Maven Meter: City of Dreams Casino & Hotel
(Last Updated: May 22, 2020)
Is it just me, or was City of Dreams a lot better 5 years ago? Melco Resorts seems to be pouring a lot more resources into Studio City now, leaving COD slowly simmering on the back burner somewhat, a bad sign in an industry that chews up older venues for breakfast then spits them out by lunch.
I mean, where have all the hot mermaids gone?
Whatever possessed them to close the best French restaurant in town (Tasting Room) in 2020?
Why has most of the interior been converted into a TFS Galleria Mall?
Why doesn’t Soho have live music anymore?
What happened to the Hard Rock Cafe, and for that matter, the Hard Rock Casino?
Why is there no more Poker Room?
What is this fresh hell?
All bellyaching aside, the Maven Meter remains strong and the City of Dreams is still one of the very best properties on the Cotai Strip. Initially opening to massive expectations in June 2009, it boasts above average spas, facilities and entertainment, as well as four hotels of varying style and grade: the Grand Hyatt, Morpheus, Countdown and Nuwa.
Countdown is line for a major retool soon, as it hasn’t had much of an identity since losing their Hard Rock branding a few years ago.
City of Dreams Photo Gallery
The City of Dreams has always been one of the best casinos in town.
Baccarat – Minimum bet is $3000.
Commission Free Baccarat – Minimum bet is $1000, that hurts.
Blackjack – Minimum is $500.
Caribbean Stud Poker – Minimum bet of $300.
Craps – 5-5-5 odds, which are the highest in the city. The pass line bet is $100.
Watch out for the lousy Big 6 and Big 8 bets though. They’re so bad that they’re illegal in Atlantic City.
Roulette – Inside and Outside minimum bets are $50 and $200.
Sic Bo – 7 different bets. Standard $300 minimums on Big/Small.
Slot Machines – 900 plus machines, with most minimums only 5 and 10 cents. Also has Live Gaming Baccarat with lows from $50 to $300 and electronic versions of Sic Bo ($30) and Roulette ($5).
Three Card Poker – Minimum bet is $300.
Here’s City of Dreams main deal for whales.
If you roll $1,200,000 you’re eligible for four nights free accommodation.
One of Macau’s largest integrated resorts, City of Dreams was initially composed of three hotels: Nuwa, Countdown, and the Grand Hyatt, before the unveiling of Morpheus on June 15, 2018.
Featuring a cutting edge exoskeletal steel body, the first of its kind to be used in a tower form, the exterior design is so groundbreaking that it’s already the most innovative architectural development on the Cotai Strip.
The space age theme continues inside with a sci fi inspired lobby, complete with panoramic lifts. To me it has all the warmth and charm of the original USS Enterprise, as in something that should stay in 1966 forever.
Hey Morpheus, Captain Kirk just called, he said he wants his space deck back.
Tacky and tasteless, it’s pretty clear that Morpheus is nowhere near the game changer that I thought it was going to be. Even the Sky Pool on top of the new Tower is a massive letdown, a sad limited self-contained space with stupendous 360 degree views of windows and bars.
Why didn’t they do it right and put the pool right on top of the hotel? That would have been 100 times better.
As for the Morpheus rooms, they’re marketed as the place where luxury meets the future in the here and now. Easily the most expensive ones at the City of Dreams, prices below are in Macau Mops, inclusive of all tax and services charges.
MORPHEUS HOTEL ROOM
I was very skeptical of Morpheus rooms before staying there, and it turns out I was right to be worried. Premier King Rooms routinely go for $3000 Mops, and I couldn’t tell from the pictures on the website exactly where that money was going. The third hotel on my 2020 Coronavirus Tour, I stayed for one night on Thursday, February 20th at a massively reduced rate of $2190, booked online through C Trip.
Check in was excellent with the wonderful Apple from Indonesia doing a superb job getting everything sorted and taken care of. When she asked if I needed anything special, I said that I’d need lots of bottled water, as I’d just hit MacauSoul hard the night before, and was feeling a little dry. She said no problem, they’d bring 6 bottles to my room, and then produced one on the spot, which was really nice.
Apple then escorted me up to the room on the 17th floor, number 17050, and gave a quick tour, answering any questions I had. Before she left I said it was a shame that she had to go so soon, but that’s as far as I got with her and that.
