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“Mountain location is the only reason to stay” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Encumeada

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Hotel Encumeada
3.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Feiteiras, Serra d' Agua, Ribeira Brava, Madeira 9350-000, Portugal (Formerly Estalagem Encumeada)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #4 of 5 Hotels in Ribeira Brava
London
Top Contributor
189 reviews 189 reviews
99 hotel reviews
Reviews in 160 cities Reviews in 160 cities
246 helpful votes 246 helpful votes
“Mountain location is the only reason to stay”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2010

I won't bore you with rambling essays about "what I did on my holidays" and irrelevant photos of butterflies and electricity pylons... Suffice it to say that the Estalagem Encumeada is in a good location for walking on the high ridge across from Pico Ruivo, but has few other advantages.

The rooms are average and adequate but not outstanding. The reception area (which doubles as a lounge and bar) is large and quite attractive. The dining room - on a lower level - is also spacious but poorly heated, dimly lit and rather lacking in atmosphere. (No sign of any wedding parties.) The buffet dinner at €13.50 was reasonable, with a selection of salads as well as soup, meat and fish. But the breakfast - served in the same area - was of a far lower standard, with little choice.

I stayed as part of a group on a walking holiday and found it OK for a one night stop. Because of the location and lack of dining choice, it wouldn't really be suitable for an extended stay unless you had your own car and were prepared to do a lot of tortuous driving.

  • Stayed March 2010
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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71 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (12)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Essex, England
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 3, 2010

On the wall of the hotel, coming downhill from Miradoura Encumeada, it says "Residential Encumeada", but the hotel seems better known on the internet as "Estalagem Encumeada". While researching the holiday, I thought there were two distinct places. While trying to find the right one in the clouds in the early afternoon of our arrival day, I was somewhat confused. They are in fact one and the same place and I'm going back.

Our visit coincided with the wettest Maderian 'winter' in living memory. It rained most of the time we were there and if it wasn't actually raining it had either just finished or was thinking about starting again. I'm Irish, my wife is Icelandic. The Maderians, like us, are island people and we can do business. In fact, we did business and took to Madeira like ducks to the proverbial. Warm rain beats the -2º we'd left behind at Stansted and the +2º we came back to a week or so later.

Winter? We recorded temperature extremes of 14ºC - 19ºC for the whole of our stay, whether on top of Paul de Serra or down in valleys and mountain trails, day or night, walking city streets or hiking levadas. If this is Winter (in mid-Feb.) bring it on, anytime. We can cope with extremes, especially those kind of extremes.

Residential Estalagem Encumeada sits about 3000' amsl. 750' higher, maybe a mile as the road winds upward, is [the] Miradoura Encumeada. Looking down on the hotel are peaks another 1000' higher. This is high mountain terrain and Estalegem Residential Encumeada nestles comfortably within it.

The adiabatic lapse rate gets its sums wrong up here in the top of the valley above Serra d'Agua and the mis-maths deliver an extraordinary micro-climate to the Encumeada. Right across from the hotel, at the side of the road we found young jacarandas; thriving. I mean jacarandas come from Kenyan lowlands and lurve warmth. On one of the drier days we found tiny lizards scurrying around on hotel brickwork mid-morning. These creatures don't even start their motors below 12ºC. Estalagem Encumeada is a magic place.

One day, at Porto Moniz, I went paddling in a rock pool. The locals were all wrapped up and intrigued to see this strange visitor taking the waters. They ain't seen an Irish winter, or an English one for that matter. I'da been in completely, but had no swim gear with me that day. Later in the week I sneaked a swim, late afternoon, in the outdoor pool at MadeiraTivoli. (Separate report elsewhere on this fine establishment.)

We didn't find the torn stair-carpet others are moaning about at Estalagem Encumeada. In fact the stairs laid out for us was stone and 'traditional'. Our room was directly above the 'infamous' restaurant where the supposedly rowdy weddings happen. We can't comment because, it being Lent and the carnaval over, there was no wedding while we were there. Timing is everything.

On the Sunday evening, for a small premium, there was a dinner to celebrate St. Valentine's Day. To our great delight, a fine crowd turned up and they were almost all 'native' Madeirans. From as young as 6wks to as old as .... well I'm not a good judge but there were grandads and grandmas, mammies and daddies, boys and girls and a few 'young lovers'. All except us and one other [French] couple were 'locals'.

We had a beautiful dinner, with Maderian bubbly (much better than champagne!) as an appetizer, a bottle of very nice Maderian red, a rose for every lady, the finest of cuisine across five courses, malmsey as requested and eventually, to finish off, a very fine local brandy. Just one tiny trick they miss is 'local young wine' served in carafe and drinkingable by the litre. For that you need to find the Restaurante Cancela beyween Canhas and Paul de Serra. (I think it is sited at Churrascaria)

Madeirans know how to make wines and Estalagem Encumeada stocks many of them. It has as good a stock of fortified Madeira as you'll find on the island (well apart from Blandy's) and very good prices on all bottles. We had 3yo at €9.50 and 5yo at €14.50 across the bar at reception. In London, you'd be looking at £15 and £25. For a good bottle for drinking on the balcony, ask Clive for "rainwater". Trust me on this! Oh! All the staff speak English after their fashion. Clive speaks beautiful English, slowly and almost in a whisper. We got to like him a lot and he was a veritable mine of local knowledge.

