AZORES HOTELS

This is a short review of every hotel I visited in September 2004.  Full report

Hotels are in alphabetical order, first by the name of the island, then by name of hotel. Star ratings are based on Sunvil Holidays ratings and may vary from local ratings. The Quinta properties are "rural tourism" rated as they are smaller and more like guesthouses than hotels. There is also a Pousada on Faial. Pousadas are the Portuguese equivalent of a Spanish Parador, being set in historical buildings.

 

FAIAL ISLAND

DO CANAL HOTEL

RATING: 4 star

LOCATION: Horta, Faial Island

This is a brand new hotel with a sophisticated feel, opened in August 2004. The hotel is right by the marina in Horta, very close to shops, cafes and restaurants. The hotel is in keeping with the marine feel of Horta with photos of sailors and fishermen and nautical items from old ships. Upmarket but also very comfortable lounge bar area also has a small terrace with fantastic views over the marina and over the straights to Pico. The courtyard area in the centre of the hotel feels very new but will soon have plants and other accessories. Bedrooms are very spacious and smartly decorated in creams and subtle red check with 3 choices of views – marina and Pico, courtyard, or inland hills. There is a fitness centre in the hotel with a gym and a jaccuzzi, but no swimming pool on site. The beach is a 5 minute walk away. Overall, a chic upmarket town centre hotel in a great location.

HOTEL FAYAL

RATING: 4 star

LOCATION: Horta, Faial Island

This complex of buildings is situated on the hills above Horta with views of the town, harbour and over the sea to Pico. The buildings have distinctive red roofs and are instantly recognisable on arrival in Horta, especially by sea. 5 minute walk into town, down steep steps. This is the largest hotel in Faial, and is often used for conferences and events. There was a "Regional Evening" with rustic buffet dinner and visiting folk dance group with guitars, all in costume. Rooms are a good size, the bathrooms are also generous. Classy rooms with white or cream walls and green or yellow bedspreads. Ocean view rooms have fantastic view over to Pico and the volcano. However they can also see guests coming and going along the pathway into town. There is an indoor health suite which feels like a members club, with a small indoor pool, jaccuzzi and mini gym. The large outdoor pool is a 2 minute walk from reception through the complex and not signposted. In summary, a great location in Horta and comfortable with plenty of facilities.

POUSADA DE SANTA CRUZ

RATING: Historical Pousada

LOCATION: Horta, Faial Island

This property is well deserving of its rating as the only Pousada in the Azores. A great location right by the marina in Horta, close to shops and restaurants This hotel is historical and atmospheric, set in an converted 16th Century fort. The entrance even has a portcullis! Decoration is olde-worlde and in keeping with the character of the building. There are red tiled floors and handcrafted wall tapestries. As with the other town centre hotels, the view over to Pico is stunning. The bedrooms are simply but stylishly furnished in natural tones and dark wood. Most rooms have spacious balconies overlooking the pool and marina. The outdoor pool is a good size for a small hotel (30 rooms). To conclude, this Pousada feels like a very good 4 star with added historical interest.

QUINTA DO VALE

RATING: "Turismo Rural"

LOCATION: 3 kilometres from Horta, Faial Island

This delightful little family run property is set in the quiet village of Flamengos, a 10 minute drive or bus journey into Horta. A handful of restaurants and shops are less than 500m away. This property has plenty of cute touches – the 8 rooms are named after each island, and Faial is the breakfast room! Bright and cheerful but cosy and homely at the same time, with pale yellow walls and red tiled floors. There is a good size saltwater swimming pool on site, with a cellar games room and an honesty fridge for drinks. The owners are currently undertaking an scheme to upgrade the facilities on site and are planning a proper bar area, plasma TV screen, sauna and mini gym for summer 2005. The owners are also hoping to offer cycle hire. The bedrooms are in pale colours and simply furnished but comfortable with pretty handcrafted touches. Mixture of doubles and twins. In summary, a sweet little property with ambitious scheme planned for completion next year. If it is all finished in time will turn an already great property into something very special.

