How to choose a hotel in the Azores and where to stay on each island

How to choose a hotel in the Azores and where to stay on each island

COVID-19 travel information

Refer to these official sources when planning your trip to the Azores:

U. S. Embassy in PortugalAzores Government

There isn’t a method to find the best hotels in the Azores we don’t use in other destinations. Budget, amenities, location, and accommodation type are common factors we consider while planning a trip.

However, the Azores case is particular, mostly because the reality in one island is hardly the same in the next, no matter how close they are. Think of Flores and Corvo, for example, less than one hour apart from each other by boat. 

While Flores has a good selection of different accommodation types, finding a place to stay in Corvo means you have to be more flexible about your choices and dates.

In this guide, I’ll: 

  • Walk you through what kind of hotels in the Azores you should look for and the differences between them; 
  • Explain what’s a Miosótis certified hotel (a local certification issued by the regional government);
  • Answer the question if choosing an Airbnb is a sustainable travel decision in Azorean circumstances.
façade of inatel hotel on Flores Island azores
Inatel is one of the three hotels available in Flores Island. There are alternative options of accommodation on the island for a hands-on islander experience.

There isn’t a method to find the best hotels in the Azores we don’t use in other destinations. Budget, amenities, location, and accommodation type are common factors we consider while planning a trip.

However, the Azores case is particular, mostly because the reality in one island is hardly the same in the next, no matter how close they are. Think of Flores and Corvo, for example, less than one hour apart from each other by boat. 

While Flores has a good selection of different accommodation types, finding a place to stay in Corvo means you have to be more flexible about your choices and dates.

In this guide, I’ll: 

  • Walk you through what kind of hotels in the Azores you should look for and the differences between them
  • Explain what’s a Miosótis certified hotel (a local certification issued by the regional government);
  • Answer the question if choosing an Airbnb is a sustainable travel decision in Azorean circumstances;
  • Include the top 5 suggestions of accommodation on each island with a 9 point-rate or higher on my preferred hotel search engine and booking website, Booking.com. (I might have to include links to high-rated short-term rentals in smaller islands with fewer accommodation options or fewer hotels).

What kind of hotels in the Azores should you look for?

Let’s take a quick look at how Portugal classifies tourism accommodation according to the official requirements of Turismo de Portugal (Portugal’s tourism board):

 

  • Hotel establishments: hotels (1 to 5 stars), apart-hotels (1 to 5 stars), and government-run inns or pousadas (comparable to 3 or 4-star hotels).
  • Aldeamentos turísticos are tourist villages (3 to 5 stars).
  • Apartamentos turísticos or tourist apartments in English, but aren’t the same as short-term rentals (3 to 5 stars).
  • Conjuntos turísticos or tourist resorts (no star rating).
  • Turismo de habitação or housing tourism. No star rating and not to be confused with short-term rentals.
  • Turismo rural is the umbrella classification for country houses or casas de campo (no star rating), agrotourism (no star rating), and rural hotels (3 to 5 stars).
  • Camping and caravan parks (no star rating).
  • Alojamento local (shortened as AL) is the umbrella classification for short-term rentals (independent apartments or houses, private rooms) and hostels.

 

That’s a long list to choose from, isn’t it? In my opinion, to fully experience the Azores, you should choose an accommodation that:

  1. Gives you plenty of room and time to explore your surroundings.
  2. Is comfortable and private enough to curl up with a book or a Netflix show when it’s pouring outside.
  3. Allows you to connect with the locals, their culture, and their way of life.

 

What types of hotels in the Azores give you the full-on, intimate islander experience?

  • Tourist villages (or aldeamentos turísticos);
  • Turismo rural (country houses, agrotourism units or farm stays, and rural hotels);
  • Turismo de habitação (housing tourism);
  • Short-term rentals.

 

Yes, I did include short-term rentals but opting for an Airbnb in the Azores comes with a particular set of factors to consider, that I’ll talk about in a bit.

 

Please note that I’m not saying you shouldn’t look for a hotel or an inn if that’s your preference. But the ideal Azores experience requires a close connection to nature, people, and what life on an island is all about.

