15 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Had a brill holiday here, going back as soon as possible,
"All the staff could not do enough for us my husbands big birthday, champagne in room, cake with candle at evening meal, very clean and tidy, yes our room might have been a bit dated, but you don’t live in your rooms, we looked over the pools and the sea, been on a corner, the hotel is in the best place, flat road for wandering about, the bus stop over the road, lido down the hill, we used the hotel to book our trips and our bus tickets, no complaints, the food was good, can’t wait to go back"
- Travel date: Mon 1st of October 2018
Excellent hotel with good food
"Stayed here in a family party of 13. Lovely pool and gardens and good bar service near the pool. The pool was great and there were always sun loungers available during the morning and clean towels supplied every day.
There was a disused pool at the back of the hotel which was going to be renovated when funds allowed, but the other pool was never crowded and I think that area would make a brilliant crazy golf course and maybe boules area.
Only downside was that dinner was 7.30-10pm which was a bit too late for the 14month old in the party. Would definitely return"
- Travel date: Wed 14th of August 2013
"Stayed 2 weeks late June/July, weather perfect. Comfortable suite, with ceiling fan/oscillating fan,(no AC), bath shallow, not one for soaking, rooms very clean, beds very very hard. Slept on duvet and used a sheet for top cover. Fireworks were on whilst there, we were not told we could view these from the hotel roof! Breakfast good apart from poor eggs/mostly undercooked bacon, frankfurter sausages, but excellent buns, fresh fruit and breads. Evening meals ranged from basic and boring to not too bad. Soup always pretty tasteless, only one meat dish, a fish dish and one other option, such as a different fish dish or mousakka or rice and veg. Deserts with fresh fruit salad and cakes were good. Happy hour not served in the outside bar, (why?)and the Captain's bar was stuffy/dark and mostly empty, so we did not use it. Drinks, water and wine were very expensive. No entertainment in hotel, only a duo on Barbecue night at pool and Portugese dancers in dining room for short time at night - could not see them because of buffet layout. Loved Madeira - East/West and Nunn's Valley tours were great. 2 weeks were too long, one week would have sufficed, mainly because of the lack of entertainment.
- Travel date: Sun 7th of August 2011
Just back from a two week stay at this f...
"Just back from a two week stay at this fantastic villa. All the information found on the Thomson website was correct and left no nasty surprises on arrival! The villa is in a quiet area out of town so a car is essential but a bonus is the peace and quiet. Good beaches are never far away(10 mins) as are bars and cafes (street entertainers). We had a wonderful time and were very sad to leave. I would recommended this villa to my friends"
- Travel date: Tue 22nd of July 2008
The hotel Girassol is comfortable, with...
"The hotel Girassol is comfortable, with good food and largely friendly staff.
Accommodation is in an 11 storey block, quite ugly outside. This wasn't shown on the picture in Thomas Cook's brochure.
The hotel is pleasant inside, but some areas need updating. There is a nice heated pool set in an attractive garden.
My main complaint is that Madeira is rapidly being spoilt by insensitive development.
The ugly little airport is now linked to the capital, Funchal, by a horrible motorway, which makes no concessions to the scenery.
Funchal itself has an attractive and well cared for historic centre, but the hotel zone (huge) on the west side is dominated by an uncoordinated jumble of awful tower blocks, which wouldn't be out of place in England!
In this area some lovely old houses had been left to decay. Even remote villages on the sparsely populated north coast have been spoilt by hard-edged modern building.
The residents of Madeira should be thoroughly ashamed at how they are ruining large areas of their island in the name of financial profit.
By contrast, the high mountainous and forested centre of the island is splendid, with soaring cloud-shrouded peaks and a wealth of unique plant life - a UNESCO ecological reserve.
A walk along one of the famous levadas - drainage channels - up in the mountains was unforgettable.
There are also several wonderful botanical gardens, especially around Funchal, which itself abounds in trees and flowers.
However, as beautiful as much of the island still is, the relentless tide of development will deter us from visiting it again. Sad indeed."
- Travel date: Thu 8th of March 2007
Best Holiday Ever
"We have just returned from a week at the Hotel Girassol in Madeira. It was a surprise present for my 50th Birthday. It was the best holiday I have ever had. The weather was fantastic. About 80 degress but not unbearable. We did plenty of walking on the Levada walks and used the local bus service to get from place to place. This costs only 1.40 euros and is a very interesting experience. The Hotel was very good, very clean and the food was enjoyable. The only problem was I suppose that we had a low room at the front near the main road which I thought would drive me mad. It didnt however and we slept very well.
Would recommend the Hotel but not Madeira to everyone as it is very hilly and I would think if you dont like walking could be the wrong place.
We are hoping to go back in April as we found there was such a lot we hadnt seen.
Looking forward to it already"
- Travel date: Wed 19th of July 2006
"Had a really lovely weeks stay in the Girassol although Madeira is definately not somewhere for the young (55's plus). Hotel really nice, lovely rooms and cleaned everyday. Pool area lovely and pool kept at a very nice temperature. Breakfast's nice and snack sides meals lovely. The gym isn't up to much but basic enough to work off a few pounds. The hotel venue is really good and central for the Lido and some really great restaurants, we ate out every night and never had a bad meal. My favourite was Toto's which was left as you came out of the hotel on the other side of the road. Proper local food and really nice for a special night out and the staff are lovely. Staff in the hotel are thorough and professional but don't fuss over you as that is not the Portuguese way so don't expect to have in depth conversations with them but they are very helpful.
Really have no complaints about the hotel at all."
