Think of the Azores and your first image may be of rugged volcanic islands jutting from the ocean, or of pleasant walks in the sunshine along quiet lanes bordered by blooming hydrangeas. The islands’ laid-back nature has been traditionally reflected in its accommodation options, with comfortable hotels focusing on gentle, unobtrusive hospitality.
But things are changing, and for those wishing to experience a holiday in the Azores while enjoying a bit of sophistication and even pampering, there are a number of modern, stylish hotels to choose from. Here are 5 properties on the main island of Sao Miguel which are worth considering if you’re looking to spoil yourself in the Azores.
The Azor Hotel
The first 5-star hotel in the Azores, The Azor Hotel opened for business in June 2016. A short walk from the markets and restaurants in the centre of Ponta Delgada, the hotel overlooks the marina and every room has a balcony with a sea view. The rooms are cosy and have a contemporary feel, with the layout designed to maximise the impact of the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s a restaurant of course, but the stand-out feature of the hotel is the rooftop bar and pool, allowing guests to swim or soak while taking in the views of the ocean and the city.
Casa Hintze Ribeiro
A tribute to interior design, this brand new boutique hotel in the pedestrianised centre of Ponta Delgada has been created by the famous Portuguese designer Andrade Silva. Housed in a restored old building and with plenty of classic, vivid Azorean blue and white decor, Casa Hintze Ribeiro takes its name from the local 19th-century politician who was born on the same street and who helped secure the Azores’ special autonomous status with the Portuguese motherland. There are only 22 apartments and all have kitchenettes, allowing guests to make the most of the fabulous local markets on their doorstep; some rooms include terraces. The hotel has a cosy library, a gym, and swimming pools for adults and children.
In a 17th-century building in the historical heart of Ponta Delgada, the Hotel Talisman was renovated and expanded in 2008. Its 57 rooms and suites are sleek and contemporary, with all the usual amenities (free Wi-Fi, safes, and tea and coffeemaking facilities). Some have balconies which overlook the main shopping street of the city. The hotel restaurant is well known for its Portuguese and seafood cuisine, and there’s a year-round heated rooftop swimming pool.
Furnas Boutique Hotel
In the village of Furnas and surrounded by natural hot springs, the Furnas Boutique Hotel is a stylish new hotel (opened in March 2015) which offers a chance to stay in a quiet setting and enjoy the natural spa facilities. Rooms and suites are modern but simple, while the polished restaurant focuses on healthy food made with local ingredients. The spa has indoor and outdoor thermal pools, as well as treatment rooms where you can enjoy massages, reflexology and beauty sessions.
Terra Nostra Garden Hotel
The Terra Nostra Garden Hotel is hardly a newcomer in Sao Miguel – its lavish art deco features are evidence of its 1930s roots, while the Terra Nostra Botanical Park, one of the island’s main attractions, is next door (hotel guests have free access). Some rooms look into the gardens (some have balconies), while 2 of the suites are in an adjacent garden house beside the thermal outdoor pool. The hotel restaurant specialises in Azorean food, and the must-have dish is the Cozido das Furnas, a hearty stew which is cooked by natural geothermal heat.