Baia Azul Hotel Funchal: This Isn’t a Four Star. This Is a Penny-Pinching Three Star. Read My Cheat Sheet to Get Ahead.
Tripadvisor refused this review so it’s here instead.
The guiding principle behind the running of this complete hotel is economy and economising. It is clearly drilled into the staff at every level and you will feel it with anything you try to do here. Anybody who has ever watched the film “Carry on Camping” with the old man at the Gate who wants a pound for everything extra will understand how this hotel is run – see here:
For example, when you are checking in they will ask you if you want to use the safe in your room. Of course you do, and they will gladly charge you €13 for the privilege of keeping your belongings safe from their potentially sticky fingered cleaning staff. Of course you want none of that so you will be pleased if I tell you that you don’t need to pay to use the safe in the room because the access code is 1111 – from thereon you can set your own code for the rest of your stay. I just saved you €13.
You want a room facing the sea – of course they charge more for that.
Here is something else you need to know before you go: yes they have pools and spas and saunas etc., but don’t imagine for a moment that you will be using the hotels robes and slippers to travel there from your room. They want you to pay extra for those things. Yes indeed, at the Baia Azul you must pay to use a bathrobe or a pair of slippers. Of course you want none of that nonsense so take some from home and deprive these penny pinchers of that revenue.
There is a sauna you can use, but as with everything else here it cost extra. And it doesn’t open until 11am, so even if you are inclined to pay you are disallowed early mornings.
The gym and pool does not open until 8am. If you want to go to the gym before breakfast you’ve had it if you follow the rules. However, all the doors are usually open so just go down there, behind the curtain next to the reception desk are all the light switches to light the place up. In the gym room with the machines, the light switch is on the right hand side as you walk in and you turn all the machines on with switches at the front near where the power cables go in. Now you can open the gym as early as you like.
In your room are provided stripey towels (one each) for use in the pool area. Guard them with your life because if you leave one somewhere they will charge you for it, and indeed if you want a clean replacement they will charge you for that too. I kid you not.
Fancy a shoehorn? The one that is normally in the wardrobe in four star hotels? Not here it isn’t. They dont even have one to loan.
The room service do not replenish the teabags sugar etc. in your tea making facilities, and there is no instant coffee either – it is only tea. If you want replacement teabags as you’ll need to raid the containers you find at breakfast that is the only way you are going to get some.
Speaking of the room service, you know how in a hotel that requires the room key to operate the electricity you always put in your Tesco Clubcard or something similar to leave the air-conditioning on when you’re out? The cleaning staff remove it (they lift it 1cm) in order that they can save even more money by not cooling your room down in your absence. Any way this place can save a few cents they will, be warned. You will come back to the room that feels like it’s on gas mark eight.
Similarly the room service are disinclined to replenish the shower gels in your bathroom. When you see their trolleys in the corridors raid those for anything you need because they will not supply it for you. Remember economising is the name of the game here.
If you want to use the telephone in your room or are you are seeking the book that you would expect in a regular four-star hotel that tells you all the information about how to use the phone what time everything opens what time restaurants open blah blah blah you won’t find it because that isn’t one. Even the telephones have no labels so you can’t call reception. But on the right hand side of the phone at six unlabelled buttons the top one connection to reception; you’re welcome.
And speaking of restaurants, don’t bother to use the hotel buffet in the evening as it’s utterly forgettable (and they charge extra for drinks). Use the nearby restaurants with the assistance of TripAdvisor, the recommendations are quite on the money. The hotel breakfast is adequate with a reasonable choice; nothing to shout about, but okay.
Aside from the penny pinching the hotel is actually otherwise quite pleasant. It is very clean and has most facilities you want even though many of them cost extra. The location is fine in proximity to the local town and there is a free bus (yes free – I have found something here that is free) that takes you to the town centre. But you must book your place on it in advance at the reception.
I’d rather pay two euros for the bus and have slippers, robes, a safe, shower gels and tea bags to use without the need to view the cheat sheet. But c est la vie.
So in summary: The hotel is perfectly fine as long as you remember to use 1111 on the safe and not pay them for it, bring your own slippers and robes, be prepared to raid the trolleys in the corridors and the breakfast containers to replenish the items in your room that the room service won’t.
When you are checking out you may wish to weigh your suitcase. Yes, you’ve guessed it: They charge you €1 to do so.
Knowing all that you’re good to go.
Would I go again? Probably not as I hate being nickel and dimed like that.