Known for its subtropical climate, exquisite terraces carved into steep cliffs and delicious wine, Madeira is a four-island archipelago that’s part of Portugal—though it sits off the coast of northwest Africa. Located in the capital city of Funchal, Belmond Reid’s Palace (or Reid’s Palace) is a 125-year-old hotel perched atop a cliff, nestled between stunning gardens and the Atlantic Ocean. Boasting some 500+ species of flora and fauna, three pools (one of them constructed at sea level), a luxurious spa and more, the property is expansive yet intimate, promising a bevy of enclaves to slip into for a moment of seclusion.
Designed by William Reid, a Scottish farmer with a vision, the hotel (then called New Hotel) opened in 1891 and was managed by Reid’s two sons. Later it was acquired by Orient Express Ltd, which then became Belmond Ltd. The picturesque Reid’s Palace is an icon of the island, and proves to be a true sanctuary where rejuvenation is all but guaranteed.
The 158-room hotel is nothing if not smothered in historical grandeur—some of which meets retro design in a delightful manner. Each residence (from classic rooms to Presidential suites) boasts marble bathrooms and balconies or verandas offering stunning vistas. The decor isn’t modern or minimal, yet it’s decidedly appealing.
The culinary cast at the Michelin-starred William Restaurant is led by executive chef Luis Pestana—the only Madeiran chef to receive a star ever. The service is old-fashioned luxury; almost silent. The dishes are divine, from rich offerings like foie gras and beef tartar served with caviar, to scallops with peas, chorizo and carabinero prawn broth to a super-fresh raspberry mousse, lychee and champagne sorbet.
Villa Cipriani is the hotel’s informal Italian restaurant with dramatic views overlooking the water. The outdoor terrace offers remarkable views of the Atlantic and the precipices hovering above the shoreline in the distance. Guests can expect fresh fare of Italian-style delights, but it’s also where high tea is served—offering up a sophisticated and old-world vibe.
Designed to reflect the spirit of the island’s verdant flora and fauna and its mild climate, the Spa at Reid’s is as restorative as it is invigorating. Waves lapping below the treatment rooms can be seen through the balcony’s glass doors.
The regional spa treatment harnesses all of the benefits from natural, local ingredients—including aloe vera balsam and grapeseed oil. Lavender from the property’s garden wafts through the space, creating an organic feeling of relaxation that’s rare at many hotel spas. Altogether, from looking out over the sea to the stunning gardens and feeling that you’re at the edge of the world, the hotel provides iconic old-world sophistication within an island oasis.
Images by Meryl Fontek