Scattered a considerable 900 miles away from mainland Portugal, right in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean, are the thrillingly exotic Azores islands.
Blink and you’ll miss it, which is admittedly, kind of the point; island paradise peaks across the Azores, which is no less heightened by its relative seclusion from the international tourism stage.
Bursting with vivid natural beauty, whether the twinkling lagoons or the cascading waterfalls, the Azores islands host a multitude of flora and fauna unique to its land. Vivid green in some parts, lusciously golden upon the coast, and snow-tipped across the mountains, these islands seem to throb with otherworldly life.
And the cultural offerings of the richly historic islands are just as enchanting as the beaches and volcanos. Heavily influenced by Portuguese heritage and the Catholic religion, today the people of the Azores islands celebrate their unique music, cuisine and style formed after centuries of island isolation.
With the Maldives and Hawaii getting more expensive – and crowded – with each passing year, there’s no better time to embark on your own island adventure. The hospitality scene of the Azores is expanding, with a particular emphasis on boutique and individual haunts, rather than big name chains. Here’s our pick of the best Azores hotels.
Terra Nostra Garden Hotel
Tucked upon the edge of the historic Terra Nostra Garden, and perfectly situated to make full use of the village Furnas and its geothermal Furnas Lake, is the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel, one of the most charming Azores hotels. Sleek, stylish, and wonderfully inviting throughout, it is a glorious experience particularly useful for larger booking parties; don’t miss out on its Botania Hall, a 19th-century manor that is now an exclusive villa.
A location destination hotel, entry to the glorious Terra Nostra Garden and its unmissable geothermal pools is open to guests 24 hours a day. Otherwise, the hotel’s restaurant offers sublime Azorean cuisine and pairs wonderfully with its Portuguese wine list.
Solar Branco Eco Estate
Composed of eight luxury suites and cottages, this intimate family-run estate is perfect for travelers seeking a homely environment within a minimalist aesthetic. First built in the 1800s, the hotel places great emphasis on sustainability; expect local produce, zero food waste (it goes to the resort’s chickens), and a fantastic Ocean Azores Foundation initiative.
The vistas are spectacular, with views stretching over the island São Miguel’s rolling green hills and into the glittering blue seas beyond. The hotel’s sushi restaurant, headed by chef Joana, offers some of the best Japanese cuisine across the islands.
Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort
Just as beautiful inside as the landscape outside – a considerable feat, considering the hotel is set right beside the beach upon the turquoise coast of São Miguel – the Santa Barbara Eco-beach Resort is, for a multitude of reasons, undeniably one of the best hotels in the Azores.
With a simple yet stylish interior that truly brings the green and blue vistas of outside in, the resort is wonderful for those seeking to maximize the most of their stay in the islands, with an onsite surf school, walking trails, a biological farm, and even guided swimming with dolphins.
For maximum luxury, we like the Retreat Studio, which comes with a private Jacuzzi upon its terrace.
Sul Villas & Spa
Located within the city of Lagoa, and perched right atop the glittering Atlantic Ocean below, the Sul Villas & Spa is true paradise escapism. The property’s whitewashed buildings grace the resort with an authentically Mediterranean feel, whilst themes of driftwood and timber bring the beach inside.
Staff are more than happy to help aid your Azores islands experience, whilst the gastronomic offerings within the hotel’s restaurants will draw you in again and again. Other amenities include a small spa that encompasses a Vichy shower room, a sauna, and various massage treatments, while the saltwater infinity pool overlooking the ocean is an unmissable experience.
Modern luxury and Azorean culture meet at White, where the converted 18th-century building has been stylishly updated to offer just enough glamor for a fabulous vacation experience without ever compromising its island culture and heritage. Terraces wrap around the building, offering sensational vistas across the ocean. Inside, the tall ceilings and subtle color palettes of brown and white feel blissfully tranquil.
The rooms at the hotel are all suites, perfect for those seeking even further privacy within these remote islands. The two restaurants, Santa Barbara and Cardume, bring Azorean flavors and produce to the forefront, while the wellness offerings are exquisite, with treatments spotlighting ancient holistic methods and the power of nature. Perfectly appropriate, of course, when in one of the most beautiful natural offerings across the world.