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The Açores are made up of nine islands that sit roughly midway between North America and Europe. Each island is inhabited, though some differ greatly in the number of people. One of the smaller islands is Graciosa which has less than 5,000 people and only covers 65 sq kilometers (25 sq miles).
Naturally, you might not expect an abundance of accommodation unless the island was being bombarded with tourists. Indeed, there are only a handful of hotels on the island but, one in particular makes up for the shortfall with surreal quality.
Graciosa Resort & Business Hotel is located in Santa Cruz da Graciosa on Graciosa. The town is about 5-10 minutes by car from the port of Praia where the ferry will come to dock. The airport is essentially just outside or what you would consider the outskirts of the town of Santa Cruz da Graciosa.
Getting to the hotel/resort would be an easy sub €10 taxi ride from either of these locations. Should you be more adventurous you could also hitchhike with the friendly locals. Within the city of Santa Cruz the hotel sits at the edge of town (opposite the side of town the airport resides).
Pulling up to Graciosa Hotel you’ll see six, small gray cement buildings. These are apartment styled rooms that offer you and perhaps your family (or significant other) a more secluded comfort. They are complete with patio furniture but alas, they do not have the same amazing view over the Atlantic that the classic hotel styled rooms have.
The Rooms & View
Half the rooms have a stunning Atlantic Ocean view with the island of Terceira easily spotted from a distance. I did not have a look at the view from the other rooms but I would approximate that they have a decent view over the rooftops of Santa Cruz.
The rooms themselves are straight forward. They are decorated with 1-2 beds, reading tables next to each bed, two pillowed chairs with snack table, mini refrigerator, drawers, large closet, and a TV. The balcony also has chairs with table and is fairly spacious for relaxing. The bathroom is extremely clean and mimics the furnishing of the rest of the hotel. Impeccably clean.
Each kink in the hallway gives way to a staircase and lounge. The perky red headed receptionist is a delightful ball of energy and speaks perfect English (and of course perfect Portuguese). The hotels restaurant is the best on the island. My opinion aside, it seriously is the very best as it has won many awards such as: two time winner of the “Melhor Prato de Carne” (Best Meat Plate), “Melhor Prato Saudável” (Best Healthy Dish), “Melhor Sobremesa” (Best Dessert), and “Melhor Entrada” (Best Entrée).
The breakfast included each morning is fairly good and has many options to suit most breakfasters needs. The options are: three styles of cheese from Graciosa island, São Miguel and São Jorge, assortment of breads and croissants, honey, pastries (such as the queijada da Ilha Graciosa), scrambled eggs, feijoada, tomatoes, Portuguese chorizo, bacon, sliced cheese and chorizo, hot/cold milk, chocolate mix, coffee, assortment of teas, granola/cereal, and crepes.
The dinning area for breakfast and dinner is very posh and makes you believe you should not enter without a suit (of course you can enter however you like). A waitress was always at attention should you need anything.
The Cleaning Staff
In addition to the always-at-the-ready attention of the dinning area staff the house keeping service was like nothing I had ever seen outside a family run Bed & Breakfast. They would always greet you with a pleasant good morning or good evening.
Anyone could notice the quality of which they would clean the rooms. They were left spotless after they were done. But, they wouldn’t leave before styling the cloth on the bed in a new design and leaving a snack of jam, crackers, bottled water and a queijada on the snack table.
Other features of this hotel/resort are: stylish in-ground swimming pool, playground complete with swings and monkey bars for the kids, sauna, laundry service, and gym loaded with cardio and weight lifting equipment. Should an important sports match be of interest to watch they have SportsTV at the hotel. A movie theater in town is owned and operated by them and plays a new film every Friday for €2. I was disappointed to not have realized sooner otherwise I would have made the effort to go.
Overall, Graciosa Resort & Business Hotel is one of the very best hotels I have ever stayed. Between the 5 star hotels of mainland Europe or the Greek islands I found this hotel to be one of the most complete between the amenities, friendliness of the staff and location. I couldn’t recommend the hotel enough. While the island is small, it has much to offer and will satisfy you when tasting what the Açores has to offer.
**Please note: I received a complementary stay at Graciosa Resort & Business hotel but all opinions remain my own.**