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“Great for the price” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Hotel Santa Catarina

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Hotel Santa Catarina
Ranked #4 of 5 Hotels in Santa Cruz
Dorset, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
186 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
“Great for the price”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 November 2013

This is a great little hotel for the very low price we paid. We had a room on the 3rd floor with a sea view which was nice. We had a good size room with a large bathroom, which was very clean, but a little dated and tired. There is no air-con, which was not a problem in November (we slept with the patio door open) but I imagine that in the summer it would be stifling. It was great value for money, breakfast was continental, with the addition of eggs, beans and mini sausages, which was adequate. The coffee was not great, nor the orange juice, but I just took my own. The weather was great for November and we even got the use of the pool, which was a bonus. The only criticism I could make was with the reception staff. They were far more interested in chatting to their colleagues and friends than dealing with guests, which was a shame. Santa Cruz is a very quite little village with very limited bars and Restaurants, but we loved the tranquility of it. I would not recommend for families, but would for the more mature couple, for a relaxing, warm winter break.

  • Stayed November 2013, travelled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank jimandsimone1990
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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293 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (85)
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Guernsey
Level Contributor
60 reviews
55 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 October 2013

First of all, let us reassure the readers of Tripadvisor that this review has not been written by us on behalf of Madeira Tourism or as a marketing exercise on behalf of this hotel! This is because our choice of this hotel was based entirely on "Value for Money" and the booking was made independently on the internet through TravelRepublic. That was how we found such a hotel, with accommodation for two at a popular resort abroad for 6 days with en suite B&B, at a total cost of £104.00. Before we came, we did a bit of research and fully realised that the hotel rating system in Madeira was different from those in the UK, for example, the AA rating. Based on the scale of the tariff, we were realistic to expect that this was a budget hotel, in a way similar to the Travelodge in the UK (please refer to our review articles on Travelodge Margate Westwood and Travelodge Bournemouth Cooper Dean). We mention this aspect specifically in relation to two rather negative reviews already published, which will be explained further below.

Before going on any further, let us point out that the archipelago of Madeira is of volcanic origin, consisting mainly of 2 inhabited islands - Madeira and Porto Santo, plus a few other small uninhabited islands and islets. It is approximately 700 km west of the African coast in the Atlantic Ocean and is an autonomous region of Portugal and hence part of the EU. Being of volcanic origin, the island of Madeira has very rugged coast line and mountainous terrain. The highest point is Pico Ruivo in the centre of the island at 1,862 m above sea level. It is an ideal place for outdoor pursuits including wind surfing, mountain tracking and rock climbing. Because of the very nature of its terrain, the motorway network would not have existed without the ingenious construction of numerous tunnels and fly-overs that may indeed be regarded as construction engineers' delight. Even the airport runway exists on the principle of a fly-over!

We will now come to the hotel itself. It is not right along the seafront and yes, not by choice it is dwarfed by a huge fly-over in its vicinity and there is a large piece of unsightly derelict land on the other side of the road opposite the hotel, due probably to the recession. Yet the hotel is centrally located and is near to the magnificent town church by the town square. The bus stop is conveniently situated opposite to the hotel. As we did have a hire car throughout our stay, we were delighted to be able to put the car away in the hotel underground free car park. We were in Room 411 which was situated on the top floor. It has a small balcony with 2 garden chairs and table, overlooking the swimming pool and right adjacent to the fly-over described by one of the reviewers as "infamous"! Yet with the patio door shut at night time and in spite of the close proximity to the airport, the room although simply furnished was comfortable and quiet. We slept very well as the bed and pillows (made up of twins and joined together) were soft but firm. The en suite bathroom was basic but clean, with a shower over bath but with no toiletries apart from a wall-mounted bottle containing liquid soap. The house keeper without fail changed the bath towels daily and the bed linens on alternate days. The strongest signal for the free WiFi is only available in the Bar/Restaurant area which is closed between 12 noon an 6pm. We had no problem with that as we regularly took advantage of the Happy Hour between 6-7 pm (pint of lager at Euros 1.25!). The buffet breakfast was ok by budget hotel standard. Don't forget we are not talking about full English breakfast at home but Continental in a foreign country. The mere fact that smoked sausages, baked beans and poached/scramble egg were provided each morning should be treated as a bonus and not as of right.

