Quinta da Penha de França

We stayed at Quinta da Penha de França (a mouthful to say if your Portuguese is lacking), a nice hotel in the — admittedly — touristy part of town. It’s a ten-minute walk to the city centre, and therefore easy to reach once you are a bit familiar with the basic layout of Funchal.

The hotel is divided between the “old” Penha de França and a new wing built by the seaside, with a walkway connecting the two. We didn’t see this new part since we stayed on the old side, although apparently you are welcome to use the facilities of both. The garden area is quite charming and nice to relax in, and there’s an inviting and clean swimming pool filled with seawater.

We got a room in an old farmhouse annex, which was clean and tidy, even though the décor wasn’t particularly inspired. Disappointingly, though, the wireless only works in the lobby area of the main building — there are plenty of comfy sofas in there, but it would be much nicer to have wi-fi in the rooms.

All the staff was very friendly and helpful, and they’ll have plenty of tips on places to visit or where to eat, but make sure you strike a conversational tone if you really want to get the best local advice — many hotel staff will try to direct tourists to the places where tourists usually go anyway, simply out of a will to please. Ask where they take their family out for lunch for some good tips.

Breakfast was quite nice, and the one dinner we had was also very tasty. The bar and restaurant, however, gave away the “old empire” atmosphere of the hotel: a lot of posh middle-aged patrons sitting around in a daze of Madeira wine bliss and piano elevator music. All very civil and British-public-school. Avoid unless that is the sort of atmosphere you enjoy; the town centre is quite nearby after all!

And if you want to try and pronounce it: KIN-ta da PEH-ña de FRAN-ssa

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