PICO ISLAND

ALDEIA DA FONTE

RATING: 4 star

LOCATION: Near Lajes, Pico Island

A very smart, sympathetically developed hotel in an ecologically friendly style. The buildings have been designed to fit into the landscape by use of local lava stone on the exterior. The low rise development is in rural setting along a clifftop promontory with a main building, and several units dotted around the gardens and trees. The complex is a 10 minute drive to the small town of Lajes. Some rooms have access by means of steep steps along the cliff edge – not for those scared of heights! The Reception, bar and lounge areas have a Portuguese/African colonial feel. The award-winning restaurant on site is reputed to be the best restaurant in the Azores and caters well for vegetarians (most restaurants throughout the islands do not!) The bedrooms are comfortable and quite large, decorated with pale colours, natural and recycled materials. This style works very well and gives the rooms a close to nature feel. There are no televisions in the rooms as the focus is on escaping modern life. The hotel does not have its own pool, there are seawater pools a ten minute walk from the hotel. To summarise, a discerning upmarket property with great ocean views through the trees, but bear in mind the steps and heights. Car hire recommended due to rural location.

HOTEL PICO

RATING: 2 star

LOCATION: Near Madalena, Pico Island

This is a traditional hotel, decorated in art deco style in pale pink and cream. The reception and lounge areas are light and comfortable. A good size kidney shaped swimming pool unfortunately does leave much space for loungers. In the bedrooms, the decor feels dated with old-fashioned style bedspreads. Plenty of florals, pale pink and pale blue with pine furniture. Bathrooms have art deco styling. There is an impression that the hotel may be overlooked when considering a stay on Pico, but it would be shame to miss out on the good location – a 25 minute walk or short drive into the town of Madalena. There are plans for renovation at this hotel, which should make it more appealing. Overall, this is a comfortable but tired option, the setting is a good base for exploring Pico.

SAO JORGE ISLAND

SAO JORGE GARDEN

RATING: 3 star

LOCATION: Velas, Sao Jorge Island

Proximity to town:

This cheerful property is on the outskirts of Velas, 5 minute walk to cafes and restaurants. The Bar/lounge area is very comfortable and also has a pleasant outdoor terrace. The bar/lounge, terrace, swimming pool and bedrooms all overlook the sea with stunning views across the straights to Pico. The bedrooms are on the small side, but comfortable and colourful. It is well worth getting up early to watch sunrise over Pico and its volcano from your room terrace or balcony. The outdoor pool is good size with a few loungers on the paved surround. The pool is a little tricky to get to, as the access is not through the main reception and not signposted. The local Sao Jorge cheese is delicious and can be sampled at the buffet breakfast. To conclude, a smallish hotel with personality and a good base for exploring the rest of the island.

SAO MIGUEL ISLAND

AVENIDA

RATING: 3 star

LOCATION: town centre, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island

This modern and minimalist hotel is simple but stylish in creams, reds and browns. There is a fashionable lounge and bar area. This hotel does not have its own pool, guests can use the public pool 5 mins walk away but are still charged despite being guests of the hotel. The bedrooms have clean lines and are very modern, in the same tones as the reception and lounge. There is a small allocation of parking space near the hotel but it may be a problem at busy times. In summary, a modern and trendy hotel with a good location but possibly not for self drive customers. Unusual in not having its own pool.

CALOURA

RATING: 3 star

LOCATION: Near Lagoa, Sao Miguel Island

This hotel has a stunning quiet rural setting by the ocean, on a promontory. The hamlet of Caloura is a 20 minute walk up a steep road. The exterior of the hotel is in a typical Azorean style of white with local black pumice stone. The hotel’s interior is modern, light and airy with a Scandinavian touch. The hotel is nearly 30 years old but feels new, thanks to the recent renovation. This hotel is good for fitness fans – there is a large pool and gym. The large angular pool is at the rear of the hotel, overlooking the sea and cliffs. The fitness room/gym is good with a mixture of equipment. There is also a scuba diving centre on site. Sea swimming is also possible with a short walk to natural pools one way, or a small black sand beach in the other. The bedrooms all have ocean views in one of two directions, either over the pool and out to the sea, or the gardens and pathway to the beach. They are decorated in pale, calming colours with pale wood. To conclude, a get away from it all hotel, a very good standard 3 star. Car hire a good idea if staying more than a few nights as can feel slightly remote. A good compromise hotel for couples if one wants activities or learn to dive, but the other wants peace and relaxation.

