After months of patiently waiting for international travel to come back onto the cards - while staying in and playing literal cards - taking a holiday abroad was like reuniting with an old friend; seeing row after row of sunshine symbols on the weather forecast, packing insect spray, locating my passport - all of it couldn’t have been more exciting.
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Choosing where to go for our new lease of freedom seemed like a big decision - and we couldn’t have chosen much better than Savoy Palace in Funchal, Madeira. An award-winning hotel and holiday destination, our trip felt like the new beginning of adventure after a keen traveller’s worst nightmare: being told to stay put.
So how did the glamorous five-star retreat fare with such high expectations? Read our review of the must-stay hotel here…
WHERE IS SAVOY PALACE?
Celebrating a soft opening and the return of tourists after the island was given the green tick of approval, Savoy Palace’s doors have been open since the beginning of July.
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The hotel itself is situated in the city centre of Funchal - and it would be nearly impossible to miss! A super hotel, it easily outsizes its neighbours with over 350 bedrooms, six swimming pools and eight restaurants and bars - and yet its design, covered with long swooping greenery with unique curving glass pathways lining the sides of the hotel, gives it a stylish edge.
The interior of the resort is similar. Although the lobby has a high vaulted ceiling decked out in Madeira-red carpets, with ornate staircases that look like they could belong on the Titanic - it manages to balance the size and grandeur of the decor and make it a home away from home for its guests.
WHAT TO DO AT SAVOY PALACE
Sizeable as it is (did we mention it also houses Madeira’s largest spa?), it is a home that takes some getting used to. We were lucky enough to land a room on the 16th floor, with a breathtaking sea view and easy access to the upstairs dining room which serves the inclusive breakfast.
The 16th floor also has the premiere access-only infinity pool, which stretches out against spectacular views of the mountain and valleys of Madeira’s landscape. If sunning yourself silly on a rooftop gets old, there is a gorgeous lagoon on the ground floor ideal for families to play in, as well as a sweet children’s pool for water babies to have a splash. And of course, you can also pay a visit to the spa.
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THE LAUREA SPA AND TREATMENTS
If you can bear to escape the glorious Madeira sunshine for a couple of hours, a trip to the Laurea spa is an absolute must-do. The dark green, atmospheric space feels like you are winding down in the depths of a rainforest (only with lounging beds, pressure fountains and a sauna). Imitating the famous levadas (waterfall pathways you can trek across on the island), we particularly loved the Sensorial Showers experience, which ranged from humid jungle mist to icy (yet energising) showers.
We also opted for a bespoke massage, a 60-minute treat that took place in the spa’s relaxing treatment rooms and left us feeling incredible!
WHERE TO EAT
While the hotel boasts plenty of restaurants to try out, including everything from Mediterranean cuisine to a Japanese tasting menu, we were particularly impressed by Galaxia, a famous restaurant in Madeira that was once one of the island’s most exciting party places, now turned eatery.
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Promised with an unforgettable evening, the chefs and staff certainly impressed us with the stunning five-course tasting menu, all served in unique, inventive ways with a sommelier on hand to pair the cuisine to its best alcohol companion. We were served mango beer with our homemade bread and salted butter (try not to finish the almond butter, we dare you), traditional sweet wine with snapper fish, sangria with our Wagyu beef skewers and delicious white wine with our Santo da Serra cottage cheese tortellini. Needless to say, when we were finished we were tipsy, happy and full to the brim.
If you care to venture out of the hotel, you are a stone’s throw away from some lovely little places, and a short taxi journey (which the hotel will gladly organise you) for some more. We especially adored Casal de Penha, a seafood eatery with perhaps the best garlic bread we have ever tasted, and Restaurante Santo António, a restaurant high in the hills famous for its espetada, a Madeira must-try.
HOW MUCH IS SAVOY PALACE?
Room rates for Savoy Palace start at €195/£167 per night. Book your stay here.
HOW DO THE COVID TESTS WORK FOR MADEIRA?
The COVID-19 process can be a little arduous, and much depends on whether you have had two vaccinations depending on what you’ll have to do. Madeira is extremely thorough with its checks, and if you have everything well in hand ahead of the trip, you will be out of the airport in a jiffy. The return journey was much more challenging with everyone on the flight needing to show their Passenger Locater Form and negative COVID tests at the bag drop, so we would recommend showing up to the airport earlier than usual for peace of mind.
For more information on the step-by-step guide to ticking off all COVID requirements for Madeira, we have listed EasyJet and Jet2’s guides, which we found particularly helpful.
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