We found the 'normal' or everyday dinner quite entertaining and can confirm there are no labels on the warming trays. We always turned up about 7 by choice so we saw no cold 9pm food. But the staff were keeping an eye on things and did not overfill the trays and replenished from time to time. Thing is if they were to put labels on the trays what language should they use?

While we were there, we shared on different days with a Spanish couple who knew no English but could figure a little Portuguese, Germans who knew no Portuguese but had a little English, a Dutch couple with beautiful English, some English walkers who 'understood' Portuguese, Swedes, French and the Portuguese National Footsol Squad, like 20 strapping young men from Portugal, Madeira, and the Portuguese colonies.

The hotel team was entirely unfazed. They'd heard it all before and no doubt will again and again and again. Madeirans are a naturally reserved and cultured people. Not unlike many other island people, they've dealt with 'foreigners' for centuries. But, time and again, when we met fluent English speakers we got through to bubbly, friendly, happy, patriotic, intensely proud people: proud of their island, proud of their culture, proud of who they were: "Maderian first, then Portuguese". Dammit, the first inhabitants of Madeira were settled in, long before America was discovered by Europeans (other than Irish or Icelandic sailors that is).

We've read all the other reviews on this site. We can say that we experienced almost all of the good and some of the bad, well apart from the torn carpet. A couple of points must be made to end. The 'orange' drink described as cordial is actually mango juice
or a similar mix. It is a pure fruit juice and is to die for.

They do have tea but you have to look for the label "preto" as all the other teas are actually 'tisanes' and herbal remedies. You don't need to bring your camping gear to Estalagem Encumeada. Just put the bag marked 'preto' in a cup, add hot water. Milk decants from the cooler. The sugar is in the gold and brown bags alongside.

Our room had a very efficient CH radiator and we had it on all the time, not to keep warm but to dispel moisture. It did the job admirably, including drying out the room after I left the patio door open one night and the rain got in. Big time. We slept through that. Must have been last night's Madeira.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
london
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 2, 2010

Stayed 3 times in early 2009 ( looking for building plot) Very cheap - you get what you pay for ! Dated hotel in beautiful location, very noisy on weekends with Weddings. Ideal walking territory. Breakfast is VERY basic , but what can you expect for the money.
Worse part of this Hotel is the miserable staff, a greeting and smile costs nothing - no eye contact on ANY visit. As a result we now near the airport in a slightly more expensive hotel.

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BEDFORD
Top Contributor
110 reviews 110 reviews
69 hotel reviews
Reviews in 72 cities Reviews in 72 cities
169 helpful votes 169 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 7, 2009

We chose the Estalagem Encumeada, also know as the Residencia Encumeada, after spotting a deal on Ice Lolly.com. Reviews on Trip Advisor made us decide to go for it! We travelled to Funchal by EasyJet, then spent a night in Santa Cruz, near the airport, rather than trying to find the hotel at night. We were surprised by the amount of construction and tunnels that weren't there when we last visited the island about 25 years earlier! It did make for a much faster journey from the airport, without the hassle of the Funchal traffic, though the speed limits in some of the tunnels were seemingly quite high taking into account that some tunnels curve quite sharply. The hotel is no where near Ribeira Brava, or Serra de Agua, both of which are given in some addresses. The hotel is in fact almost at the top of the mountain on the old road to Sao Vicente. From Ribeira Brava, head north for Serra de Agua, then branch left onto the road signposted to Encumeada, then just carry on up! It's further than you think, but unmistakable when it appears on the right.
The hotel is spacious, with medium sized rooms. As noted elsewhere, the stair carpet is worn and the room a tad tired, but clean. The views are astounding! We selected the half board option and found the meals tasty and filling, if rather repetitious. The lack of signage on the buffet meal containers was interesting... Several times I inadvertantly mixed something fishy with meat etc. All good fun though and added to the overall experience.
We found the staff to be efficient and helpful, though some seemed a little unfriendly, but I found that this may just be the way Madeirans are by nature, as I noted this apparent lack of friendliness on my last visit to the island many years before.
Location, location, location! That's why you must visit. Depending on what you want from your stay, head to the coast if you want heat, or go higher up the mountains to discover the wild and beautiful heart of Madeira. There is a wind farm up there, but that's it. Just a few walkers, the odd cow, kamikazi swifts and insects galore. Empty roads and unspoilt countryside welcome you.
Although most of our stay was is warm sunshine, we did have two days of heavy rain, so don't forget your brolly!

