Reconnection is the theme at the characterful Madeira place to stay that is at one with nature in all senses of the word, the Socalco Nature Hotel. While we wouldn’t classify this property as a luxury hotel, we understand that sometimes ‘luxury’ can be defined differently and we felt that this place – full of charm and character – was worth us stopping by to try out for size.
A short walk from the beautiful, sandy Calheta beach, Socalco Nature Hotel feels almost like a natural outcrop of the stunning environment, as if it had always been here or meant to be here. Couched in steep cliffs with a panoramic view of the sea, Socalco really is all about natural beauty and natural food.
We arrived at Socalco Nature Hotel in the dark, so the full beauty of the surroundings was shrouded in darkness as we climbed the rough stone steps to our suite, which turned out to be a free-standing bungalow up a winding cliff path. When we stepped out the next morning, we had to stop and stare for a few minutes and really drink it in. We found ourselves nestled high in cliffs, ranged almost like a natural amphitheatre, with the ocean for a stage. Vineyards and gardens spread out around us, up and down the hills in every direction.
Each room at Socalco is unique, some even with water flowing through them from the levada (a system of irritation unique to Madeira). The décor has somewhat of a pared-down, Scandinavian feel; simple and minimalist, but elegant. ‘Rustic’ came to mind quickly, but as it is occasionally a byword for down-market, we don’t really feel it’s fair to say that about Socalco Nature Hotel. While this place is not your typical, identikit luxury hotel, it is stylish and full of character… and its food would sit comfortably on any five-star hotel’s fine dining menu.
The cuisine at Socalco changes with the seasons and with whatever is fresh from the grounds. We had a delicious four-course ‘blind menu’ dinner that came complete with wine pairings, which we’d suggest is the best way to approach food and drink here. It comes with the territory (or terroir perhaps); Chef Octavio Freitas is a well-known chef and ambassador of locally-sourced, truly Madeiran gastronomy and encourages guests to ‘get their hands dirty’, with jam and bread making, cookery courses as well as wine and vineyard tours that help travellers connect with the boundless nature of the island.
Perfectly placed for hiking, swimming and touring Madeira’s natural beauty spots, we weren’t ever short of things to do, and Socalco feels personal, boutique and truly special. Especially with tourism and hospitality these days being all about reconnection, this little hideaway in Madeira is well worth a stay.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
Hikers and outdoorsy OutThere travellers will love using the Socalco Nature Hotel as a base. Calheta has several hiking trails that run alongside its levada(s) that lead to majestic forests and rocky, coastal escarpments. The team at Socalco can recommend fantastic activities at sea, on land and even in the sky. Paragliding is the thing to do here, we’re told!