My initial impression of the room was that it’s a lot like the one at Altira, just more modern.
The lights, curtains, AC, and TV functions are all operated centrally through an iPad, which also links to the restaurant dining options and Guest services. It’s a nice feature for sure, but I honestly have no problems opening the drapes or turning off the lights myself.
I couldn’t find the toilet at first, but finally tracked it down in what felt like a small concealed panic room, complete with emergency buttons and a landline to the outside.
The toilet was similarly high tech, with a heated seat and more symbols on the console than I could understand.
Look Morpheus, I’ve lived in mainland China for 15 years, all I need is a hole in the ground to TCB.
Soaps, lotions, and shampoo were provided courtesy of Hermes, while other toiletries included toothbrushes, a sewing kit, emory board, razor, comb, and shower cap. The mouthwash was a nice give too, I always like getting that.
The best part of the bathroom was the hot tub, of course, peculiarly shaped but awesome nonetheless, a perfect fit for 2 people.
There was even a TV right across from it, which totally rocked, and was the only technological feature in the room that I was impressed with.
Bottom line? The room is certainly nice, but it’s not worth $3000 mops per night. I think you can get many of the same things at Altira Macau for half the price, including more space and a much better view. Although it’s listed at 58 square meters, the Morpheus room didn’t feel that big, and they had to condense things a little by squeezing the sofa and chair in front of the TV.
There was also quite a bit of room wasted by the entrance way and behind the bathroom, which is where you can find the closet and safe.
Nothing in the mini bar was free, while the TV had a very standard assortment of channels, that paled in comparison to the ones the day before at Landmark. The welcome gift consisted of three paltry pieces of fruit, while the view outside of MGM Cotai was nothing special, and obstructed by the bars on the tower anyway.
They also didn’t offer any kind of free upgrade, which I was halfway expecting, given that the City of Dreams was 90% empty, and all of their spas, restaurants, pools and lounges were shut down. I mean, give me a little compensation for some of that Morpheus, but it wasn’t forthcoming.
The day of check out they forgot to deliver my newspaper, then I had to wait another 15 minutes to get it at the front desk. At least they gave me a free mask so that I could hop on the public bus.
If Morpheus rooms ran $2000 all the time, then I could definitely see it and might even be recommending them. They’re gouging at $3000 though, and for that price, I will never return.
Voyages by Alain Ducasse – Voyages is supposed to the budget Ducasse restaurant, but it still doesn’t come cheap.
The menu is very French, featuring frog legs, beef tartare, snails, foie gras, French duck, pate and coquillettes, among others.
Entrees: $78 to $408
Mains: $408 to $1188
Desserts: $78 to $108
Their lunch set looks a lot more reasonable though: 2 courses for $178 or 3 courses for $208.
Afternoon tea isn’t exorbitant either, running only $228 per person, with champagne an extra $98 per glass.
At night a four course set dinner runs $628, with the wine pairing an additional $308.
Located on Level Three, Voyages is open everyday. Lunch is from 12:00 pm to 2:30, while Afternoon tea is from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and dinner from 6:00 pm to 10:30 pm.
Alain Ducasse at Morpheus – Alain Ducasse at Morpheus got 2 Michelin stars within 6 months of opening. He could probably open a noodle stand tomorrow and that’d get a star too. In case you haven’t noticed, this business is all reputation, and once you’re in, you’re in for life.
My dinner there in 2019 was absolutely horrible though, and I’d advise you to stay far, far away. For a review of the wreckage, please follow the link: Alain Ducasse
Appetizers: $618 to $998
Fish: $678 to $988
Meat: $708 to $828
They have two set meals at night. The Signature Menu runs $1888 and is composed of 4 half dishes you cannot choose, plus cheese and 2 desserts for $1,888. The Epicurean Menu gives you carte blanche to select any 4 half dishes you want, along with cheese and 2 desserts for $2,888.
Located on Level Three, hours daily are from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm, except for Mondays when it’s closed.
Yi – Welcome to the most exclusive restaurant in Macau. They won’t even let you in the restaurant without a reservation, so I have no idea how much anything costs. All I know is that they’re trying a new dining concept, by only offering Tasting Menus that change on a daily basis.
