Estalagem da Ponta do Sol

Ponta do Sol, Madeira, Portugal Book from Eur99

Reviewed by Laura Dixon
Part modernist, part traditional quinta, this minimalist clifftop hotel gets architects in a lather - and they’re not the only ones
Whale-spotters used to stand on the terrace and light fireworks to alert neighbouring harbours to passing pods. A century on, that terrace is used to host European DJs for full moon parties in the summer. The rest of the time it's a sun deck with expansive views of the old whale roads. It's that sort of place. Funky.

This is not a designer hotel that erases the past in favour of the future; it works with it to create something far more interesting. The 54-room hotel, with its restaurant, bars and many chillout areas, sits on the cliff top overlooking little Ponta do Sol and the sea. The views are to die for, though visiting architects are more taken with the hotel than the vistas: the marriage of old quinta with modernist annexes is inspired. The outdoor spaces are especially enticing, from the traditional palm-lined terrace to the infinity pool; everywhere you look there’s a frame for the view. Crucially, the village is close enough to Funchal for a night out, but far enough away that you feel you’re getting a break from the city.

Highs

  • The views: taking a chromotherapy bath in the spa as the sun sets over the Atlantic can’t be beat
  • The uplifting modernist architecture combined with the prices attracts a more youthful crowd than any other hotels nearby
  • Summer nightlife, and chill-out areas inside and out to recover
  • This part of Madeira gets more sunshine than any other part of the island
  • Great value, especially considering that transfers to airport and levadas are included; but if you want something even cheaper, EPDS's little sister hotel, Hotel da Vila, is a short walk away

Lows

  • The hotel car park is small: parking is tricky but not impossible
  • Some may find the food a little bland, but it's served up with stunning sunset vistas
  • The accommodation looks a bit blocky from the outside, and the bedrooms feel a tad corporate - but they are sleek and bright

Best time to go

This part of Madeira is the sunniest part of the island. Enjoy it at any time of the year, but if you’re looking for nightlife, summer is busiest. In July there’s Madeira Dance, a weekend festival that attracts quite a few; Madeira Dig, the digital arts and music festival sponsored by the hotel, takes place in December: your chance to hobnob with Japanese graphic designers and DJs from Berlin.

Our top tips

If you're coming in summer, consider hiring their catamaran to explore the small bays along the coast. The diving and snorkelling off this coast is superb.

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Great Outdoors
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 54
  • Restaurant (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pools
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Tennis Court
  • Pool Table
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

Like the rest of the hotel, the spacious bedrooms have clean and sleek lines, but the real emphasis is on looking out: all have sun terraces or balconies, and amazing views over the sea or up to the mountains.

Interiors are nearly identical, so it's the view which determines the room category. Mountain (or "Garden") View look out on to the banana plantations of the mountain opposite and the village of Ponta do Sol; Sea View rooms seem to jut out above the cliffs with views of the rocks below and the ocean stretching as far as you can see. Floor-to-ceiling windows let the light in to a room with navy and white striped bed linen and either a double or twin bed. Mountain View rooms are a little cheaper and a little noisier; also, the acoustics between some rooms could be better. All have air con and cable TV.

The bathrooms are clean, sleek and compact, with slate floors and showers. Disappointingly, toiletries are a bit budget. There is a minibar in all rooms and one of the hotel bars is open all night.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

The restaurant is in prime position for watching the sunset – that’s if you haven’t been able to bag the best spot in the chromotherapy bath in the spa – and serves up fresh Modern European food with a Madeiran twist.

Breakfast is served in the restaurant - though there is a small terrace attached - and is a good European-style buffet, with hot and cold dishes and homemade cakes, too. Lunch is light - a change from the rustic restaurants nearby. Expect the likes of goat's cheese vol-au-vents, chicken, baked scabbard fish (unique to Madeira) and various light desserts. Dinner makes the most of the sea: lots of prawns, plus beef fillet, pork medallions, pasta and salads. Staff are very helpful and friendly.

It’s a short walk into Ponta do Sol if you want to eat out: there's a restaurant, a pizzeria and a couple of cafes. There are also several bars dotted around the hotel (one or two open all year), and an honesty bar by the pool. In the summer, the former whale-spotting deck becomes a rocking bar with live music and DJs. Another more refined bar, in the old finca building itself, opens for coffee during the day.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Float in the infinity pool over the cliffs - exquisite

  • Swim in the waters off Ponto da Sol's protected pebble beach

  • Or take a 4-hour cruise in the hotel’s catamaran to see dolphins, seals and turtles. They also arrange trips to the Desert Isles: marine reserves off the southeast coast

  • Chill out in the spa: there’s a steam room, sauna, 2 treatment rooms, and a stunning chromotherapy bath overlooking the cliff. And chocotherapy - being smothered in cocoa butter is big round these parts!

  • You'll love the restaurants, shops and market of steep cobbled Funchal, and the hotel provides a shuttle bus to the centre every day (except Sunday): a 25-minute trip

  • The diving and snorkelling off this coast is superb

  • Catch the shuttle to their private beach, Faja dos Padres. It’s a volcanic black sand beach and even has its own restaurant

  • The shuttle also ferries guests to Calheta Beach, the art centre of Ribiera Brava and Palheiro Golf Club

  • Jump in the car and explore all the fishing villages on this southern end of the island

  • The hotel arranges mountain/levada walks daily, with drop off and pick up, weather permitting. Levadas are irrigation channels that usefully provide a wonderful network of walking trails throughout the island

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Nightlife
  • Pool table
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wildlife
  • Windsurfing

Kids

It’s not that great a place for little kids – too many steps with a buggy and the atmosphere is a bit too serene. Having said that, those aged up to 4 are free and babysitting can be arranged. There are extra beds but no baby cots so you'll need to bring your own. There are no lifeguards around the pool.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
10/
Value
9/
Overall

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