I love staying in boutique hotels so if you ask me where to stay in Madeira – my answer is Sé Boutique Hotel! I’ll be telling you all the reasons why you just have to stay here. This is one of the most interesting hotels I have ever stayed at. It has an interesting décor, great rooms and even a rooftop terrace with a sunrise AND sunset view. I’ll also be telling you about where to eat in Funchal, what to do near Sé Boutique Hotel and the most instagrammable spots not to be missed in Madeira.
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Wearing the Kachel Elissa Mini Dress by Anthropologie
Why stay in Funchal?
Funchal is the capital city of Madeira. It is a lovely town at the bottom of the mountains overlooking the sea. It is actually particularly amazing at night when all the lights are on in the city and to look over it is incredible. Funchal is a great base to explore the island from. There are now very good roads connecting all sides of the island. However, to go inland there are still some long and winding roads. We found that Funchal was an easy base to have while in Madeira. From here, it was around an hour to drive inland to places like the Fanal forest and Pico do Areiro which are both a must while you are here. It is also easy from Funchal, as you can get onto the main roads easily, saving you having to drive down any smaller roads first.
There are lots of new roads that include tunnels through the mountains and this is why it’s fast to get around. Someone we met here was telling us that back in the day, a journey that now takes an hour used to take 4 hours! However, we did drive down one old road just to see how it was and I wouldn’t recommend it. Most of them are cordoned off due to falling rocks. It is quite an experience to drive on the cliffs edge with the sea down below!
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Why stay at Sé Boutique Hotel?
Sé Boutique Hotel is based in the heart of Funchal. It is right next to the cathedral, which you get amazing views of from the rooftop of the hotel. I love staying in boutique hotels and this really was the definition of boutique. The décor here is just incredible. As you walk in, there are plush sofas and floor to ceiling mirrors. There are so many lovely little elements, some vintage and some modern touches. We stayed in a Junior Suite and it was perfect for out big bags and plenty of belongings! The rooms are very modern, with a huge bed. There is also a desk and a mini fridge. We really felt very comfortable here, maybe a bit too comfortable, getting up for sunrise was a struggle from the amazing bed!
My favourite part of Sé Boutique Hotel really was the rooftop. While we were here they also had an open air cinema on the rooftop every Wednesday which was so lovely to see. During the day, it is lovely to come and sit at the top and have a drink. The décor here is also very fun. There are flamingos everywhere and it is a perfect photo spot. Not to mention the messages on the walls – it really is a lovely rooftop.
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Where to park?
There is a paid parking about a 5 minute walk away from Sé Boutique Hotel. It costs 6 Euro 50 a day with a special discount that you can get from the hotel. The parking is just in front of the old town and very easy to access. If you have heavy bags it might be a good idea to drop someone off nearer to the hotel first. As the streets are cobbled and there are a few steps involved in getting to the hotel. However, the hotel has a lift so no need to worry about that. We parked our car here everyday and always had a space to park.
What to do near Sé Boutique Hotel?
The location of Sé Boutique Hotel is just perfect. The best part is that it has a sunrise and sunset view. So after starting your day on the roof, read on to see where to go next!
Visit the market – Mercado dos Lavradores
This is an expensive market but a must see. This old market hall is now filled with amazing goodies to buy. The first section has lots of handicrafts. Then as you go through there is the most amazing fruit and vegetables market. The stalls are filled with all sorts of tropical fruits. However, be warned that is isn’t cheap! Stupidly I didn’t read the signs properly here. The sign said 1€90 – which I thought was already a lot for a passionfruit but it was actually 19€ per kilo! There are some great sellers here, who let you try the fruit, which really is delicious. If you’re prepared to pay 4 Euro for a passionfruit then by all means buy one. The main fruit grown in Madeira are bananas, as it is a very tropical and humid climate.
Go dolphin and whale watching
We went dolphin and whale watching here with a company whose offices are very close by – Rota dos Cetaceos. It is a company that has been operating for years and goes to great efforts to make sure everything is planned well and doesn’t cause any harm to the animals. There are two spotters who sit on the mountains looking out for the dolphins and whales. Unfortunately we didn’t see any whales but we saw plenty of dolphins. I would recommend not taking anything with you that can’t get wet. The waves were quite big the day we went and we ended up soaked! It is amazing though being on such a small boat and being so close to the water and the dolphins.
You can also swim in the water and see the dolphins from below, but only when the water is calm enough. There are two rows on the boat, so you can always see well. However, there is no free swimming allowed, so you have to hold onto a rope off the side of the boat at all times.