Dedicated and professional tea sommeliers are also on hand to help you choose the correct tea pairing, which sounds like a waste of time to me. Unless I’m sipping on the sweet red nectar of life, no beverage pairing is going to take me anywhere I want to go.
Yi also has one hell of an expensive and comprehensive drink menu: $128 Mop cocktails, $1680 Mop bottles of Chinese spirits, $60,000 Moutai, and a whole roll call of stuff I’ve never heard before: Gu Yue Long Shan, Hua Diao, Wu Liang Ye, Aged Bun Chun, and Luzhou Laojiao National Pits 1573.
Word to the wise, there’s hardly anything left standing in China from 1973, let alone 1573, so take care when drinking that.
There’s also a standard collection of gin, tequila, whisky, rum etc with most glasses over $138.
Located on the 21st Floor Sky Bridge, Yi is open daily from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm.
Pierre Herme Lounge – Known internationally as the Picasso of Pastry, I doubt Pierre Herme has a tenth of the talent as the real Pablo did, but okay.
Serving much more than desserts, the Pierre Herme Lounge also offers breakfast, lunch and dinner options.
Breakfast Set: $268
Asian Breakfast: $68 to $88
Eggs: $78 to $118
Granola: $88 and $98
Yogurt: $38 to $48
Salads: $118 to $138
Mains: $98 to $158
I thought some of the dessert platters looked like a good bargain for the money, until I saw how small they are. I mean, they’re no larger than what you get from a chocolate box, and they’re charging $5 US for 1?? Good luck with that.
Desserts Collections: $138 to $148
Pierre Herme Signatures: $98 to $178
Assorted Sweets: $128
At least the beverage selection isn’t bad.
Coffee: $48 to $188
Tea: $68 to $168
Juice: $68 or $98
Champagne (Glass): $158 or $168
White Wine (Glass): $98 to $180
Red Wine (Glass): $90 to $158
Cocktails: $108 to $148
Located in the lobby, hours are from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm daily.
Until Morpheus came along, the nicest hotel at City of Dreams was always the “six star” Nuwa Hotel, which used to be called Crown Towers.
Due to the downturn in junket dominated VIP gaming, a lot of rooms are now available to the public on the weekend. Back in the day, you never had a chance.
Prices are in Macau Mops, and include all tax and service fees.
In April 2020, the Tasting Room and Shinji abruptly closed for good, even though both were just awarded Michelin stars in the 2020 guide. Thankfully (maybe?), Jade Dragon still remains.
Jade Dragon – Jade Dragon is 3 star Michelin restaurant, serving contemporary Chinese in an suave relaxed setting.
Prices aren’t too bad, with appetizers $88 to $488, soup $108 to $388, and rice and noodle dishes $128 to $380. Mains are a tad more expensive with meat $198 to $1100, barbecue $268 to $480 and seafood $188 to $1280.
Abalone finally is monstrously priced (as it always is) going for $360 to $8800.
At lunch, a lot of dim sum is available, with most of it between $28 and $102.
For a review of my meal there, please click here: Jade Dragon.
Jade Dragon is located on the 2nd floor of the Nuwa hotel and keeps hours daily from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm. On Sundays they open an hour earlier for lunch at 11:00 am.
Nuwa Hotel Information
Estrada Do Istmo, Cotai
Tel: (853) 8868 6888
Fax: (853) 8867 6888
No of Rooms and Suites: 290
The Countdown used to be known as the Hard Rock Hotel, before their licensing agreement ended in 2017.
The cheapest hotel at the City of Dreams, rooms don’t even crack $1000 on weekdays.
I asked the staff what they were counting down to now, seeing that Morpheus had already opened, but they didn’t know either.
The old Hard Rock Lounge is still around though, looking as sharp as ever.
Estrada Do Istmo, Cotai
Tel: (853) 8868 3338
Fax: (853) 8867 3338
No of Rooms and Suites: 322
COUNTDOWN HOTEL ROOM
On Monday, February 24th, 2020, I stayed for one night in a Standard King that cost $850 after booking through C Trip. Had I directly went through the City of Dreams website instead, it would have been about $100 more, so it wasn’t much of a savings.