We took advantage of the many good eateries in and around Santa Cruz by eating out every day. As a matter of principle, we would strongly advise against eating in the same hotel whilst on holiday!

Like most budget hotels, Santa Catarina does have its downside that could do with improvement by the management. The minus points were:
1. Broken chair in our bedroom.
2. Torn/worn out carpet in the corridor on the 4th floor.
3. Lack of warmth such as a smile from the Receptionist on checking-in at arrival. We were kept waiting for at least a couple of minutes, even though there were no other guests, while she had her eyes glued to the computer by totally ignoring us.
4. As there was only just one member of the waiting staff on duty during breakfast, except for one girl by the name of Renata (also known as Marta) who was absolutely superb, the standard of the remaining staff was, to say the least, more often than not abysmal in her absence. For example, until it was pointed out by those guests who were left standing, plates and cereal bowls were allowed to run out and food and drinks were left un-replenished.

That is why we have given an overall rating of just 3* in this instance. In our opinion, the hotel could do with some refurbishment and staff training in order to bring it back to its former glory, i.e., a Certificate of Excellence of 4* rating awarded by Tripadvisor in 2012. None of those minus points are un-surmountable and we do hope the hotel management will take note accordingly.

Lastly, we must seriously take issue with danny 7147 of Bournemouth and with ChristineT of Margate. Regarding danny 7147, what on earth made him decide to take his family of young kids (a baby of 1 and a child of 3) to a rocky volcanic island where there are no sandy beaches (except a couple of small man-made harbours with sand imported from Morocco)? As for ChristineT, in stead of going foreign she should really have stayed in Margate with its donkeys on the sandy beach and all the fruit machines along the seafront. She should know better, that on the continent dishes including breakfast are different from those at home and most hotels do not have self-making tea/coffee facilities. We truly feel that the negative comments from the two are unrepresentative of what goes on in Madeira in general and at the Santa Catarina Hotel here in Santa Cruz in particular.

Perhaps the Editor of Tripadvisor should seriously consider a box for "Unhelpful" votes for their readers in future?

Room Tip: On the 4th floor but must forfeit any idea of over-expectation!
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
13 Thank Guerndonkey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 October 2013 via mobile

I am currently at the hotel and I think its fine. Staying half board. We have just had steak n chips. Choice every night is a fish or meat course all very nice. Only complaint is the plates are cold but thats easy to cure. Staff seem right enough and breakfast is what you normally get abroad. No complaints from me it seems much better than I expected after reading all those reviews.

Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
3 Thank Steven L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
98 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 October 2013

As with all of my hotel reviews, this is based on our experiences of staying with our two kids... currently aged 1 and 3, and will apply mainly to family travellers rather than couples and I have to say that with the Santa Catarina I want to leave you in no doubt that couples will have a VASTLY different experience from staying as a family although a lot of what I'll be writing about will apply so I do suggest reading this first as I'll also be including a variety of helpful hints that we found out for places to eat!

When we arrived at the Santa Catarina we were both absolutely astounded at the size of the room. It was HUGE compared to some of the previous hotels we've stayed in, with a huge amount of space for two travel cots (free, not charged like our experience in Spain!), a large bathroom with big bath, clean and a nice balcony. If I'd written this review based on our first impressions I'd have no hesitation in giving it a 5 star rating, but the Santa Catarina is a real enigma in the hotel world with not everything quite as it seems. If I were to write a straight review of the place I'd end up waffling and as there is a lot of different subjects to cover here I'm going to divide this review into sections... we'll begin with the reception.

Reception -

One mild irritation is that for the size of the hotel, the entrance isn't wheelchair/buggy friendly. The main entrance has two steps up to it, and there is a side entrance although this has a small step and awkward turn as well. The receptionists are, for the most part, very polite although after the first few days I really had the impression that they spoke more English than they understood. A few conversations that I had with them resulted in me feeling fairly confused, and this reached a conclusion on our last day. I had a chat with the receptionist on duty regarding if there was somewhere we could leave our bags as we had to check out at midday and didn't need to get to the airport until half five. Straight after this I asked if she could book me a taxi for 5.15. Not a problem. The following morning I received a call at 5.15AM saying that the cab was waiting. Now, admittedly I hadn't actually specified to her that I needed it for 5.15PM, but that was the last part of the increasing jigsaw that formed in my mind that the reception staff didn't actually understand/listen to what people were actually telling them, and this leads neatly on to the next section which concerns the hotel staff.

