Looking for a quiet holiday in the sun with a pool and a range of other amenities, we chose Casa Velha after shying away from hundreds of glitzy "resort" hotels in many different locations. We could not have made a better choice. This is a true "home from home", slightly old-fashioned (all the better!) and rather English (it is owned by the Blandy family) country house hotel with a good- sized and deep pool. There is also tennis, table tennis, badminton, a small but well-equipped exercise room, a state-of-the-art spa, and a half-sized snooker table. Guests have free access to the adjoining 200 year-old Palheiro Gardens, which are glorious and through which you can join one of the main levada walks. I know nothing about golf but the course is an amazing piece of landscaping in itself. (There is also a motor-yacht which is available, at a price, for game fishing or occasional whale-watching cruises).
The staff are unfailingly polite and professional as well as welcoming and friendly - during a 10-day stay they developed a real but always discreet rapport with us, anticipating our preferences and joking with our 14 year-old son.
The hotel offers breakfast and dinner, a room service menu and afternoon tea. Guests may also use the golf clubhouse - a ten minute walk across the course - which serves food throughout the day and is useful for lunch or an early dinner.
The daily-changing table d'hote dinners were oustandingly good. The standard of cooking is exceptionally high (virtually Michelin-star standard, as another review suggests) and the menus, while offering only two or three choices in each course, are so well designed as to be a constant delight. Some reviews seem rather chippy about the style and/or the price (40 euros for three courses) but we were happy just to submit to the experience - we were on holiday, for goodness' sake! - and, given the level of effort and achievement in the cooking, thought they offered good value. We ate in every night. (There is also an a la carte menu and a seven course "tasting" menu but hardly anyone seemed to choose these). The restaurant is, I suppose, "formal", but only in the sense of offering all the proper routines of service and, while there is no stated dress-code as such, setting a style that would make shorts and flip-flops look unmannerly (no need for a jacket, though). I hope they stick to the stye in the face of a few carping criticisms.
Casa Velha is a small hotel - only 34 rooms - and exceptionally quiet and peaceful, especially at night. The rooms, mostly in two modern wings built in traditional Madeiran materials and style, are comfortable (excellent pillows!) and well furnished in a homely rather than ostentatious manner. There are two comfortable and well-proportioned public rooms in the main house, which have free and easily accessed WiFi.
It is perhaps worth saying - because other reviewers seem not to have noticed this before they got there - that the hotel is not actually in Funchal, the centre of which is a 20 minute drive away. The hotel provides a return shuttle service twice a day and a taxi costs about 18 euros. So, if you really want to be in Funchal, why not stay in Funchal? We had lunch there twice; visited the Marcado des Lavradores and the Blandy wine lodge; took the cable car to the Jardim Botanico; and the hotel organised a taxi tour of the island for us - quite enough on a lazy holiday.
Once we arrived at Casa Velha we didn't really want to go anywhere else. It does what it sets out to do exceptionally well.