Visit the Old Town
The old town in Madeira is really interesting! There are lots of small cobbled streets to walk down, but the best bit is all the street art. If you go early enough before all the shops pen this will be the best time to see it all. Each door pretty much is covered in some amazing artwork. I just wish we had more time so I could have seen more. This was actually part of a project called ‘Painted Doors’ which was a community enhancement project. The streets are now like walking through a gallery. There are also plenty of places to eat and also a lovely viewpoint over the sea at the end of the Old Town. The old town is also home to the Porto Santo Chapel. This is a very Greek looking white washed building in the middle of the old town.
Where to eat near Sé Boutique Hotel?
Sé Boutique Hotel Restaurant
We had a lovely meal here one night when we didn’t want to walk anywhere after a long day. The restaurant is on the ground floor of the hotel with lots of outdoor seating. I had grilled salmon and Boyan had octopus and it was really delicious. It is also a very peaceful little street with only the restaurant on it.
This was a really lovely affordable place for dinner. The food was really delicious – Boyan had a pizza. I had seaweed risotto with scallops, which was divine. It is a small cosy restaurant with great service. I would definitely recommend going to Portaliano for dinner one night!
Restaurante dos Combatentes
This is great if you want some traditional Madeiran food. We wanted to eat somewhere close by on our first night and this is only a 5 minute walk away from Sé Boutique Hotel. Boyan had lamb with mash potato for main but it’s mainly famous for it’s fish. I had the most amazing skewer with vegetables, squid and prawns as well as white fish. I would definitely recommend it. This came with potatoes and salad. I would also recommend the cheesecake for dessert!
Most instagrammable spots in Madeira?
There are so many amazing hikes in Madeira. These are mainly along levadas – which are water channels used back in the day to transport water from the mountains to the towns below and to irrigate crops. I would recommend the Levada Caldeirao Verde. This is a hike that leads to a huge waterfall. Caldeirao Verde actually means Green Cauldron – and it is like a big green cave with the waterfall flowing down. Below are some instagrammable places that are much easier to reach and also very beautiful.
Pico do Areiro
The highest peak in Madeira, this spot is around an hour drive from Sé Boutique Hotel. There is an amazing hike you can do here. But you can also just walk a short distance from the car park for the most amazing view. This is the best place to stand right above the clouds and feel as if you are on top of the world. The road up here is a bit of a winding one, but it really is very scenic.
Wearing: Trainers from Anthropologie;
This enchanted forest is really beautiful to see. It is also another spot, where if you walk up, then you will be above the clouds again. We stopped by the side of the road to find the twisted trees and visit the cows here. We also walked up a path to the top of a hill and saw all the clouds below us. It is a not to be missed spot!
Praia do Seixal
This is the black beach in Madeira. It is absolutely incredible to see. The water was also very warm when we went in September. I have to have a swim after this shot to wash off all the black sand. There is also a snack bar/restaurant near this beach. If you want to stop for some food this is a good place, they do great pizza!
Ponta de Sao Lourenço
This is one of my favourite hikes in Madeira. From the car park it will take a few hours each way. You really get he most amazing views, as it is a long tip of land that goes out into the sea. It is lovely for both sunrise and sunset. However, be wary that you may be walking back in the dark if you are there for sunset. Make sure to bring a good torch.
Where is Madeira?
Madeira is an island off the coast of Morocco. It is 520km from the coast of Morocco and 1,000km from Europe. The island is a part of Portugal and the currency is still the Euro. The main language spoken is Portugese but everyone we met also spoke English. The climate is quite tropical and changeable, so make sure to bring layers but also clothes for warm weather. It was 26 degrees while we were here, but the levada walk we did I got quite chilly.
How to get to Madeira?
We flew to Madeira from London and it took around 3 hours and 30minutes to fly to Funchal. Landing here is a bit of an experience, as the runway is right next to the sea. However, you get the most amazing views over Ponta de Sao Lounrenço as you land. I will be telling you about this amazing spot that you can hike to later on in this post.
How to get around Madeira?
I would highly recommend hiring a car for the duration of your trip. We had a car with Rent Madeira. There are buses that can take you around Madeira and we even saw some taxis driving up to the highest peak at sunrise. However, to be able to do as much as possible and see the best sunrises and sunsets I would recommend hiring a car.
I hope you enjoyed this post on where to stay in Madeira – If you have any questions please let me know in the comments!
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