Afternoon Tea in Madeira: Review of The Ritz Madeira

Madeira isn’t just about year-round summer and verdant mountains.

Nope, there’s also a slice of Europe’s refined elegance tucked away here, and I’ve just been lucky enough to savor it.

Picture this: a balmy afternoon, the gentle hum of conversation, and the clink of porcelain.

That’s right, I’m talking about the age-old tradition of afternoon tea in Madeira. It’s not just a British thing – it’s a moment of pause, a nod to a time when we weren’t all rushing about.

And The Ritz Madeira? Well, they’ve turned afternoon tea into an art form.

Join me as we explore the tradition of afternoon tea at The Ritz Madeira.

Afternoon Tea in Madeira: My Review of The Ritz [August 2023]

Historical Charm

You know, The Ritz Madeira isn’t just another fancy name on the island.

This place has stories, layers of history that have seen the island evolve. Opening its doors way back in 1905, The Ritz quickly became more than just a hotel. It was a symbol of Madeira’s elegance and charm.

And let’s chat about their afternoon tea for a second. Over the years, what started as a simple tea ritual transformed into an experience, a blend of Madeira’s warmth and Europe’s refined tastes.

It’s fascinating to see how this tradition has grown and adapted, yet always keeping that touch of The Ritz’s timeless charm.

My Afternoon Tea Experience

I booked my afternoon tea directly on The Ritz’s website – a smooth and user-friendly process.

The staff greeted me with warm smiles, and I was promptly shown to my table, set against the backdrop of the veranda’s stunning views of the gardens and the Madeira mountainside. It felt like I was stepping into a scene from a classic movie.

Ah, the upstairs veranda at The Ritz Madeira. It’s one of those spots that just makes you pause and take it all in.

Perched above the hustle and bustle of Funchal, the veranda offers a tranquil escape with views that, honestly, photos just don’t do justice.

You’ve got the lush gardens stretching out, a sea of green that seems to dance with the gentle breezes.

The veranda itself? It’s like stepping into a cosy bit of history. There’s a certain old-world charm to it, with its classic furnishings and subtle touches that hint at its storied past.

Plus, comfy seating, perfect lighting, and of course, a Wi-Fi connection for that inevitable Instagramming.

On the Menu

Here’s what was on the menu for my afternoon tea at The Ritz Madeira:

Finger Sandwiches: The menu includes a selection of sandwiches that cover a range of flavors.

There’s the good old classic egg mayonnaise, the slightly tangy combination of roast beef and mustard, the delicate pairing of salmon and cream cheese, and the light and refreshing cucumber with cream cheese. All sandwiches tasted fresh and

Fresh Scones: When the scones arrive, you’ll notice their fresh aroma. They’re served with cream and traditional strawberry jam. The scones have a good balance of texture, not too crumbly and not too dense.

Pastries: The pastries are super aesthetic and offer a nice mix of flavors. My favorites were the cute little macarons, but the salted caramel mini cheesecakes were also extremely moreish.

Tea Selection: The Ritz provides a pretty decent range of teas. Whether you’re into classic black teas like English Breakfast, or more aromatic blends, there’s likely something that’ll catch your interest.

The process of selecting and brewing the tea adds to the overall experience. If you prefer something caffeine-free, you can also choose from among the fruit infusions.

Wine and Champagne: If you want something other than tea, you can also choose from several other beverages, including champagne and sparkling wine.

A Prime Spot in Downtown Funchal

One of the standout features of The Ritz has to be its prime location.

Right in the heart of downtown Funchal, it offers a front-row seat to the vibrant daily life of the city. If you’re anything like me and enjoy a bit of people-watching, The Ritz’s veranda is the perfect place to be.

As you sip on your tea, you can watch the world go by – locals going about their day, tourists exploring the city, and street performers jazzing things up.

This area of Funchal is perfect for experiencing Madeira’s urban life, and there’s always something interesting happening.

