Review: Furnas Boutique Hotel, The Azores

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Review: Furnas Boutique Hotel, The Azores
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We had two nights in the Azores, as we were arriving early in the morning, and leaving around the same time two days later. Most of the major hotel chains don’t have any properties in the Azores, so I had narrowed down our stay to the two Design Hotels properties on São Miguel Island. Specifically, there’s the Azor Hotel, which is located in Ponta Delgada, just a few miles from the airport, and then there’s the Furnas Boutique Hotel, located in Furnas, about a 45 minute drive from the airport.

While the Azor Hotel looked nice for what it is (a pretty generic city hotel), we were intrigued by the Furnas Boutique Hotel, so ended up booking that. The paid rate would have been 240EUR, though we redeemed 7,000 Starpoints per night instead (as this is a Category 3 SPG property), which I consider to be a great value.

For those of you not familiar with Starwood’s partnership with Design Hotels, these properties aren’t fully integrated into SPG, but rather it’s just a marketing partnership. That means you can earn and redeem Starpoints for these stays, but you don’t receive room upgrades, free breakfast, late check-out, etc.

With that in mind, we rented a car at Ponta Delgada Airport so we’d be able to drive around the island freely. The Azores is a place where you really need a car, as there’s beauty at every corner, and we loved just driving wherever the road would take us, with no destination in mind. The landscape is so incredibly beautiful, and the roads are consistently empty.

The Furnas Boutique Hotel was about a 45 minute drive from the airport. As the name suggests, the 54-room hotel is located in Furnas, which is a town with a population of under 1,500. The town is known for its hot springs and nearby lake, which is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island.


Upside down house in Furnas

The hotel was easy to find and had a charming exterior. It was just a two story hotel, and parking out front was free.


Furnas Boutique Hotel exterior

The lobby had an interesting design. I couldn’t decide whether the waterfall wallpaper was cute or cheesy, or maybe both.


Furnas Boutique Hotel lobby

To the right of the entrance was a room that doubled as a sitting area and gift shop.


Furnas Boutique Hotel lobby

Then to the left was the lobby lounge.


Furnas Boutique Hotel lobby lounge

The associate at reception was friendly, and informed us that our room wouldn’t be ready for many hours. I said that was fine (of course), but also told her that we didn’t care about the bed configuration, and would be happy with the first available room. Her colleague pointed to something on the screen, and moments later we were informed that a room was ready for us. Awesome!


Furnas Boutique Hotel reception

Our room (#110) was located on the ground floor, to the right of reception.


Furnas Boutique Hotel hallway


Furnas Boutique Hotel hallway

Our room was the third one on the right.


Furnas Boutique Hotel floorplan

Rooms at this hotel are on the small side, though well appointed. There was an entryway with the bathroom to the left.


Furnas Boutique Hotel room entryway

The room featured a king size bed, a chair by the window, a long table along the wall (which doubled as a desk), and a wall-mounted TV.


Furnas Boutique Hotel room


Furnas Boutique Hotel room


Furnas Boutique Hotel room


Furnas Boutique Hotel room


Furnas Boutique Hotel room chair

On the opposite side of the table of the desk was a kettle and coffee machine, as well as a fridge with some complimentary water.


Furnas Boutique Hotel room coffee machine & kettle


Furnas Boutique Hotel room mini-fridge

The room faced the parking lot and lots of greenery, not that views are all that much better from other parts of the hotel.


Furnas Boutique Hotel room view

The bathroom was small but functional, and had a sink, toilet, bidet, and shower/tub combo.


Furnas Boutique Hotel room bathroom

My one major complaint was with the shower design, as the half glass shield wasn’t enough to prevent water from spraying into the rest of the bathroom. After a shower the floor would be soaking wet.


Furnas Boutique Hotel room shower

Toiletries were in bottles on the wall, and were provided by Green Park (which I hadn’t heard of).


Furnas Boutique Hotel room toiletries

Wifi in the room was fast and free, and didn’t require any sort of log-in.

Several hours after checking in we were brought a welcome amenity, consisting of a bottle of wine, two bottles of water (in awesome-looking bottles), and fresh pineapple juice. I’m not sure if this amenity was due to being an SPG member (I’ve heard that Design Hotels sometimes try to do special things for SPG guests given that it’s still a fairly new partnership), or what.


Furnas Boutique Hotel welcome amenity

In terms of the hotel’s other amenities, there’s a spa and thermal pool complex also on the ground floor. There was both an indoor and outdoor thermal pool, opened daily from 9AM until 9PM.


