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Just returned from a one weeks stay at the Hotel Baia Azul. This hotel is situated about one hours stroll from the centre of Funchal, Madeiras capital city. The hotel is classed as four star by Thomsons, but realistically it is a three star hotel, in need of an update. Having said that, our room was basic, roomy but functional and very clean as was the rest of the hotel. We paid extra for a sea view with balcony which was worth every penny. No tea or coffee making facility in the room which was a bit annoying, but it did have a mini fridge to keep our drinks cool. Bathroom again very clean but dated, and plenty of hot water whenever we required it. The cleaner visited every day and was a very cheery lady unlike the rest of the hotel staff who were polite but reserved. Breakfast was buffet style, a range of bacon, eggs, cold meats, fruit, cereal, yogarts, bread rolls, jams ect. All very good and plenty of it, even bubbly if you could face it for breakfast. The hotel pool was very clean with plenty of sun loungers, although they are placed very close together, but never too many people using this facility. There is a good games room, snooker, pool, darts, board games but this you have to pay extra for, as you do for the sauna, 10 euro for 30 mins. We had a b&b package so ate out for our evening meal. We found a really good italian in the Lido area, Casa Italia, great pizza and pasta for around 8 euros, we ate there most nights. We booked two coach tours through Strawberry world, one to the West (18 euros) and one to the East (18 euros) of the Island. Both were very good and i would recommend them. We also had a trip on one of the many catamarans that leave from Funchal port, 30 Euros each for three hour trip to see whales and dolphins, both of which we spotted, also recommended. The cable car to Monte is not to be missed, 12 Euro return plus an extra 10 Euro to visit the palace gardens which were quite good. Another cable car links to the Botanical gardens, which again were quite good, although you need a good pair of legs to walk around as both gardens are very steep. All in all we had a good week, the weather was warm day and night even though it was cloudy most days. Not a place to visit if you are a beach lover as they are very poor, black sand and mostly pebbles. I would say if you are on a budget, then the Baia Azul is fine, but if you like real luxury then choose a five star hotel not this one.
This was our first ever package holiday and first trip to Madeira. The Hotel Baia Azul is perfectly located at the very Western end of the long strip of hotels in Funchal Bay. If I describe it as The Shining meets Miss Marple, I actually mean that as a compliment! All the communal areas are huge and decorated like a 1950s version of The Overlook, with staff in very old-fashioned uniforms. Ruched curtains and miles of purple-red carpeting. BUT (and it's a big but) we LOVED the Baia Azul. The staff are uniformly courteous, smiling and helpful (v important as we had a 10 month-old in tow), the breakfast buffet is plentiful and good. The rooms are huge and - yes - in need of a lick of paint/re-design - but quiet and comfortable with fantastic ocean views towards the east (ie, sunrise). The pool - clean, unheated but v inviting - was hardly used by anyone except us, and sun loungers were always available. There is also a childrens pool. Funchal is a pleasant 45-minute walk, or you can use the complimentary hotel bus. And Madeira is a wonderfully changing landscape with a climate similar to Cornwall: it can be sunny in the morning and rain all afternoon, but it's rarely extreme. The Western part of the island is fantastically dramatic - waterfalls and crashing seas, vertiginous drops. Plus banana trees, extraordinary fauna, mist-shrouded mountain tops. Not a place for clubbers, probably. Perfect for us. We'd love to return, and we'd certainly come back to the Baia Azul.
Spent a very enjoyable week at Baia Azul Hotel. We had been to Madeira fourteen years previously and were a bit disappointed as you could not access the sea then. We found the new promenade and gardens now constructed in the hotel area a real improvement. Baia Azul is efficient and welcoming with glorious views along the coast and a super pool area. Only drawback is a fairly run of the mill evening buffet and with so many restaurants handy, better to be bed and breakfast only. Lots to see in Funchal and around and useful hotel courtesy bus. Public transport is also very frequent. Would like to return in May or September as the weather was cloudier and cooler than we had expected. But much better than a UK February!
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