Macau’s hotels are looking pretty wild and things are only going to get blinger. The city’s tycoons are vying with each other in a prolonged tussle of one-billion-upmanship to see who can build the flashiest resorts. These days, deciding where to stay in Macao is a difficult decision to make. With all this competition, Macau is shaping up to have some of the best hotels in the world.
The latest news? Macao has rocketed past some of the world’s most sophisticated cities, such as Paris and Hong Kong, to take its place as the world’s leader in the luxury hotel stakes. The Forbes Travel Guide team reviewed 199 hotels, 64 restaurants and 60 spas. With 18 hotels, 12 restaurants and eight spas on the list, Macao is punching way above its weight.
|Macao hotel||Entertainment hub||Year opened||Top Restaurants||Spas and shops|
|JW Marriott Macau||Galaxy Macau (Galaxy Grand Resort Deck, Galaxy Cinemas, China Rouge Lounge)||2015||Belon, Lai Heen, Terrazza|
|Legend Palace Macao||Macao Fisherman's Wharf||2017||The Grand Palace|
|Star Tower and Celebrity Tower||Studio City (Golden Reel, Batman Dark Flight, Warner Bros. Fun Zone, Pacha Macau)||2015||Pearl Dragon, Bi Ying,||Zensa Spa|
|Wynn Palace Macau||Near the historic centre of Macau and the Grand Prix circuit (Performance Lake, Dragon of Fortune, Tree of Prosperity, Moon Jely Aquarium)||2006||Golden Flower, Il Teatro, Mizumi, Wing Lei at Wynn Macau||The Spa at Wynn Macau|
| Altira Macao ||Taipa (Altira is the highest building in Taipa).||2007||Aurora, Tenmasa, Ying||Altira Spa|
|Banyan Tree Macau||Galaxy Macau (Galaxy Grand Resort Deck, Galaxy Cinemas, China Rouge Lounge)||2011||Belon, Lai Heen, Terrazza||Banyan Tree Spa|
|Conrad Macao, Cotai Central||Sands Cotai Central (Monkey King Show)||2012||Dynasty 8, Edo Japanese Restaurant||Bodhi Spa, Monkey King Show.|
|Encore Tower and Wynn Tower||Wynn Macau (Performance Lake, Dragon of Fortune, Tree of Prosperity, Moon Jelly Aquarium)||2010||The Spa at Encore Macau|
|Four Seasons Macao||Cotai Strip||2008||Zi Yat Heen||The Spa at Four Seasons, Blending Portuguese and Chinese design.|
|Grand Hyatt Macau||City of Dreams (House of Dancing Water, Club Cubic)||2009||Jade Dragon, Shinji by Kanesaka, The Tasting Room||Isala Spa|
|Grand Lisboa Hotel||Located in the tallest building in Macao.||2008||Robuchon au Dôme||The Spa at Grand Lisboa, Crazy Paris Show|
|Grand Lisboa Palace resort||Grand Lisboa Palace resort||Opening 2018||Coming soon||Coming soon|
|Holiday Inn Macao Cotai Central||Sands Cotai Central (Monkey King Show)||2012||Dynasty 8, Edo Japanese Restaurant|
|Galaxy Hotel Macau||Galaxy Macau (Galaxy Grand Resort Deck, Galaxy Cinemas, China Rouge Lounge)||2011||Belon, Lai Heen, Terrazza|
|Hotel Okura Macau||Galaxy Macau (Galaxy Grand Resort Deck, Galaxy Cinemas, China Rouge Lounge)||2011||Yamazato Macau|
|Karl Lagerfeld Hotel||Grand Lisboa Palace resort||Opening 2018||Coming soon||Coming soon|
|Mandarin Oriental Macau||Macau One Central Plaza||2010||Vida Rica Restaurant||The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Macau|
|MGM Cotai Macau||Cotai Strip||February 2018||Tria Spa|
|MGM Macau||Macau One Central Plaza||2007||Eight restaurants and bars||European piazza, spa.|
|Morpheus||City of Dreams (House of Dancing Water, Club Cubic)||Opening 2018||Jade Dragon, Shinji by Kanesaka, The Tasting Room|
|Nuwa||City of Dreams (House of Dancing Water, Club Cubic)||January 2018 (formerly Crown Towers)||Jade Dragon, Shinji by Kanesaka, The Tasting Room||Nüwa Spa Macau|
|Palazo Versace Macao||Grand Lisboa Palace resort||Opening 2018||Coming soon||Coming soon|
|Sheraton Grand Macau||Sands Cotai Central (Monkey King Show)||2012||Dynasty 8, Edo Japanese Restaurant||Bodhi Spa|
|The 13||Coloane||Opening 2018||Coming soon||Coming soon|
