If you do a little research into the island of Madeira, it won’t be long until you find a mention of ‘Reid’s Palace’. Whether it’s for its glamorous afternoon tea, a gourmet restaurant recommendation or luxurious accommodation, there are endless reasons to step foot into Belmond Reid’s Palace. The hotel has an incredible history, and I had the pleasure of staying here in November during the 100th Birthday celebrations – and boy did they celebrate in style. Read on to find out all about my Belmond Reid’s Palace experience with Classic Collection Holidays.
Our arrival to Belmond Reid’s Palace was smooth and stress free. We hopped into our private transfer from Funchal Airport, and 20-minutes later we were pulling up outside the hotel. With its iconic baby-pink walls, trickling fountain and original revolving door, there was no mistaking where we were. Blue skies and sunshine only added to our excitement on arrival. Once inside, you immediately felt a sense of grandeur, history and character. This whole hotel feels like it’s frozen in time, maintaining all the magic and glamour of the roaring 1920’s.
The Spectacular Location
One thing that makes Belmond Reid’s Palace an unrivalled choice in Madeira is its location. Dramatically perched on top of a rugged cliff face, it reminds me of the hotels I stayed in on the glittering Amalfi Coast earlier this year. From inside the hotel, nearly all windows flaunt a panoramic view of the mountains and Funchal Harbour, where the cruise ships regularly dock.
The Stylish Sea Deck
The hotel spans across multiple levels, which brings one of its most unique features; the sea deck. Along with the rest of Madeira, the hotel has no beach but the chic sea deck has steps leading straight into the ocean. My favourite thing about this part of the hotel is the sea pool, where you can take a bracing dip without having to enter the ocean. Waves crash against the rocks and new seawater laps into the pool itself. Perfect for an invigorating morning dip!
Our Junior Suite was every inch as fabulous as the hotel it was in. Spacious, classic in style and with luxurious furnishings, staying in the Junior Suite only added to our Belmond Reid’s Palace experience. I was impressed to find that all the soft drinks within the mini bar were inclusive, and that room service was also included in the half board option. A welcome Madeira cake and Maderian wine awaited us on arrival, which we enjoyed out on the plush balcony.
A Night to Remember
On our first night in Madeira we were invited to attend the 100th Birthday Gala Dinner Dance in the hotel’s famous Ball Room. As we read the invitation and saw that the dress code was black tie and ball gowns, it honestly felt like a scene out of Titanic! What would we wear? What would it be like? The prospect absolutely baffled and excited us at the same time.
My best friend Nam and I don’t do things by halves, so we decided to dress to the nines for the occasion (better to be the most overdressed than the most underdressed, right?). On arrival, we were relieved to see that the other guests had too, and other than being the only two females sharing a table, we managed to slot right in.
The round tables with low-lit lamps were reminiscent of a 1920’s jazz club and the grand setting of the ballroom made it even more magnificent. We were treated to a 5-course tasting menu with wine pairings, followed by live music and dancing. The biggest and most unexpected treat of the night was when Portugal’s Ballroom Dancing Champions took to the stage to entertain us for the night. The whole evening felt like we had been transported back in time and the spectacle, food and company was nothing short of magic. I will remember that evening for a very long time.
Reid’s Iconic Afternoon Tea
No stay at Belmond Reid’s Palace is complete without experiencing their famous Afternoon Tea. Taking place daily on the sun terrace, the afternoon tea ritual includes a huge choice of artisan teas, a selection of sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and of course homemade cakes and pastries. A glass of champagne or two is optional, which we were only too happy to sample.
I normally associate afternoon tea being in some cosy English setting, but being outside in the sunshine overlooking Funchal made the experience totally unique. We put on our most demure dresses and enjoyed an hour or so of total indulgence. My favourite part of any afternoon tea is the scones, which were warm, fluffy and baked to perfection. Non-residents can also visit the hotel for the afternoon tea experience, but advance booking is definitely required.
It’s no secret that I love to eat and sampling the incredible gastronomic offerings at the hotel was a real highlights. The hotel has 3 restaurants in total, which range from formal to casual in style. The hotel’s signature Italian restaurant Cipriani is set a short walk from the main building and has stunning views of the hotel and the iconic cliff face. We visited Cipriani on our final night. I loved how the ambience is more relaxed but the service and quality of food is just as high.
William is the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, which is a culinary adventure in itself. Here I ordered the best pork belly I have ever tasted, which was slow-cooked for 10 hours. It was the definition of melt-in-the-mouth.
Breakfast is also a wonderfully glamorous affair, with a very elegant buffet and hot classics made to order. Fizz is free-flowing and the eggs are a work of art.
If I could describe my experience at Belmond Reid’s Palace they would be; opulent, indulgent and enchanting. As my taste in hotels is usually boutique and contemporary in style, I would have never picked this hotel for myself in a luxury line up. But to modernise or strip back this hotel in any way would be a travesty. I loved stepping into an alien world of old-school glamour, where traditions like dinner dances, bell boys and handwritten invitations are still part of daily life. Belmond Reid’s Palace has stood the test of time and after experiencing it for myself, I can see why. I hope it continues to transport guests back in time for generations to come.
What did you think of my experience of Belmond Reid’s Palace? Have you stayed here yourself or are you thinking of booking? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave me a comment in the box below.
Watch my Madeira Travel Diary to see more of Madeira and Belmond Reid’s Palace
This post has been sponsored as part of collaboration with Classic Collection Holidays. My stay at Belmond Reid’s Palace was complimentary. All views are my own.