Hotel Monte Palace Was São Miguel’s Luxury Hotel, but Is Now an Urban Exploration Paradise

June Steele
Photo Credit: Travel4Brews / Flickr CC BY 2.0
Photo Credit: Travel4Brews / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Perched on a secluded mountaintop in São Miguel, Portugal, stands what is left of the Hotel Monte Palace. Launched in 1989 amidst much fanfare, this once opulent sanctuary promised an escape into luxury with its unique terraced architecture that resembled a pagoda. The hotel boasted a range of lavish amenities, but even they weren’t enough to keep the business alive.

Despite its initial promise, the Hotel Monte Palace’s success was fleeting. The expected influx of tourists did not materialize, leading to its closure just a couple of years after its grand opening, and the hotel quickly became an abandoned shell.

Business was difficult for Hotel Monte Palace

The exterior of Hotel Monte Palace.
The exterior of Hotel Monte Palace. (Photo Credit: Travel4Brews / Flickr CC BY 2.0)
The entrance to Hotel Monte Palace.
The entrance of the Hotel Monte Palace. (Photo Credit: Viv Lynch / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Hotel Monte Palace was originally built in the late 1980s as the ultimate luxury hotel for the island. At this time, the Azores hadn’t quite been put on the map as a must-visit tourist destination, and the hotel was built in the hopes of increasing tourism. Opening in 1989, the large hotel complex offered several amenities, including two restaurants, a bar, a nightclub, hair salons, 88 rooms that overlooked either the twin lakes in the caldera of the volcano or the Atlantic Ocean and even a bank.

Twin lakes view from Hotel Monte Palace.
The view of the twin lakes from the hotel. (Photo Credit: Travel4Brews / Flickr CC BY 2.0)

However, the opulence of the hotel would not last, as the owners would declare bankruptcy and close the doors to the structure just 18 months after it opened. Tourism just wasn’t ramping up on the island at that time, and not only that, the location of the hotel was rather remote. Getting there required a vehicle, and with practically nothing to do around the area, you’d also need a car to take you to other sights as well. 

Ultimately, after the hotel closed, the building sat untouched for decades, with nature slowly taking its course alongside street artists utilizing the blank canvas of its walls.

It is now an urbex paradise

Decrepit concrete hallways in a hotel.
Hallways inside the Hotel Monte Palace. (Photo Credit: Viv Lynch / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Looking into an abandoned concrete courtyard of Hotel Monte Palace.
The courtyard at the hotel. (Photo Credit: Travel4Brews / Flickr CC BY 2.0)

Today, the Hotel Monte Palace has morphed into a celebrated spot for urban exploration. In 2017, it piqued the interest of Level Constellation, a real estate group that envisioned reviving the hotel’s lost grandeur. However, as of 2023, these plans have not been realized, and the building remains in a state of decay. Nature has clearly taken hold of the untouched structure, with vines and moss slowly covering its once-pristine walls.

Graffiti on a wall in an abandoned concrete hotel.
Graffiti artists have taken advantage of the barren walls at the Hotel Montel Palace. (Photo Credit: Viv Lynch / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Its once lively ballrooms and passageways are now quiet, filled with the soft whispers of days gone by. From the rooftop, explorers are treated to stunning views of the lagoon below, making it a haven for photographers and adventure seekers alike. The contrast between the decaying interior and the breathtaking natural beauty surrounding it creates a surreal experience for all who venture there.

Exploring the Hotel Monte Palace

Dark abandoned hallways at a hotel.
The hotel has been in an abandoned state for decades. (Photo Credit: Viv Lynch / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
An abandoned entrance to a hotel.
Urband explorers can access the hotel from the front entrance. (Photo Credit: Travel4Brews / Flickr CC BY 2.0)

While the hotel has been open to urban explorers of all kinds for a long time now, it wasn’t always this way. In the first years following its closure, it was guarded and off-limits to the public, but after that security was removed, the Hotel Monte Palace became a free-for-all. The building’s furniture and televisions were stolen, as well as the elevators, and the windows were eventually removed. To walk into the courtyard now is to walk into a mess of debris left behind by looters.

A destroyed and abandoned room looking out into a courtyard.
The rooms were looted after security was removed from the property. (Photo Credit: Viv Lynch / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Exploring the hotel can be dangerous. Caution is advised for those planning to explore this site: the building, in its current dilapidated state, presents numerous safety hazards. It is important to refrain from climbing the crumbling walls, especially when there is no need, as explorers can access the property through the main entrance.

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What is in store for Hotel Monte Palace in the future is yet to be determined. For now, it continues to watch over the more remote area of São Miguel, open to explorers. It continues to decay day by day, its grandeur a mere memory of its former self.