgently locate a clinic for our PCR test and the lady on the Reception solved this issue in just five minutes. For more than 20 years, they have had the safety and well-being of their guests as their top priority.

      6 best things to do in Funchal, Madeira

  1. Ride up the cable car to Monte and learn the law!

The botanical gardens cable car begins on the waterfront in the heart of the Old Town and ascends to the mountain village of Monte (Nossa Senhora do Monte).There are amazing panoramic views. The journey takes 15 minutes and climbs 560 metres. There are tropical gardens to admire at Monte Palace.

We learnt that if you wave at others in the cable car travelling in the opposite direction they must wave back- even if they don’t want to! Its the law of the cable car! 

  1. Have a memorable trip to Curral das Freiras (Valley of the Nuns)

Plan a day trip to Curral das Freiras (Valley of the Nuns) which is a village that sits on the edge of a canyon. The journey is certainly picturesque, but can be nerve-wracking if you are on a bus! Curral das Freiras sits in a cauldron amongst huge mountains. Nuns from the Santa Clara convent had to flee from pirates in 1566 and hid in Curral das Freiras. Today the area is famous for its chestnuts.  

  1. Enjoy great views of Funchal

If you are looking for some good panoramic views of Funchal, you do have a few choices. Miraduro Pináculo viewpoint is particularly special at sunset. Further west is Cabo Girão Skywalk. If it’s a view that you will want throughout your stay in Madeira, then to check into the Hotel Quinta Jardins do Lago is the best idea of all. 

  1. Watch the sun set over Madeira  

It is fun to take a leisurely stroll along the boulevard and around the harbour as the sun begins to sink in he sky. ‘Praça do Povo’ is the boulevard park and is popular for its variety of sports and leisure facilities plus gorgeous flowers. There are park benches, so take drinks and snacks to make it a memorable sunset.

  1. Visit the Mercado dos Lavradores (The Farmers’ Market)

Visiting the market is a great photo opportunity as the fruit stalls have lavish displays. The market is situated in a beautiful building(C1940) and is divided into ‘plazas’ that are interconnected by passages and staircases. On the ground floor are fish stalls with an amazing array of fish including tuna, shark and the highly prized, peixe espada (black scabbard). There are other stalls selling herbs and flowers. Open Mondays- Saturdays and closed on Bank Holidays. 

  1. Enjoy the local cuisine – and a Poncha

You can enjoy great Portuguese cuisine in Funchal.  Seafood is a popular choice and our favourite restaurants are Il Vivaldi and Restaurante Casal da Penha because not only is the seafood excellent – so is the service. 

Fish dishes include tuna steak with fried maize and fillet of Black Scabbard with banana. Espetada is beef skewer and Bolo do caco the local sweet potato bread. Of course, we have our favourite restaurant in Funchal which is the Quinta Jardins do Lago restaurant, as it serves some of the most exquisite Portuguese dishes.

Pop into a local bar and order a Poncha cocktail, made from sugar cane spirit (aguardente de cana), fresh citrus juice, and honey. 

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Don’t be shy to follow your dreams!
Your Darya Yakovleva