 

What's a Miosótis certified hotel?

Not only are the Azores all about nature as a tourism destination, but the archipelago includes four UNESCO Biosphere Reserves: Graciosa Island, Corvo Island, and Flores Island, and the fajãs in São Jorge Island.

To readers who ask me what they need to know before they travel to the Azores and who want to make sure they’re choosing right when it comes to sustainable accommodation, I advise them to check the Miosótis list of certified accommodation. The list is updated every year, and the certification is valid for two years.

Miosótis is the Portuguese word for the forget-me-not flower, one of the 59 species of endemic plants in the Azores. 

The blue flower was chosen as the symbol for the environmental award and certification the local Azorean government issues to tourism establishments on all nine islands. According to their official website, these are the has three goals of the certificate:

 

  1. To be a thorough and strict environmental distinction.
  2. To acknowledge the tourism establishments that follow best practices.
  3. To make tourism professionals aware of environmental best practices and help them implement those best practices.

 

Each hotel’s owner or manager fills out an application, and local government representatives evaluate and rate them based on five core areas:

 

  1. Waste management
  2. Water consumption
  3. Energy consumption
  4. Biodiversity and local business empowerment (for example, use locally sourced products or recommend local companies)
  5. Environmental management and information

 

Please note this doesn’t mean that the establishments without a Miosótis certification aren’t environmentally conscious. It could very well mean they didn’t apply to get the certification or have their internal methods to monitor sustainability best practices.

Finding hotels in the Azores during high season can be challenging, especially on islands with fewer options like the remote and tiny Corvo.

Should you choose Airbnb in the Azores?

Ask me if you should stay at an Airbnb in Lisbon, and I’ll tell you no. Ask me the same thing in the Azores, and my answer might not be so straightforward.

In smaller islands where hotels are rarer (and finding a room is more challenging during the high season), short-term rental platforms like Airbnb might be the only choice you have.

They also provide a decent side income for the locals who have a vacant house and no one to rent it to. Generally, the islands’ people own their houses (or built them themselves), especially in smaller islands or in the rural parts of the bigger ones. Usually, long-term tenants are there temporarily (for example, a relocated teacher or a doctor).

If it doesn’t grow out of control, short-term rentals in the Azores don’t harm a fair real estate market and life quality. However, you should always take this with a grain of salt.

As much as I’d recommend Airbnb on one of the smaller or more remote islands, be careful in your research and find out what the locals feel about it.

Public forums like Quora or public Facebook groups are always a good place to start.

Where to stay in the Azores

To be consistent, I’m picking the top five hotels with the highest guest scores that fit the four types of ideal accommodation in the Azores that I’ve mentioned before.

If I stayed in one of those hotels before, I’ll also note that and share my experience, whether good or bad.

As always, my main goal is not to promote local businesses at random but to highlight those that excel, according to the hotel search engine I use for my travels and trust.

Although I do my best to update all relevant information, please note that the Azores hotels listed below could have a different classification by the time you book it.

Read more tips about traveling to the Azores:

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5 thoughts on “How to choose a hotel in the Azores and where to stay on each island

    • Author gravatar

      Your information regarding free internal flights has been most helpful, having been to the Azores three times in the last 4 years we feel it’s time to do more exploring so having been to SAO MIGUEL once and TERCEIRA twice PICO and it’s close neighbours are calling us.We spend about 8 months of the year living on mainland Portugal so flying to the Azores is great value for money and we must say with all honestly the people of these islands are wonderful hosts. Having travelled to my countries around the world over the last 12 years we seem to be drawn back to the Azores everytime. Once again a wonderful blog thanks. Must be on everyone’s bucket list!!!

    • Author gravatar

      I once i was in azore. And it’s a very beautiful place. I stayed over there in Fontes Viewpoint hotel and had a great experience. Thanks mate for freshen up my memories, I really appreciate.

    • Author gravatar

      Boas Fotografias e é sempre bom promover os Açores para que mais pessoas venham =)tudo de bom, Find Azores

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