DU COLLEGIO

RATING: 4 star

LOCATION: Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island

This atmospheric hotel is set on a narrow cobbled street right in the centre of town, close to shops, cafes and restaurants. The building was originally a school and there are some old pictures of the teachers and pupils. The manager of the hotel actually attended lessons in the school when he was a boy. The exterior of the building is a typical Azores style in white and black. The interior is atmospheric and almost gothic in black pumice stone. The hotel is roughly square, with the swimming pool in the centre. The pool is a reasonable size, but not for serious swimming. Pool towels are provided, so no need to bring your room towels. The breakfast room and mini-gym overlook the pool. The breakfast room has dramatic arches and a gothic looking bar at one end. In contrast to the dark pumice stone of the public areas, bedrooms feel Scandinavian with pale linen and pale wood. Some rooms overlook the pool, others have French balconies with a not very interesting view of the street below. This property is overall of a very good standard hotel with plenty of character, in a great location for town centre. However, not suitable for self drive customers due to lack of parking spaces near the hotel.

QUINTA DA ABELHEIRA

RATING: "Turismo Rural"

LOCATION: 2 kilometres from Ponta Delgada

This attractive manor house has been converted to provide elegant but comfortable accommodation. Decorated throughout in colonial Portuguese style with antique furniture, but feels relaxed and cosy, like someone’s house. The property is set in a semi-rural location, 5 minute drive to Ponta Delgada centre. There are extensive gardens and grounds. It is also close to pineapple greenhouses where visitors can see the pineapples growing in various stages and purchase pineapple-based produce. The owners have 5 dogs that are all friendly, but well behaved – they know not to go into the bedrooms. The newest addition is a cute black retriever puppy with plenty of energy! There is a small pool on site. Bedrooms are either in the main house, or in the separate garden annexe. Both are light and airy with traditional features such as antique bedsteads. Cream linen and curtains are in the main house and blue in the garden wing. To conclude, a small scale friendly, cosy but elegant option. Animal lovers are welcome, but avoid if you do not like dogs. Car hire a good suggestion owing to semi-rural location.

QUINTA DE SANTANA

RATING: "Turismo Rural"

LOCATION: Near Ribiera Grande, 15 kilometres from Ponta Delgada

This accommodation has a Mediterranean feel with bright colours (white, red, yellow and blue), fruit groves and gardens. This complex is set in a rural location, 15 minutes walk from a fishing village, but only a 15 minute drive to Ponta Delgada. The site is low rise and was converted from a farm, several units are dotted around the former farmland. On site there is a small outdoor pool (closes in winter), a mini games room and small children’s play area. The lounge and breakfast area has an honesty bar (help yourself and fill in the slips). The board basis is bed and breakfast, but the guest rooms have self catering facilities. Rooms are either studios or apartments. All rooms have kettles, most apartments have microwaves, and soon all the apartments will have them. Bright and cheerfully decorated rooms with pretty country style details such as patchwork bedspreads. This property is good option for families as there are several larger apartments, and some rooms also interconnect. However, the duplex apartments may not be suitable for very young children as the banisters on the stairs are quite far apart. A good family option, but would recommend car hire owing to rural location.

ROYAL GARDEN

RATING: 4 star

LOCATION: Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island

This newly opened (April 2004) hotel feels very different to the other hotels on the island as it has a definite theme. This is a large hotel – the largest on Sao Miguel, possibly the largest in the Azores but it doesn’t feel too imposing. The theme is oriental in red, cream and black with plenty of dark wood and bamboo, but it feels sophisticated and classy, not overdone. The hotel is a short walk into the town centre. There is a piano in the bar area, with music Tuesday to Sunday evenings. There is also a spa centre with massage and hydrotherapy. The hotel is arranged around a central Japanese garden, complete with bridges, maple trees and koi in ponds. Unusually for a new hotel, fully-grown plants and trees have been installed, and this makes the hotel feel less brand new and more established. There is a large outdoor pool at the rear of the hotel, with a palm garden. A gym/health suite also offers a small indoor pool. The bedrooms are decorated in neutral tones, with a few subtle oriental touches, keeping with the theme of the hotel. Most rooms have a small balcony with wooden shutters, overlooking the Japanese gardens. Overall, a sophisticated upmarket option, close to the standard of a 5 star. Probably the best all-round hotel in Ponta Delgada.

