Quinta das Eiras

Santo da Serra, Madeira, Portugal Book from

Reviewed by Laura Dixon
A romantic tropical retreat in the northeast of the island with cosy self-catering wooden lodges and a dash of Zen
Alpine charm and eastern Zen sounds like an unusual combination, but the Quinta das Eiras pulls it off. The golfers may be driving their fairways in Santo da Serra but this backwater, up a winding path in the hinterland of Madeira, feels like another world.

Ten stilted cabins dot themselves across the grounds (2 of these pair up for family stays); there's a sweet Little Stone House tucked away near the manager’s lodge, a Log House and a Red House near the gates. All is well-tended, secluded and very romantic. You get a swimming pool on the lawn and a tranquil, tropical, back-to-nature feel. Each perched home feels woody and rustic, with its simple kitchenette, tiny bathroom and deliciously comfortable bed - think luxurious camping. A place to unwind: rest body and soul against a background of bird ballad and river rush, take a dip into the pool or get sporty. Horse riding and golf are both nearby and there's a sailing yacht you can hire for the day.

Highs

  • The setting: tropical gardens, paddling ducks and an all-pervading sense of serenity
  • Quirky design pieces in the stone cottage and the red house add a refreshingly arty touch
  • The Little Stone House, a former cowshed, is full of rural charm and comes complete with flowers round the door
  • The stilted cabins are cosy, warm and fun

Lows

  • The nearest shops and restaurant are 1km away, so you'll need a car
  • No room service, nor breakfast, coffee or tea facilities. This is strictly self-catering
  • Not for movers and shakers - the pace of life here is slow, slow, slow
  • Narrow steps up to the stilted cabins would be tricky for toddlers or those with mobility problems

Best time to go

Avoid November to March: it gets cloudy and wet up here, although the Quinta's rooms are cosy. In the summer the gardens are in full bloom; spring and autumn would also be special.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Cottages
  • 10 cabins (for 2) + 3 cottages (for 2-4)
  • Self-catering
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room: Mountain Shelter

Rooms

You have a choice of 10 stilted Mountain Shelters, the Red House, the Little Stone House and the Log Cabin. All have a small outdoor sitting/dining area and a simple stylish décor.

The Little Stone House by the river is our favourite. It used to be a cowshed, now it’s been renovated to make a pretty 2-storey cottage, hidden away from the lodges, wreathed in delicate flowers. The décor is unusual, combining such quirkeries as a tailor’s dummy with an attractive muted natural palette. There's a lovely dining/sitting room area, a stylish brown leather sofa, and a proper little kitchen, as well as 2 single beds that are pulled together when a couple stay.

The slightly smaller, single-storey Red House is perfect for a couple with 1 or 2 younger children. It has a compact terracotta-tiled sitting room with a sofabed (fine for 2 children; cots are also available), a circular dining table and a small kitchen. The Log Cabin, which we haven't seen yet, also has plenty of space for up to 4.

The perched cabins lie somewhere between a mountain lodge, a treehouse and a shed. Furnished in natural colours, they have pine walls and floors, really comfortable double beds and small but perfectly formed kitchenettes. The bathrooms are compact with small showers and heated towel rails (white towels provided). Underneath each lodge is a shaded open-air eating and chilling area; wraparound balconies guarantee forest and river views. Steep steps up to the bedrooms mean that these are not toddler-friendly.

There is also a double cabin that is ideal for families with older children, or for 2-4 friends; it's a combination of Mountain Shelters 2 and 3, linked by a shared deck, each with its own outdoor stair, each with a bedroom up and a living area below.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Internet access
  • Oven
  • Tv

Eating

Quinta das Eiras is fully self-catering. No food is provided, not even tea bags, so you’ll have to stock up. The nearest shop is the small grocer's in Santo da Serra, less than a kilometre away. The capital, Funchal, is a 20-minute drive. There's a mini fridge as well as a 2-ring hob in each cabin, and all the cutlery and plates etc you’ll need, plus a coffee pot and saucepans. There are no ovens but the Red House and Stone House do have microwaves. Note there are no barbecues on site.

Santo da Serra's restaurants serve hearty Madeiran food (skewered meats, baked fish). There's also a bakery in the village that, it is hoped, will soon be making breakfast deliveries to the Quinta.

Features include:

  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • In house cook
  • Oven
Eating: Log House
Activity: Log House

Activities

  • Relax in the tropical gardens with occasional dips in the pool
  • You're well placed for hiking, with forests and levadas surrounding the retreat (levadas are irrigation channels that provide a wonderful network of walking trails throughout the island)
  • Painters and writers find inspiration in the solitude and tranquillity - your chance to write that novel
  • Take the skippered yacht for a spin: it’s a 50-foot ocean-race-winning beauty that can be hired for 1 or 2-night cruises with a skipper
  • Or set off on a mountain bike - you can hire them locally
  • Golf: Santo da Serra's 27-hole course, home to the Madeira Island Open, has spectacular views to mountains, valleys and the islands of Desertas and Porto Santo - and is only a mile away
  • Visit the seaside towns of Machico and Canical, 10 minutes away, for ice creams, swims and paddles in the sea. They also offer several elegant dining options
  • There's diving off the coast nearby
  • Horse riding and jeep safaris can be arranged

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Whalewatching

Kids

The natural setting is great for kids - but the pool isn't fenced and the steps to the stilted lodges might be a problem.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

The Log House has 2 double beds, while the Red House has a double bedroom and a living room with double sofabed. Families with older children might like the Double Cabin which is a pair of stilted cabins with a shared (indoor) living space between them. All rooms have handy kitchenettes.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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