Staff -

The real irony about the Santa Catarina is that it is very hard to pinpoint exactly what it wrong with the place. Some reviews will go into length telling you that it's the food, some say the flyover, some say the rooms, but it's actually a small mix of the overall impression and this is in no small part due to the staff. Would you know what I mean when I say when the staff do their jobs but don't actually do their jobs? All of the staff, with the possible exeption of two of the waiters and one of the cleaners, don't appear to actually like working at the hotel. It seems like they're there because it's their job to be and lack any form of friendliness, helpfulness or concern. They'll do what they're meant to do, but not fill you with any slight feeling that you've actually been a valued customer. The reception staff are mainly to blame for this, but the bar staff are equally as bad. If you ask a receptionist to book you a tour, they will and they'll do it willingly, but there's absolutely no warmth, no "good morning", no "thankyou for your stay", just a completely blank expression unless you talk to them about something and that is one of my biggest faults with this hotel. We usually leave a hotel knowing most of the staff by name, them knowing us and our kids, but we left the Santa Catarina feeling more like we'd just left after a coffee rather than the ten nights there.

Restaurant/Food -

This is the real problem with the Santa Catarina. The vast majority of reviews tell you (told US!) about how bad the food problem is when staying there but nothing can actually prepare you for exactly how bad it will be. So here's the best description I can give it. For breakfast, it WILL be the same every morning. It will be hot dog style sausages, either poached or scrambled eggs (rarely warm), beans. That constitutes the 'hot' breakfast. Rolls, honey/jam (if the staff remember to refill the bowl), fruit salad, two cereals (same every day) and ham and cheese. Okay, reading that it does sound like a big choice, but it really isn't. There's no toast for example, and unless you fancy hot dogs for breakfast every morning it really isn't a pleasant experience. I really struggle to understand why they couldn't just add something simple like toast, croissants and bacon to break it up a little but that's the Catarina. The orange juice, which I usually prefer over hot drinks, is undrinkable. Think a very diluted squash... no, don't. Think a glass of water with a very minor dash of squash to turn it orange without adding flavour. Tea with the hot water usually depleted, coffee which has usually run out. Service depends a great deal on which staff member is on duty. Two are very dilligent and constantly refill the items, two are rarely seen and have to be reminded that the bowls have run out, the hot water's cold, there are no spoons, etc etc.

Dinner is a gamble. Lots of reviews will tell you that it's a straight meat/fish choice, but it's actually slightly worse than that. I'm a big fish fan, but it's generally a different fish served in exactly the same way every single night. The meat fares slightly better... pork most nights, it was only the very last night that it was duck with rice, although the rice was undercooked and the the duck too tough to chew. Again, service varies between the sole waiter/waitress on duty. One waiter was excellent, always asking if we were okay and refilling drinks etc. This service declines right down to one of the waitresses who has a habit of constantly playing with her phone behind the bar and the last night even forgot to put any desserts out and we sat with dirty plates for about 20 minutes before giving up.

On the comments card it asks if we would stay again. I ticked "no" and then wrote underneath that we WOULD, but on a room only basis, and that's something that I strongly advise you to consider. Whilst it may seem like a bargain to pay an extra few pounds to go half board, but with a wealth of fairly cheap restaurants within a 5 minute walking distance you'd be far better off saving your money.

Dining with kids is a really nasty experience. Toddlers of course won't eat the food on offer... they WILL cook you hot dog and chips or an omelette as an alternative, but of course if you tried to feed your kids on that for longer than a few days they'd either get seriously bored or be put off of hot dogs for life! It's also a very quiet restaurant... think dining in a semi-expensive restaurant rather than a hotel and we got frequent bad looks from other diners when one of the toddlers started crying.

