This hotel is an absolute hidden gem. Excellent staff, good food, clean surroundings, excellent pools and a beach that rivals those in the Caribbean. I would definitely go back again. We stayed here on an all inclusive basis between 7th and 14th October.
Flights – plus taxi transfer to and from hotel
We travelled from Gatwick on B737 800. Luckily we had booked emergency exit seats, as legroom is not wonderful on these planes. Thomson simply has a trolley service on these shorter flights now, so we had lunch at Gatwick and then just a drink purchased from the trolley. The flight was good. Arrival at Porto Santo was interesting, in that it took ages to get through passport control, soooo slow. Bags were also slow arriving on the belt. I had read reviews that suggested getting a taxi transfer owing to the fact that almost 100% of the passengers were headed for Pestana Hotel and check in at hotel would be slow. We therefore had pre-booked the taxi transfer and that could not have been smoother, the driver was waiting for us beside the Thomson airport rep and we went directly out to the taxi. Hence arrived at the hotel before the coaches (multiple coaches). Check in took 5 minutes and front desk staff excellent.
We were originally allocated room 801 in block 8 on the ground floor which was a long way from the restaurant / main areas. It was the smallest 5 star room I had ever seen or stayed in. Quality of fittings were fine, but no seating for 2 persons, simply 1 chair and a slim consol table and a fridge unit. So one of us would have had to sit on the bed if we both wanted to read. A small terrace with a plastic table and 2 chairs overlooked the side gardens and wall of a staff block I think. As we booked this holiday a very long time ago I had read many reviews and was aware that this hotels standard rooms can be double the size of 801, so we went back to reception and asked for a change to an upper floor room nearer the pools. We were shown 2 available rooms by a very helpful member of the reception staff and chose room 215. This was on 1st floor in block 2, was near the restaurants and pools, overlooked the car park area (no problem) and was quiet. This room change made all the difference to the enjoyment of our holiday. The room contained the usual massive bed, but this time also had 2 armchairs, dressing table, coffee table, sofa bed, small round table, triple wardrobe with ample shelves and digital safe. Beware some of the larger rooms have just a double wardrobe with minimal shelves.
We did find the bed very hard and although the pillows were massive and feather (we think) they were very soft and so I had to fold mine to get some firmness.
Big downside to the room was having no coffee / tea facilities. Luckily we had taken our travel kettle plus mugs and sachet tea / coffee, so we just purchased some milk from the single well stocked supermarket on the island. The fridge in the room was good and contained 2 still and 2 fizzy water bottle. The still water bottle can be refilled at any water station on the complex.
Beware that some of the blocks at the main road end may have some steps up and down into the blocks themselves (8 certainly did) and this, plus the walk to the main areas may be awkward for some guests with mobility problems. That said each block did have a lift to alleviate at least some step problems.
The bathroom was good, the usual bidet and toilet, inset sink, hairdryer, moveable shaving wall mirror plus full bath with fixed shower on end wall. What I did find awkward was that the access to the bath was by squeezing between a glass shower panel and the countertop for the sink. This gave about 18 inches width to access the bath. Not ideal. Also there was no hand attachment to the shower, so if you want to just wash you hair in the shower, it’s an overhead soaking job or nothing. Failing that scooping water from the sink, which I resorted to. A nice touch was the pull out washing line that stretched the full length of the bath for drying towels and clothes. There was always ample white towels and a good supply of shower gel and shampoo which was regularly replaced. So you could save on suitcase weight by cutting down how much of that you pack.
Grounds and Pools
What can I say, absolutely wonderful. Lazy river style pools, with multiple depths to suit paddling and swimming. Salt water and fresh water pools. Ample loungers and terraces, both quiet and busy areas. They also have double bed style loungers with thick padding. This reminded me of the Riviera Princess Hotel we stayed at in Mexico. They also have garden terraces with loungers at the road end of the resort for those who do not want to be near the pools, plus beach style areas cut into the dunes with loungers near the beach. I would make one comment and that is that we stayed here in early October and the loungers by the main pool nearest the beach did get busy at times. I think if you stayed here in late July and August the situation may be different and getting a lounger may be awkward. At the moment you can go ‘next door’ to the Columbus hotel, which helps. But once that hotel is fully open and busy, that may change.
I think the word stunning is not even doing the beach justice. From the moment you reach the end of the private raised boardwalk (room card opens the locked gate) and look to the right and left you are blown away by the enviable position of this hotel and the sheer expanse of the beach. It is the deepest and widest soft sandy beach I have ever seen in a European resort. When we went in early October there was hardly any breeze and the temperatures each day were between 24C and 25C. Perfect. My husband and I walked the beach in both directions twice. It takes about 45 minutes to walk into town (turn left at the end of the boardwalk) and about the same to walk to the tip of the island (turn right) and its café. Note that coffee and cakes are so cheap on this island. We paid either 0.80c or E1 for a coffee and not much more for cake and that is both in town and at the café at the tip of the island. You can walk into town and the tip of the island on the main road if you want a firmer surface.
