1905 Zino's Palace

Ponta do Sol, Madeira, Portugal Book from Book from £88 per night

A short, scenic drive from bustling Funchal, this dazzling pink palace towers above Ponta do Sol, Madeira’s sunniest spot

If you can't decide whether to stay in Madeira's capital Funchal, or somewhere further out along its wild and dramatic coast, this boutique hotel combines the best of both. You're 20 minutes' drive from the capital town's glitzy resorts, eateries and its international airport; yet, tucked away here within a verdant banana plantation on a sunshine-soaked hillside, you feel miles from the rest of the world.

As you approach the sleepy seaside town of Ponta do Sol, you can’t miss this pink palace, peeking out from its hilltop perch. With its flamboyant style and unashamed nods to Romanticism and the sublime, this former summer residence of the noble Zino family is the antithesis of sprawling, cookie-cutter hotel experiences. And it's deeply comfortable too. Expect sumptuous modernist furnishings, cosy pastel bedrooms, and eye-catching features; even the swimming pool is pink.

After winding your way up the steep hill, friendly staff fall over themselves to greet you. They’ll offer you an espresso and a pastel de nata, before beckoning you to check out the sensational terrace views stretching out towards the endless ocean.
Covid update: see our Flexible Booking Policy.

Highs

  • Our Sea View Suite was lovely, with a large balcony: the perfect spot for an achingly romantic sundowner
  • We also loved sitting with a book on the traditionally paved calçada (terrace), looking out to sea
  • Breakfast is an indulgent affair: plates of ham and cheese, local pastries and eggs cooked to order
  • Service was faultlessly friendly: no stuffiness or resting on historic laurels here
  • Nearby Ponta do Sol has a dramatic pebbled beach, a man-made lagoon warm enough for a dip, and pop-up bars and restaurants

Lows

  • The drive up to the hotel involves a steep hill - nervous drivers might like to let their travelling partner take the wheel for this one
  • Though the dusky pink pool looks great on Instagram, it’s a little small to swim in
  • Those fabulous sea views are somewhat marred by a network of thick electrical cables
  • The hamlet of Lugar de Baixo, where the hotel is set, has little beyond a couple of eateries down by the pebble beach

Best time to go

Given the island’s subtropical status, it’s common to experience all four seasons in one day. You can bank on balmy evenings and brilliantly sunny days during spring, so aim to book between March to May if you can - this is when the foliage is particularly bright and beautiful.

Our top tips

It’s a super easy drive over to Funchal, where you’ll find an array of shops, bars, restaurants and the famed marina - perfect for an evening stroll after a fabulous dinner, before heading back to your private palace in the mountains. Funchal’s food scene is really starting to bubble, with Michelin-starred food at William and Il Gallo D’Oro, or seriously inventive menus with local ingredients at Akua, KAMPO and Informal.

Great for...

Beach
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 9 rooms
  • Restaurant & bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Private chapel
Room:

Rooms

Pretty pastel colourways - from sage green to dusty pinks - add to the hotel's whimsical feel. They may not be to everyone’s taste, but they are true to the building's heritage, and we found it all part of the charm. Equally authentic are the brass Art Deco light fittings and sumptuous Modernist chairs, while cleverly placed retro telephones add fun pops of old school glam.

For obvious reasons, go for an ocean view room if you can (i.e. a Suite or Superior). The hotel’s high vantage point makes it a great place to sit and watch the world go by. We loved the exposed wooden beams and sea view balcony in our lofty suite; but even the cheaper attic rooms are cosy and romantic.

Whichever room you choose, you'll be well taken care of, with power showers, tea and coffee stations (featuring gorgeous, locally-made crockery), and fluffy robes. Being a subtropical island, you get the odd gloomy day, so it’s nice to have a flat screen TV on standby (though it’s very likely you won’t watch it).

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • TV
  • WiFi

Eating

Standing in bold contrast to the ornate pink mansion, the modern glass-walled dining wing offers a huge breakfast and surprisingly excellent dinner (which is useful, as the hamlet's two other eateries are nothing to write home about).

Breakfast runs from 8am right through to 12 noon: a spoiling choice of fresh and dried fruits, yoghurts and granola, hams and cheeses, pastries and custard tartlets, and eggs made to order. It really set us up for the day.

Depending on your day's plans, you can book lunch or dinner here or on the beautiful terrace (weather permitting), or even a genteel afternoon tea with further cakes, pastries and fruit. It's all priced very reasonably. Meal menus might include a light plate of charcuterie or a soup of locally grown vegetables; then perhaps a seafood platter including lapas (limpets grilled with garlic and butter), or the house special: breaded swordfish with chard quenelle and sweet potato, drizzled with passion fruit sauce. The chef is young and creative, so expect some winning combinations of local seafood and tropical flavours.

Alternatively, it's a 5-minute drive to Ponta do Sol, with its pop-up summer bars and a smattering of restaurants. Make a beeline for Steak & Sun, known for their Tomahawk, or The Old Pharmacy for wine and pinchos.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Perched above the southwestern coast, the hamlet of Lugar de Baixo, where the hotel is set, has dramatic ocean views, banana terraces, a pebble beach and a couple of eateries
  • 3km away is Ponta do Sol seafront: the beach (also pebbly) is dramatic, the man-made lagoon is always warm enough for a quick dip, and there's a bit of buzz in summer
  • There are hiking trails heading up into the mountains, past terraced vineyards to farms with cherry and chestnut groves
  • Or, to really explore the island, ask staff about the half- and full day jeep excursions with Green Devil Safari, which took us to parts of the island well beyond the reach of a humble hire car
  • Our highlight was exploring the mystical fog forest of Fanal, with its ancient twisted stinkwood trees and the Levada dos Cedros hike, ending at a tiered waterfall where you can swim

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Swimming
  • Trekking

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome, and staff are very welcoming, although the hotel itself is not especially well set up for families, and the terrain is steep. The small pool is heated and open all year round.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Suites can sleep 3, while most other rooms can fit a baby cot. Families of 4 will need to book two adjacent rooms; some Classic and Superiors can be set up with twin beds.

Kid Friendly:

Location

Zino's Palace is near the village of Ponta do Sol, on Madeira's south coast, about a 30-minute drive from the town of Funchal.

By Air
Funchal airport has plenty of scheduled, budget and charter flights from airports across the UK and Europe.

From the Airport
It's about 40km (40 minutes' drive) from the airport to the hotel. You can arrange airport transfers, but it probably makes more sense to hire a car so that you can explore the island more easily, as public transport is limited.

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Funchal 40.0 km FNC

Other:

  • Beach 0.3 km
  • Shops 2.0 km
  • Restaurant 0.3 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
9/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

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