“Cheap and chic beachside hotel in Madeira's sunniest town, designed with real wit”
The 16 compact rooms all have a sea view, and are largely the same: airy, bright and white, with windows opening onto a Juliet balcony and the sound of the waves in the background. It's all blissfully calm and we slept like babies.
Duarte Caidera is the man responsible for the interior design - he has used elements of the chic and the rural side of Madeira to create unique but calming spaces. The colour palette is pared back, using mainly wood and white in the bedrooms, as well as a quirky wheat pillow headboard (we guarantee you won't see this anywhere else!).
The bedrooms aren't all singing, all dancing - we'd describe them as a notch above functional - but they are cool and contemporary, and you get bathrobes, toiletries and satellite TVs. We've read reports that when they are set up as a twin room for friends, rather than couples, they can be a bit cramped. And the small shower bathroom, which is partitioned off rather than in a separate room, means you'd want to know your friend quite well...
Hotel da Vila's diminutive seafront restaurant is lovely - all geometrically-shaped walls, soothing wood tones, groovy chairs and modern storm lanterns on the terrace. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and there's also a sleek and dark-toned bar with a cocktail list and experienced mixologist at the helm. There's no room service, however.
And the food is fantastic without being the least fussy - a fresh, Madeiran/Mediterranean fusion. Perhaps beef fillet with parmesan cheese, rucola and watercress; veal steaks with Parma ham, cheese and Madeira wine, or tuna steak with onion sauce. We relished the fresh salads, including a Caesar/anchovy variation, served at lunchtime. The island isn't famed for sophisticated dishes - outside its designer hotels, you're likely to find a lot of heavy meat dishes - so this restaurant is quite a high point. They're also very proud of their sizzling limpets, which you have to try once. Guests are welcome to eat at Estalagem do Ponta do Sol's restaurant, which serves slick dishes alongside a fantastic view.
Breakfast is a continental buffet, with eggs, bacon and sausages cooked to order.
Not a bad option for families, particularly if you're on a budget, but rooms are small and there are no extra beds so you'll need to book 2. Take advantage of the sister hotel's shuttle bus to its private beach and to other sandy beaches nearby, or tire the kids out walking the island's levadas.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
You can fit a baby cot into each room but it's a bit of a squeeze. All the hotel's rooms are the same size.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The hotel's food is light and tasty. They don't offer room service but you can get food all day here. There are plenty of child-friendly cafés along the south coast of Madeira that suit families.
Watch out for the balconies if you have little kids; the hotel is right on the road, so eating outside might be a bit risky with little ones. There's a pharmacy and supermarket in the village.