NEXT Hotel is the youngest of Savoy Signature’s impressive Madeira collection in both age and spirit, and we got to experience first-hand why this seaside spot is perfect for the modern traveller.
From a distance the NEXT Hotel is relatively unassuming. It’s a typically alluring coastal hotel on the western seafront of Funchal – the archipelago’s capital city and cultural heart – with a tastefully designed pool area, direct access to the sea via the hotel’s own pontoon and a prime location overlooking the city’s harbour alongside two of its Savoy Signature siblings.
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It’s not until you walk through the entrance that you’re hit with a wave of freshness so often missing from coastal resorts. It was fairly late on a Friday when I was greeted by the lobby’s vibrant floral display. To the right was the reception, with 24-hour digital check-in machines alongside the friendly staff members simultaneously manning reception and the attached lobby bar. It was to the left, however, that the vibe was being set by that evening’s DJ, spinning gentle house music that gave the entire room a spring in its step.
The whole lobby floor, designed like much of the hotel with a contemporary, open-space design, is a part of Network Bar and Lounge, which at my time of arrival was the perfect spot to relax with a cocktail, or a pint of local Coral lager, but during the day it’s a cosy breakout zone created with the hybrid worker in mind. Swap the lager for a coffee, make lunch easy thanks to the super-simple grab-and-go section, or take a break and loosen up with 10-minutes on the arcade games. When it’s time to knuckle down you can always head through to Network Lounge, a slightly more formal space used for breakfast in the morning and perfect for co-working all day long.
NEXT Hotel understands the younger traveller’s desire to remain connected to the world, while also becoming connected to the place they’re staying. So obviously there is fast wifi and charging points aplenty, but tech savviness is really this place’s forte. QR codes and interactive screens are everywhere, the ultra-modern gym is equipped with a virtual personal trainer, and rooms are fitted with touch-screen ‘do not disturb’ buttons – so no need to sneak out to the corridor in your underwear, fumbling as you attempt to hook on a flimsy door hanger.
What really sets NEXT apart, however, is the Savoy Signature app, which allows you to personalise your experience and manage your stay through your phone. Left your key card in the room? Open the door with a mobile key. Tucked in bed and the TV remote is on the other side of the room? You don’t need it. Fancy room service or need to chat with the concierge? No more awkward phone calls. You can even book a treatment in the spa or a table at the restaurant. It’s a new level of comfort, connecting you directly to your accommodation, and making everything that little bit easier.
Everything here, from tech tricks to decor choices, serves a greater purpose – it gives the place a personality. A vibe. Whether you’re here for a weekend break or an extended period of hybrid working, you build a genuine connection to the place you’re staying. This wasn’t just a roof over my head, it was home, be it for two nights or two weeks.
And yet with all its forward-thinking party tricks, NEXT never loses sight of what makes it special – Madeira. This little island, in the middle of the Atlantic, with its volcanic cliffs, misty mountains and an abundance of vegetation so dense that the air feels like the purest you’ve ever breathed, is totally spellbinding.
In particular, the Ocean rooms, studios and suites take advantage of the hotel’s location. The first thing you’ll do after dropping your bags is almost certainly head straight to the seaview terrace, staring out at the endless, perfectly straight horizon, perhaps as the sun sets. You won’t last long on the terrace without being tempted downstairs, either for a dip in the pool, the ocean (it’s warm year-round) or simply for some sun-lounging.
While you’re down there you’ll be able to enjoy Recharge Bar & Restaurant, inspired by Madeira’s connections to Hawaii – many Madeirans sailed over in the 19th-century to work on sugarcane plantations – which means punchy, fruity cocktails made with the island’s abundance of tropical fruit. Speaking of punchy, it’s always worth asking any Madeiran bartender for a Poncha, just don’t ask for more than one. The food menu leans heavily into local delicacies like bolo do caco bread and fish ceviche, but also nods to Hawaii and other international cuisines.
Then there’s the aptly named Cloud Bar, at the very top of the NEXT complex, which offers a more panoramic view of splendid Madeira. Look down and see familiar sights of ocean waves and harbour activity, but turn around and you can gaze at the remarkable hillside scenery, as pretty tiled-roof houses embellish the always-rising sea of luscious greenery, sometimes masked by clouds creeping over the mountains. As well as another superb cocktail bar and plenty of relaxed seating, there’s also a pool up there fit with an underwater sound system, so the trendy vibes pulsating across the rooftop follow you under the surface.
What makes Madeira a digital nomad hotspot?
So, this island is obviously beautiful, and should obviously be on your bucket list, but what about Madeira is digital nomad-friendly?
Well, first of all, escape. There’s an idyllic remoteness not only to the richly biodiverse and untainted countryside, but also to the very nature of island life. That means that, while at NEXT you can be fully connected to your life and to your work, you can just as easily switch off by closing your laptop and exploring the island. Funchal is lively enough to keep you entertained, but is still imbued with that laid-back island sensibility. Meanwhile there is so much nature to explore – Tolkienesque mountain peaks, verdant eucalyptus forests, volcanic black sand beaches and natural saltwater sea pools – that adventure is always within reach, especially since it’s such a small island, that it doesn’t take long to get anywhere.
You can go for a morning dip in the sea, take an off-road jeep trip through winding forest roads and visit the island’s 1,800m peak all before lunchtime. Then you can wind your way down the mountains and find yourself a nice vineyard to go for lunch, sample a few wines, and make your way back to Funchal for the evening.
Then you have the island’s community spirit. Such a small place, on an impractically remote, rarely flat island, could never have developed a functioning society without a real sense of togetherness. That culture is obvious from the moment you arrive. Family is important, friends are important, spending time (and sharing food) with your community is everything. The warmth of the people, and their community spirit, is what makes this feel like a home away from home – and what’s the point of being a digital nomad, if you can’t strike up a connection with your temporary home?
How does NEXT Hotel cater to digital nomads?
NEXT has capitalised on this hybrid working potential in a number of ways. As already mentioned, the hotel has all the technical capabilities to make work-from-your-new-home simple. As well as comfortable work spaces in your room – and your own kitchenette if you book a suite, every communal space in the hotel suits a different mood, or intensity of work day. There’s even an auditorium fit for presentations or conferences.
You can even book your stay officially as a digital nomad. Bookings over 30 nights are discounted, and you get 35% off laundry services as a hybrid working customer. You’ll also have access to the dedicated business centre and co-working space.
The sheer variety of dining options, and the breadth of their menus, mean you’ll never get tired of eating at NEXT, but you’re also within a stone’s throw of Funchal’s many options, as well as fellow Savoy Signature eateries, such as the excellent Pau de Lume and Terreiro.
And, when you need more than mother nature to unwind from work, you can always access Refresh Spa, which includes a steam room and sauna as well as treatment rooms. Meanwhile the hotel regularly hosts activities like forest yoga and stand-up paddleboarding. If you really want to indulge, why not also check-out neighbouring Savoy Palace’s epic spa, the largest in all of Portugal.
So, whether you’re heading to Madeira for an adventure, a relaxing break or simply to freshen up your workspace (why not do all three?) NEXT Hotel offers you a bright and breezy space to live, work and chill out.
Rates start at €100, including breakfast. Visit the Next Hotel website to find out more and book your stay in Madeira.
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