24-Hour Room Service: Reid's Palace Madeira

For a hotel that is almost always full you rarely see your fellow guests at Reid's. Perhaps everyone is seduced by the comfy old-world sofas in their rooms, the Atlantic view from every balcony, or the many hidden benches in the dense tropical garden outside. Around the three swimming pools (two salt, one freshwater), a few well-preserved bodies lie recumbent under enormous hats. In the cocktail bar you may find the dance instructor refreshing a couple's foxtrot for tonight's dinner dance, but that's about it.

People come to Reid's to relax. When Rita Hayworth married the Aly Khan in 1949 they sought privacy at Reid's. Sandy Shaw hid here at the height of "Puppet On A String" fame. Winston Churchill retreated to the hotel to lick his wounds after losing office.

Opened in 1891 on what was then a rather bleak promontory to the south of Madeira's capital Funchal, Reid's very quickly established itself as the place to stay en route to the African colonies. Its proud boast was " Unequalled sea-bathing. No Rain. No Dust". Reid's was then taken up by the 1960s jetset.

LOCATION

Reid's Palace, Estrada Monumental 139, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal (00 351 291 71 70 30; www.reidspalace.com). Reid's is 1.5km west of the city centre and 24km from Funchal airport.

From international airport: 25/30 minutes in rush hour, 20 minutes the rest of the time. A taxi will set you back around ¿€30 (£21) each way.

COMFORTABLE?

Whether you're in the original 1891 building or the new wing (circa 1960) the sofas are just as deep, the beds just as massive and the television/DVD player still rises up from the bottom of the bed at the flick of a switch like a James Bond gizmo. Antiques and bureaux are scattered around like set dressing.

Freebies: Reid's own toiletries are provided in Bristol Blue bottles. It would be a hard heart that did not pocket the lot. Soft drinks from the minibar are also complimentary.

Keeping in touch: internet access is fast and free in reception, where two booths have terminals. If you have a laptop you can access the €5 (£3.60) per hour WiFi connection.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Double rooms start at €365 (£261), inclusive of breakfast.

I'm not paying that: the nearby five-star Pestana Carlton (00 351 291 23 9500; www.pestana.com) has double rooms from €116 (£83) including breakfast.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor