Maven Meter: Lisboa Casino & Hotel
(Last updated: August 23, 2023)
If the Lisboa walls could talk, what a tale its pink floral prints could tell. Most of the story would probably revolve around some serious shagging in the deep of night, because if a building in Macau has seen more sex over the past 50 years than the Lisboa, I’d love to know where it is.
First unveiled in 1970, Stanley Ho’s original flagship hotel was for many years not only the most famous casino in Macau, but in all of Asia. A precursor to the massive properties that now dominate Cotai, it’s a large complex composed of two hotel wings, four floors of shopping and 927 rooms.
Nowadays it’s thriving as an excellent budget option on the Amizade Strip, where better $1000 rooms cannot be found.
Lisboa Photo Gallery
I don’t usually describe casinos and what they look like, but the one at the Lisboa definitely deserves some mention. It’s a throwback to another time, when casino operators paid no mind to modern comforts like service, space and lighting. Dimly lit and a little sinister, 28 tables are packed onto a circular gaming floor that resembles a dark round cage, the short squat pillars acting as thick square bars.
A dozen dragons descend from the ceiling grasping orbs of glowing light, their gross reptilian bodies grotesquely conforming to the wicked contours of the wall. The ceiling is a macabre amalgamation of unknown symbols and designs, which convey no apparent meaning and can hardly be made out. There’s no other casino in Macau that’s remotely like it, and you should definitely stop by to check it out, even if you don’t intend to gamble.
Minimums at the Lisboa are fairly low, with most games available for $200 or $300. Ten years ago they had a much better selection, but Blackjack, Roulette, Banking Three Card Baccarat, Slots, and Fish Prawn Crab are no longer available, with Fish Prawn Crab finished city wide.
LISBOA CASINO GAMES
The Lisboa is the only casino in Macau where players can bank playing Pai Gow. Blackjack, unfortunately, was lost sometime during Covid.
Baccarat – Minimum bet of $200, which is lower than Commission Free Baccarat. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before in any Macau casino.
Commission Free Baccarat – Minimum bet is $300.
Fan Tan – Fan Tan has returned to the Lisboa after a multi year absence. Standard minimum bets of $100 on Fan, Tim, and Kwok bets, $200 on Nga Tan and $300 on Sheh Sam Hong.
Pai Gow – Players retain the option to bank if they so desire, and the odds say you should when given the chance. Assuming you set your tiles the house way, the house edge when banking against one player is only 0.53%, far lower than when not banking (2.44%). Minimum bet is very pricey $500.
Sic Bo – Big/Small minimum bet is only $100.
Three Card Baccarat – Minimum bet is $300.
LISBOA CASINO PROMOTIONS
The Lisboa has a few different buy in programs for whales.
$1,000 Buy in program
$500,000 Buy in Program
$1,000,000 Buy in Program
For those enrolled in any program above, free Lisboa rooms can be had with a $55,000 buy in on weekdays. I’m not sure if that figure is the same on weekends or not. Also, free rooms will be given to those who accumulate 40 points in one day.
Fans of the Lisboa 20 years ago probably wouldn’t recognize it’s turned into today. In the height of the “Troubles” during the late 90’s when Triad violence was spiralling out of control, armed cops patrolled every entrance while the city’s most notorious gangster “Broken Tooth” Wan Kuok Koi held court inside, styling in suites and thousand dollar suits, plotting out his next move (and movies, for that matter).
Every afternoon around 2:00 pm, the eye candy took over the lobby, the various imported labour ready to catwalk the night away. The front desk always greeted them warmly, both familiar and fine with their presence, knowing full well the money they brought in. The tall and very white Russian talent set their price at 1000 Mops way back when, which is barely a Baccarat bet nowadays for high rollers, but sweet sweet coin 20 years ago when Macau was still unbelievably cheap.
