Madeira – the ideal ‘babymoon’ destination. A tiny island situated off main land Portugal, Madeira is certainly the underdog of European destinations.
Known as the ‘island of eternal spring’, weather on the island of Madeira is good all year round and as it’s home town of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo it seemed the perfect place to vacay as husband and wife on our babymoon. Chill for me, football for him. Everyone’s a winner.
I’m 24 weeks pregnant and have 2 boys that we gladly handed over to the Grandparents after a full on first week of Easter holiday madness. We didn’t experience a babymoon with our other pregnancies – always thought it wasn’t necessary but this time round it was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Time to ourselves. Just us. Time to enjoy our last pregnancy and remember that we actually do love each other very much.
So why Madeira? It had to tick all the boxes – not too far away on an aeroplane, good weather, swimming’s pools open (lots of European hotel pools don’t open until May). Originally we thought about going to Malta but the hotel pools weren’t open and the ones that were weren’t heated. A big no no.
I also wanted to go somewhere where I had the choice to explore or do absolutely nothing. The idea of sitting around a swimming pool all day sounded like heaven!
Wherever we go, my husband Jesse and do the hard yards in research – it may take longer but it’s totally worth it. We found Belmont’s Reid Palace Hotel and fell in love with it immediately. The hotel was pink for a start and set in layers of rock that span over 6 floors. Reception is on level 5 and the pool is on level 0 – but there is still another level below this to get to the infinity pool and sea.
We checked to see if the pools were open – they were and they were heated. Result! Then we looked at the pricing and availability.
Hotel comparison sites are your friend and they work.
We compared the hotel on sites like Agoda, Kayak, Booking.com, Skyscanner, Expedia and found the best deal using Agoda saving us £100 per night. Using these sites mean you have to pay all upfront, which seems steep at the time but checking out of our room at the end of our stay with a hotel bill of €60 (room service a couple of times and mini bar beers/snacks) was extremely pleasant. No one wants a big hotel bill at the end of a relaxing trip.
Now back to the hotel… The Belmond Reid Palace is in a league of its own.
The oldest and most beautiful hotel on the island, Reid’s Palace oozes old school British decadence.
The history of the hotel dates back to the early 1900s with previous guests including Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin. The memorabilia has been remarkably respected all around the hotel.
Reid’s Palace is known for their elegant afternoon tea. For €36 you can sit on the stunning pink terrace overlooking the ocean and pick from a plethora of tea choices – accompanied by classic crustless sandwiches, scones and cakes. The waiters could not be more accommodating with the whole experience too.
I can genuinely say, hand on my heart, Reid’s Palace is the most organised, OCD, hotel I’ve ever stayed in (which is good!) The staff at reception knew who we were before we even said our names at check in – our bags were at our room before we were, the attention to detail was ten to none (great for my Virgo OCD self). The stationery and branding was immaculate (my husband is an art director so for him this was like porn).
Everyone who worked at the hotel felt connected. They all knew what was going on with whom with such 5 star class. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it.
The hotel consists of 3 swimming pools, a spa, gym, tennis courts, Michelin-starred restaurant called William Restaurant, a snooker room and such stunning gardens. Everywhere you looked was beautiful and so Instagrammable!
Things to do in Madeira.
We had 3 days in Madeira and to be honest I didn’t want to do much apart from rest and enjoy being pregnant without running around after my two boys. But the stuff we did do was totally worth it –
- Ride on a cable car to the top of the mountain. The views are astonishing as you climb over the city of volcanic beauty. This costs €11 each one one, €16 return. If you’re pregnant you jump to the front of the queue which saved us around 30 minutes of waiting around.. result!
- Once at the top of the mountain, you can either get the cable car back down or use the 100 year old toboggan tradition. Obvs we did this and was pleasantly surprised I was able to take part being pregnant. It was so much fun!! €30 for 2. They’ll take your photo on the way down (like they do on adventure park rides) and present you with it at the end. They cost €10. You’ll need to get a taxi back to the marina (where the cable cars are) which costs a fixed price of €38.
- If your fella is a football fan then I suggest going to the Cristiano Ronaldo’s museum. My husband went using the hotel shuttle bus for free and had some manly time to himself as I stayed at the hotel and started to write this post overlooking the ocean. Perfect!
- Treat yourself to a spa treatment at the hotel – and even better if you can get the couples treatment room. Jesse and I enjoyed an hours massage side by side followed by using their private jacuzzi pool afterwards (I wasn’t allowed in being pregnant but it was still lovely to be in that space). I had the ‘Ultimate Rose Pregnancy’ massage and Jesse had the ‘Regional Spa’ massage.
- Go to the Farmers Market. Full of flowers, fruit, veg and the biggest fish market I’ve seen! The locals are all so friendly and excellent at English.
- Explore the Old Town – but wear sensible shoes! The streets are all cobbled and bumpy. Lots of lovely wine bars, restaurants and shops all so inviting and reasonable.
Places to eat – again we did a lot of research on where to eat. Staying in a place for only 3 days means planning well and making sure you get every ounce of enjoyment out of it. And we did!
- Armazem Do Sal. It’s a 200 year old building that once served as a salt warehouse but now a Michelin-starred restaurant. The service was slow but worth the wait as the food was out of this world! Try the sea bream and chocolate volcano! ?
- Restaurant Casal da Penha was full of joy. The waiters were quick on their feet and the food was tremendous. My husband was so excited with his fish platter of scabbard fish, sea bass, bream, squid and shrimp for €21. Fab place to eat!
- Faja dos Padres. This restaurant can only get access by a very steep cable car. It costs €10 return per person and you literally get on it like a bus by yourself and head down the cliff. The sights are magnificent – somewhat scary if you’re not a fan of heights but to get to the bottom took a very quick 3 minutes. From here walk through the farm and hear the lizards run away from you whilst watching the sea waves hitting the black sand. The restaurant is a 5 minute walk from the cable car and so remote it feels extra special. Very reasonable too. All the fruit and veg served at the restaurant are all grown on their farm. Try and sit outside right next to the ocean.
- Riso – stunning sea views and a menu to match. Make sure when you book you ask for a table on the terrace. It’s mainly rice inspired dishes which suited me just fine – and so filling I didn’t have space for dessert. Boo. We walked from this restaurant back to the Old Town passing lots of intimate wine bars and caught a taxi back to the hotel.
Our flights back to London were at a reasonable hour of 6pm and before we knew it we were back to reality. Our two son’s greeting us in the morning with breakfast demands and bottoms that needed to be wiped…only this time we had pressed the ‘reset’ button and parenting seemed a lot easer that particular morning.
Our time in Madeira was fantastic and I highly recommend this small welcoming and beautiful escape. The underdog of islands for sure.
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