Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
Split-level outdoor pools
Spa with Turkish bath
There are some last-minute things that we can't champion. Like if you were about to submit an assignment or work project late, we couldn't encourage that. But luckily, we're not your boss - we're your fave travel agent (too cocky?), which means we can definitely encourage you to book a last-minute holiday. Specifically, a last-minute holiday to Madeira, because that's what this page is all about, in case you missed the title. It's cool if you did, don't sweat it. Speaking of sweating, you'll probably be doing some of that in Madeira. It's basically a mini Portugal, just with less sandy beaches. Don't get your speedos in a twist though, it's still got beaches - they're just a bit on the pebbly side. But a beach is a beach, amiright? Also, Christiano Ronaldo was actually born here (in the capital of Funchal). There's a whole museum dedicated to him and everything, if you fancy a nosy. Or, if you couldn't really give a monkeys about football, then you can just kick back by the pool with a cocktail in hand, all-inclusive style. Your call. (We're kinda leaning towards the second one.)
So, apparently Madeira's known for more than just the cake. We know, we were shocked too. But slabs of moist sponge aside, this place is a cracker of a destination when it comes to cheap holidays abroad, and these hotels are really up there, too. Well, if sipping Madeiran wine by the pool, indulging in a cheeky sauna sesh and hitting the diving centre for a bit of underwater exploring is your bag, that is. And if it's not, then...you okay?
If you're all Netflix-and-chilled out, it's probably time to level up your date night to a couples' holiday instead. Thankfully, Madeira's got the chilled vibes covered. In fact, we can see it now: the two of you lazing around in the sun, slathered in suncream and clinking your glasses of poncha. That's a traditional Madeiran drink BTW, not to be confused with the 00's fashion crime known as the poncho. Just to get that clear. If you book last minute, you could be hitting the beach, catching some Z's by the pool (fact: poolside naps hit so much harder), and hopping in a cable car to see Funchal from the sky - all as early as next weekend! Just remember to leave the poncho at home though, yeah? No one needs that comeback.
Listen, if there's a beach (and with us, there usually is), then we don't just want some distant view of it. We don't want it to be shuttle-ride away or even a 'short stroll'. We want it right there, in our faces. We want to hear the waves and the clatter of buckets and spades. We want to smell the seaweed and the cheese toasties. You get the idea. Thankfully, so do these hotels in Madeira, because they're right smack-bang along the beachfront. We could blabber on about them a bit more, but honestly you're probably sick of reading by now, and we think these views speak for themselves. So, take it away guys...
The flight time to Madeira from the UK is around 4 hours, which is enough time to watch six episodes of Friends, or the first quarter of the new Avatar film. Just a heads up - Madeira's airport is kind of iconic because of its cliffside location. That means you'll be in for some fandabbydosey views when you come in to land, but also that it can be a bit choppy because of the winds, so don't worry if the landing feels a bit rocky - it's totally normal!
Back in the day, Madeira was quiet as a mouse, but then it went all Miley Cyrus in her Can't Be Tamed era, so it's a bit more lively now. On a scale of 1-Magaluf, it's probably still only halfway along the scale, though. Most of the quieter resorts away from the centre are still all about the laidback vibes, with low-key nightlife and a more peaceful atmosphere. If you're looking for clubs and pubs, the centre of Funchal is where it's at.
Lisbon's a city, so - as you'd expect - it's a bit more spenny than Madeira in terms of food and accommodation. Both places have got their own vibe going on, though: Lisbon's all about that bustling city life - rich with history and packed with things to see, whereas Madeira's the better pick for a beach holiday, with sea views all around and a better choice of hotels for those chilled-out pool days.
The idea that Madeira is for 'older people' is more of a myth than the story about chewing gum sitting in your stomach for seven years after you swallow it. Silly talk, basically. Yes it's true that Madeira's not exactly on Ibiza's level when it comes to club nights and beach parties, but its chilled-out vibe doesn't mean it's a no-no for anyone under the age of 30. It's still got plenty to do - from day trips and boat rides to the low-key nightlife in the centre of Funchal. You'll find a good mix of ages here, and it's a great pick for anyone looking for something more laidback.