Sometimes Asian-themed hotels can go overboard with their design: Bonsai trees at every turn, tinny music piped through the lobby, chopstick art installations… it’s like the design agency takes every cliché and throws them together without much thought given to the bigger picture.
The Royal Garden Hotel does have an Asian design theme, but it’s refreshingly subtle. In a town that’s full of old-world charm, it’s nice to have a base that’s fresh, clean and contemporary to retreat to every night.
The main bar area, located on the first floor, is decked with low, square tables and chairs that will still look good in years to come. The furniture is dark wood, and there’s lots and lots of space, which is welcome as this little social area gets busy at night, with guests often favouring a nightcap here over elsewhere in town.
The rooms are arranged in a square around a central open area, giving the hotel a spacious and airy feeling free from long, claustrophobic corridors. Even at full capacity the hotel doesn’t feel crowded, and it’s always very peaceful.
The place where designers have gone all out is the beautiful Japanese-style garden in the central courtyard. Just walking through it to get to the dining room for breakfast will instil in you a wonderful sense of calm. There are tropical plants, large areas of waters and little wooden walkways – it’s picturesque and perfect.
The hotel is situated in Ponta Del Garda, the capital of the largest of the nine volcanic islands that make up the Portugese Azores. It’s a short walk to the city centre, and just a little further, but still walkable, is the marina with its bustling restaurants and bars.
Ask for a room high up with a balcony view to the sea, or alternatively of the courtyard. There’s an outdoor and smaller indoor swimming pool with Jacuzzi, too.
Food and drink
The hotel’s Restaurante Jardim offers buffet breakfast and dinner with buffet and a la carte options. It serves up international European food as well as a few regional dishes. The piano bar has a food menu serving light bites all day.
Price: Rooms from approx £74 per night for two people with breakfast.
Address: Rua de Lisboa, 9500-216 Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores, www.royalgardenhotelazores.com, +351 296 307 300.
Radio Times Travel rating: 8/10 A great, comfortable place to start your adventure in the Azores