Some room for improvement but also some excellent features
Practicalities: Wifi 60 minutes per day per device in the lobby bar (so if you have a smartphone and a tablet take both and you get 2 hours). Hotel wifi is 20eu a week otherwise. For AI guests free safe, bottled water and pool towels. Transfer – about 15 mins. Check in – quick and they give you a glass of Madeira together with pool towel cards and safe instructions. You are also asked to pick dinner shifts.
Location : A short, nice prom by the sea with a cafe at one end. Shop across the road and a short row of shops, car hire, a Spar and a restaurant just up the hill. But that's it.
Getting about : Bus stop across the road. The 155 goes into Funchal roughly hourly at 2eu20 each way (note the route involves a fair bit of going up and down which is alarming at first). A 155E motorway service goes a couple of times a day in each direction. The hotel runs a free bus service into Funchal but it's timed in such a way that if you use it you can't have lunch in the hotel – deliberate penny pinching on the hotel's part. We found the optimal combination was to get the 08:30E service in and then the 1230 or 1330 155 back. There's plenty to do in Funchal, it's a great city. There are no other buses and it's very difficult to see anything more of the Island but the area around the hotel and Funchal. If we go back we shall hire a car. The buses are fine if you only want to go the Funchal. Local bus runs until midnight. Taxi rank outside the next hotel.
Room : Nice spacious room. Clean with nice balcony. Fridge. TV only had a few English Channels (no BBC1 or 2). Deckchairs and mats for them. No tea/coffee facilities so if you need them take a travel kettle. Maid service excellent.
Food : Breakfast – the usual selection. Crap bacon. Cava everyday. No sign of omelettes which might have been nice. Note they tell you breakfast doesn't start until 8am but if you are happy with continental breakfast plus eggs you can go in earlier (and then catch the 0830 express bus into Funchal). Lunch – excellent. Plenty of choice, leisurely and relaxed. Dinner : We disliked intently the 1830 and 2030 shifts for dinner as neither time suited us and they close the doors at 1845 so you can't get in. Unless you are lucky enough to get an isolated table the tables are close together. But the main problem of this way of doing things is that everyone wants the same course at the same time so you get queues and the staff preparing that course get overwhelmed. And despite this the staff still take your plate away before you are finished – any sign of inactivity and it's gone. Plenty of choice, though there was repetition – we had hake 4 times in a week for example. Fish was disappointing for an island in mid Atlantic. Caviar one night.
Drinks : Beer is draught Super Bock 5.1% ABV but only available for AI in 200ml glasses in the bars though they will give you 400ml with meals. Included with AI is 300ml bottles of the local Coral lager and (never seen this before) the low alcohol version of Super Bock. But I found all the beer too fizzy and generally unpleasant. Both Coral and Super Bock brew a stout which is excellent but not available in the hotel sadly. Wine – the white is fine. The red was like Ribena and the rose poor. We discovered that wine in Madeira costs around 1eu a bottle which is perhaps why they give you loads at dinner. But note it is all bottled wine and not out of plastic box. Cocktails – huge range for AI. Spirits and not measured and are branded. So it you fancy a large Johnny Walker Red Label you can have one on AI (it would otherwise be 7eu). Never seen this before.
Entertainment : Very little in the way of daytime activities. Piano and sax in the lobby bar from around 1930 – 2015 – but the roof in the lobby bar is low and it's acoustically dreadful. I felt sorry for the players. Then 2030 – 2130 the band play – exact band varies as some people have days off. They are quite good – good range but inevitably over 7 days some repetition. At 2130 there's a show. These varied – we most loved the University Singers – 14 blokes in uni gowns – was like something out of Monty Python. Some dance shows which were OK. Parrot show was very miss-able. Nice function room with bar.
Rep – pleasant, friendly and helpful Thomson rep – Lorraine – many thanks.
Staff – very friendly and helpful. The odd surly one (usually in the pool bar) but the majority are excellent.
Generally : This is a nice hotel well worth it's four stars with glimmers of 5 star. AI well worth while. The clients are almost entirely elderly (70 plus) (mainly German) and things are arranged to suit them. So this helps explain the shift system for meals. And the reliance on waiter service for just about everything except buffet food. If you are young or have children then this probably isn't a hotel for you (unless you want to drink all day, and in which case you should be well pleased with the first class range of AI drinks). The location counts against it, but if you are happy to lounge by the nice pools, take excursions or go to Funchal and you don't mind the predominantly elderly guests then this hotel is perfectly suited to you. Book it at once before it gets more expensive.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located opposite the oceanfront promenade of Canico de Baixo. 8-Storey building. 10 M to the sea; access to the ocean across a walkway. 13 Km from Funchal (complimentary shuttle service from the hotel; weekdays and Saturdays. Not available on public holidays). 2 Km from the city centre. 2 Km from various shops. 10 Km from the airport. 50 M from a bus stop. Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Visa, Diners. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Palace Madeira Canico
- Hotel Riu Palace Madeira Canico