For years I was under the impression that the Countdown was in its own tier in Macau, the only one that played to the 18 to 35 age group. All rooms were supposed to be circular in shape, swag hip and super modern, pimping sweet furnishings and dirty finish.
After having lived there though, all I can say is that the Standard Kings and Double Queens are certainly none of those things, and might just be the worst rooms in Cotai.
First of all, the configuration was weird, with a ton of empty space in one corner, while the bathroom was strangely divided in two, with the toilet outside in its own separate room.
Nothing in the mini bar was free and the view was totally forgettable as well, limited to one side of St. Regis Hotel, which was completely empty at the time.
None of it belonged to this century, or the last one for that matter, and how I ever thought the Countdown rooms were the second coming of party central was beyond me.
At the same time, I can’t really say that I got shortchanged anywhere, since all of the basic skeleton features were there, namely, a bed, desk, two chairs, bathtub and standard assortment of bathroom toiletries.
The Wifi was very fast and The iPhone docking station on the desk under the TV came in handy as well. Service from the front desk and concierge was excellent, which shouldn’t be surprising, given that it’s a City of Dreams hotel.
At the end of the day, getting your foot in the door at COD for only $850 a night is still a pretty good deal, which is why I won’t criticize the Countdown too much. Fresh off the heels of completing the Budget Hotel Guide a month earlier, you don’t want to know some of the holes I stayed in that were just $40 US cheaper per night. Compared to them, the Countdown was luxury incarnate times ten.
I was just expecting something totally different, is all.
COUNTDOWN HOTEL RESTAURANTS
In a compelete shocker, The Hard Rock Cafe bit the dust sometime in 2019, leaving just the Wave Pool Bar and Grill.
Wave Pool Bar and Grill – I’ve eaten at Wave lots of times, mostly going for one of the pizzas followed by a brownie and walked away happy every time. A good looking waitress always recognizes me too so I always feel good about that.
Salad: $98 to $138
Bar Snacks: $58 to $98
Pizzas: $118 to $113
Sandwiches: $88 to $148
Pasta: $98 to $108
Alcoholic Beverages: $68 or $78
Wave is located on the 3rd floor by the pool. From Monday to Thursday hours are from 11 am to 7 pm while closing time on Friday and Saturdays is 10 pm.
GRAND HYATT HOTEL
The Grand Hyatt usually wins a slew of awards from travel organizations and business insiders and from walking around the hotel, I’m not surprised by it at all. With the rates they charge, many aspects of the hotel are above average.
The third floor is home to the Club lounge, where Grand Club members get free breakfast, snacks and evening cocktails. Free WiFi is also provided.
Prices are in Macau Mops and include all tax and services charges.
GRAND HYATT RESTAURANTS
Grand Hyatt has one Chinese and one Western restaurant.
Beijing Kitchen – The menu prices at Beijing Kitchen are among the most guarded in Macau. I’ve always had to go to great lengths to get them incognito.
As the name suggests, the majority of it is Northeastern cuisine, although they also offer some Cantonese fare.
Appetizers: $128 to $368 Vegetables: $168 to $208
Soup: $138 to $968 Dumplings: $158 to $188
Noodles: $108 to $178 Abalone & Bird’s Nest: $998 to $4988
Meat: $168 to $888 Seafood: $248 to $598
Beijing Kitchen is located near the Grand Hyatt lobby, and opens daily from 11:30 am to midnight.
Mezza 9 Macau – Mezza 9 servers all manner of World cuisine.
Set meal (2): $880/$1288/$1688 Seafood: $294 to $968
Deli Offerings: $52 to $358 Thai: $118 to $298
Macanese: $188 to $778 Grilled: $398 to $1688
Pasta: $248 to $480
Evening buffet is $539 from Monday to Thursday, and $639 from Friday to Sunday. Children aged 6 to 12 are half price.
Mezza 9 is located on the 3rd floor and opens daily from 5:30 pm to 11 pm.
Grand Hyatt Information
Grand Hyatt Hotel
Estrada Do Istmo, Cotai
Tel: (853) 8868 1234
Fax: (853) 8867 1234
No of Rooms: 503
No of Suites: 288
CITY OF DREAMS POOLS
All four hotels offer similarly styled pools in both size and grade, although the one at the Countdown is usually a lot busier, since they let outsiders use it in exchange for paying a fee. Current rates are $200 for singles, $360 for couples and $100 for children.