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brighouse, Yorkshire
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 10, 2009

If you want a get away from it location this is it - 2 buses per day in one direction and 4 in the other. The hotel could be outstanding but let down by details e.g. no labels on the dishes at the buffet dinner, stained bath, worn stair carpet. However it is outstanding value. My wife & I booked through Travel Republic for ten nights in a twin room. It worked out at £20.63 per person per night for dinner, bed & breakfast - even with a poor exchange rate!

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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Norwich
Senior Contributor
41 reviews 41 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 6, 2009

Excellent value, ideal location for exploring levadas around Encumeada and Paulo Sierra.

Breakfast basic continental but adequate. Restaurant buffet seemed popular, but main menu was pretty good (which it needs to be as little local alternative).

Rooms were clean but are beginning to need "refreshing"/redecorating. The first room did have an ant infestation but we were given a fresh room without any fuss.

One word of warning is that due to the superb location this venue seems to be very popular for wedding receptions and it seems that Saturday nights are regular booked for such events. These are (in our experience) noisy affairs that can last well into the morning ! We had no noise problems on the other four nights of our stay.

Despite negative vibes, location superb, staff in the main friendly.

There is (chargeable) internet access via two reception PCs, while there is a Wifi network guests are not allowed access.

A hire-car is recommended if you are travelling independantly as the hotel is very isolated.

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lincoln, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 9, 2008

Having read various reviews, we were very pleased with the hotel. It is in the middle of the most wonderful scenery and is very isolated, so please don't stay here if you're looking for things to do in an evening! However, we went to Madeira to do some walking and found the Encumeada an excellent place to stay.
It took us exactly 50 minutes to drive from the airport to the hotel as there is a newish motorway as far as Ribeira Brava and then it is 20 minutes up the valley.
Our room was not large and as previous reviewers have pointed out could do with some refurbishment, but it had a lovely view, there was an excellent shower with plenty of hot water. The room was cleaned every day and the towels changed as often as you wanted. We took our own travel kettle and coffee as these are not provided. There was an electric radiator which came into its own drying our walking clothes one day when we'd been caught in a downpour! There are also facilities outside for washing/brushing your boots.
As we realised there would be nowhere else to eat in the evenings, we decided to go for the half-board option. The meal was buffet style with soup-salad-2xfish dishes-2xmeat dishes and a variety of puddings/fruit. This is served from 7pm to 10pm but we soon discovered it was better to eat early if you liked the food hot. There was a basket of special offer wines each day and for 12.50E we had some superb red wines with our meals. We also enjoyed a glass (large) of madeira before the meal. Breakfast was buffet style again with cereals, yogurts, fruit, one hot dish, rolls, croisants, cold meats and cheese. Not a huge selection, but bearing in mind we were paying less than £25pp per night, we felt it was excellent value.
The hotel was quite isolated and although there were some buses to Funchal, we felt it was essential to have a hire car. There is quite a lot of new road building going on, so there are some fast roads around the south of the island, but where we were the roads were full of hairpins. My husband enjoyed the driving and felt they were better than the roads in Greece as there was less traffic (September) and in better condition. We took the latest Madeira Tour & Trail Map with us together with the Shirley Whitehead's book of Madeira Walks and both were invaluable.
The weather was mixed and we soon discovered it can be raining on one part of the island while the other is still enjoying sunshine. Also to bear in mind staying in the hills is that the clouds come in quite quickly and on more than one occasion we decided to walk at lower levels to keep in the sunshine. There are however some fabulous walks in the area and walking the levadas is not difficult as the water channels follow the contour lines of the hills.
The staff could all speak good english and as we'd read that the staff were not exactly helpful, we made a point of being very chatty with the receptionist, who in turn was quite affable, being overworked rather than grumpy!
There were two wedding parties on the Saturday evening as well as a Christening, so the residents ate in the reception area. This entailed a lot of work for the staff to ensure it all worked well. Our room was towards the back/side of the hotel away from the restaurant areas and we were not disturbed at all by any noise.
We've given the hotel a 4 star rating because we felt it was such good value. We booked our flight (easyjet) hotel and hire car through directline holidays and as the two of us had half board for a week (including hire car) for just over £800 we considered it to be excelent value. This hotel is definitely for those who like a quiet holiday, away from the masses - take plenty of good books, enjoy the walking and the wine and you'll have a great holiday!

  • Stayed September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Encumeada

Address: Feiteiras, Serra d' Agua, Ribeira Brava, Madeira 9350-000, Portugal (Formerly Estalagem Encumeada)
Location: Portugal > Madeira Islands > Madeira > Ribeira Brava
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 5 Hotels in Ribeira Brava
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Hotel Encumeada 3*
Number of rooms: 49
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Estalagem Encumeada Hotel Ribeira Brava
Residencial Encumeada Ribeira Brava
Hotel Encumeada Madeira/Ribeira Brava, Portugal

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