We put off going on holiday for a long time in 2021 because of the whole COVID situation. In all honesty, we couldn’t be arsed with the paper work and the fact that restrictions were changing on a dime and we didn’t want to risk being stuck somewhere we couldn’t get home easily from.
When things seemed to settle down last year though, we bit the bullet and booked a relatively last minute holiday to Madeira. We had oodles of annual leave left, were both double jabbed, and were both, quite frankly, sick of seeing either the inside of our own house, or the the North East of England.
The hotel we chose for our first trip away in almost 2 years was the Enotel Magnolia, about 20 minutes outside of Madeira centre and boy am I glad we did. We’ve stayed in a few all inclusive places in our time and I can honestly say, all things considered, that this was the best one we’ve ever stayed in.
The Enotel is small but perfectly formed, not the massive complex you often come to expect from all inclusive resorts. From the moment we arrived and the lady on reception was doing her best to check us in early, we knew we were in safe hands. For, come 12.30pm, we were pool side with a glass of wine in hand and a ham and cheese toasty on the way.
Let’s start with the building and facilities; it’s the perfect mix of swanky business hotel and beach side resort. It’s close enough to walk into town (about 20 minutes; down hill on the way in, uphill on the way back). But the rooms have lovely ocean views and it’s far enough removed from the hustle and bustle to feel like you’re on a sun holiday, not a city break.
The rooms are well equipped, basic, but modern. In all honesty, I’m not sure what you need from a hotel room when you’re on a sun/city break other than somewhere clean, tidy and comfortable to rest in-between doing cool things and the rooms at the Enotel Magnolia provide all those things. Right down to the little details like free soft drinks in your fridge everyday to refillable water bottles and face masks to wear around the hotel. The rooms were also cleaned everyday and towels changed if you left them on the floor of the bathroom.
Facilities wise; there’s two pools, a main pool outside, which was absolutely freezing, but perfect if you need to dip your toes in and cool down, and a lovely covered ‘indoor pool’ which is heated and more like a massive jacuzzi. There’s also a small gym with a few cardio machines and weights. I’m not adverse to visiting a gym while I’m on holiday, but didn’t on this occasion, since we were only there for a week. There were plenty of sun loungers available and even some big day beds, which I’m not shy in saying I had a good old mid morning snooze on one a few times!
As with most all inclusive hotels though it’s all about the food, and I think that’s what set the Entotel apart from other all inclusive resorts we’ve stayed in before. I mean, it’s still a bullet style service for breakfast and dinner, but the quality of the food was much superior and changed almost completely every night. It’s not like there was chips and chicken nuggets available every night like some places. There’s was always lots of local dishes, meat, vegetarian and vegan option plus a fresh cooking station which always had two meat or fish available to have cooked in front of you. I’m not a huge breakfast eater at the best of times so I was more than happy with a couple of coffees, some fruit and a croissant but Dave took advantage of the filly cooked option some mornings.
The thing I liked the most though was that lunch was table service on the terrace outside where you had a menu and could choose between burgers, toasties, salads etc or the special of the day which was often meat, fish or pasta cooked with vegetables. Dave had the Portuguese pork one day which was amazing – I had proper menu envy! It was just nice to be able to move from the pool to the sun terrace and have a leisurely lunch which was brought to you, rather than have to navigate the buffet for the third time that day.
There’s only one main bar for drinks, or you can get drinks served to you while you’re having dinner in the dinner hall. And pretty much everything is available in the all inclusive package. There’s a lovely sun terrace on the roof of the building too, which we took our drinks up to a few evenings to watch the sunset
Like anywhere, it’s the staff who make it, any Diogo and Johnny who looked after us most of the week were absolute superstars. Nothing was too much bother for them, they were always smiling and laughing, and the fact we inadvertently embroiled them in a caipirinha making contest was the highlight of the week. They are an absolute credit to the Enotel brand. We would absolutely recommend it to anyone thinking of staying in Madeira!