It’s not that Madeira was somewhere I hadn’t thought about visiting, it was more that it had a reputation for appealing to a slightly older clientele. I’m not sure why that’s the case here in the UK; it certainly didn’t seem true for other Nationalities.
Then my favourite travel blogger, Mrs O Around The World visited last year and posted some beautiful photos. And just like that, I fell in love with the place; or more specifically a pool built into the rocks at the edge of the ocean.
Fast forward a few months and there we were circling the island and getting ready to land, a few days in Madeira very much-needed. Our home was Belmond Reid’s Palace which is a hotel steeped in history and in actual fact one of the nicest places we’ve ever visited.
For quite a few years Mr Page and I became long haul travellers, taking trips to far flung destinations including Thailand, The Maldives, The Caribbean – he even spent a year in New Zealand before we met. We decided if we were going to travel we may as well go all out, and in fact in our experience, found the standard of accommodation particularly in Thailand to be extremely high. Who wants to go away and stay somewhere which is below par when compared to home?
During the next phase in our lives we chose the no travel option, not my choice I can assure you, but life got busy we bought a house, then we bought a few more, then we started to convert some barns. You think I’m kidding? Life really was busy.
I was at the end of my tether with it all when I somehow managed to bag myself a trip to Madeira. I’m not kidding about this bit either. It was part of Mrs O’s birthday celebrations and to share the birthday love Sovereign decided to send a reader to one of her favourite hotels. Naturally my choice was Belmond Reid’s Palace as it meant I’d finally get to sample that amazing pool, cue much excitement and dancing around. Mr Page was still a little sceptical and his work diary, as ever, was totally jam-packed. In the end I managed to pin a date in the diary and off we went down to Gatwick airport on one particularly wet and windy Thursday afternoon in March.
I will speak for both of us when I say we loved Madeira. It’s different to other European countries we’ve visited, and that’s a good thing. I also think we were very lucky to have stayed at without a doubt, the very best hotel on the island. It made our trip all the more memorable.
We stayed for five nights in a beautiful junior suite with views of the wild Atlantic Ocean. Each morning we ate breakfast while watching the sun come up and planned our activities for the day. They didn’t include much more than deciding our destination for dinner, taking a short stroll down into the town, or reading by the pool. Of course for activity lovers out there Madeira is perfect with its many walks, mountain biking routes, open top bus tours and boat trips. But remember it had been a while since we’d taken a break, so we needed to re-charge batteries – and look at some flowers.
We did venture to the market on one day, which was a real treat especially when it’s a market full of flowers. All the beautiful tropical stuff too which we don’t tend to see as much in the UK. We also found some lovely places to eat which I will write about in a separate post, and naturally we ate at Reid’s and it was as special as expected.
The highlight of my trip would be difficult to choose but afternoon tea on the famous Reid’s terrace was definitely up there. We enjoyed little sandwiches on perfectly fresh bread, scones and cream and then a section of gorgeous cakes and pastries washed down with a cup of earl grey. We chose Monday afternoon and had pre-booked in anticipation. Also we knew it would be popular so didn’t want to miss out if it was all booked up.
We were very lucky that the weather was kind to us – I’m told March can be a tricky month, but each morning we woke to sunshine. It meant we could relax by the pool or take a stroll down to the sea and relax listening to the waves, and reading our books. We were always rather full from breakfast so lunch was light to make space for evening meals and wine. Reid’s have a lovely lunch terrace overlooking the pool so that’s a perfect spot for food, if you can drag yourself away from your book. I did, but only rarely.
Villa Cipriani is a good spot for dinner, especially if you like a room with a view and some good fresh seafood. We ate there a couple of times and really enjoyed it. It was especially nice to get to know others who were staying at the hotel; all had interesting stories and had generally stayed at the hotel many times. One couple were on their second trip of 2016 already. I don’t think it’s the sort of place you can ever visit once. I’m sure Mrs O will agree with me there.