In June 2018, my girlfriend Colleen and I traveled to the Azores, followed by mainland Portugal. Our first stop was the picturesque island of Sao Miguel. Based on glowing reviews, we stayed at the Azor Hotel, located in the capital of Ponta Delgada. The rates for this hotel fluctuate between about $110 and $250 per night, plus tax. But honestly, that’s still pretty reasonable considering how stylish this hotel is, the impeccable service, and the fact that all rooms include an amazing breakfast. But rather than pay cash, we redeemed 7,000 SPG Starpoints per night, which was an absolute steal. Post-Marriott takeover, award nights now hover between 20,000 and 30,000 Marriott points, depending on season.
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Location and Parking
Azor Hotel is a quick 10 minute drive from PDG airport. Although there is apparently a parking garage on the property, we always found a parking space in the surface lot next to the hotel. In the evenings, we walked about 15 minutes to downtown Ponta Delgada where most of the shops, restaurants, and cafes are located. There is a smaller selection of bars and restaurants located more nearby to the hotel, however.
Checking In and Early Arrival
At the time of this writing, there are only two nonstop flights from the United States to Ponta Delgada and both arrive very early in the morning. As a result, the hotel has many guests wishing to check-in 7-8 hours before the official check-in time. While the hotel is clearly accustomed to this and tries to ready the rooms as soon as possible, it’s impossible to facilitate all early arrivals. Adjacent to the lobby, there is a bar with ample seating where weary travelers can grab a nap. Additional couches are also available on the second floor (outside the restaurant) and we saw many folks stretched out up there.
Pro tip: Although not well publicized, waiting guests can partake in the breakfast buffet. The charge of €10 per person is very fair considering the quality of the buffet which also includes mimosas.
After breakfast, Colleen and I decided to stay awake and walked into old-town Ponta Delgada to take some photos and purchase a cellular data card. Speaking of SIM cards… There is a Vodafone store located one block from the main square and a 15GB card cost only €15! Finally growing exhausted, we returned to the Azor Hotel about 11:00 am and thankfully our room was ready.
The Rooms at Azor Hotel
If you look at the exterior photo of Azor Hotel, you will notice that rooms in the center section of the top two floors do not have balconies. We were assigned one of these balcony-less rooms and in lieu of the balcony, we had some extra interior space and floor-to-ceiling windows. I couldn’t find any reference to these rooms on the hotel website in terms of desirability or price difference (higher or lower) to the regular balcony rooms. All rooms have the same view facing the harbor.
The rooms themselves are fresh and trendy, just like the public spaces. A small refrigerator and coffee/tea setup are also provided. So now let’s talk about the bathroom… OMG!! Every surface is covered in gloss black tile, black granite and black tinted glass. This bathroom is the epitome of 1980’s drug dealer chic. I don’t know what the designers were thinking, but it looks like it belongs in the movie Scarface and is not at all appropriate for the island atmosphere. But that is really my only negative critique of an otherwise fabulous experience.
Complimentary Breakfast Buffet
The breakfast buffet was one of the highlights of our stay and is included complimentary to all guests. There was a large variety of local fruit, cheeses, and bread. A hot station offered cooked to order eggs or omelettes, bacon, crepes, and more. All served up in a stylish space with as much free sparkling wine as you wish. We learned that if you have an early departure on your final morning, a smaller version of the buffet without the hot items is available by request starting at something like 4:00 or 5:00 am. This was another example of the fantastic service at Azor Hotel.
Pool Area and Rooftop Bar
On an island with so many amazing sites and activities, I wouldn’t imagine that lounging by the pool is a priority for most guests and that is reflected in the tiny rooftop pool. Although it’s certainly adequate for a refreshing dip after a long day of hiking. Adjacent to the pool is the Whale Watching Bar. The decor in the bar rather reminded me of the travel-theme present in Amex Centurion lounges. Drink prices were pretty reasonable for a hotel bar, perhaps €1-2 higher than regular cafes. For beer enthusiasts, they have several of Super Bock’s (very mediocre, but still better than Sagres) Selecção 1927 craft beers on tap. For a better beer scene, try downtown at Taberna Acor or Suplexio.
As I mentioned earlier, you’re probably going to be doing a lot of walking and hiking on the island, but if you still haven’t gotten your fill, Azor Hotel does have an adequately stocked fitness center. There is also a small casino attached to the hotel with table games and slots. It was really quite the one night we walked through.
In summary, we really enjoyed visiting the beautiful and friendly island of San Miguel and it was a delight to use the Azor Hotel as a home base. Although it’s a bit of a walk from the city center, that is to be expected in order to have adequate space to construct a large new hotel. If you have any questions about the hotel or Sao Miguel in general, don’t hesitate to hit me up in the comment section below!