Situated on the edge of Funchal, close to the harbour, sits Savoy Palace – a proper luxury hotel. Home to six swimming pools, six restaurants, an award-winning spa and shaped like a cruise ship, it cuts an imposing figure from the promenade.
The five-star hotel, with its opulent décor, comfortable beds and stunning views, doesn’t disappoint inside either and is the kind of place you struggle to leave – especially if you’ve been starved of luxury for some time. Tricky then, if you’re on planning on exploring the rest of Madeira (which you must).
There’s little wonder then, that guests come here for lengthy stays, like one chap during our visit who had been at the hotel for 18 weeks. Though like most things, luxury comes at a premium, although depending on the season, standard rooms are not only reasonably-priced, but equally lovely.
The Savoy Palace is located close to Funchal’s harbour around a 15-20 minutes walk along the promenade from the Old Town. If your legs aren’t up to it, a cab will take three-minutes or you can jump on one of the buses out front of the hotel – most will take you into Funchal’s city centre but best to check with reception.
Nearby, you’ve got Formosa beach just under an hour away on foot or ten-mins in a taxi. And if you fancy a trip to some other beaches on the south side of the island, like Câmara de Lobos, Calheta or Ponta do Sol, then you’d be best hiring a car or getting a taxi. The airport is just over 40 minutes on the airport bus, which stops in front of the hotel, while a taxi will take just over 20 minutes.
All 352 rooms at Savoy Palace are decorated in similar fashion: think lashings of gold (sinks, chairs, door handles, table tops, lamps, headboards, the works) paired with contemporary artwork, white leather and elegant cork-finished floors and doors. All of it sounds Del Boy-level garish but surprisingly isn’t tacky at all – quite the opposite. All rooms have a balcony looking out to the sea, mountains or city, as well as electric curtains you’ll enjoy operating. If you’re after extra indulgence, some of the hotel’s premium rooms come with extravagant white marble bathrooms and freestanding baths.
In terms of tech, the WiFi is strong and unproblematic and rooms come with large smart TVs with chrome-cast should you want to stream a film. One thing to keep in mind is that if you want to view the room service menu (or restaurant menus) you’ll need to use QR codes.
In terms of comfort, rooms are designed meticulously-well to prepare guests for a good nights sleep. Picture a luxurious, thick mattress, premium bed linens and black out curtains (pillow menus are also available if you’re into that). One minor bugbear was the lighting system which consisted – as seems a theme in swish hotels – of far too many switches. Though lighting (when mastered) is super-cosy. Other stand out touches include a nightly turndown service, homemade chocolates and high-end toiletries.
Style and staff
The hotel was designed to look like a cruise ship. Looking to it from the pool area, though, it looks more like the kind of a brutalist buildings you double tap on Instagram. It’s magnanimous and stunning in equal measures and comes draped in greenery. Inside the salmon and gold decor and classic designs pay homepage to the original Savoy, which once stood in its place. Though as you make your way through it’s labyrinth of corridors to its many restaurants, bars and pools, there’s a more contemporary feel. The blend of old world opulence and modern, minimalist design shouldn’t work but does here. The crown in the jewel at Savoy Palace, however, is the phenomenal Laurea spa – the largest in Portugal – which was inspired by Madeira’s luscious Laurisilva Forest. It features a Kniepp water path, sensory showers that replicate levada hikes (through wind, scents and temperature changes), a halo-therapy room, 11 treatment rooms and heated indoor pool. The hotel also comes with two rooftop pools with 360 views and a stunning 70 metre pool, which other than being a few degrees too cold in winter, is a real treat.
Food & drinks
The Savoy Palace is a resort in itself and it’s probably possible to visit Funchal and not leave the hotel. There are six restaurants, which offer different menus, plus a separate room service menu for those who want to in private. Terrero, located across from the hotel (over the bridge by the pool), is the most affordable option and offers a range of dishes, from small plates of calamari and bao buns to fuller main dishes like fresh seafood and meaty classics. The decór is subtle and homely, like a dressed down old English manor, and comes with a wrap around balcony for alfresco dining.
Hibiscus, located on the pool level floor, is where you go for breakfast (though premium guests have the option to eat in Jacanda on the 16th floor). Here you can feast on an array of buffet style breakfast items (fresh fruit, yoghurts, local patisseries, cooked meats and salads /cheese) and get your eggs, waffles and pancakes made fresh in front of your eyes.
However, for an elevated (literally, it’s on the 17th floor) meal, it’s best to head up to Galáxia to try one of chefs high quality tasting menus. Here we were dazzled by a six-course tasting menu and wine pairing. The modern twist on a classic, a rich pork and well seasoned seasonal veg wrapped in a crispy kale shell and intricate Usuzukuri style snapper in ponzu with chilli, lemongrass and avocado being standout dishes. Though the real winner were both the setting, looking out to Funchal under nightfall, and service – thanks to Joao the exceptional, friendly sommelier.
Request a sea-facing room high up in the hotel for the best views.
Doubles from £181 in low season and £253) in high. Wifi is free and breakfast is included.
Adam was a guest of Savoy Palace.