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Quinta da Casa Branca
Review, photos, restaurant review of the luxury and design hotel in Funchal, Madeira
Article added on April 8, 2012; last update on April 9, 2012

Architecture and hotel

The first design hotel on the island of Madeira was Quinta da Casa Branca. Built in the heart of a lush, botanical garden in Funchal and opened in 1998, it has been managed since its first days by the French-born director Isabel Ferraz. Since 2003, Quinta da Casa Branca is a member of “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”.

For the innovative architecture of their five-star boutique hotel, the architects João Favila Menezes (* Coimbra 1966) and Teresa Ferreira (* Funchal 1962) of Bugio Arquitectura have been awarded the “City of Funchal Architecture Prize” in 1999. You can find more information about their work in the 2011-book by Menezes: Atelier Bugio, Order it from Amazon.com.

The idea of João Favila Menezes was a total break with the traditional Quinta architecture, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. At the same time, he wanted the hotel to be integrated in its natural environment, while using slate, a black stone, to remind visitors of the volcanic character of the island of Madeira.

Next to the reception at the Deck Bar, in a large cube of glass and steel, you can enjoy an afternoon tea or a cocktail in a wicker chair. As in the hotel rooms, the floors are in French oak. In the open air space, the floor is made of a water resistant deck timber; you get the feeling of sitting on a ship deck.

All rooms as well as the two suites of 110m2 each face the garden and offer a terrace or a balcony with at least a table and two chairs or deck chairs. The 29 standard double rooms in the 1998-building occupy 37m2, whereas the 12 superior rooms in the newer wing offer 55m2 each. I stayed in the category I clearly favor: Superior Room (306). In another hotel the superior rooms would probably be categorized as junior suites.

The bathrooms of the standard double rooms are made of Bisazza mosaics, whereas my preferred superior room bathrooms are in a Portuguese marble, dispose of more space and come with a separate bath tube and shower. The Superior Rooms and Suites are equipped with tea & coffee making facilities as well as DVD and a CD players. In addition, the two Suites dispose of separate lounges as well as of Jacuzzi tubs.

At the spa, you can enjoy treatments and massages with French Phytocéane products. The relaxing rooms, Turkish bath, sauna, Jacuzzi, steam bath as well as the gym are all free of charge.

The library-lounge with its open terrace offers a free computer. In the library-lounge I spotted a dried banana-leaf sculpture made by a local artists and representing Rainha Santa Isabel. The Portuguese Queen is holding a basket. According to a legend, it was filled with bred for the poor. When the King approached her and asked what she had in her basket, she replied she was just carrying roses. When her suspicious husband had a look, the bred had magically been transformed into roses.




The botanical garden of Quinta da Casa Branca

The hotel garden is lush and full of exotic plants and trees. During my walk through the park, assistant manager Cristina Martins showed me a loquat tree with its eatable plum fruits. Unfortunately, they were too high up, otherwise I would have tasted some of its ripe, yellow fruits. Guavas, mangos, avocados and bananas are other fruit you can find in the neat, perfectly maintained tropical garden. In addition, Cristina Martin showed me the “popcorn tree”; no, pop corn is not (yet) growing on trees, but the smell is identical. Unfortunately, the fruits of this tree are not eatable.

The tropical garden contains some 80-year old palm trees as well as many exotic species such as the Camphor trees at the hotel entrance or the Caracas Big-leaf, Yellow Trumpet trees, Floss silk trees, Pink snowball. In a small grove grow Indian rubber trees, banana and olive trees, African tulip trees as well as Norfolk pines. Towards the parking area, you can spot the endemic Madeiran Tis species. Near the Superior Rooms you can find Mexican bread fruit, bamboo and Indian rubber trees. Close to the already mentioned popcorn bushes grow also Glossy Abelias, Pride of Madeira, Sword Aloe, Flame trees, Coral Plants, Wisteria and many other trees and flowers.

On the other side of the park is the heated, 18-meter outdoor swimming pool. Next to it is the garden pavilion, mainly used for breakfast and lunch, with a lovely outdoor terrace. The floor and the tables of the wooden pavilion are in a green, Portuguese marble, the chairs in green painted iron.



A vegetarian dinner at restaurant Casa da Quinta

Since 2009, the restaurant Casa da Quinta is run by head chef Lurdes Silva (*1984). During my dinner, Luisa Castro (*1987) was the chef in the kitchen.

The 19th century Quinta da Casa Branca gave the street as well as the design hotel its name. The small manor house belongs to the British Leacock family who made a fortune in Madeira in the wine business, established in the mid-18th century. Their descendants are the owners of both the hotel and the huge villa next door with its equally elegant garden that you can overlook from your hotel room. Leacock remains one of the four famous Madeira Wine producers until today, although the family has sold the business and its name in 1925.

The  à la carte restaurant Casa da Quinta just seats 24 people downstairs. It offers Portuguese and Mediterranean cuisine with a large choice of vegetarian dishes. All wines are Portuguese and all are offered by the glass if so desired. All dishes come with wine suggestions.

Casa da Quinta is elegantly furnished in grey and light green colors. The photo on the right gives you an impression. Unfortunately, the beautiful horse race painting, which I was not the only guest to admire, is to the other side of the room.

My dinner at Casa da Quinta started with cheese bread and cheese sticks with seeds. My amuse-bouche was a delicious, fresh papaya juice, served with fresh cheese slices with salad.

I chose a glass of Prova Régia 2010 made of Arinto grapes from the region of Bucelas, just north of Lisbon, made by the Compania das Quintas. The high minerality of the white wine married well with first course, consisting of a green asparagus risotto with dry tomatoes and goat cheese, to which I added some additional parmesan.

Never change a winning team: I took another glass of Prova Régia 2010 with my next dish, eggplants au gratin, stuffed with vegetables, including zucchini and tomatoes. Simple but good.

My next course was a spicy Thai green curry of vegetables with tomatoes and coconut, served with basmati rice and guacamole with avocado to cool you down as side dishes; the avocados came from the hotel garden and turned the guacamole into a refreshing delight!

My dessert was a combination of a recommendable, exotic salad in small cubes with fresh passion fruit, mango, papaya, kiwi and pineapple, accompanied by a homemade lime fruit sorbet, which was on the average side, and an excellent American cheese cake with a passion fruit coulis on top.

Casa da Quinta has no Michelin star ambitions, but it is a nice, elegant restaurant with atmosphere.

Books about Madeira from Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukAmazon.de.


A garden view. Photos © Quinta da Casa Branca, Funchal, Madeira.


General view of the 1998-wing of the luxury and design hotel situated in an elegant garden. Photos © Quinta da Casa Branca, Funchal, Madeira.


The swimming pool area. Photos © Quinta da Casa Branca, Funchal, Madeira.
Books about Madeira from Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukAmazon.de.


A Superior Room, the category which I recommend and where I stayed. Photos © Quinta da Casa Branca, Funchal, Madeira.


The bathroom of a Superior Room, with separate bathtub and shower. Photos © Quinta da Casa Branca, Funchal, Madeira.


The Lounge - Library. Photos © Quinta da Casa Branca, Funchal, Madeira.


A walkway in the garden. Photos © Quinta da Casa Branca, Funchal, Madeira.


The main breakfast and lunch restaurant with the terrace. Photos © Quinta da Casa Branca, Funchal, Madeira. - Purchase books about Madeira from Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukAmazon.de.


Casa Branca, the à la carte dinner restaurant in the 19th century Quinta building. Photos © Quinta da Casa Branca, Funchal, Madeira.

Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
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