Monumental Lido Hotel & Funchal Madeira Review
Monumental Lido Hotel, Funchal, Madeira
Having recently returned from a holiday in Funchal, Madeira, staying at the Monumental Lido Hotel, I thought I'd do a combined review of the hotel and Funchal. Hopefully this may be of interest, especially if you are thinking of heading in that direction for a break.
I've tried to be honest with the reviews and they are my own opinions and may be far removed from the glossy brochures. I've given different aspects of the holiday marks out of 10. Of course, others may disagree with these.
All of the photos are my own. As I don't profess to be much of a photographer the photos should give a truer picture as to how things really are on the island.
Throughout this review are polaroid style photos of flowers I snapped as I went around the island - it really is one big floral garden.
For those who may not know Madeira is a small island about 600 miles off the coast of Portugal.
Enough said, I'll get on with the reviews starting with the hotel.
I will, however, be adding more information as time permits.
Is it a flower or is it a bird?
Monumental Lido Hotel, Funchal, Madeira
As I'm being honest as our bus pulled up outside of the four star Monumental Lido Hotel I was a little disappointed. It looked more like a row of shops than a hotel but, as I was on holiday, I was happy to overlook the first impression.
We (my wife and myself) went into the hotel reception and it all looked shiny and bright, the staff were welcoming and we were soon heading for our room on the 8th floor.
Hidden away in the shade
Monumental Lido Hotel, Funchal: Rooms
It's hard to get excited about the room. It was a typical hotel bedroom, there were two beds pushed together, one armchair and the usual dressing table style unit which also had a television in place. There was also a fridge but, if you wanted it stocked with drinks, this had to be requested - we bought our own at the local supermarket and kept them cool, much cheaper!
The bathroom was small but had the essentials: toilet, bidet and bath with shower.
A plus point was that everything was spotless and very clean. There was a card giving the maid's name and we got to know her during our stay. She was excellent and kept the room perfect. The only complaint was that, as she had lots of rooms to clean, it was often three or four in the afternoon before she got to us. Though we were mostly out this was unsettling on a couple of times when we returned early.
The best part of the room was the large balcony as we had a sea view which also overlooked the hotel swimming pool. There was sunshine all day long (except when it rained of course!)
I would suggest that, if wanting to stay at the hotel, you request a sea view and preferably a room on the 6th floor or higher. The rooms to the back of the hotel overlook a road and houses and do not get the sunshine. A couple of people we met asked to be moved from these rooms as they weren't happy with them.
Room score 6.5/10
Balcony view 9/10
A big brassy show off
Monumental Lido Hotel, Funchal Review
The Monumental Lido Hotel entrance was on a small parade of shops. The first three floors, at the front of the hotel, overlooked the main road. The two swimming pools, sun-lounge area and restaurant were all set back on the fourth floor. Also on the fourth floor by the pool was a small snack bar.
The swimming pools are by no means large and I can imagine they could get quite busy in the height of the summer season. There is also an indoor pool, accessible from this level.
Rooms rise up from the fourth level to the final eleventh floor. The style is almost a 50's look.
On the ground floor there is a large reception area and a small library with Internet access. There is also a bar area where the nightly entertainment can be found.
About the entertainment, it was none too special: A duo, a magic show, dancers and the such like. There was something on every night but I must admit we didn't really join in with this but preferred the local bars and other hotels. Often when we walked through this area at night it wasn't exactly packed with hotel guests and felt a little empty.
In all there are 168 double rooms, 32 apartments and 62 studios.
The hotel has a gymnasium, spa and solarium and also an underground car park should you hire a car.
Hotel overall 7/10
The purity of a wild lily
Monumental Lido Hotel, Funchal: Food
Now we move onto the food.
On the first night of our stay we were allocated a table and this was ours, every night, for the evening meal. Breakfast was a free for all where you could sit wherever you wished.
The head waiter was very friendly and gave us the low down on where everything was and the other staff were also friendly - though it wasn't quite 'silver service' if that is what you expect from a restaurant.
As for the food itself, I'll start with breakfast.
Buffet style with lots of choice.
Hot food, the usual scrambled eggs, small sausages, fatty bacon, beans and sometimes mushrooms. There was a self service toaster.
On a more of continental breakfast style there was a variety of fruit, cheese slices, meat slices, bread rolls of different types, several sorts of bread, cereals, fruit juice, coffee and tea.
I found the breakfast more than adequate. The only draw back was that the restaurant got quite hectic and sounded more like a works canteen with all of the noise and hustle. Plus they seemed obsessed with playing Frank Sinatra CD's and the same ones every morning. I got fed up with Strangers In The Night in the morning!
The main evening meal was again help yourself but felt more orderly as you could wander in at any time between 6.30 and 9.30 pm and knew your table was reserved.
As for the food. I'm a bit awkward as I'm a vegetarian but my wife is a meat eater so I can talk about this from two angles.
To start with there was soup (with rolls) or/and a big selection of salad stuff. This was fine for both of us as the soups were vegetable based.