Elsewhere in the shopping quarter, the exclusive gentleman’s bar Club de Savoy plied its trade beside the bumper cars and Merry Go Rounds of Children’s World, a crass juxtaposition of families and foulness, the likes of which you won’t be seeing on the Cotai Strip anytime soon.
As for Broken Tooth, he would infamously meet his end at Lisboa in 1998, arrested in the 456 Restaurant hours after a bomb targeting the Chief of Police exploded in his car. Legend has it his 14k gang had previously murdered a cop and top government official, which just goes to show how crazy the violence had become. The best line from that era though? The tourist office assuring visitors it was still safe to come to Macau, since the triad members were all professional killers who never missed their mark!
So yeah, the Lisboa (and Macau for that matter) was a totally different place pre-handover, the Portuguese clearly having lost the plot in their later years.
As for the Lisboa today, it’s totally cleaned up, no doubt the most legit it’s been in its 50 year history. In quite the role reversal, culture and class are clearly taking precedence now, in the form of all the art on display, the majority of which is in the main lobby.
All of the pieces come courtesy of Stanley Ho’s personal collection, and when taken in totality, far outclasses what’s usually shown at the Macau Museum of Art.
As for the Lisboa rooms, it might be wise to skip their East Wing Standards, which look a little sketchy from the limited pictures on the website. A much better option is to stay in the Royal Tower, which I had the pleasure of doing way back in 2012, as part of Trip Report II.
Current room rates shown are in Macau Mops, inclusive of all tax and service charges.
The Kids Themed Suite is a nice gesture for those on the road with little ones. The only other hotel I’ve seen do something similar is the Parisian Macao.
An added perk for guests staying at the Lisboa is that everything in the mini bar is free, as is the internet.
Perhaps best of all, there’s also three free porn channels available on the satellite TV, oh yeah!
LISBOA HOTEL POOL
The Lisboa pool is completely inadequate, seeing that the hotel has 972 rooms.
Move along people, there’s nothing to see here.
LISBOA HOTEL GYM
The Lisboa fitness center is just as disappointing as the pool, especially if you’re looking to lift. Extremely small, it only offers free weights and four heavy apparatus that primarily work the lower body.
There are more than enough cardio machines though, and you’ll be okay if your workout focuses on that.
LISBOA HOTEL DINING
Among the 12 or so restaurants at the Lisboa, these 4 are designated as signature eateries. Former Michelin starred Tim’s Kitchen bit the dust right around the start of Covid.
Guincho a Galera – Guincho A Galera’s goal is to take Portuguese dining and elevate it to the next level (aka the ultra expensive.) While they’ve got the pricey part down (naturally), the food leaves a lot to be desired, and they still don’t have a Michelin star. And after the dinner I had there, I doubt they ever will.
The same a la carte menu is used for lunch and dinner. Starters are $125 to $250, soup $80 to $150, seafood $290 to $780, and meat $260 to $495. For a single diner to try a couple of starters, one soup and one main dish, it’ll cost well over $1000, especially after wine and tax. I don’t know how to say Good luck in Portuguese so I’ll just leave it at that.
Guincho also has a number of set meals to choose from. At lunch there are two options, a 2 course set with dessert for $350 (or $510, with wine) and a 3 course set with dessert for $420 (or $580, with wine). In the evening, one 5 course degustation menu is available for $630. There’s also a Weekend Grill Menu on Friday and Saturday nights that runs $1050 for 2 people.
For a review of my meal there, please click here: Trip Report II
Guincho A Galera is located in the Lisboa Tower on the 3rd floor. Hours are from 12 pm to 2:30 pm in the afternoon and from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm at night.
New Furusato – New Furusato deals in Japanese fare and a whole lot of set meals. Lunch sets runs between $300 and $480 and individually feature one of nigri sushi, sashimi, shokado bento, tempura or teppanyaki. In the evening, four Teppanyaki sets cost $780 and $880, while a New Furusato Kaiseki set is the priciest one, running $1080 for 10 courses.