It’s difficult to say which pool at City of Dreams is the best, although the one at the Grand Hyatt might take it, given its size and killer views.
The most exclusive pool is probably the one at Morpheus, given how expensive the rooms are.
Although truth be told, I’ve barely seen ever anyone using the one at Nuwa either.
Look, I’m probably just splitting hairs here, all of the pools at City of Dreams will more than suffice!
CITY OF DREAMS DINING
The Boulevard and casino have a bunch of other restaurants as well, but I’m not going to get into them here. Most of them are small and insignificant, and not really worth your time trying. The best restaurants at the City of Dreams are all located in the three hotels which have already been written about above.
Perhaps one exception is Soho, their pimped out food court on the 2nd floor. I can’t speak to the quality of the food but you might want to stop by and check it out anyway, if only to snap some pics and revel in the lean and mean urban design.
Composed of about 12 different restaurants which serve a wide array of world cuisine, including Mexican, Japanese, Italian, Mediterranean, Chinese and Korean, most dishes cost between $100 and $300, with the cheapest eats running $78 to $98.
The final place we need to talk about is the Louvre Cafe.
Louvre Cafe – Located on Level 1M in the Boulevard, Louvre Cafe opened in 2017. It serves soup ($58/$68), salad ($78 to $148), sandwiches and pizza ($98 to $128), burgers ($98 to $148), and main course pasta and meat dishes ($98 to $208).
A couple of set lunches run $158 (2 courses) and $188 (3 courses), while Afternoon Tea is either $348 or $368 for two people.
Admittedly a place like Louvre Cafe is probably only relevant for locals or people staying at the City of Dreams. Other visitors need not apply.
Louvre Cafe is open daily from 11 am to 7:30 pm.
CITY OF DREAMS GYMS
The fitness centers at all four hotels all leave a little something to be desired – each one could probably be a little larger and better, but they’re still more than satisfactory.
In a mild upset, the best gym is found at the Nuwa Hotel, followed by the Grand Hyatt, Morpheus and then Countdown.
CITY OF DREAMS SPAS
No resort in Macau has more spas than the City of Dreams, which offers four in total, one for each of the hotels. Treatments, prices and packages are very similar, with most services at Morpheus, Nuwa and Grand Hyatt $1000 to $1500, while the Spa at Countdown is a touch cheaper, with quite a few procedures available for under $1000.
Morpheus Spa – Morpheus Spa gets my vote for the best on at the City of Dreams.
150 to 210 Minute Signature Treatments: $1980 to $3800
60 to 90 Minute Body Scrubs & Body Wraps: $1580 to $1880
60 to 90 Minute Body Treatments: $1380 to $1780
60 to 90 Minute Body Massage: $1380 to $1880
60 to 90 Minute Facials: $1580 to $1880
Morpheus guests also get free access to what might the most impressive change room in any legitimate Macau spa. In terms of size and comfort, it’s probably got the one at the Ritz-Carlton beat, which is no small feat. The sauna, steam room and hot tub are all immaculate, and given how expensive Morpheus rooms are, you might just have it all to yourself most of the time.
Hours are from 11:00 am to midnight daily.
Nuwa Spa – The Nuwa spa offers the following treatments and rates:
120 to 150 Minute Signature Journeys $2250 to $2980
4 hours signature treatment $3180 single and $5680 for couples
120 minute journeys: $2380 to $2680
60 to 90 Minute Facials: $1380 to $2280
60 to 120 Minute Body treatments: $1280 to $2280
60 to 90 Minute Massage: $1180 to $1680
There’s also a day pass option for $350, which allows guests to access the pool, gym and spa facilities for as long as they want during opening hours.
Like Morpheus, Nuwa guests can use the sauna and steam room in the spa for free, which is a great perk that most hotels in Macau don’t provide. The majority of them charge a door pass fee, which I find completely ridiculous.
Isala Spa – Isala Spa is located in the Grand Hyatt.
