My favourite accommodation in the Azores
From the outside, you’d be forgiven for thinking these six traditional lava-stone cottages at Pico da Vigia have been sitting here forever; comfortably blending into the surrounding farming landscape whilst keeping watch over the silhouetted island of Sao Jorge as the long years roll by. That’s testament to the care and attention owners Sofia and Bruno have taken in the design and construction of these newly-built cottages; ensuring the exteriors are sympathetic to the existing architecture in and around the south coast village of Santa Barbara.
It’s a different story once you step inside – bright white walls, exposed Cryptomeria (Japanese Cedar) purlins and rafters, and polished concreted floors give the interiors an immediately-modern feel. They could feel a little brutal and cold, but that’s not the case at all – the strong lines are cleverly contrasted and warmed by Sofia and Bruno’s addition of restored antiques and beautifully hand-made furniture. The latter deserves a special mentioned: most of the furniture was designed by Pritzker prize-winning Portuguese architect (and friend) Siza Vieira (if you’re not familiar with his work, check-out his Portuguese National Pavilion from Expo’98 in Lisbon).
The cottages all have fitted kitchens with a two-ring hob, microwave, toaster, kettle, coffee machine and a well-stocked fridge (with all the ingredients you’ll need for breakfast). Each kitchen also has its own traditional wood-fired oven – they’re lit throughout the Winter and lit on request during the Summer months. There’s also air-conditioning for the warmer times of year. Fresh bread is delivered each morning, (via a cunningly discrete delivery hatch) and the cottages are cleaned and refreshed daily (unless you’re staying home for the day; in which case you’ll not be disturbed).
Entertainment-wise there’s a TV and working Radiogram, complete with a selection of 33’s and 78’s. Outside each cottage there’s a table, chairs and a small firepit for alfresco dinners in the evenings. There’s also an outdoor pool when you fancy a morning dip, and Bruno and Sofia have their own small-holding where they grow seasonal veg; there’s an orchard where you can pick your own oranges, apples and plums.
Each cottage is named after the colour of its respective front door – see which’ll best suit you:
The Blue, Green, Red and Brown Cottages – these are open-plan ‘studios’ which are perfect for a couple (or a couple with a baby). There’s the kitchen/diner/living room at one end of the cottage, and sunken bath / shower combo and separate WC at the other (there’s a great ocean view from the bath; it’s the little details that make these cottages unique !). In-between is the double ‘bedroom’, and the clever use of a hanging tapestry helps to define and separate each area.
The Yellow Cottage is one-bedroom. The larger building allows for a larger living / dining space, whilst the bedroom is just that: a separate room with an en-suite bathroom and WC.
The White Cottage has pretty much the same layout as the Yellow Cottage but with two large double/twin bedrooms – each with its own en-suite bathroom and WC.