When booking this holiday to Madeira, we deliberately avoided looking at the huge 'tourist' hotels in favour of smaller, friendlier guest houses. That was our first mistake.
Trevor and June at TJ Walking (Trejuno) describe themselves/their guest house as "personal, friendly, with a homely atmosphere". If staying for over seven days, they also offer free transfers to and from the airport. Now, call me old-fashioned, but if you're collecting people from the airport, you put the travellers name on the card, not your own surname, with the name of the hotel in tiny, faded letters at the top. But since Funchal arrivals lounge is tiny, we did spot Trevor.
There was no 'hello, welcome to Madeira", it was a gruff "are you Simon/Suze or are you Graham?" then a "well you'll have to wait until the other two arrive before we can set off". My initial thought was "stereotypical gruff Cumbrian, I thought they were a southerners prejudice and nothing more".
Arriving at the B&B, his wife June was out in the garden and didn't even bother to smile at her guests. She just stared at us. Friends had just arrived, so it was her priority to make sure her friends were accommodated before her paying guests. Hoookaaay, this is hopefully going to get better.
The house smelled like a cross between an old church and a badly run old-folks home. The room smelled worse.
We were instructed to keep the bathroom window open to prevent mould on the tiles (but we were allowed to close it at night) and the shutters on the east facing room closed if we were out of the room. This resulted in a cold room being even colder. The temperatures on the island weren't what could be described as warm (12 degrees) and open windows, and closed shutters meant the room stayed at about 12 degrees. Not the best for a cosy stay.
June had provided us with extra blankets (bless) which smelled as though they had been in grandma's storage for the last 30 years. This was the only form of extra heating provided. The beds had waterproof mattress covers and pillow covers, which meant that the beds felt clammy and damp as well as cold. Apparently all hotels have to have them - they get inspected you know! Funny that we didn't stick to the bed in the other hotel we moved to after two nights.
They describe the rooms on their website as "tastefully decorated". Luridly pattered, very worn green carpets and dingy wallpaper, combined with 1970's furniture. A kettle was the only home comfort, with two tea-bags and two sachets of coffee provided per day. Luckily we had taken our own supply. No TV, radio or anything else to pass the time in the evening. One reading lamp between two of us was not ideal either.
The shower in the freezing bathroom was like standing under a half-working tap. On more than one occasion there wasn't any hot water, so you couldn't warm up even if you tried. Rubbing down with a towel to get the circulation going was as good as it got.
Breakfast - ah yes breakfast. My partner is a Coeliac, which means he has a gluten allergy. He takes his prescription bread everywhere with him. The trouble with his bread is that you have to toast it to stop it crumbling like cake. When we asked June to do this for us, you would have thought that we had asked her to grow the grain, mill it and then bake the bread. From that point on, all we got was a tirade of anti men abuse from her. I'm sure that it was meant as tongue in cheek, but personally, I cannot abide sexism of any variety, and I especially hate it when I'm a paying guest.
Breakfast for the rest of us was a small banana, cereal and defrosted bread. Measured amounts of each. No full english or anything hot (in that lovely warm (!) house).
The site says "Lounge is spacious and is available to read or relax in or you could bask in the sunshine on the sun beds on the terrace. We also have a good selection of malt whisky's and many other spirit drinks at our in-house cocktail bar." Frankly, if we had asked for a drink in the evening, it felt as though we would have been a total imposition on our hosts, so we stayed in the bar across the road on a windy, rainy stormy night where at least we were served with good grace and a smile.
We stayed for two nights at this dreadful B&B with unfriendly hosts before decamping to another hotel. Funnily enough, they didn't seem surprised by our departure, and neither did they offer us even a partial refund. If they had, I may not have written this review.
If all that you're interested in is 8 - 10hrs of walking each day and falling into bed exhausted each night, too tired to be aware of your surroundings, then this might suit you. If you're looking for a more relaxed holiday with *some* walking, then I would just avoid this place.
On the upside, Trevor and June do know the local bus services very well and will provide you with Giro cards to top up for the local buses. Oh - and you get free transfers, with a grumpy attitude.
- Also Known As:
- TJ Walking Madeira/Funchal