"ADVICE!" - Next door, literally next door, is a little cafe. Not a massive selection, cakes and coffee, but VERY cheap. €3 for a beer in the hotel, 80c for a beer in this little cafe, and she speaks better English too. A little further into town and you'll find (amongst about ten other restaurants, one on a corner called the "Praca da Cerveja". Okay, you might not, it's not well advertised, but it's the last on the left after the shops sitting on a corner, and in there you can get a nice burger and chips for €3, a prego (steak sandwich) and chips for €3, plus a variety of things like ham sandwiches for €1.70. Don't go to Santa Cruz under the impression that everything's expensive, you just need to know where to look and another local restaurant in the square next to the town hall offers meal and a drink for €5.50. The hotel is the LAST place we'd choose to eat if we stayed again.

The infamous flyover -

We didn't overlook the flyover, but if you're lounging in the pool area you'll be right next to it. Yep, it's a main road, but it's so high up that you really can't hear the traffic noise. The problem with the flyover was actually unexpected! What do you like to do on holiday in the afternoons? Explore? Relax? The problem with the flyover isn't noise, it's that it blocks the sun from the hotel pool after around 3pm making it really REALLY chilly. Incidentally, don't be concerned that you'll have a flyover view from your room. The strange design of the hotel means that you'll either overlook the town or the sea. One review stated that they overlooked 'derelict ground'... sure, we did, but with the mountains in the background and a sea view does that really matter?

Location -

Santa Cruz is a lovely little town. We REALLY loved staying there, and after visiting a few other towns I am very pleased that we chose it but it has a glitch which is public transport... remember this is a family review. I've read various people saying that it's €2.70 to Funchal, it's €1.90 to Machico, and that's true... but what they haven't said is that that's a single. SAM, the local bus company don't actually offer return fares. They DO sell weekly passes which you can buy from their office in Funchal, although it's not a network ticket and is only valid to and from set points. There are a few companies serving different areas on the island, SAM is the local one serving the southeast which also means that you couldn't, for example, but a weekly ticket to get you anywhere past Funchal. Not a glitch with the hotel, but certainly something to consider when choosing Santa Cruz. None of the SAM buses are pushchair friendly, they're old coaches with very narrow aisles and only around half of the drivers will open the luggage lockers for you to store the buggies for the duration of the trip. Buggies on buses is a REALLY unpleasant experience in Santa Cruz. There's a fantastic play park for kids near the beach, and "Aquaparque", a waterslide place an easy walk away so there are things for kids to do.

Cleanliness -

I read one review that said that the sheets were changed every day. Really? I would honestly love to know what gave them that impression. I can't lay 100% fault at the cleaners, they do a good job giving the room a vacuum and making the beds each day, but the sheets certainly weren't changed in the 10 days we were there (there was a tiny chocolate stain on one of them that acted as an indicator to see if they'd changed the sheets, but the towels were always replaced. My biggest problem with the cleaners was the time they eventually cleaned the rooms. This was usually around 3-4pm, exactly the time when people are getting back from a day out and having a rest before dinner, and exactly the time when our kids have their nap. If that's their routine, that's fine, but you actually see the cleaners in the morning cleaning the public toilets in the hotel and generally polishing windows and other minor tasks that surely would have been better left until the afternoon?

Wifi -

One potentially minor thing that really irritated me about the Santa Catarina was the wifi. It has wifi (remember this is an apparent 4*), but it is only available in the bar/restaurant area due to (according to one receptionist) a "bad box". This means that whilst you can certainly connect to the internet, when you're at dinner you see most of the diners totally ignoring each other and staring at phones/laptops rather than engaging in conversation as it's the only time in the day they can get on the internet! It's tiny things like that really niggle me... so easy to solve, but they won't.

So. To summarise the Santa Catarina, it's a genuine enigma. the hotel, I'll honestly tell you, is a minimum 3*, perhaps 4* establishment. But with the staff, the bar being shut during the day time (opens at 6PM despite being advertised as open all day), and a whole host of other niggling little glitches that would be so easy to cure... next time we visit Madeira it's highly unlikely it will be at this hotel, and IF it is, we'll be eating out.