|The Parisian||Sands Cotai Central (La Parisenne Cabaret)||2016||The Shoppes at the Parisian is designed after the famed Avenue des Champs-Elysee|
|Ritz Carlton Macau||Galaxy Macau (Galaxy Grand Resort Deck, Galaxy Cinemas, China Rouge Lounge)||2015||Belon, Lai Heen, Terrazza||ESPA spa; Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge gin and tonic trolley|
|St Regis Macao||Sands Cotai Central (Monkey King Show)||2015||The Manor||Iridium Spa|
|The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel||Sands Cotai Central (Celine Dion Live 2018 in Macao, Bruno Mars 24K Magic World Tour 2018 in Cotai Arena, St Petersburg Ballet in Venetian Theatre)||2007||The Manor||Indoor canals and gondola rides are designed to resemble Venice.|
|Wynn Palace||Cotai Strip (Skycab, Performance Lake)||2016||Andrea's, Mizumi at Wynn Palace, SW Steakhouse, Wing Lei Palace||The Spa at Wynn Palace|
Best hotels in Macao
Five-star barely seems adequate to describe the latest generation of accommodation, with designs reaching for the uppermost pinnacles of luxury.
Build it bigger, build it better, build it bolder – all of these apply to Macao’s new hotels, which over the past year or so have opened to tremendous fanfare and a veritable blizzard of bling. And it’s not just on the main casino strip of Cotai where the new palatial accommodations have been opening.
The Macau Roosevelt took up a grandstand view next to Macao’s racecourse, while the Legend Palace added further lustre to the entertainment zone of Fisherman’s Wharf.
What’s more, many observers would say that the best is yet to come: waiting in the wings are what is promised to be one of the priciest hotels in the world; two more resorts designed by Versace and Lagerfeld, no less; and the fifth tower in the City of Dreams with an eye-catching design by architectural legend Zaha Hadid.
The next phase of openings marks a new chapter in the history of Macau’s accommodation.
For many years the city’s hotels were respectable yet unremarkable, with a couple of boutique gems like the Bela Vista and Pousada de Sao Tiago, both of which have since closed their doors.
Then came the Las Vegas invasion, spearheaded by the 3,000-room Venetian and closely followed by heavy hitters like Ritz-Carlton and Banyan Tree.
Clever gimmicks like a scaled-down Eiffel Tower or a cable car have characterised more recent openings, but now Macao is moving into the realms of the designer superstars.
As far as bed and board (and bling) is concerned, the future is going to be fabulous.
Where to stay in Macao
Galaxy Hotel Macau
Galaxy Macau’s most impressive features is the Grand Resort Deck, the world’s largest Skytop Wave pool, and Adventure Rapids, which at 575 metres is the world’s longest aquatic adventure river ride.
The deck’s wildly popular with Mainland Chinese youngsters, many of whom live well inland and almost all of whom are whiling away the hours till Dad, and maybe Mum too, are finished winning a fortune at the tables.
Ritz Carlton Macau
The 250-key Ritz-Carlton Macau is a prime example. Opened in May 2015, it’s the city’s first all-suite accommodation, perched on the upper floors of the Galaxy Resort hard by the Cotai Strip, ground zero for Macau’s entertainment.
The hotel is adorned with Azulejo tiles, a form of Iberian ceramic tile synonymous with the heritage décor found in Macau.
There’s no loitering in Reception – during their in-room check-in, guests are served Chinese tea and local snacks.
The outdoor pool provides spectacular views over Cotai, while the poolside cabanas make for an intimate retreat.
The spa hosts ten treatment rooms and three couples’ suites, which celebrate elements of design rooted in traditional Chinese and Portuguese architecture.