Apart from the set meals, there’s also a la carte, with appetizers ($60 to $130), salad ($90 to $180), vegetables ($60) and meat ($300 to $960) all available. Soup ($130 to $320), rice ($90 to $560), noodles ($100 to $260) and seafood ($70 to $150) are also economically priced. Other choices include roasted ($198 to $560), tempura ($20 to $400), chef’s recommendations ($180 to $1080), sushi ($45 to $160) and sashimi ($70 to $300).
Located on the 2nd floor in the Lisboa Tower, New Furusato has the same hours as Guincho a Galera.
Portas do Sol – Portas do Sol sounds very Portuguese, but it actually serves Chinese fare. Prices have come down recently, with appetizers $55 to $85, vegetarian plates $75 to $160, barbecue $95 to $330 and rice and noodle dishes $98 to $198. Soup is on the expensive side, running $85 to $1400, while seafood is $125 to $750 and main meat dishes $120 to $480. Abalone and shark’s fin, finally, are $320 to $2500.
A lot of dim sum is available at lunch, with most going for a very reasonable $40 to $60.
Located on the 2nd floor of the East Wing, Portas do Sol opens for breakfast on the weekend at 10:30 am while weekday hours are from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. In the evening, dinner starts at 6:30 pm and doors close at 10:30 pm.
Noite e Dia Cafe – Located on the lobby level of the Lisboa Tower, Noite e Dia Cafe does food in all styles, International and Asian alike. A semi lunch buffet including salad, soup and one main ranges from $125 to $185, while a dinner buffet costs $358 for adults and $238 for children and the elderly.
For a la carte, Portuguese favorites run $118 to $210 while pasta, sandwiches and burgers are $75 to $120 and premium meat dishes $105 to $310. A lot of Japanese fare is on offer, including specialties ($98 to $180), salad ($82 to $125), sashimi ($68 to $135), tempaura ($82 to $125) and teppanyaki ($98 to $160). As for Chinese, dim sum goes for $38 to $58, while delicacies are $48 to $130 and other regional Asian fare $88 to $175.
Appetizers ($75 to $98), soup ($50/$55), and salads ($90 to $188) are also available.
Noite e Dia Cafe is open daily from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm.
LISBOA HOTEL BARS
Gallery Lounge looks like it’s part of Portas de Sol on the 3rd floor, but it’s actually its own establishment. Half bar and half restaurant, the food menu consists of typical pub and snack fare, with prices between $38 and $128. A few choices include the Lisboa Club Sandwich ($80), Ham and Cheese Sandwich ($70), Steak Hamburger ($70), Hot Dog ($55) and Cheese Platter ($108.)
As for drinks, beers are $30 to $70, hard stuff $30 to $90 while cocktails are $50. A couple of port selections are a pricier $120 or $180. Coffee, juice, tea and pop finally are $26 to $50.
I believe Gallery Lounge only opens when Portas de Sol does.
LISBOA HOTEL SHOPPING
Due to some scandal at the Grand Lisboa involving a prostitution ring and a high ranking manager, the Lisboa shopping arcade has been cleaned up.
All of the hot mainland hookers have been forced out, leaving the Lisboa mall a shell of its former self.
Deader than Dillinger!
THE LAST WORD
The Lisboa has fallen hard and fast from where it was circa 1970 to 2005, when it was THE most important hotel/casino in town, but so be it. It can still flourish (and does), as an overqualified budget option featuring a ton of great shopping, cool retro 1970 rooms, and all that art and history. Comparing it to holes like the President and Fortuna is really no comparison and all, and I’d give it serious consideration if I were you.
As for the casino, it’s becoming more and more mainstream each year that passes by. A number of games that used to be unique to the Lisboa have disappeared, as have the low limits (i.e. no more $100 tables). About the only noteworthy option still remaining is the ability to bank in Pai Gow, albeit at a very high minimum of $500.
LISBOA HOTEL LOCATION
It’s hard to find a hotel in Macau that has a better location than the Lisboa.