Three really is a magic number at Three House Hotel, a triple-threat combination of Atlantic Ocean-facing apartments, a swimming-pool-topped sun terrace, and a North African-influenced restaurant and cocktail bar. A neutral palette runs through the light, bright, minimalistically styled studios, but the magic mostly happens up on the sixth floor. This laidback yet up-beat rooftop hangout will be your hub, when you’re not off hiking, biking, or canyoning, that is. Whether you’re checking-in for a Madeiran mini-break, or extending your stay to explore the island, you’ll be able to confirm that good things absolutely do come in threes.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £107.74 (€124), including tax at 5 per cent.
Rates exclude breakfast, but freshly baked pastries are delivered to your room each morning free of charge.
The hotel is wheelchair-accessible and has some room options suitable for guests with mobility issues.
Three House Hotel is open all year round.
At the hotel
Mediterranean rooftop garden, gym, self-serve laundry service, plug adaptors, and free WiFi. In rooms: smart TV, air-conditioning, fully-equipped kitchen with Smeg appliances, tea-making kit, coffee machine, gourmet minibar, beach towels, and organic Damana bath products. And Superior Rooms have a Harman Kardon Bluetooth speaker.
Our favourite rooms
Contemporary home comforts come guaranteed in every room here – but for the space to stretch out as if you really were at home, book the Apartment T2 Superior for its two light-flooded bedrooms and large open-plan kitchen.
The salty sea air will be on your lips and the sound of crashing Atlantic waves in your ears as you take a horizon-skimming swim in the hotel’s heated natural stone saltwater infinity pool (open 8am to 7pm), fringed by subtropical plants which dot the rooftop.
The gym is free to use. There’s a strength-training section with free weights and machines, plus a cardio area. Fitness classes are also available on request (€10 an hour, a person).
A trusty pair of flats are an absolute must for a blister-free break – Funchal’s hilly, cobblestone streets can be quite unforgiving towards style-over-comfort footwear. Madeira’s many microclimates also make layered (activewear) outfits essential.
With your access-all-areas card, take the south lift down and you’ll come out directly into Funchal’s Oudinot retail centre – and the main shopping area is just a five-minute walk away – so you really can shop-till-you-drop.
Dogs (under 10kg) are welcome to stay in every apartment at Three House Hotel for an additional charge of €30 (a night, for each pet), which includes a comfy dog bed. See more pet-friendly hotels in Funchal.
There aren't any specific activities tailored to them but children are welcome to stay here.
Already taking steps towards becoming a zero-waste property, Three House Hotel has all but eliminated plastic from its operations. The soon-to-be-installed solar panels will provide much of the energy needed for the hotel, and the bathrooms are sustainably stocked with vegan toiletries. Local water is purified using on-site micro-filtration and cooling technology, and refreshingly bottled in recycled glass.
Undoubtedly the chef’s counter, where you’ll have a front row seat to watch chef Maurício Faria work his magic.
You’re just a few steps away from the pool, so kaftans and cover-ups won’t look out of place.
Madeira’s proximity to Morocco can be felt in the North African fusion food and decor at Three House Restaurant, a cool rooftop spot for brunch (think homemade granola and açaí bowls bursting with tropical fruit), lunch, and dinner (the mango-pickled ceviche is a must-try) overlooking the boats bobbing around in Funchal’s harbour. Large leaves of fragrant banana plants unfurl around alfresco tables, and the intimate space indoors is awash with a peachy glow from the apricot-tinged, alcoved walls.
Mellow beats from the house DJ set a relaxed rhythm on the Three Rooftop Bar, which kicks up a notch during the live-music sessions (Wednesday to Saturday each week). Sink ruby-red Agavonis (a tequila-spiked take on the Negroni) from your day-bed, or tuck into some light tapas from one of the sea-facing sofas – you’ll have one of the best seats in Funchal to watch the sunset.
The kitchen is open each day between 10am and 9.30pm for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
With your own Smeg-stocked kitchen, who needs room service? But if you’re not in the mood to cook, you can dial down to reception between 10am and 9.30pm.
Tumbling down the dramatic slopes of Madeira’s volcanic coast, mountain-backed, Atlantic-fronting Funchal is a subtropical city which never feels far from nature’s call – and Three House Hotel is firmly at its centre.
Named after Madeira’s famous footballing export, Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport is an easy, breezy 30-minute drive from the hotel. Three House Hotel is on hand to help with transfers, and a limousine service is available on request.
You’re more likely to take a toboggan than a train on this Portuguese island, as the Monte Railway has not been in use since the Forties.
Short city breaks in Funchal are perfectly doable without a car, but longer stays which delve deeper into the island’s many hiking trails definitely demand some wheels (we’d recommend asking for an automatic to smoothly navigate Madeira’s hair-raisingly steep mountain roads). There is free underground parking at the hotel, which can be accessed using your room key.
Island-hoppers can board the Lobo Marinho ferry (operated by Porto Santo Line) to travel between Madeira and Porto Santo – sea transfers take around two-and-a-half hours. Funchal’s port is also well-connected to various other European hubs.