Furnas Boutique Hotel pool


Furnas Boutique Hotel indoor thermal swimming pool


Furnas Boutique Hotel outdoor thermal swimming pool

Then on the second floor just above the pool was the gym, which could be accessed 24/7.


Furnas Boutique Hotel gym


Furnas Boutique Hotel gym

The hotel also had bikes you could rent.


Furnas Boutique Hotel bikes

While we didn’t get any spa treatments, here’s the cost for spa treatments at the Furnas Hotel:


Furnas Boutique Hotel spa menu

While our rate didn’t include breakfast, we had breakfast two mornings at A Terra Furnas, which is the hotel’s restaurant just off the side of the lobby. The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating.


A Terra Furnas Restaurant


A Terra Furnas Restaurant


A Terra Furnas Restaurant

Breakfast was 15EUR per person, and that included coffee. There were a variety of cold cuts, cheese, cereal, yogurt, bread, fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, and of course the famous Portuguese custard tarts. My only wish is that breakfast included made to ordered eggs.


Furnas Hotel breakfast buffet


Furnas Hotel breakfast buffet


Furnas Hotel breakfast buffet


Furnas Hotel breakfast buffet


Furnas Hotel breakfast buffet


Furnas Hotel breakfast buffet


Furnas Hotel breakfast buffet


Furnas Hotel breakfast buffet


Furnas Hotel breakfast buffet


Furnas Hotel breakfast buffet

One afternoon while working Ford and I shared a pizza in the lobby lounge to tide us over until dinner. It was excellent.


Furnas Hotel pizza in lobby lounge

We also had dinner one night at the hotel’s restaurant. It’s the best restaurant in the area, and a majority of the people eating there seemed to be non-guests.


Dinner at A Terra Furnas

The menu read as follows:

I had the ceviche to start, while Ford had the chicken salad.


A Terra Furnas dinner — ceviche


A Terra Furnas dinner — chicken salad

For the main, Ford had the tuna, while I had the special, which consisted of tomato three ways.


A Terra Furnas dinner — ahi tuna


A Terra Furnas dinner — vegetables three ways

The food was excellent, as was the service.

We had to leave for the airport early on our last morning, and I appreciated that they had a station in the lobby with a light breakfast, for those leaving before the restaurant opens (7AM).


Furnas Boutique Hotel early morning coffee


Furnas Boutique Hotel early morning coffee

Overall thoughts on the Azores

We had a great two days in the Azores. When we first landed the weather wasn’t very nice and we didn’t have great interactions with a few people, so I was prepared to be disappointed. However, after taking a nap the weather got nicer and we drove around the island, and just fell in love with the landscape.


Views driving around São Miguel Island

I will say that based on my research, the Azores (or more accurately, São Miguel Island) doesn’t have that much to offer in the way of traditional tourist attractions. However, that was fine by us, because what we enjoyed most was just taking in the nature. I felt like our two days there was perfect given the pace at which we travel, but I could have easily spent another couple of days there, and would love to return.

Was Furnas Hotel a good base from which to explore?

When we made the booking, we chose the Furnas Hotel because it looked charming and intimate, while the other Design Hotels property looked like a pretty standard city hotel. Overall I’m very happy with our decision, though I should mention that Ponta Delgada is a surprisingly charming city as well.

So in a way I wish we had stayed in Ponta Delgada so we could walk out our hotel into the cute streets and great restaurants, rather than driving 45 minutes. On the other hand, I don’t think we would have done as much exploring if we stayed in the city, so staying a bit of a distance from everything meant that we’d get to see more.


Ponta Delgada

Bottom line

We had a great stay at the Furnas Boutique Hotel, and at 7,000 Starpoints per night, it was an excellent value. This is a solid hotel with clean and modern rooms, good service overall, and an excellent restaurant. I also highly recommend a visit to the Azores.

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Comments

  1. Lucky, you’ve been eating to much eggs lately. Give them a break 🙂

    The breakfast quality looks great, and for that price, I could’t ask for anything more. I’m looking rates and in winter it’s around 90€.

    You didn’t mention the stone signs haha, I like it!

  2. Would be interesting to hear about your less-than-positive interactions with the locals, even if just a general overview.

  3. @ AdamR — It was nothing crazy, but the crew on the flight wasn’t friendly, the guy at immigration was rude, and the person at the car rental counter wasn’t friendly either. So it was just that every experience we had with locals up until that point wasn’t positive. Fortunately I left with a much more favorable impression.

