“ Address: Rua Carvalho Araújo, 39 9500-040 Ponta Delgada - São Miguel Azores, Portugal / World Region: Europe „
Tucked away in the centre of Ponta Delgada just behind the harbour is a beautiful old hotel. In the 19th century the building was constructed as a private manor house but for many years was used as a primary school, called 'A Colmeia' which means beehive in Portuguese. Probably given this name because of the very unusual ornamentation in the shapes of several round arches which can be found on doorways, window frames and staircases. The town's music academy was also housed in a separate section of the house.
Both sections of the hotel are very interesting architecturally but the nicest and largest rooms are situated in the oldest part of the building which beams with character with its mellow lighting, stone floors, arched windows, spiral staircase and contemporary furniture. Public rooms like the lounge are very pleasant to sit and read in or just to sit and relax with a glass of wine. Some walls are painted a very pale lemon and others are just bare, unadultered masonry. Light fittings are contemporary with yellow shades; some with oblong wooden bases, others with metal - all very simple but attractive.
There are 55 rooms and one suite. The double room we were allocated for a couple of nights was simply furnished and decorated in neutral shades; cream, brown, beige with honey coloured wall lamps and reading lamps. This is very much a Portuguese look, used in hotels in places such as Cascais and Estoril in mainland Portugal. The bed was very comfortable and the headboard was made of wood; a medium-coloured tan - not sure what kind of wood but it definitely wasn't pine or oak. Pillows were large of which there were four. This was very useful as they could be propped up behind you so you could sit comfortably in the evening to read.
The en-suite bathroom was scrupuously clean; all white with shiny chrome fittings, huge mirror above a free standing wash basin which had individual lights attached at the top of the mirror. There was the use of a shower and a bath but the shower was the type where you stand in the bath. The ubiquitous hairdryer was attached to the wall which seems a Portuguese hotel trait and either side of the shiny taps was a wicker basket filled with toiletries including tissues, soap, shampoo, hand cream and shower gel. A very clean bathroom indeed if not a little clinical.
'A Colmeia' which used to be the school is now a restaurant and serves up some delicious meals probably the best on the Azores and is always busy with residents and non-residents. Cuisine is very attractive, inventive and modern based on old island traditions using top class local produce. The thing to really look out for is the wine list; excellent, drawn from all the islands, mainland Portugal and other wine producing countries of the world. Not only is it served by the bottle but by the glass too. Waiters here will explain to you about the different wines which is a good and informative touch. Breakfast; an excellent continental breakfast with hot and cold dishes can be taken here and you will find the atmosphere gentle and sophisticated yet friendly and relaxed. The room is very attractive with its yellow ochre walls and wooden furniture. Plenty of light shines through the large windows which gives the room a very sunny outlook.
There is a beautiful heated courtyard pool which can be viewed from the restaurant. Breakfast and light snacks can be taken at the side of the pool if preferred. At night the turquoise water of the pool looks idyllic when its lit with small night-lite candles placed inside big, broad lily leaves. Also for the health conscious visitors there is a gym, health club, Turkish bath and sauna.
No need to worry about car parking as the hotel as its own private spaces.
Price-wise we paid just under a hundred pounds per night including breakfast. Not too expensive for a hotel of this standard with good facilities, an excellent restaurant, near the harbour and in the centre of Ponta Delgada with easy access to sights and shopping facilities.
*First published on I Go You Go.*