If size counts, the super-luxe, super-sized contemporary gem that is the Savoy Palace Hotel pushes the boundaries of hospitality on the getaway island of Madeira, but as we found, never at the expense of attention to detail and personalisation.
For high-end luxury in Madeira’s capital Funchal, the Savoy Palace is the superior choice. The vast, glass complex towers (literally and figuratively) above a group of other hotels near the harbour and is walking distance from both the sea and the old town.
Size matters here at the Savoy Palace. Astoundingly, it boasts five top-notch restaurants where we were spoilt for choice. Our recommendation is to try the scabbard fish, a famous local delicacy at the Alameda for lunch. And for dinner, the lofty Galaxia restaurant offered a truly special fine dining experience; eight delicious, sophisticated courses with wine pairings that drew out its flavours even more.
It is also home to the largest spa in Portugal (with sumptuous Turkish baths, eleven treatment rooms and a massive indoor and outdoor pool complex). Our suite category also gave us access to the property’s Jacaranda Club, with a private pool and roof terrace for VIP guests. Here it was peaceful and quiet with attentive staff and perfect sunbathing.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
Although Britain returned Madeira to Portugal after its brief occupation in 1814, and afternoon tea was supposedly only ‘invented’ by the Duchess of Bedford in the 1840s, islanders are crazy for the tradition. So naturally, the Savoy Palace’s afternoon tea is somewhat of a rite. You’ll get to hear more from the resort’s pianist of course (and a harpist, if you’re lucky…) while supping on the hotel’s exclusive blends of teas served alongside crustless finger sandwiches and an assortment of delicately and masterfully prepared pastries.
The reception is grandiose with sweeping staircases. Elegant drapes pour from a cavernous ceiling. Floral prints adorn the walls, complemented by flower arrangements and leafy plants (a marvel as they feature on every floor in true hanging-garden style, just outside the property’s glass elevator) evoking Madeira’s rich fauna. Perhaps it pays homage to the beautiful botanical gardens throughout the Savoy Palace grounds that infuse the resort with life and nature… a masterclass in bringing the outside in and the inside out! A grand piano in the bar, from which a pianist teases jazz standards all hours of the day, adds to the theatre, if not the nostalgia.
The pool area is absolutely enormous, so even when the hotel is busy, you’ll find a place to lounge. Where may get slightly busier is the hotel’s rooftop sun-deck and plunge pool. It’s easy to understand why as it’s a sublime spot to soak in the sun and stare out at the marvellous Atlantic ocean.
And all this splendour, by the way, is in addition to the Savoy Palace’s 352 suites and rooms.
Ours was a corner suite with a view of Funchal, the steep dark hills dotted with lights from the houses hugging the hillsides and the dramatic Atlantic ocean. At night, we sat out on our ‘balcony’ (although the word balcony doesn’t do it justice, as it was almost as big as the room), dangling our feet in our small private plunge pool, listening to the sounds of the ocean waves. Breakfast the next morning, watching the sunrise through the floor-to-ceiling windows from our enormous bed, was a perfect escapist holiday moment.
And for all this talk of size, the Savoy is no impersonal, plastic resort. We were glad to find that the hotel by design allowed for such romantic, intimate moments. Plus, the staff were effortlessly warm and welcoming and we felt that overall, the service was very personal throughout our stay.