Located at the top of a hill overlooking Sete Cidades crater lies a foreboding building skeleton. Unlike its lush, green surroundings, this building is starkly gray and falling into ruin. From afar, it looks somewhat like an unkempt parking garage, with tiers of windows and balconies sticking out in a pyramid-like fashion. What struck me as odd about this abandoned hotel in Sao Miguel was its proximity to Sete Cidades, one of the most famous tourist destinations in the Azores.
A closer look reveals that this giant structure was once a luxury hotel in one of the most beautiful vantage points on São Miguel Island. Hotel Monte Palace, as it was once called, is an eerie example of something grandiose that was left to crumble. Read on to learn more about this strange abandoned hotel in São Miguel, and what it was like to explore it first-hand.
History of Hotel Monte Palace
Built in the 1980s by investors, the Hotel Monte Palace was the pinnacle of luxury travel in the Azores, a destination that hadn’t quite entered the international radar. By the late 1980s, it opened as a full-service hotel. It boasted a few restaurants, a nightclub, some ballrooms, and several spacious guest rooms with large windows overlooking the stunning Sete Cidades lake.
Due to its remote location, unpredictable weather, and lack of tourist draws, the hotel quickly shut its doors in 1989. Instead of tearing it down, the investors left the Hotel Monte Palace to the elements. Now, it stands gray and crumbling as a remembrance of the then-failed tourism industry on the island. Today, the structure is covered in weeds, graffiti, and litter from urban explorers and travelers.
A Word of Caution
PLEASE READ: If you’re planning on exploring Hotel Monte Palace (or any abandoned structure for that matter), please exercise lots of caution. This is an area that is unsupervised and you should proceed with caution at your own risk in daylight hours only. Watch where you step at all times, and avoid areas where loose debris is hanging from the ceiling. Many areas, including the staircase, lack adequate safety features like handrails. Also, there is no cover to the elevator shaft or windows on the guest rooms. Although the roof boasts enticing views of the crater below, be extra careful climbing up there as there are a lot of shards of glass and sharp metal pieces. If you are unsure of the safety of visiting this structure, DO NOT RISK IT.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten the safety briefing out of the way…
Entering This Abandoned Hotel in Sao Miguel
I didn’t even know I was going to visit Hotel Monte Palace until I found myself walking up its gray, concrete steps. In reality, I was on my way to Sete Cidades, where I planned to do some hiking and photography around this beautiful crater lake. En route, I saw the looming hotel before my eyes and was overtaken by curiosity. So, in an impulsive moment, I pulled the car over and took a peek inside this abandoned hotel in Sao Miguel.
And then I promptly chickened out and decided to drive down into Sete Cidades instead.
The suspense eventually got the best of me, though, so I decided to return the next day with a few fellow solo travelers I met at my hostel. We jumped in the rental car, drove to Sete Cidades again, and cautiously entered the Hotel Monte Palace together.
Unsurprisingly, the interior was a mess. Loose wires and cables hung from the ceiling, shards of glass and debris littered the floor. We stepped into the once-spectacular lobby, a multi-story courtyard style area which must have been stunningly beautiful back in the day. Here and there, glimmers of gold embellishments and intricate mosaic walls caught my eye. In the lobby, sun leaked through holes in the ceiling, which may have served as a skylight at some point in time. Hallways led to areas that must have been beautiful breakfast nooks, with patios overlooking the views below. I imagined the splendor of being a guest here.
Exploring Deeper into the Hotel Monte Palace
After looking around the first floor area, we climbed a spiral staircase to the floors above, entering into some of the guest rooms. Although there was no longer any furniture, the rooms still felt like hotel rooms, each with its own bathroom and large window. The walls held a thick layer of soot, and many visitors before us carved names into the dust.
We continued climbing until we reached the roof, which was a graveyard of several rusted pipes and old HVAC units. Glass shards and metal rods littered the floor. The most spectacular thing about the roof, though, is the view. The roof of this abandoned hotel in Sao Miguel boasts the best views of Sete Cidades crater. For a few minutes, we admired the incredible scenery in silence.
Afterward, we made our way back down the spiral stairs, taking one last glimpse at the Hotel Monte Palace. There was a basement too, but it was so dark and dusty down there. I was thoroughly creeped out, so we didn’t dare enter much farther than the staircase.
Although it was a really neat experience, it was a bit haunting. To think that such a once-beautiful hotel became a completely neglected hunk of concrete and scrap metal was saddening. It left me with an eerie feeling that I couldn’t shake, so much that I kept adding and deleting photos on social media from the experience because I couldn’t decide whether it was kosher to share them. The demise of the Hotel Monte Palace reminded me of The Great Gatsby, a beautiful and luxurious lifestyle that ended in despair. For a good spook, I’d recommend a visit to Hotel Monte Palace to anyone traveling in São Miguel…even if you only see it from the outside.
How to Get to Hotel Monte Palace
Follow signs from the main São Miguel highway to Sete Cidades – there’s only one road that goes there. Once you reach the top of the hill at the Vista do Rei, you can’t miss it. It’s a large, foreboding gray structure with several tiered balconies. You can park your car at the Vista do Rei and walk to the hotel via its front steps.
For more information about the history of this abandoned hotel in Sao Miguel, check out this article.
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Would you ever visited a creepy abandoned hotel? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments.