Great Botanical Gardens of the World
Courtesy of Orient-Express Hotels
Lay of the Land: Rare is the hotel where the gardens are as legendary as the lodgings. But this seaside spread, established in 1891 by wine baron William Reid and since acquired by Orient-Express, defies the norm—and reinforces Madeira's reputation as the Garden of the Atlantic. Set atop a cliff that overlooks the Bay of Funchal and the Atlantic, the Palace is surrounded by 10 acres of semitropical jardims, where Winston Churchill reportedly contemplated his memoirs and George Bernard Shaw learned to tango. The hilly grounds—veined with stone paths and generously endowed with wooden benches—pack flowering trees from Brazil, China, Australia, and Japan, as well as hibiscus, mimosa, wisteria, and particularly brazen bougainvillea.
Don't Miss: The open-air tango lessons—held every Saturday in the cocktail bar—a tradition in memory of the man who first took them on the lawn. Never mind that he was an Irish playwright learning an Argentine dance on a Portuguese island off the coast of Africa. Somehow, it feels right.
More Info: Reid's Palace.
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