As might be expected, the hotel aims to provide some stunning gastronomic experiences with classic Cantonese fine dining at Lai Heen, high-teas and cocktails at The Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge and organic fare and seafood at the Pool Bar.
Studio City Macau
Studio City Macau is a cinematically-themed leisure and entertainment complex, that integrates a family entertainment centre, TV studio, five-star hotel, nightclub, extensive dining venues and shopping mall.
The art-deco style complex has 1,600 rooms spread between two towers and will centre on Asia’s highest Ferris wheel, the 130-metre Golden Eye.
Wynn Palace Macao
Wynn Palace is casino mogul Steve Wynn’s second property in Macao, and it’s bedecked with the sort of artworks (Jeff Koons, Qing Dynasty vases, et al) that are dear to his heart, and fronted with a cable car that guests can ride direct to check-in if a limo or shuttle bus seems a little bit humdrum.
There are just over 1,700 rooms and suites and – by invitation only and containing just about every possible amenity – five garden villas.
The colourful regular rooms are the biggest in the city, with plenty of space to move around the king-sized bed and its 500-thread count sheets which are embroidered with a delicate cloud pattern.
There’s lots to enjoy: the TV screen in the bathroom mirror, the eight-strong pillow menu, the complimentary gilt razor and hairbrush, and the bedside speakers which sync with iPhones.
Rooms facing west get the Performance Lake and up-and-coming neighbouring hotels, while it’s the airport runway and the South China Sea to the east. And nobody is likely to go hungry here; take your pick of a dozen restaurants (and one bar) whose menus range from top-notch Cantonese at Wing Lei to exactly what you might expect at Sweets.
The steak and seafood at SW are truly superb, while Michelin-starred Yuki Onishi sorted the ramen menu at Hanami. Tiered seating at Café Fontana grants an extra fillip to breakfast, as does the view of the lake.
Naturally, wherever you are in the resort, you are never more than a few steps away from the casino.
Killer App: Arriving at the hotel by cable car after buzzing over the performance lake.
The Parisian Macau
Just over a month after Wynn opened – zut alors – The Parisian was preparing to welcome its first guests. Alter ego to The Venetian at the other end of the Cotai Strip, the 3,000-room resort is the new darling of tycoon Sheldon Adelson and the only property in Macao with a scaled-down Eiffel Tower by its front door.
Like many new casino resorts in Macao, this place is all about razzmatazz (and gambling) but it would be hard to come here and fail to enjoy what is to all intents a very well executed architectural facsimile.
Naturally, the style throughout is Gallic with a capital G, especially in the rooms, and there’s lots of entertainment to be had around the resort.
The 162-metre Eiffel Tower is an obvious excursion, and the pool deck is likely to be packed on warmer days.
Retail fanatics should find plenty to amuse themselves and their credit card companies at the 170 boutiques in the mall, and the 1,200-seat theatre hosts international acts on a regular basis.
Best of all, with The Parisian being part of the Strip, guests can stroll via air-conditioned walkways to neighbouring resorts and malls.
Killer App: It’s not just Gustave Eiffel’s eponymous erection that’s jaw-dropping – check out the painted ceilings and the replica Fontaine de Mers in the lobby.
The beginning of 2017 saw another step in the rejuvenation of Fisherman’s Wharf, the shopping, dining and entertainment strip right next to Macao’s main ferry terminal.Joining the Rocks and the Harbourview [sic] hotels, the Legend Palace rose on the site of what had previously been, believe it or not, a volcano theme park.
The décor is modelled on “grande luxe” – no modernist minimalism here – and each and every room has a really splendid balcony.
Overall, it’s a very comfortable property, but it should not be viewed in isolation, as the Fisherman’s Wharf convention centre and attractions such as an ersatz Roman Amphitheatre are right next door.
Within the hotel, a casino stands on one side of the main lobby, and a shopping arcade the other. The 18-metre outdoor pool is a pleasant oasis, while guests can get stuck into a good workout at the adjacent fitness room.
Opportunities to eat and drink are limited, but uniformly good, from the all-embracing Brasserie de Paris, to the rather special Grand Palace, which prides itself on its Cantonese fare. The Gallery, intimate and well stocked, is one of the neatest hotel bars in Macao.
Killer App: Whichever way your room’s facing, there’s a roomy balcony and easy chairs to recline on.
