The Vine

Funchal, Madeira, Portugal Book from

Reviewed by Laura Dixon
If you love design and good living, you'll love this uber-modern, urban-zen hotel
The Vine is divine. Not only that, its cutting-edge chic is putting Madeira on the map for hip city breaks and luxury living.

There may not be a vineyard in sight, but it’s all about the wine here, from the first floor restaurant Terra, groovily themed to feel as though you’re dining amid roots and beneath vines, to the vinous photographs above the beds and the lush palettes of purple, green, pink and brown. The Vine is a design hotel par excellence: the underground spa is darkly seductive; the rooftop swimming pool, sundeck and levada-inspired Jacuzzi could be from a Vogue photo shoot. Lights come on and curtains glide at the merest touch, bathrooms have waterfall-effect showers, modish baths stand at the foot of the bed. Madeiran-Portuguese designer Nini Andrade Silva has won countless awards for her interiors; at last she's brought her talents home. Forget the old holiday cliches of golf and G&T: look for the high life and find it here.

Highs

  • Lush sea views from the sundeck at the top, plus hidden jacuzzi, poolside bar with creative cocktails and infinity pool
  • The decor oozes glamour, luxury and style - it's won many design awards
  • The Spa has some unique treatments (red wine massages and milk baths)
  • Staff are warm and friendly, professional yet unobtrusive
  • An excellent super-central location

Lows

  • Too cool for school? The lighting devices take some getting used to and the rooms may be a bit style-over-substance
  • You enter via the La Vie shopping centre
  • Many bedrooms are overlooked by neighbouring buildings and there's a certain amount of city-centre noise
  • No garden - but the fabulous sundeck more than compensates
  • While the rooms can be good-value, extras such as food and treatments may not merit their price tag

Best time to go

The hotel is open year round; go in spring, when the jacaranda is in full bloom, or autumn for some late sunshine. It’s a great place in summer though - and, because of its position, would be spectacular for the city's New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Our top tips

Visit Cabo Girao, the island's second highest sea cliff. It's famous for its wine lodges, so expect to go home with a crate of Madeiran wine.

Great for...

City Style
Foodie
Honeymoon
Spa
  • Design Hotel
  • 79
  • Restaurant and bar
  • Ages 9+ preferred
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room: Panoramic Design Suite

Rooms

This is a sizeable hotel, its 79 rooms and suites spread over the top 4 floors. Decor follows the wine-making seasons. On the second floor - Spring - the hues are green; on the summer-themed third there's a grape-ripe purple, on the fourth floor all is a wintry grey, and on the fifth, an autumnal brown. Floors four and five have the views. It’s worth noting, in fact, that many of the rooms are overlooked by neighbouring buildings – you're in the centre of Funchal, after all – but there are blinds and gauzy curtains to keep any nosy neighbours at bay.

There are 7 classes of rooms, from the cheapest superior atrium views up to the design suites, which are sensational, with modern chaises longues, vast beds made in Portugal and great egg-shaped baths. (Note that all the baths are in the bedrooms themselves, while showers are ensuite.)

Each room shares the same slick design details: waterfall taps, Madeiran stone floors, vineyard photographs on great sailcloths suspended above. Drawers are hidden, fuss is kept to a minimum and blinds, lights and air conditioning are controlled by touch-sensitive panels (not always easy to find in the dark!). Some beds even have lighting underneath that comes on the moment you get up in the night. And all rooms get free wired and wireless internet, flatscreen TV with movies and music, minibar (free in the suites), Egyptian cotton sheets and a choice of pillows; suites also get a DVD player, PlayStation facilities and a fax machine.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • Tv

Eating

Breakfast is served in Terra, a brown, sculptural space designed to make you feel as though you're dining beneath the vines. A standard continental is served and there’s an array of hot dishes on offer (including all the fixings for a full English). Terra also serves snacks and drinks during the day and has a couple of decked areas outside for relaxing with a coffee in the sun.

UVA Restaurant, up on the sun deck, serves an international menu that changes seasonally. With views over the city, it's a striking space, but we found the dishes a bit hit and miss - our steak was tasty but the mash was disappointing. Also on the roof terrace is the 360 Bar. The plan is for DJs to host parties in the summer.

We’d recommend making time to dine in Funchal's Old Town, where there’s a wide choice of enchanting little eateries.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating: Terra Restaurant
Activity:

Activities

  • Bask on the rooftop terrace, slip into the pool or recline in the Jacuzzi – it's cleverly designed to resemble a levada
  • Relax in the Vinotherapy Spa with a long hot soak in a bath of wine leaf extracts and oils, a glass of Madeira’s finest by your side
  • Find inspiration in Funchal's market, where you'll find a gorgeous array of fresh fruit... and fish from the Madeiran archipelago
  • Wander through the steep cobbled Old Town, then up in a cable car to the village of Monte
  • Check out the Beatles' old yacht, The Vagrant, in the harbour - now permanently moored as a floating tourist restaurant
  • Head off for the pebble beach, a walk away
  • Tee off at the nearest golf course: a 15-minute drive
  • Go whale or dolphin spotting or diving from Funchal's harbour – the hotel can arrange all

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Whalewatching
  • Wine tasting

Kids

The hotel does take children, but prefers them to be aged 9 or over, and well-behaved. Children’s facilities are limited.

Family friendly accommodation:

The hotel can arrange connecting rooms and extra beds can fit in the larger rooms.

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request.

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

Children's meals:

A kids' menu is available.

Kid Friendly: Terra Restaurant

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
8/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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