  4. Hi Ben, I think you made the right choice to stay at this property than Ponta Delgada. Yes, it might be closer to facilities, but I believe even a short drive away from Furnas, you can find smaller local places to have food.
    I have been to Sao Miguel and visited Furnas (famous for it’s thermal water and activities related to it). I did not stay at this property, but did have tea here and while it is one of the pricier property on the island, it is not overly expensive as you can see from the menu.
    Indeed, just 2 days is not enough to visit this beautiful island. I was here for 3 days (cut short by one due to the technical issue with the A310 flight from LIS). Just this island the nature is out of this world, I can’t imagine the beauty of the other islands.
    People here are friendly and helpful. Food is superb and cheap. I would certainly want to return to the Azores to discover the other islands.

  5. I noticed for the welcome wine bottle you were not asked if you wanted put in the chiller. 🙂

    The Azorean equivalent of Hawaiian pizza made with fermented red peppers sausage and pineapple gave me an idea for dinner tonight. Muito obrigado!

  6. Excellent review Ben, thank you. Looks like a great place to decompress, especially after your unpleasant flight. Quite an elegant looking property and even the parking lot view was nice. The driving excursions were very appealing. I am now thinking Azores as a destination, however I might look for an alternative airline…and no, not TAP.

  7. 1. Why is the indoor pool water brown?

    2. I guess they exhausted all of the design and decor budget on the lobby and exterior because the rooms are pretty spartan, at least according to the pictures. Some color or art on the walls would have been nice.

    3. Great to see a good coffeemaker in the room.

    4. The breakfast buffet looks good for the price. Quite reasonable at about $17.

    Question: Do you tip in the Azores? I’m guessing not.

  8. @ FNT Delta Diamond — It’s a thermal pool, so I believe the water was pumped in from the nearby lake, or something. Maybe someone with a better understanding of this stuff than me can chime in. And as far as tipping goes, there was the option to tip on receipts, but didn’t feel like it was expected.

  9. 1. Why is the indoor pool water brown?
    Iron water.
    https://www.google.pt/search?q=água+férrea+furnas&client=opera&hs=EhF&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjYqbi56pXVAhWJXBQKHaDyDBoQ_AUIBigB&biw=1680&bih=940


    3. Great to see a good coffeemaker in the room.
    Yes. At 240€ a nigth a capsule coffe machine is great.

    4. The breakfast buffet looks good for the price. Quite reasonable at about $17.
    Unless you make just a bit over that a day (+-25€), like most workers serving you there, it’s minimum wage for all, otherwise most business owners would not even pay a dollar a day.

    Question: Do you tip in the Azores? I’m guessing not.
    It’s at your discretion. As long as is not considered pay/wage because the government would probably want it’s share for taxes, pension, health care, and so on.

    Goo that you had a nice time around the island it is indeed a lovely place, although it is getting to crowded with tourists all year long, I remember when you would have some tourists during the end of spring and summer, and I could enjoy and share my island with them at that time, and the rest of the year was just us locals, no tourists, no bloody sunday drivers during the working/week days on teh main roads, when you are trying to get to meetings/work, no need for reservations in some restaurants, lots of room at the thermal pools, by the lagoons, etc.

    But the airways opened to Ryanair and Easyjet, and so did TAP come along, about 2 years ago, and all this tourists came, which is good for the otherwise stagnated economy, but that also means that we enjoy less of our natural resources.

    Also SATA is a public/regional government company, because as usual private companies will only make public transportation, specially between 9 spread out populated islands in the middle of the north Atlantic, if strongly beneficial, for instance Easyjet is leaving the LIS/PDl route later this year, and they say it’s because they don’t have a second plane to add to that route.

  10. What a beautiful spot to visit, Lucky. I’ve been to Porto, Lisbon, the Algarve, and Madeira. I love everything about Portugal – the history, food, culture, scenery, value – it’s all top notch.

    The cuisine might be unique to Europe in that so many of the dishes are ‘new to you’. Dine in France, Germany, Italy, even Spain, and you’re likely to eat dishes familiar to you. No so much in Portugal. It’s such a delicious savory cuisine; unfortunately it’s unknown in the US outside of Newark and SE Mass.

    The property looks lovely. However, they could class up the minibar with the addition of some AriZona Iced Tea. 🙂

  11. Hi Ben,

    Just to say, that as Portuguese and as passionate of our Açores Islands, i liked vey much to read this review and expecially to knew that you liked to be here. Just have in mind that you have 8 more beautifull islands to discover.
    All the best,

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