The food is good and plentiful and staff are very attentive. There is also a very good range of vegetables, rice and pasta so veggies are well catered for. The meat and fish selections were also good, about 4+ choices of each at both lunch and evening meal including the chef station. Ice creams are good. The deserts are not great, but that is not unusual and we have found this same trend in all the 4 and 5 star hotels we have stayed at. Breakfast is very good with ample choice for all of the usual eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, baked beans, cold meats and cheese, rolls and bread, yoghurts, fruits, honey, cereals. Help yourself coffee, tea and juice machines.
The one thing I would say is that I think the restaurant would be utter bedlam in high season (July / August), as it is quite small compared to other hotels we have stayed in. It became a queuing situation in early October in the evenings some nights – so best to eat early or late and avoid the more popular times.
We ate lunch here several times. The choice is quite varied as they have about 8 hot baked items such as chips, fish cakes, fish, meats in pastry and you can order kebab and burgers. Also on offer is a very good range of salad items and desert cakes. They also have a tub ice cream freezer and a help yourself coffee/ tea machine. Comfortable and ample seating is both formal tables and chairs plus padded sofas and loungers.
There is also a beach bar on the private boardwalk leading to the beach. It has a small amount of seating and seemed to be enjoyed by many as a relaxing area to have a quiet drink in the dune area.
We booked for 2 nights meals at the Madeira restaurant, which is actually housed in the Columbus hotel next door to the Pestana. The day after the first meal we went back to reception and cancelled the second night. I cannot fault the attentiveness of the staff, but the food was no better than the main restaurant. I chose a wheat soup because I thought it sounded different, but in fact it was like scotch broth.
Columbus hotel (next door)
This is like a stark square prison block compared to the attractive Pestana. We did have coffees and drinks at the bar there during a couple of evenings, which was quite pleasant. The external and internal pools were used by quite a few people and it was very quiet over there, but that is about it.
We did not use the spa services but we did sit by the large heated indoor pool and my husband swam in it. Very pleasant area with loungers on several levels.
The staff here are faultless, I think they are a credit to this hotel group and the island. Everyone single one of them had a smile and greeting for guests and could not do enough for you.
We did not seek out much of the entertainment services, although we did go into the main upstairs lounge bar on several nights after dinner for a coffee. There was a male guitarist who sang / played kind of bluesy stuff most nights who was quite good and we could have listened to him for hours. Quite frankly he did not need any additional singers beside him and therefore we always left the bar when his act changed.
This is a lovely small town and we walked in to it on several occasions. We were amazed at the low cost of coffee and cakes at the café’s. A cup of coffee was between 0.80C and E1. There are some interesting (hidden) clothes and shoe shops on the walk from the hotel to the town on the main road. Just past the water factory on the left side before you get into the town itself is a small collection of clothes and shoe shops. The prices and good and they have a croc shop which is full of different styles of crocs than those you might see in the UK. Don’t forget to visit the only supermarket on the island which is down by the beach near the main car park / taxi area.
The nearest ATM to the hotel is on the main road on the left hand side as you are walking into town and located in a small ‘mall’ area about 10 minutes walk from the hotel.
Internet and library
Internet access is free at the hotel, just get a slip with your passwords from reception and you get free access for your whole stay. Please note that the range is not good, so its best to access via your phone or tab from the areas by the upper lounge, dining room and pool bar. We found it reached block 2 so we could use it from the comfort of our room. The upper lounge area also has 2 computers for guests use and a very good library which must contain about 200 fiction books, mostly in English. These are books that former guests have left and you can just borrow them at will and return them before you leave. There are many new titles, these books are not old.
There is a small shop on site that bits and pieces (plus sweets etc)
Jeep Safari Trip / Trips
We intended to hire a car for 1-2 days but ended up simply doing a jeep safari. This was excellent. Pick up was 09:30 and we visited both ends of the island, heard about its history, had a birds eye view from both ends, went to a typical old house (of course was asked to try the drink and biscuits and invited to buy) and various other areas. Highly recommended.
I think Mario must rank as one of the best Thomson reps we have ever encountered and we have been using Thomson for about 13 years. Talk about enthusiasm and clarity. Shame he is off to Cape Verde – but their gain, Porto Santo’s loss. If Thomson started guaranteeing to use twin aisle aircraft for all flights to Cape Verde, we would go there.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Pestana Porto Santo hotel is a 5-star beach resort, on the island of Porto Santo, Madeira, and is all inclusive (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and domestic beverages). Recently voted the best All Inclusive resort in Europe, it is located on Portugal's best beach, the Porto Santo beach, with 9 km of fine sand and warm water. Just 1 minute on foot from the beach, this hotel also offers 2 large swimming pools surrounded by 30,000 m² of gardens. Guests can enjoy its 6 restaurants and 5 bars, as well as a Spa area with a heated swimming pool, water jets, sauna, Turkish bath, Hamman and gym. And for the little ones, the hotel has sports fields, game rooms and the Kids Club. The rooms are decorated with blue ocean hues and each has a flat-screen TV and balcony. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort And Spa - All Inclusive
- Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort & Spa - All Inclusive Hotel Porto Santo
- Pestana Hotel Porto Santo
- Pestana Resort Porto Santo