With 26 out of 28 TripAdviser reviews rating Summerplace Guesthouse as "excellent", expectations were high for our week-long stay. The friendly greeting by the owners was a good start and we were pleased to find that the 'three times a week' dinner was on that night, and so we joined four other guests on the terrace for a glass of Madeiran wine. The dinner was good value at 30 euro per person, with a salmon carpaccio starter, sorbet, mains of coq au vin or soy-marinated salmon and a yoghurt-based creme brûlée, inclusive of unlimited white and red wines. A second dinner included stuffed mushrooms, salmon Wellington and cappuccino cream and was equally good.
The guesthouse thrives on its conviviality, which means that shared tables are the norm, and the lounge area, library and outside spaces compensate for the lack of sitting space in the rooms. The three sea-view rooms have a pleasant outside patio, the one nearest the dining/living area, named 'The Pride of Madeira', also having a triangle of well-tended garden. These rooms are really excellent for catching the late afternoon sun or for a pre-dinner drink. A fourth room faces the back and has a view of the hill side. The fifth room is just off the dining/lounge area, which means that noise can be a problem for the occupants if the dinners are in full swing. All the rooms are supplied with extras needed for an enjoyable stay, including a well-stocked and realistically priced minibar. The rooms and all parts of the guesthouse are kept scrupulously clean and certainly pass the cobweb/dust test.
There's a large collection of DVDs available to watch on the small flat screen TV in each room. Wi-fi is available throughout the guesthouse although my iPad struggled to make a connection at times. There's an iMac in the library area complete with a printer, which is useful for printing out boarding passes. The lounge area gives pride of place to a Yamaha 'Disklavier', which was, sadly, out of tune due to a shortage of piano tuners in Madeira! The outside space includes an infinity pool, sun loungers, bean bags and chairs, all surrounded by the landscaped garden and the wonderful view.
Breakfast is served from 9 to 11, either outside on the deck or at the dining table. There's a generous buffet laid on, including homemade breads, croissants, cereals, fresh fruit, cheeses, meats, homemade yoghurt and jams, and so on. A cooked breakfast is also offered and the cheese and tomato omelette was probably one of the best we've ever had. All this is washed down with unlimited coffee.
For lunches and dinners when food isn't available in the guesthouse there are plenty of options within a fifteen minute drive. The nearest village on the coast, Paul do Mar, has a takeaway but nothing much else. Jardim do Mar is better, with the terrace restaurant at the Hotel Jardim do Mar benefitting from a fantastic view which compensates for average food, and the Tar Mar offering a slightly higher standard with excellent sourdough bread and a nice terrace. Prazeres and Calheta provided a few more options, including the Onda Azul restaurant in the four star Hotel Calheta, which makes a pretty good fish bean stew and has a relaxed ambience. Further along the marina, there's a number of restaurants catering for tourists: the Aki Kalheta does a good pizza with some unusual toppings (bananas included) but the tagliatelle primavera I had was dire. The Restaurante Convente das Vinhas, accessed by a right turn just before driving down into Calheta, has an impressive name and view, but the well-cooked fish is let down by unimaginative accompaniments.
So overall, we had a most enjoyable time in Madeira, and Summerplace was an excellent base, with genuine and generous hospitality and food that surpassed that in the many restaurants we tried. A final tip: walking along the levadas is an excellent way of burning off the calories!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.