Next up, the Roosevelt is twinned with the hotel of the same name in Hollywood, but the stars at the Macao edition are horses and jockeys, as the property stands right next to the city’s race course. Understandably, it gets heavily booked on days when the horses are running.
Built for a reported US$2-billion, the 12-storey Macau [sic] Roosevelt stands out as there are no other hotels nearby, and there’s a definite emphasis on a thought-provoking hip design which was dreamed up Iceland-born, Los Angeles-based architect Gulla Jónsdóttir, who takes a certain pride in being classed as a “Glamazon”.
Starting with the artificial garden that’s etched into the wall and ceiling of the lobby – this is a hotel that, like its sister property in California, fairly crackles with brio.
The best of Roosevelt’s 368 rooms and suites face the race course, while the interiors are spiced up with ebony-lacquered burnt-wood floors, burnished bronze, and carved Italian marble.
The hotel’s focal point, so to speak, is the pool deck, which overlooks the gardens and racecourse, and is right next to the sunny, breezy space that is the bar and all-day dining restaurant, Casa Roosevelt.
The hotel opened in the summer and is expected to be fully complete (penthouse suite, Japanese restaurant, signature boutiques) by the end of the year.
Killer App: Horses for courses – and this hotel is the ultimate grandstand.
Just opened (February 2018), MGM Cotai is another “second edition” that complements the existing downtown MGM property. Designed as the “jewellery box” of Cotai, it has 1,400 rooms and suites, a high-end spa, and a vast array of retail offerings and food and beverage outlets.
More importantly, it showcases the first international Mansion at MGM, aimed at the very top end of the accommodation market, as well as a dynamic theatre.
Grand Coloane Resort Golf Course
Amazingly, there’s room for a golf course in Macao, tucked away on the southernmost one-time island of Coloane. Guests at the Grand Coloane Resort – which is set into the hillside overlooking the South China Sea – can simply step into the lift, ride it to the top floor, and stroll out onto the first tee.
The 18-hole, par-71 course – site of the annual Macau Open – provides both a challenging game with a number of strategically placed bunkers and lakes and a very scenic experience, given the abundance of natural flora.
Resort guests enjoy easy access – it must be all of 100 metres from the furthest guestroom to the start of the course – and special course privileges all year round.
Boutique hotels in Macao
Looking for the best place to stay in Macau away from the glamour? Macao’s boutique hotels are the complete opposite of the city’s flashy casino resorts. With just a handful of rooms, they make up in charm and discretion what they lack in facilities. And some are so unobtrusive, you can walk right by without realising they are there.
Macao’s loveliest boutique hotel – Pousada de Sao Tiago, parts of which date back to the 17th century – is currently closed for renovations. But there’s still an awesome boutique foursome spread between Coloane, Taipa and Macao proper, all waiting to welcome their select clientele. Where to stay in Macao away from the crowds?
Regency Art Hotel
Long-time visitors to Macao remember the Regency when it was a Hyatt. The international chain’s logo has gone, but standards remain high and this is one of the best hotels in Macao for families.
The 326-room Regency Art Hotel is large and uncluttered, while not exactly fancy, and at the back of the property, a lagoon pool and shady colonnade are just the place to kick back and relax.
Many of the Regency’s guests are part of large groups, who tend to shop and sightsee during the day, so the pool area is rarely crowded. Rain or shine, there’s plenty to keep youngsters occupied.
There’s also a gym, tennis, ping pong, darts and three acres of gardens that are well used to games of hide-and-seek.
Food is not the Regency’s strong point, however, three outlets – Chinese, International and an all-day café – do a perfectly adequate job. And the Regency Hotel is neatly situated at the northern end of Taipa, equally handy for both Cotai and the main part of the city.
Check the latest prices for Regency Art Hotel
Pousada De Coloane
For anyone whose image of Macao is a long lunch that stretches well into the afternoon while sitting beneath a vine-covered trellis, Pousada De Coloane’s restaurant provides the answer.
With a mere 28 rooms, this former tycoon’s country mansion puts the “x” in relaxation, with a splash pool, newly opened spa, and all just five minutes’ walk away from the beach.
Just about everyone who comes here waxes lyrical about the staff, many of whom have worked here for years and proudly regard the hotel as their second home.