Signature treatments: $1780 (2 hours), $3500 (3 hours), $3350 (4 hours)
2 to 4 Hour Isala Retreats: $1880 to $3450
60 to 90 Minute Facials: $1380 to $2080
60 to 90 Minute Massages: $900 to $1580
60 Minute Body Treatments: $1130 to $1180
Isala Spa is open from 12:00 pm to 12:00 am.
The Spa at Countdown – The Spa at Countdown keeps the prices low.
90 to 150 Minute Signature Journeys: $1100 to $1700
60 to 90 Minute Massage $780 to $1380
60 to 90 Minute Facials: $780 to $1280
Body scrubs and Body Wraps: $420 to $780
There’s also a door pass for $380 which gives access to a deluxe suite equipped with steam and sauna.
For steam, sauna and jacuzzi, the price is $680 for 60 minutes.
For other free spa facilities, each hotel (excluding Morpheus) has a jacuzzi outside beside their pools, while Grand Hyatt also offers a steam room and an ice shower in their change rooms. Countdown guests, unfortunately, are SOL in this department.
CITY OF DREAMS ENTERTAINMENT
The City of Dreams needs to ramp their entertainment back up.
The House of Dancing Water – Macau’s most popular show has been packing audiences since it opened in 2010. While I wish it had more of a story, I also wish I had a girlfriend named Lola too.
To read my full length entertainment review, please click here: House of Dancing Water.
Tickets now cost $598, $798, $998, and $1498 for adults, while children and senior citizen tickets are slightly cheaper.
Dark on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the show runs twice daily from Thursdays to Mondays, starting from 5:00 and 8:00 pm.
UPDATE: House of Dancing Water has been discontinued till January 2021. Same goes for the Backstage Tour.
House of Dancing Water Backstage Tour – Perhaps some people will be interested in this, but you can count me out. Every Saturday, City of Dreams hosts two backstage tours of the House of Dancing Water.
One, the Explorer Tour, gives guests insights into the technical aspect of the show, such as the machines, props, and costumes used, as well as how stage operations are performed. (45 to 60 minutes)
Second, the Experience Tour focuses more on the human element, where people do meet and greets with some of the cast and artists. There’s also a backstage tour to get an up close look at props and costumes. (30 to 45 minutes)
I believe both tours cost $550 and start around 9:30 pm on Saturday nights, so long as 8 people have joined up.
Kid’s City – Kid’s City is designed for children aged 2 to 12 and sounds like an absolute blast. With air cannons, ball fountains, racing slides, costume play, arcade games and assorted craft work, it definitely makes me wish I were 10 again.
Prices for 1 Adult and 1 Child are as follows.
If you’d like to stay longer, each additional 30 minutes costs $30 (Child) and $15 (Adults) on weekdays, and $35/$20 on weekends.
As always, long pants, long sleeves and socks are required for all visitors.
Hours at Kid’s City are from 10:30 am to 7:00 pm Fridays to Tuesdays . To get there, go to Soho first and then take the elevator up to the 3rd floor.
Art on 23 Morpheus – Morpheus has a newly opened Art Space on the 23rd floor that showed all of 2 pieces the first time I went there.
In other words, I don’t think I’ll be going back any time soon.
If you want to see the pictures, they’re both in the City of Dreams Photobook.
Art on 23 Morpheus keeps hours from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm daily.
CITY OF DREAMS SHOPPING
Starting from 2018, much of City of Dreams morphed into one large T Galleria by DFS outlet. They seem to own every inch of the retail space, and there is basically no way to get around without being surrounded by shops peddling perfume, bags, sunglasses, designer clothes and other high end beauty and fashion accessories.
It sometimes makes getting around a little confusing, which is why I much prefer the old layout before.
CITY OF DREAMS NIGHTCLUBS
When Club Cubic gets going, it can be the best nightclub in town. On other evenings however, it’s deader than Dillinger. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, it just depends on the night.
Your best bet for a full house is on a Wednesday, because it’s Ladies Night then.
Located on Level 2 of the Boulevard, Club Cubic is open daily from 10:00 pm to 6 am.
THE LAST WORD
Since its inception in 2009, the City of Dreams has always targeted the type of crowd who’d want nothing more than to flaunt it at an after hour pool party before hitting Club Cubic hard till 6:00 am.
Families can have the Venetian, let singles and young couples rule the City of Dreams.