Room Tip: Rooms ending "06" are large and have a nice sea view. NO rooms overlook the flyover so noi...
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank danny7147
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers are raving about these Santa Cruz hotels

Halesowen, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 October 2013

This is the first time I have ever written my comments on a hotel and am certainly not a whinger. Whilst I value the reviews on trip advisor,and as a well traveled person I have always believed you get what you pay for. In my opinion most of the comments are accurate with regards to the Hotel Catarina. Please do not expect a 4 star hotel as you will be bitterly disappointed. You only have to look at the other 4star hotels to realist it is between a 2-3 star. On the positive side, the location is perfect and is ideal as a base to explore other parts of the island. The bus stop is more or less outside the hotel and runs regularly on time. Personally I am not a big lover of big towns, so the resort of Santa Cruz was perfect with a small array of bars and restaurant which were all nearby within easy walking distance. The hotel is very clean and there are fresh towels every day. Beds were suprisingly comfortable. We found the planes landing at the airport quite fascinating and the noise was certainly no bother The seashore is a very near and there are some lovely walks along the promenade. We stayed half board and on the negative side, the food was just terrible. Everything was cold, including even the coffee and hot water served from a plastic jug for the tea. The only things which was good was the bread which was always fresh. Breakfast was bearable but the evening meal was just disgusting by anyone's standards. The staff just raised their eyebrows if you asked for something, in fact I think they were that used to customers complaining that they became complacent. Please do not get me wrong, I would stay there again but only on a b&b basis as the meals at the bars in Santa Cruz were very reasonable. We did not account for the evening meal being so bad and we ended up having to draw additional money from the bank to eat out more than anticipated. I am not trying to turn anyone off staying here as the location could not be better, however as previously stated - do not expect a 4 star!

Room Tip: The best rooms have partial sea view and that of a flyover. You need therefore to be at the front o...
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Lesley L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Durham
Level Contributor
27 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 September 2013

This small basic hotel is very close to the airport but we were not bothered by noise from either the planes or the traffic from the overpass near to the hotel pool area. The staff are lovely and do a brilliant job of keeping the hotel really clean. The waiters all work extremely hard and although the food is not very varied (choice of fish or meat every day) it is usually perfectly edible. Some people complained about the breakfast with hot dog sausages every day (we had bacon 3 days out of 14) but I believe for the price some people paid they had no cause for complaint. There is no air conditioning or ceiling fans but if you ask at reception they will give you a small fan. Small pool is great for cooling off in the hot sun. Tea and coffee making facilities would be great and a better hairdryer a bonus.

Hotel would benefit from some kind of entertainment in the pool area or bar on a night to keep the guests in the hotel rather than let them go and spend their money at the bars in the town. We had a lovely time in Madeira and would definitely go back again.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Pamped
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Margate, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
20 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 September 2013

This hotel is listed as 4 star no way it's more like 2 star. It's very dated the breakfast is laughable. The rooms are very basic although clean. The TV is stood on a round table covered in a cloth, there no coffee or tea making facilities. The plug points are below the bedside lights or below the dressing table. To get to any of them u had to pull the item of furniture out. One of the bedside light socket didnt even work. The hair dryer in the bathroom got so hot u couldn't hold it. The toilet bowl was cracked as was the mirror. The out look was a motor fly over one side and the planes flying in so low to the runway on the other. We slso overlooked a detelict house and rough ground. this was supposed to b "the best room" 4 our 40th anniversary. The area was embarrassing it was more or less a dump. Margate is a palace compared to it. Also Whitstable beach looks like sand compared to the boulders in Santa Cruz. Please don't bother

  • Stayed August 2013
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Christine T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Santa Catarina

Property: Hotel Santa Catarina
Address: Rua Bom Jesus 22, Santa Cruz, Madeira 9100-152, Portugal
Region: Portugal > Madeira Islands > Madeira > Santa Cruz
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 5 Hotels in Santa Cruz
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Santa Catarina 4*
Number of rooms: 40
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Lounge at Santa Catarina Hotel has 40 rooms, each equipped with private bathroom, TV, telefone and individual balconies. The hotel has its own bar and restaurante, reading lounge, billiard room, conference room, swimming pool and private parking garage. We are located right in the center of Santa Cruz, with the beach only 2 minutes walk from the hotel and for the golf lovers the PGA Golf course of Santo da Serra is only 15 minutes away by car. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Santa Catarina Cruz
Hotel Santa Catarina Santa Cruz, Madeira

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