Awe-inspiring views, hot tubs and goats: A cosy Quinta stay in Madeira
A revival of elegant, historic buildings has been underway across Portugal in recent years – aimed to save these wonderful slices of history and convert them into family-run boutique B&Bs. After all, small and medium businesses are the cornerstone of this popular tourist nation.
Last year we visited one of them, Quinta da Saraiva (Quinta are rural historic manors or estates) in Madeira, and were charmed by its breath-taking views, personalised customer service and meditative setting.
So if, like us, you’d rather give your well-earned to local businesses, these kind of hotels are a prime choice – especially for those seeking more intimate stays.
The area 9/10
Perched on a steep hill (most things are in Madeira), Quinta da Saraiva is a 10-minute drive from Madeira’s capital Funchal – and 20-minutes from the airport. With bus stops and the highway minutes away, it’s a solid base for exploring the rest of the island.
The hotel’s location, surrounded by hills carpeted in banana trees, amplifies its best feature – the outstanding views across the valley and out to the Atlantic. While there are a few restaurants close by, the quaint fishing village of Câmara De Lobos is where most bars and restaurants are. There’s also a small rocky beach where you can swim under the shadow of Cabo Girão – one of the tallest sea cliffs in the world. Although it’s only a 20-minute downhill stroll down to the port, a taxi back up the hill is a good idea to save your calf muscles.
The digs 7/10
Each room at Quinta da Saraiva has been styled individually, with sweet touches like painted tiles on the doors, original brickwork and Portuguese patterns on the soft furnishings.
Most rooms in the main house offer sea views, and many have balconies with jaw-dropping vistas. They also come with bedside USB chargers, Smart TV streaming and spacious shower rooms. The historic design of the Quinta means rooms are on the smaller side, but the vast grounds, pool area and formal lounge more than make up for this. Mini-bars and coffee machines aren’t available in rooms but can be easily accessed from the ‘honesty bar’ in the old wine cellar.
The style & staff 9/10
Banana plants and vineyards frame the Quinta’s stunning views, while its decór mixes historical features with modern, boutique-esque finishes. The reception-area-come-bar includes exposed brickwork and barrels from its old life as a wine-cellar, while the regal dining room – complete with chess tables and old family heirlooms – provides an elevated setting. Dotted throughout the property is local art work hand-picked by Graciela Figueira – a descendent of the estates’ family. Both modern and Madeiran art (such as weaving and embroidery) are represented throughout.
In the pristine landscaped gardens, you’ll find the heated pool and hot tub, but also a BBQ area and electric-car charging point. A lot of love, passion and forward-thinking has evidently gone into the renovation, and the manager Roberto is more than happy to offer up a wine-tasting, or share the history of the Quinta.
Food & Bev 8/10
An excellent breakfast is served daily in the lounge or on the sun-kissed terrace. It includes all the classics, like local breads, jams, cheeses, hams, fruits, eggs, salads and juices (plump for the passion fruit). The brewed coffee is the only letdown, given Portugal’s love affair with the stuff, but you can order an espresso from the bar.
While lunch or dinner options aren’t available at the Quinta, guests can use the on-site bread oven and BBQ. Manager Roberto is also a dab-hand at local speciality ‘espetada’ (a deliciously seasoned beef skewer), so give him a shout if you’d like to give it a try.
Before breakfast, be sure to visit the Quinta’s other ‘residents’ – the goats and chickens – where you’ll likely meet Luís, the resident agricultural expert. Grab some fresh eggs straight from the hen house, and Nélia will prepare them to your liking.
Be sure to ask for guidance on all the tiny alleyways and staircases nearby, too, to save you time – rather than trying to walk along the main roads.
Rooms at Quinta da Saraiva from £74 a night – quintadasaraiva.com