SAO MIGUEL PARK

RATING: 3 star

LOCATION: Near town centre, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island

The Sao Miguel Park could almost be a 4 star in facilities and presentation. This modern hotel has a colonial feel with pale colours, marble, dark wood and animal sculptures. The hotel opened in 2001 so is still quite new. The hotel is on a slightly elevated position so offers good views over the town, port and inland. As it is slightly outside the town, there are plenty of parking spaces available directly outside the hotel. The centre of Ponta Delgada is however only a 10 minute stroll away. There are two swimming pools at the hotel, one indoor and one outdoor. The indoor pool would be handy for inclement weather. They are both good sizes, with the outdoor pool having a large terrace. Bedrooms are light and spacious with natural tones (creams and terracottas). To conclude, the Sao Miguel Park offers a good location for city centre and is still a good base for seeing the rest of the island. This hotel would be great for a self drive holiday, as it can be difficult parking in the centre of town.

TERRA NOSTRA

RATING: 3 star

LOCATION: Furnas, Sao Miguel Island

This hotel is centrally located in the small town of Furnas. The setting is quiet despite being in the centre of town. This is an older property (built 1935) with a new wing added more recently. A more traditional style hotel with an art deco feel. Guests have free entry to the extensive Botanical Gardens next door to the hotel, which are very pleasant to stroll in. Guests have the choice of a good size indoor pool, or the thermal public pool in the botanical gardens. The pool stays constantly warm, heated by natural springs. The restaurant on site offers the local speciality, the Cozido, which is a mixture of meat and vegetables cooked by volcanic heat. The bedrooms are decorated in gentle blues, creams and greens with dark wood and are a reasonable size. Rooms in the old wing face the town and mountains, rooms in the new wing face the Botanical Gardens. Overall, a fairly good standard 3 star, good option for those who want to avoid modern styles.

VILA NOVA

RATING: 3 star

LOCATION: near town centre, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island

This modern but comfortable hotel has a Scandinavian feel, being light, airy and spacious. The hotel is in a good location, being only 5 minutes walk from the centre of town, on a cobblestone road. The swimming pool is situated in the centre of the hotel is quite large, with a generous terrace area. There are vending machines for drinks and snacks throughout the hotel, which many other hotels do not offer. The games room on site is a nice touch and even has table football. The pool, lounge bar and restaurant are all one level. Parking is available on site for a nominal charge of 1 Euro per day. The bedrooms are quite large and decorated in blues and creams, feel very relaxed and calming. Most rooms have a view over the pool. The suites are large but all except one have street views – what you lose in scenery, you gain in space. Another good 3 star in a central location.

TERCEIRA ISLAND

ANGRA GARDEN

RATING: 3 star

LOCATION: Angra do Heroismo, Terceira Island

This slightly quirky hotel has a mixture of colours and styles throughout. The location is great, situated in front of a square, right in the centre of town. Behind the hotel are the public tropical gardens. Very close to shops, cafes and restaurants. Parking outside the hotel is a problem, but there are several public car parks only a 5 minute walk away. The lobby has very comfortable leather seating, and is nice and cool on a hot day. There is an indoor pool, Jaccuzzi and small gym in smart health suite area. The town centre beach is only a 5 minute walk. The bedrooms are decorated in mostly blues, with pale bedlinen and maple coloured wood. Standard rooms a little on the small side but very comfortable. Garden view rooms have a lovely outlook onto the tropical gardens. Birds roost in the trees at sunset and are interesting to watch. They are quite noisy as well, and the whole process is repeated at sunrise when they leave. Bring earplugs if you don’t want an early wake up call! In conclusion, a comfortable choice with good location, a more reasonably priced alternative to the 4 star properties in the area.