You can’t get much further south in Macao, and few venture as far as Pousada de Coloane unless they’re headed to the 18-hole golf course that’s just down the road. So the hotel’s residents are left in peace, with time to relax on the balcony or dally in the spa bath that’s a feature of each room.
The hotel stands a little below the main road, which lies a short way from the circular Coloane hiking trail. The other main attraction here is Coloane village, a picturesque, rustic seaside settlement about half-an-hour’s walk away along the coast.
Pousada de Mong Ha
The lovely thing about the Mong Ha is that it doesn’t really feel like a hotel – more like a private city hideaway.
It’s right in the middle of town and actually started life as an army barracks. Pousada de Mong Ha is now a hotel training school, and the student staff members impart a real sense of enthusiasm and liveliness.
There are just 20 rooms – go for a suite if you would like a balcony. Naturally, there’s little in the way of facilities beyond some well-kept gardens, but the whole of Macao is on the doorstep.
Start the day with a buffet breakfast (it’s worth checking in just for the homemade bread and jams) and – from Monday to Friday – try lunch or dinner or both at the Educational Restaurant, which got an enthusiastic nod in the latest Michelin guide to Macao.
The menu is international and the chef a professional. Otherwise, the Mong Ha’s chief asset is its peace and solitude.
Rocks Hotel Macau
First things first – the Rocks Hotel Macau is part of the retail, dining and entertainment strip known as Fisherman’s Wharf, right next to the main ferry terminal, and enters into the spirit of things with a cod Victorian design that sets the 74-key Rocks Hotel Macau apart from its neighbours.
The rooms and suites are each prettily decorated with intricately patterned wallpaper and faux antiques, and the atrium grants a spacious feel to the whole property.
Pleasant on the eye the hotel may be – but it’s the tummy, and taste buds, that are in for a real treat.
By way of aperitif, ease up to Sky Lounge on the top floor, and grab a cocktail and take in the panorama which embraces airport, harbour and the vast new bridge being built across the delta to Hong Kong.
Even more enticing, Vic’s Restaurante [SIC] on the ground floor serves up amazing Portuguese and Macanese cuisine with a modern twist.
The tables are often packed with locals – quite the best recommendation. Naturally, the wine list – predominantly Old World – is excellent.
Check the latest prices for Rocks Hotel Macao
New Macao Hotels Opening in 2018
The 13, pet project of Hong Kong billionaire Stephen Hung, has already garnered a great deal of attention with the delivery of its limousine fleet – 30 red, extended wheelbase Rolls-Royce Phantoms helmed by specially trained chauffeurs; the bevy of chefs imported from Paris’s multi-starred L’Ambroisie; and the prospect of an invitation-only atelier stocking one-of-a-kind products from the world’s foremost brands.
Mr Hung has modestly gone on record to say he is “striving to establish a new standard for luxury hotels by seeking to recapture the values of a golden age when all luxury was bespoke, artisanal and personalised.”
Macau’s wealthier visitors will also find much to interest them not too far from The 13 at the Lisboa Palace, which will contain two boutique properties conjured up by celebrated international designers, as well as Macao’s third Lisboa property – part of Stanley Ho’s empire – after the Lisboa and Grand Lisboa which are located by the Grand Prix circuit.
Palazzo Versace will be the third edition – following on from Dubai and the Gold Coast – of the Donatella Versace-inspired hotel, while its sibling will be the world’s first hotel entirely designed by the octogenarian Karl Lagerfeld. Altogether the three hotels represent approximately 2,000 keys – a significant amount of top-tier accommodation.
Finally, Morpheus the wittily named property that will shortly be added to the Cotai Strip, is promising to be as intriguing inside as it is outside.
On top of 780 luxury rooms, six duplex villas and three super-luxury villas with a private indoor pool, the hotel will include a host of premium restaurants serving international cuisines, two of which will be located on the hotel’s sky bridges.
Spectacle will be a key ingredient at Morpheus, with high-speed observation lifts in the atrium and an infinity pool on the 40th floor 130 metres above the ground.
It looks like 2018 is going to be an exciting year for Macao’s hotels.
Ed Peters is a freelance writer who lives in Hong Kong.
For more accommodation choices in Macao see the website of Macao Government Tourism Office.