Macau (or Macao in English) is a former colonial trading port of Portugal on the Pearl River estuary in Southern China. Macau was returned back to China in 1999, and it’s governed as a Special Administrative Region of China (like Hong Kong). While it’s much smaller than its counterpart across the river, Macau has made a name for itself as the casino capital of China.
The appeal of Macau is that it still has a well-preserved old city that is distinctly Portuguese. Macau is a popular day trip from Hong Kong, with regular ferries making the trip in one hour. There is also a bridge from Hong Kong, making it possible to get the bus. A day trip is enough if you’re not here to gamble and want to see the sights. If you do want to stay then this Where To Stay guide is for the best areas to stay in Macau.
Where to stay in Macau guide
Map of Macau hotels
Hotels mentioned in this article are pinned on this map.
[View map of Macau hotels.]
Macau City is the best area to stay in Macau. The old area of Macau is where most of the action is, with the Portuguese-style street paving and UNESCO World Heritage area. If it’s your first time in Macau, stay in Macau City to make the most of your trip.
Search and compare deals for hotels in Macau City.
Hostels and Guesthouses
SanVa Hostel is the cheapest hotel in Macau. If you’ve ever dreamed of staying in an old-world flophouse in the Far East, then this is your place. This old guesthouse is the only one of its kind now, so staying here is to see old Macau before it disappears. I’ve stayed here before, and the cheapest rooms are nothing more than a box with a bed in it, and all rooms have shared bathrooms. The Hospedaria is famous for being a set location for films. It’s located on Rua de Felicidade, one of the most picturesque old streets in Macau. Here is the review of my stay.
[Rua Felicidade, Macau SAR – China.]
Augusters Lodge used to be the go-to hostel in Macau. They have since closed down, and their website was recommending staying in Hong Kong. New accommodation laws (pushed by the powerful hotel lobby) seem be a reason for the lack of backpacker hostels in Macau.
At the mid-range level (3-4 stars), these are a good option if you prefer not to stay in a casino.
At this stage, Macau doesn’t have mid-range casino options like in Las Vegas, where you can find 3-star hotels for $40 a night. All the casino operators are going for the luxury market, so maybe in a few years once the city has built itself out there will be more mid-range options.
5 star hotels in Macau
Most of the luxury hotels in Macau are part of a casino, so if you are here to gamble there is usually a hotel promotion somewhere that is offering a discount rate. It’s worth filtering your search results to 5 stars as there are often deals that would turn this visit into a cheap luxury break.
[Wynn Macau Hotel.]
The defining landmark of Macau is Grand Lisboa Hotel. This is the tallest hotel in Macau and is shaped like no other building in the world. It’s supposed to represent a lotus flower, though I think it looks like a giant flame (a bonfire of gamblers’ cash, perhaps.) Anyway, if you are staying here you will never forget where your hotel is because you can see it from just about everywhere.
[Grand Lisboa Hotel.]
Taipa is south of Macau City, but there is no need to consider staying here if it’s your first time in Macau. If you are curious to see it, then go to the streets around Rua do Cunha.
Macau International Airport is in Taipa, and the closest hotel to the airport is the Golden Crown China Hotel.
[The Cotai Strip – Asia’s Las Vegas]
Cotai is across the bay from the old city, built on reclaimed land between the islands of Coloane and Taipa (thus the name, Co + Tai). Cotai has fashioned itself on Las Vegas, and there is an area known as The Cotai Strip.
The Cotai Strip is mostly luxury casino developments and is best if you’re on a gambling trip, or if your favourite casino is here. When you are on the Cotai Strip you will see they are not joking when they say that Macau is the Vegas of the East. The Cotai Strip is starting to resemble The Strip in Las Vegas. The Parisian Macao even has a half-scale model of the Eiffel Tower, as does the Paris Las Vegas.
The flagship casino of the Cotai Strip is The Venetian Macao, which is the largest casino in the world. This luxury hotel and casino resort is owned by Las Vegas Sands company and is modelled on the Venetian Las Vegas.
Opposite The Venetian Macao is the City of Dreams resort and casino complex. The casino is surrounded by four towers: the City of Dreams – The Countdown Hotel, City of Dreams – Nuwa Macau, and the Grand Hyatt Macau Hotel, which occupies two towers.
While the casinos of Cotai have been copying the formula of Las Vegas, it’s also starting to produce some unique architecture in its own right. Also at City of Dreams is Morpheus – a hotel designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. The striking design of this hotel has landed it in numerous best of lists, and it may signal a new era in Cotai where hotels strive for unique architecture.
Even though Macau has surpassed Vegas in terms of gambling revenue, it has a way to go before Macau’s nightlife catches up to the cool factor that Vegas has. There are plans for further Vegasization of Macau, which is to say the development of non-gaming entertainment that Las Vegas does so well. Most of the entertainment options are catering for the Chinese audience, so I will be curious to see how Cotai develops in the future and if it offers more entertainment options like Vegas.
One such hotel that is bringing Hollywood-style entertainment is Studio City. This hotel resort has more family-oriented attractions, such as the Batman Dark Flight simulator and Warner Bros. Fun Zone.
Search and compare deals for hotels on The Cotai Strip.
Coloane was the island in the south of Macau that is now joined with the island of Taipa. Coloane Village is the main point of interest here, with the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier being the landmark. There aren’t many accommodation options so it is better for a day trip.
Considering that Macau has a decent collection of heritage buildings, there is a surprising lack of boutique hotels in any of the old colonial properties. One such place is the Pousada de Coloane Boutique Hotel, which is set in the old Fortaleza da Barra fortress.
Grand Coloane Resort is the only true beach resort in Macau, overlooking Hac Sa Beach. Macau is part of the Pearl River Delta, so don’t come here expecting The Algarve.