Directly opposite the veranda, you’ll find the beautiful municipal gardens, bursting with color and life. These gardens are a peaceful counterpoint to the bustling streets, with their vibrant flowers and the gentle sounds of nature.

The Ritz Madeira offers the perfect vantage point, both for observing the city’s lively rhythm or losing yourself in the beauty of the gardens and mountain view.


Afternoon Tea in Madeira: Reid’s Palace vs The Ritz

The Ritz isn’t the only game in town when it comes to afternoon tea in Madeira.

Reid’s Palace, part of the Belmond hotel chain, is also a prime contender for the island’s best afternoon tea. I’ve experienced afternoon tea at both places, so here’s my detailed comparison of the two.

Location

Reid’s and The Ritz are two very different experiences when it comes to location. Which one you pick depends on what you’re looking for.

Reid’s is a few minutes outside downtown Funchal, perched on a cliff with a stunning view of the ocean.

You’ll have your afternoon tea while gazing out over the ocean and the beautifully manicured hotel gardens.

In contrast, the Ritz is slap bang in the heart of the city, conveniently placed for combining your afternoon tea experience with a walking tour or a day of shopping.

You’ll have your tea sitting on the veranda, with a view of the beautiful municipal gardens on one side and the Madeira mountainside on the ther.

Dress Code

In keeping with its five-star hotel status, Reid’s has a smart casual dress code.

They ask you not to arrive in sportswear, including t-shirts, flip flops or similar footwear.

The Ritz is far more relaxed with no dress code, allowing for a more spontaneous and chilled experience.

Menu

Reid’s offers a wider variety of teas than the Ritz, along with three different kinds of champagne, including the ultra-fancy Dom Perignon.

In terms of food, Reid’s has a slightly wider selection of cakes. I thought the scones at the Ritz were better quality. My mother lives in Devon, so I know what I’m talking about when it comes to scones!

Price

There’s not a huge difference between the two options when it comes to price.

At the Ritz, you’ll pay €33.50 for your afternoon tea (including a full selection of sandwiches, cakes and scones, plus tea).

Wine is extra, starting at €7.98 for a glass of sparkling wine (Brut).

At Reid’s, the overall price is higher at €39, for a similar spread, with champagne coming in at a rather hefty €25 per glass.

Service

Overall, I preferred the service at the Ritz.

While it wasn’t quite as polished as Reid’s, the friendly down-to-earth vibe was more suited to my personal taste (your mileage may vary).

The staff member who served me had a great sense of humor, especially when it came to my attempts at speaking Portuguese. We had a good laugh and it felt relaxed.

In contrast, the whole experience at Reid’s feels more structured and controlled.

For example, you have to wait in the lobby before a staff member arrives to show you to your table.

Overall Impressions

If you want something ultra-fancy, complete with €80 champagne, then Reid’s is probably your best bet.

But the Ritz would be my top pick for all-round decent and relaxed afternoon tea in Madeira, with added potential for top-notch people-watching in the lively environment of downtown Funchal.

Wrapping Up My Afternoon Tea Adventure in Madeira

Madeira has always been one of my favorite places (In fact, I spent almost two years living there during the pandemic).

Afternoon tea is an experience well in keeping with the island’s British links.

The Ritz Madeira, with its intriguing history and prime location in downtown Funchal, truly elevated this experience.

While the cakes and tea were undoubtedly the stars of the show, the ambiance, the views, and the opportunities for people-watching added were an added bonus.

It was also interesting to compare the Ritz’s afternoon tea experience with that of Reid’s Palace, another iconic spot for afternoon tea in Madeira.

Each has its own charm and offerings, and while Reid’s brings a touch of ultra-luxury, The Ritz offers a more relaxed and down-to-earth vibe, which resonated more with me.

If you’re looking to experience a slice of European elegance combined with island charm, then I’d recommend trying out The Ritz Madeira for your afternoon tea.

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