A quinta is a Portuguese country estate, typically on the outskirts of town. Inside the walls you find a manor house at the centre, surrounded by beautiful gardens and either a wine or banana plantation for good measure. Space and tranquility in a city. What better place for a boutique hotel. Exactly the sort of place we love to stay in. Lucky for us we stayed in two during our visit to Madeira!
For our first two nights in Funchal we stayed at Quinta Jardins do Lago. The property once belonged to the Blandy’s (of Madeira wine fame) but is now run by another Madeiran family as a hotel. A small hotel wing totally in keeping with the manor house style was added two decades ago. More recently suites have been created in the historic house making a total of 40 rooms. Everywhere has a true sense of place and tradition.
We arrived at midday, straight from the plane. The feeling when you walk into a hotel and know you are in the right place? That’s here. Smiles and a genuine interest in welcoming us. Front of house was charming and because our room wasn’t quite ready our host was delighted to take us on a garden tour. She clearly loved the grounds and was happy she could share them with us before taking us to our room!
And this was the best introduction too. To the excellent team and the spectacular gardens, with countless rare species and everything immaculately kept. The pool area is hidden away at the end of the garden in amongst the palm trees. Really, it is as near to the Caribbean as one can find in Europe!
The star of the tour though is Colombo. He’s a 70 year old tortoise. The general manager told us that when the island suffered from devastating forest fires last autumn, returning guests called the hotel in their droves. Not to check the hotel was still open. But to check on Colombo’s well-being!
The resident septuagenarian loves bananas and at breakfast time if you ask nicely you will be given a banana or two to feed him with! No need for peeling!
Our room was on the top floor of the new wing. The view from our balcony was spectacular. Across the gardens and down to the sea in one direction. To the hillside city of Monte in the other. It’s rare that I say a city view is beautiful but from here it really is. There are no high rises in sight. Just countless homes, predominantly white, with lovely terracotta roofs.
Our room was very well thought out with traditional Portuguese decor. Polished wooden floors and high quality furnishings, it was totally in keeping with the historic setting. The room was also comfortable and relaxing, complete with an enormous bathroom with twin sinks, a bath and his and hers bathrobes.
In fact there is a refurbishment underway at the moment to upgrade the rooms. We loved the space that we had pre-upgrade so I would expect even better things in the newer rooms!
The Manor House is where meals are enjoyed. Built in the 18th Century it is dripping with historical features. In fact the dining room has an intricate side-board left behind after the Napoleonic wars by General Beresford, Commander of the British forces who had taken up residence. Dining here was excellent. I would recommend an aperitif in the bar – perhaps a cocktail or a glass of Madeira wine – before sitting down for dinner.
The serving staff once again were charming and attentive and the menu choices excellent. It really felt quite opulent to be dining here and the food arrived in style, under a silver dome (cloche) which is taken away with great aplomb! They’ve captured the history and style of the house in the dining experience too.
For breakfast there is a terrace that catches the sun. There’s a priceless tiled mosaic on the wall as well as stunning garden views, of course! Colombo is positioned so that he is just far enough away to not be able to see the bananas, but you can see him, so you won’t forget to grab one. A superb buffet spread is offered as well as your choice of eggs.
Daytime dining is by the pool – high quality and in the sunshine. A mix of typical hotel staples and local dishes, such as the fish broth that Mr P devoured. I love my club sandwiches and this one did not disappoint!
I really would recommend taking the time to explore the grounds during your stay. They really are the most magical feature of the property. So many little sun traps and lovely spots to enjoy, or indeed to find a spot to sit and read. The gardens are effectively an attraction in themselves and draw many people to stay at the hotel. With over 500 rare species you are sure to stumble across a colourful flower or 20. Should it rain or be chilly, the Manor House has plenty of soft seating as well as a library and games room for the use of guests.
We whiled away a warm sunny afternoon by the pool, Mr P making the most of the collection of abandoned books and me just dozing in the sun. The hotel also has regular transfers going into town and the staff on front desk are full of great advice for day trips too.
We were special guests of Quinta Jardins do Lago for our stay. We really enjoyed our time here. A relaxing couple of days in a stunning botanical setting.