We have just returned from our two week holiday in Madeira. We really enjoyed our stay at the Pestana Carlton and I would certainly return to the hotel, although with slightly lower expectations. This hotel is a good hotel however not without some little niggles, which I think are fair to share, on the basis that this hotel is sold, in the UK, as a five star platinum resort. The Pestana Carlton is very good but five star means exceptional. It isn't quite that good!
There are many positive features here however aspects of the service and some of the facilities are not five star and may be a bit of a disappointment. Nothing spoilt our holiday.
The hotel was built in the seventies and you can tell in places! It has been refurbished and it looks like there must be some on going programme to improve the other areas.Whilst there are some areas which are still in need of a little modernising, the hotel is exceptionally clean and very comfortable. The old fashioned style is actually almost charming!
Check-in at hotel reception was very busy on the day we arrived. Most guests seem to arrive at the same time on a Monday, so be prepared for a bit of a queue.Once at the front of the queue, the check in process was swift and staff were friendly and helpful.
Our room was on the 14th floor in the tower, with a spectacular sea view. The sea view is well worth the upgrade. Just stunning. We have enjoyed late afternoon drinks on our balcony overlooking the ocean and Reid's Palace Garden. We were also able to enjoy the evening entertainment on the terrace from our balcony and that has been pretty good each evening.
The bedroom was large, freshly decorated and very comfortable. Plenty of storage. The bathroom has a single vanity unity, bath and shower attachment, with adjoining room with toilet and bidet. We had all we need.
Tea and coffee is provided in room on arrival although I brought plenty of tea bags from home to avoid the 6€ replenishment charge. We also bought water, snacks and drinks/ mixers from the Spar over the road. Ice can be requested from the Pub on level 6 and we used our mini bar for keeping drinks cool. Avoid the house wines from The Pub. Undrinkable, nasty stuff!
Maid service was daily but inconsistent. The beds were made but on some days our used glasses and cups were cleaned. On some they were not are not. Turn down service in the evening means a small corner of the duvet is folded. Nothing more. Towels are changed but this was also a bit at random and there was a rather complicated request for guests to use bins in different area of the bedroom for certain things, to enable the hotel to recycle. In reality, this just isn't practical. Pool towels are provided and the room maid will change these for you.
The garden pool is pleasant, although shade is quite limited and the parasols, which are old, tired and threadbare, have to be requested. We have always been able to get sun loungers and a parasol but some days are very busy and I noticed some guests struggling to find loungers together. We have giggled at the staff we nicknamed the "pink parasol police " who keep themselves busy doing nothing much more than move the parasols as soon as guests leave the poolside. One parasol is inadequate for two people and this affected my enjoyment of the poolside.
Words escape me on how to politely describe the lower level Atlantico pool, when you first go down in the lift! This lower pool area, near the sea access, is clean but far from 5 star quality or finish. It is reminiscent of a Butlins pool. It is desperately in need of upgrading. The indoor Atlántico pool however is very modern, clean and comfortable.
The garden pool restaurant and bar seems popular. We used it twice. Once to get drinks. I was the only person at the bar and was ignored by 3 waiters for a very long while, before any of them served me! They were too busy shouting at each other! We also went for lunch. It was very busy and we waited an hour for our food. We had been warned there would be a long wait. Once we got it, the food was really quite nice. Go, but avoid peak times! Other options would be to go to the Red Lion or Pub Number 2 over the road for a snack or the Atlantico Pool Snack bar at sea level which did a baguette/beer offer for 6.5 Euros
Timeshare and holiday club reps are on the prowl most days near the hotel lobby. We have sussed out the route to the lifts to avoid them or we pretend we are having a row! Linger for any length of time and you will be approached. I would exercise caution, as we heard of guests who were stuck for several hours.
There is wireless access. It is free and accessible on floors, 5, 6 and 7 near Reception but not accessible in your room and not by the pool. Very restricted and inconvenient. We borrowed a network cable from Reception, which did allow us internet access in our room for free. This was only possible because we had a laptop with us. No good for SMART devices. Whether we like it or not, convenient wireless access is now an expectation of most people and the current arrangement at the Pestana Carlton was a bit frustrating.
Breakfast is very good. It is plentiful and varied. Only the really fussy could find fault. Fruit, cereals, breads, cake, pastries, cold meats, cheeses, hot breakfast, eggs, bacon, beans, mushrooms, sausages, omelettes, juices, sparkling wine, tea, coffee, hot chocolate. Quite bizarre music played in the restaurant at breakfast mind you!
Overall this hotel, whilst very good, did not meet my expectations, based on how it was advertised by Thomson and compared to other platinum graded Thomson resorts (and we have stayed in five at least!) it just isn't quite offering the standard of service and standard we have experienced elsewhere. Both my husband and I would happily return. It is just not as good as the brochure would have you believe.
We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday. There was plenty to do and great restaurants locally (The Forte, Basilico, Chalet Vincent, Villa Cipriani), stunning scenery and some enjoyable excursions are available around the island and to the gardens. We also did the Wicker toboggans which we enjoyed. Overall a relaxing and comfortable place to be. 4 stars from me!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Pestana Carlton Madeira is a luxurious and charming 5-star hotel in the city of Funchal, on the island Madeira with views of the sea, garden, swimming pool or Funchal bay. It's only 10 minutes on foot from the city centre, with a private car park available for a fee. It features two enormous outdoor saltwater swimming pools, direct access to the Atlantic ocean, and a dive centre where you can experience your first underwater adventure and take boat excursions. For deeper relaxation, you can take advantage of all of the services available at the Spa, including the 25-foot indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, Turkish bath and relaxation rooms where you can enjoy a Magic Spa treatment. The hotel features Wi-Fi, four restaurants and two bars. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Pestana Carlton Madeira Funchal
- Carlton Hotel Madeira