We stayed at this hotel for 8 nights towards the end of March 2010. After the recent damage to the Island we were hesitant about going, but were encouraged by the local reports and blogs from the Islanders. We both enjoy walking and as this was our first trip to Madeira we wanted to stay somewhere outside of the many Tourist Hotels in and around Funchal, hence the reason for choosing this Hotel. Our first impressions were how steep the terrrain on the Island was, the Hotel is perched on a large flatish ledge that overlooks the Curral Valley, approx 800m above it , so the views down to the valley floor and the surrounding mountains are breathtaking. There are only 25 bedrooms in the hotel, which are split over 2 floors below the main reception floor, all the bedrooms are at the back of the hotel which overlooks Curral Das Freiras, they all have balconies of some sort, so the views from your room are wonderful. The front of the Hotel is geared up to receiving the hoards of day trippers off the Cruise Ships, which come up the narrow roads throughout the day to take in the views. Adacent to the Hotel is a bar and large shop selling local hadicrafts. The Day Trippers make the place seem busy, but they don't interfere with the general operation of the Hotel. From outside the Hotel entrance there are steps up 50m or so to a viewing platform, which seems to hang over a precipice! The Public areas in the hotel are quite spacious, with lots of comfy chairs to relax in, and a Pool Table on the lowest floor. However, we found that during the evening the lights here were never switched on (there is a switch in the fuse box on the wall), and there was no heating, and as it was late March it was still rather chilly in the evenings at this altitude. As for the other Hotel's amemrties, the Sauna was never working, and the water temperature of the Jacuzzi was only 32deg, so not really hot enough to relax in. The Restaurant is very good, meals were well presented and not overpriced, though the menu didn't vary from day to day, so if you were staying for a couple of weeks you would soon work your way through it. There is nowhere else to eat in the locality. Breakfasts were good, with fresh fruit, eggs, bacon etc, plus the usual bread/rolls/jam./cheeses, can't really be faulted.
For walkers like oursleves, a lot of the Tourist Guides do not recommend that you hire a car, as most of the walks are linear so you generally dont end up where you started. The alternative is to use the local buses on the Island, which are frequent and cheap. The Bus service that servers the Hotel area is #81, which goes form Funchal to Curral Das Freiras, a few of the buses (3 per day each way) divert to call at the hotel, otherwise it is a 3km walk down to the main road below to the bus stop. However, the buses from here are frequent and run into the late evening, which is not the case in other areas of the Island. The trip down the hairpin bends down to Funchal can be hair-raising, It generally varies from exciting, to reckless, or suicidal, depending on the driver. The late evening buses are probably the scariest, as there is little other traffic on the roads, so the drivers just assume they have the whole road to themselves and go for it!
There is a decent track down from the Hotel to Curral Das Freiras, which takes around 75 minutes, a bit longer back up. The local Levada walks in and around Curral are all closed due to the recent damage, so we ended up catching an early bus into Funchal every day after breakfast, and then another bus to our Levada starting point, this required some degree of planning the night before, as you have to co-ordinate the start and end points of your walk with the bus services. Overall it was an enjoyable holiday, the views from the hotel are fabulous, but be prepared for lots of waking if you dont have a car.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.