Ask a Local: Nini Andrade Silva's Tips for Madeira
Wonderful hotels, chic bars, shopping and relaxation: the multi-award-winning interior designer reveals the best tips for Madeira, her home island.
April 14, 2022
She has made designs for the world's most prestigious hotels, gives lectures and TED talks, and has numerous awards to her name: we're talking about Nini Andrade Silva. The Funchal-born interior designer is the creative force behind a number of prestigious architecture and design projects. Her paintings hang in museums around the world. In addition, "Nini," as her friends call her, is committed to helping underprivileged children. In this interview, the holder of the Portuguese Dom Henrique Order reveals her personal tips for Madeira - her birthplace and home island.
What is your favorite restaurant in Madeira and what do you order?
Madeira is a small paradise for foodies. There is a multitude of excellent restaurants with exquisite to simple offerings that will please all visitors.
- There are plenty of ways to relax and to be pampered at the Savoy Palace there are a few restaurants, all with a different concept and great food. Pau de Lume and Galáxia are the best! The service is excellent, the places are chic and great and you can eat outside in the garden. It's wonderful. Good local food and cocktails.
- Restaurant Design Centre Nini Andrade Silva: It would be suspicious if I didn't call my restaurant at Design Centre Nini Andrade Silva one of the best places on the island. Located in the heart of Funchal, the eatery offers a slice of "rooftop heaven." It's home to 360º Bar, a casual and relaxed rooftop restaurant with stunning views of Funchal Bay.
- Prima Caju Restaurant: Healthy food, relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Definitely worth a stop between tours of Funchal city center.
- Avista Restaurant: With a magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean, you can experience a variety of culinary delights at the Avista Restaurant, which showcases the best of Mediterranean and Asian cuisine.
What should you definitely experience when you come to Madeira?
In Madeira there is a whole range of activities that should not be missed and that are part of any visit. Depending on your sense of adventure, nature sports are certainly one of the best options. But the offer is huge. The best must-do tips for Madeira:
- Wine cellar visit in Funchal
- Funchal market
- Levadas: One can choose between different walks along the canals called "levadas". Caldeirão Verde, Risco and 25 Fontes in Rabaçal are the most popular.
- Half-day excursion to Monte: From the center of Funchal you can take the cable car to Monte, visit the beautiful botanical garden and return with the cable car or the sled.
- Sunset at Pico Areeiro or Ruivo
Which hotels in Madeira can you recommend?
The hotel offer in Madeira is excellent and very diverse. From classics to design hotels, you are spoilt for choice, but I would definitely recommend the following:
- Savoy Palace Hotel: This is a resort with an overwhelming offer. With a touch of design, it is still a classic and has an impeccable service. The spa at this hotel is unique and deserves a 5-star rating.
- Saccharum Hotel: This young and cheerful hotel is undoubtedly one of my favorites. It has a fantastic SPA and a beautiful infinity pool.
- The Vine Hotel: The hotel is located in the center of Funchal and is one of the most awarded hotels around. It is cosmopolitan, urban and timeless in design.
What characterizes a good hotel for you?
It varies from person to person. For me, it may be design and exclusivity, for someone else the location, but I think there are some common denominators for all guests: comfort, a good bed, good service and memorable interiors capable of providing sensations or unique experiences.
Where can you relax after a day of sightseeing adventures?
One of my favorite places to sit, read a book and enjoy the beauty of Funchal Bay while sipping tea or a cocktail is my Design Center. Its mental peace and beauty are priceless.
If we want to buy souvenirs: what do we buy?
For me, in the art of Madeira embroidery lies all the subtlety and mastery of a tradition that has lasted for years.
What is the most inspiring place on the island for you?
May I suggest three?
Fajã dos Padres, because it is located in a remote place, far from everything, where nature is overwhelming. Take a cable car from Campanário or a boat from Tabua to a secluded pebble beach with a bar where you can relax in the beautiful scenery.
The second place is Maktub in Paúl do Mar. This is a magical place, perfect to experience one of the most beautiful sunsets on the island.
The Palheiro Gardens are known not only for their plant diversity, but also for the beauty of their location in the hills east of Funchal.
What is always with you when you travel?
Sunglasses and comfortable clothes!
Which destination do you have a special love for?
Madeira, of course, and my second home Cartagena, the India in Colombia.