The main course consisted of two choices of meats or fish but for a veggie like me there was only a couple of pasta style portions I could eat each week. With this there was usually different styles of potato, choice of vegetables and either rice or pasta.
My wife was happy with the way the fish and meats were cooked.
For sweet it was a selection of cakes, tarts and fruit every night these didn't vary very much.
There were coffee and tea machines for an after meal drink and with the meal itself you could purchase wines, beers and water. A wine waiter visited each table.
I guess to give this a score the main evening meal would be:
Meat eater 7/10
Cliff top colour
Monumental Lido Hotel, Funchal: Position
The Monumental Lido Hotel is set to the west of Funchal, Madeira's capital. The brochures reckon it's about half an hour from the city centre but I found it more like a 45 minute walk - but I was in slow holiday mode. There are, however, buses from opposite the hotel that will take you to the main part of the town in minutes.
The hotel is in an area appropriately called the Lido and, for me, it was in a good position. It's minutes from the sea and a promenade that takes you through gardens with sea views. There's a small hill to contend with so it could be a little awkward for anyone with walking difficulties. The promenade is also up and down in places but has a good walking surface.
Along the prom you'll find several lidos. These are where you can swim in pools - freshwater and sea water - and sun yourself to your hearts content.
One of the drawbacks about Madeira is the lack of beaches, thus the popularity of these lidos which cost in the region of 3 euros for entry plus another small fee should you want a sun lounger.
On the way to this promenade there is a supermarket (photo right), should you want to stock up on wine, water, cakes and so on. There is also another supermarket if you turn right outside of the hotel entrance and walk for about 5 to 10 minutes. You'll also find a Post Office in this area.
From outside of the hotel there are bus stops and also on the opposite side of the road as well. It's possible to see most of the island on public buses but the timetables and bus stops are a little confusing. A timetable can be purchased for 1.50 euros from the Information centre in Funchal.
Should you want bars or restaurants you'll find a vast selection near to the hotel - Indian, Chinese, Italian, Japanese and even Madeiran food!
It's possible to walk two main ways into Funchal. Either straight along the road, that runs in front of the hotel (turn left) or by following the road a shorter distance and then turning right when you see signs to the port and marina.
The second way is the most interesting as this passes the port, where the cruise liners dock, and also the main boat marina. There is a lovely walk along the front but watch out for the time-share touts.
Hotel Position 8/10
Funchal bottle washer
Funchal, Madeira Review With Photos
I must admit that Funchal was much bigger than I anticipated. It has a population of well over 105,000 and at times the network of roads can get quite busy.
It's a great base, however, for seeing Madeira as everything seems to stem from Funchal - which is the capital - and there is lots to see for tourists.
It's shaped somewhat like a natural amphitheatre with gentle slopes surrounding Funchal rising up to over 1200 meters. This helps to give the city some of the best weather on the Island. It often stays sunny while other parts of the island have rain or clouds.
Throughout the city there are some excellent parks (Parque de sta Catarina photo left) and botanical gardens with wonderful displays of flowers and all sorts of unusual trees. The parks have free entry but the botanical gardens charge an entrance fee.
My personal favourite place to walk was along the front from the port, where there are usually cruise ships moored, past the marina full of yachts and charter trips and continue to an old fort (photo right) at the east of the town.
From here it's possible to walk back through the old town and see the cable car overhead going up the mountainside to Monte.
A trip on the cable car costs 15 euros and from the top you can return via a toboggan ride if you wish. It's much cheaper to get to Monte by bus.
Once the old town finishes the new begins with lots of high quality shops and restaurants.
The newer part of the city has a metropolitan feel to it but also retains some lovely architecture which includes the Cathedral (photo right), which dates back to about 1500.
Funchal can be mostly seen on foot but for those unable to walk too far there are buses available including a tourist open top tour bus where you can get on and off as often as you wish.
My wife and I loved Funchal!
Shady pink trio
Seeing The Rest Of Madeira
This part is mostly for UK readers but is also partly relevant for other countries.
I went to Madeira with First Choice holidays and they also offer various trips to see different parts of the Island. As far as I'm concerned these trips are way overpriced.
As an example a full day excursion to either the west or east of Madeira with First Choice costs 49 euros per person. This includes lunch.
But if you were to go with Strawberry World, who have an office next door to the Monumental Lido Hotel, the very same trips cost me only 20 euros per person - though there is no lunch provided.
Now First Choice infer that other excursions may not be insured etc. etc. and generally talk them down. However Strawberry World are a government bonded tour operators.
The coaches we travelled on were new Mercedes and the courier was excellent, a local woman born in Madeira and she told us absolutely everything about the island. She spoke perfect English.
So my advice would be try Strawberry World for your excursions - they all travel the same routes.
More About Madeira and Travel
Wild at the side of the road
More Photos Of Flowers
There are lots more photos of flowers on my lens A year In My Cornish Garden - Mike.