- Travel date: Mon 10th of July 2006
Excellent value for money for us
"The Girassol is one of the older hotels in Funchal but furnishings and accommodation is OK. Staff are professional, pleasant and helpful. Hotel has good recreational facilities with twin sets of swimming pools, (one set heated in winter), for adults and children situated in pleasant sub-tropical gardens. Ask for a west facing suite so you wake to a morning chorus of bird song and enjoy a drink in the setting sun on your balcony in the evening. The breakfast and evening buffet provides good quality, varied choices but can be hectic with 200+ guests at one time. Musical entertainment is provided over dinner on most evenings. Our late booked, special offer, half board stay was excellent value for money."
- Travel date: Mon 27th of March 2006
View from Dublin
"Just returned from a week at Hotel Girassol, Maderia. No problems with the hotel. Location very good and a short bus or taxi ride to the old part of town. Hotel itself was fine. Breakfast buffet was very good. Didn't eat dinner in hotel but met some who did, and they were quite satisfied with the food. Swimming Pool area was clean and tidy. Reception area was very professional and we found them very helpful. Mentioned on internet that they had a putting area. It must have been someone's idea of a joke! Would also question the 4 star rating of the hotel but perfectly adequate and represented great value for a package holiday. Word of warning regarding taxis:- the price of the fare varied each time so might be better to check the price beforehand. If you like Indian Restaurants - try the Bombay Palace beside the Lido. Food excellent. For a really special night out -The Ciparani - beside Reid's Palace Hotel. Ambience, views and attentiveness was top of the range! Although be warned it's not cheap! Half bottle of cheapest wine cost l4.00 euros. The low point of the trip was Caves at St. Vincente - it is included in some of the island tours. My feeling was - if you been in one wet and damp cave - it's one too many! Also took ferry to Porto Santo. The ferry cost almost 50.00 Euros and we also played golf. Golf fees were 65 euros. Discovered when we were on ferry that it was possible to do a package for about 89.00 euros that included ferry + golf!Tourist office/operators we certainly not promoting it as a package. Porto Santo beautiful island for a day at the beach or a day on the golf course. Otherwise very quiet."
- Travel date: Wed 1st of March 2006
Good value, middle-budget hotel
"We booked a 3-week package at the Girassol (2 weeks half-board, third week B&B).
The hotel is an uninspiring, typically 1960s block, but the rooms are very comfortable. Our room, like the majority, was in fact a suite with separate sitting room and bedroom, which made a very pleasant base for a long stay. The living room had a fridge and cable TV with 35 channels (most of them, alas, in Portuguese). The bathroom had a hairdryer and a shower (fixed head) over the bath, also a bidet. There was no central heating but there was an oil-filled electric heater we could use if it got chilly. There was no clock, so bring your own if you need one.
The south-facing rooms are close to the road and could be noisy. The best ones are the west-facing rooms overlooking the pool - high floors have the best views. A barking dog in a nearby property caused problems, waking many of us at nights, but the management didn't seem interested.
One of the pools is heated, although it was closed for maintenance during one of our weeks. There's a pleasant sunbathing area with loungers near the pools. Free pool towels are provided. There's also a very basic gym that seemed to be free. Everything seemed to be kept very clean and there were always plenty of staff around.
Meals were pretty good on the whole. Breakfasts had a good choice, marred only by the awful tea and coffee. Dinners (also buffet) sometimes had just a fish and a meat dish for the main course, sometimes more. We had no trouble finding good things to eat, but vegetarians would get a bit hungry. The drinks were overpriced, so we tended have drink in our room before or after the meal. A beer in the hotel costs the same as a pack of six beers from the supermarket, which we found an unacceptable mark-up. I wouldn't recommend paying a supplement for half-board. If it's part of a good-value package, that's fine, but otherwise you'd do better eating at any of the many nearby restaurants.
There's a computer room (1 euro for 15 mins) and a couple of small bars, but no real entertainment programme, except for live music in the dining room some evenings.
The guests were mostly couples, middle-aged or elderly. The majority were British, with quite a few German and French as well.
Although it's on a busy road, we liked the position of the hotel - it's about half an hour's walk into Funchal, and very close to bus stops, shops, restaurants and a supermarket. The Lido complex, which marks the start of a seafront promenade to the west, is only a few minutes' walk.
All in all, the Girassol is a sound but unexciting choice. It has little to offer families with children but is fine for adults. It's a pity the management don't try a little harder - better tea and coffee and reasonably priced drinks would have enhanced our dining experience considerably."
- Travel date: Thu 23rd of February 2006
Would definately recommend it.
"Just returned from stay at Girassol, with Thomson, we were pleasantly surprised after reading some of the reviews. We had a mini suite overlooking the pool, very quiet and you get full sun on your balcony in the evenings, the outside areas particularly around the lovely heated pool (there is also a second pool, not for the faint hearted in October, as it is not heated) were very well tended, and we found all the staff, without exception, very helpful and friendly, the food was excellent with a good variety, the situation was also good as it was within walking distance of both the centre and the Lido, I would agree that you have to be careful walking with regard to both traffic and uneven pavements. We combined our stay with a second week in Porto Santo this was a complete contrast to the hustle bustle of Funchal. Well worth a visit to this so far, unspoilt island with a fantastic 9 km of beach."
- Travel date: Mon 24th of October 2005
"Location not too bad - near the Lido with shops nearby and plenty of busses into Funchal Town. The rooms were clean but a little run down, no air conditioning and the rooms at the front a little noisy, but did have sea views. The soft furnishings could do with replacing - a bit smoke stained and smelly. Staff not very helpful - more indifferent than rude.
The breakfasts were pretty good with lots of choice and lots of good fresh fruit, although the fruit juices were just sweet sugary concoctions. Pools and gardens were very good. Many restaurants nearby 'O Dragoeiro' was particularly good. Try the beef kebabs."
- Travel date: Sun 27th of March 2005