DO CARACOL

RATING: 4 star

This hotel is themed as modern nautical and is a 15 minute walk into the centre of UNESCO World heritage town, Angra. The Do Caracol is set on a rocky promontory and is on various levels with signs around the hotel. Inside, the dominant colours are blue and silver with black marble and wooden panelling. Many of the corridors are decorated with these wooden panels with side lighting, making it feel like a cruise ship. The outdoor seawater swimming pool is fairly large in a semi-circle shape. Guests can also chose to swim in the sea from a public lido area next to the hotel, or in the small indoor pool in the health suite. The hotel gym is large with plenty of machines and the aerobics studio has high and low impact classes. A diving centre is under construction (Sept 2004) which will have direct access to the sea. The hotel also has a Wellness Centre which offers treatments such as facials and massage. Bedrooms are decorated in shades of blue in keeping with the nautical theme. Overall, great choice for fitness fans, but can be a bit of a maze to get around. Not suitable for those with walking difficulties due to all the different levels.

QUINTA DA NASCE AGUA

RATING: 4 star "Turismo Rural"

LOCATION: 3 kilometres from Angra do Heroismo

This restored 19th Century manor house is a lovely old building in pale yellow with climbing plants. Set in quiet countryside, the property is a 20 minute downhill walk to Angra (or 5 minute drive). The tropical gardens on site are pleasant to stroll in. There is a small pool on site set in a grassy area behind the main building. Inside, it feels like a traditional manor house with antique furniture. The bedrooms are light and airy, decorated in pale colours. The antique bedsteads are a nice touch. Rooms are mostly in the main house but there is a suite in the annexe. To conclude, a more formal Quinta style accommodation, would suit discerning clients looking for a quiet location. Car hire recommended due to rural location.

QUINTA DOS FIGOS

RATING: 2 star "Turismo Rural"

LOCATION: 2.5 kilometres from Praia da Vitoria

This low rise, cottage style rustic property is set in Cabo da Praia, a quiet hamlet near the small town of Praia da Vitoria. 10 minute drive or bus journey to Praia da Vitoria, 20 minute walk. Figos is in typical Azorean style in painted black pumice stone, converted from an old manor house. There are several different buildings dotted around the development, which is set in old Azores style, as if it was 100 yrs ago, but incorporating modern conveniences. "Figos" means figs, and there were extensive fig orchards before the conversion. It feels like a farm with animals, fruit orchards and gardens. Parking on site is plentiful. Bedrooms come in two types - rooms in the main house and annexe, or apartments with self catering facilities. All are rustic, simple style but comfortable and cosy. Handmade touches feature such as quilts and paintings by a local artist. There is no air conditioning, but the thick walls keep the rooms cool in hot weather. There are no sports facilities on site, but there is a large beach at Praia da Vitoria. Overall, a comfortable accommodation with plenty of character and a good option for families. Car hire recommended due to rural location.

TERCEIRA MAR

RATING: 4 star

LOCATION: Outskirts of Angra do Heroismo, Terceira Island

This large modern hotel is a 10 minute walk into the centre of UNESCO World Heritage town, Angra. It has an ocean front setting and looks out onto Monte Brasil and its bay. This building divides opinion, as the exterior is bright pink! Some say it is beautiful, others say it looks out of place near the ancient town. The hotel was completed in 2003 and still feels very new. Inside, the hotel has an Asian/oriental theme with dark wood, cream and gold. Another hotel with extensive sporting facilities – swimming pool, large gym and tennis court on site. An aerobics studio is under construction, hopefully to be finished for summer 2005. Golf can also be arranged for the course nearby. The pool on site is enormous in an unusual shape, perhaps it is meant to look like an oriental flower? All the bedrooms have a sea view and are tastefully decorated in red, cream, gold and oriental patterns. It is also worth noting that all the standard rooms are twins, the only double beds are in the suites. In conclusion, a

good hotel for fitness fans with a good location but lacks a little in character.

VARANDAS DO ATLANTICO

SUNVIL RATING: 3 star

LOCATION: Praia da Vitoria, Terceira Island

This cheerful boutique hotel (30 rooms) is located in front of the large black sand beach and a few steps to the harbour and small town centre of Praia da Vitoria. The hotel has a nautical feel in blue and cream. Rooms are also light and airy in creams and blues, good size for a small hotel. Smoking rooms are available (many hotels are all non-smoking). All the rooms fitting two people can be made up as twins or kings – request at time of booking. Great location with cheerful atmosphere. Good base for seeing the rest of the island.

 

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