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.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.