Worth getting out of bed for
Funchal’s many charms are at your feet thanks to Three House Hotel’s superbly central location. A short stroll will take you to Sé Cathedral – a masterful mixture of Gothic, Moorish, and Manueline architecture – and onwards to the quaint, labyrinthine Old Town (or Zona Velha to locals). Don’t miss the painted doors down the Rua de Santa Maria, a project led by photographer José Maria Zyberchem who encouraged local artists to unleash their creativity on over 200 entry-ways. Quirky galleries have sprung up in the Santa Maria district, where aesthetes should also keep an eye out for azulejos (traditional ceramic tiles). The vibrant farmer’s market known as Mercado dos Lavradores is also within walking distance, where ‘flower girls’ clad in colourful costumes sell bouquets of island-grown plants (time your visit for April and May to see Madeira in full bloom during its annual Flower Festival), alongside fresh-off-the-boat fisherman and fruit merchants. Cable-car rides run regularly to the idyllic village of Monte, where the green-fingered will be in their exotic element at Monte Palace Tropical Garden and Funchal’s Botanical Garden. Just when you thought riding the gondola up felt adventurous, you can put your faith in straw-boater-wearing tobogganers who will whizz you back down to Livramento in a wicker-basket-style sled. Water-based activities include dolphin and whale-watching tours which depart daily from the picturesque waterfront, waterfall canyoning, and crystal-clear dips in Porto Moniz’s natural pools on the north-western tip of the island, which have been formed by volcanic lava. The black-sand beach at Seixal is also well worth a visit. Don your hiking boots and follow one of the many levada trails (Madeira’s old waterways) which criss-cross the mountains, taking the intrepid up into the clouds, past banana plantations and grape-laden vineyards. Not for the faint-of-heart, the glass-bottomed Skywalk juts out from the cliffs of Cabo Girão and promises precarious views along the coastline, towards the pretty town of Câmara de Lobos and the Desertas Islands in the distance.
Predictably, seafood reigns supreme throughout the island’s flourishing food scene – but a few surprise ingredients will be thrown your way, particularly along Funchal’s waterfront eateries where black scabbardfish topped with deep-fried banana and drizzled in passion-fruit sauce appears on almost every menu. Perched above the port within a former fortress-turned-exhibition-space dedicated to Funchal-born interior designer Nini Andrade Silva, Atelier Restaurantserves seasonal tasting menus alongside experimental and artistically-presented à la carte options, including just-caught octopus marinated in a Madeiran concoction known as ‘villain sauce’ (made with olive oil, garlic, oregano and pepper). The 40-minute drive to Santana is worth every second if you can secure a reservation at Quinta do Furão, a cliffside restaurant overlooking Madeira’s highest mountain – sit on the sheltered verandah and tuck into charcoal-roasted fish, Atlantic seafood soup (ask for some home-baked croutons on top for added crunch), and slow-cooked, wood-fired suckling pig encrusted with locally foraged herbs.
Powering up for the day’s adventures requires a bountiful brunch, which is exactly what Prima Caju delivers – the health-focused menu ranges from pretty pancake-stacked plates and veggie-brimming buckwheat bowls, to home-brewed kombucha and tropical smoothies. In the heart of Santa Maria Maior, Art Food Corner is a creative-led café with a vegan-friendly menu, including plant-based coffees, homemade hummus, and gluten-free wraps.
No trip to Madeira would be complete without a tour and tasting at Blandy’s Wine Lodge, home to fortified wine produced and bottled on the island by the same family for over two centuries – who still use the traditional canteiro ageing method. For something a little stronger, try the traditional fisherman’s drink, poncha – a rum-based citrus cocktail crafted from the island’s sugar cane. There are plenty of places to try this honey-sweet tipple in Funchal, including the Madeira Rum House (which rubs shoulders with the Santiago Fortress), but it’s best sampled in the beverage’s birthplace of Câmara de Lobos, a sleepy fishing village slightly further along the coast.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this out-of-the-box apartment-style stay in Funchal and unpacked their honey cake and fortified wine, a full account of their subtropical-meets-suburban break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Three House Hotel in Madeira…
Madeira’s hotels have always tended to be on the somewhat traditional side, with their old-world grand-dames and converted quintas, so Three House Hotel feels like the long-awaited cool kid on the block. In recent years, the island has slowly but surely become an adventure playground for a younger generation of nature-loving travellers, in need of an up-to-the-moment base which doesn’t revolve around taking afternoon tea on the terrace. And the sleek, spacious, studio-style rooms at this fresh-faced aparthotel are just the answer. Seemingly floating above Funchal’s happening harbour, the hotel’s rooftop is a sixth-heaven setting (quite literally six floors up), dotted with egg-shaped chairs, day-beds, and Mediterranean plants. Cool off in the saltwater infinity pool in between rounds of ping-pong (the pink-rimmed table pleasingly matches the peachy parasols), with a steady supply of bao buns, tacos, and Wagyu burgers being delivered straight to your sunlounger. And when New Year’s Eve rolls around, you’ll have nabbed one of the prime spots in Funchal to watch the Guinness World Record-winning fireworks display.