The Maven Meter: Studio City Casino & Hotel
(Last updated: May 21, 2020)
Lights, camera, action!
Melco Resorts much anticipated sequel to the City of Dreams debuted on October 27, 2015 with appearances by Hollywood A-listers Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese, along with a concert by 90’s diva Mariah Carey.
Branded as Macau’s entertainment epicenter, Studio City flaunts the same passion, moxie, energy and youth as the City of Dreams, but only on a much larger scale. The building itself is an attempt to portray what would happen if a meteor crashed through it, while the same over the top movie magic is re-created indoors, with various replications of Gotham City, Times Square and Beverly Hills.
An excellent place to stay at if you have children, they’ll be occupied all day running between Flipout and the Warner Brothers Fun Zone, Legend Heroes Park and the 4D Dark Knight Batman ride.
It’s all right here, right now. Studio City turns fantasy into reality, and ordinary people into stars. Have a glamorous day!
STUDIO CITY PHOTO GALLERY
STUDIO CITY CASINO
Studio City’s casino is one God awful attempt at something and I don’t know what it is. Red and raging, it’s got no style or substance whatsoever and needs t0 be toned down immediately. At least the hideous collection of golden teapots and coffeepots have been taken away, so perhaps there’s some hope for it yet.
Regardless, let’s just say that the City of Dreams casino definitely executed its excess in a much more pleasing and proper manner.
As for the nuts and bolts, the main casino floor is divided in two, with 160 tables on one side and 768 slots on the other, with most minimums $300. An adjacent room for high rollers, the Signature Club, is composed of 52 tables, all with lows in the $1000s, along with another 134 slots. For electronic gamers, there’s $25 Big Wheel, $5 Roulette and $30 Sic Bo, along with $25 to $300 Live Gaming Baccarat.
If you ask me, Studio City’s casino doesn’t do offer anything you can’t get at City of Dreams, making it rather redundant. It would only be useful for guests staying at the hotel, which as you’ll see later on, I don’t think anyone should do.
STUDIO CITY GAMES
The games at Studio City are exactly the same as what’s offered at the City of Dreams.
Baccarat – Minimum bet is $3000, only available in the Signature Club.
Commission Free Baccarat – Players win only 50% on a won Banker bet that totals 6. Minimum bet is a pricy $1000.
Blackjack – Minimum bet is $300. Also has a side bet called Over, Under 13 where you bet on the sum of your first two cards. Aces count as 1. I don’t recommend this bet, but bet the over if you play it.
Caribbean Stud Poker – Minimum bet is $300.
Craps – With a minimum pass line bet of only $100 and 5 times odds, Studio City offers the best Craps in Macau.
Roulette – Minimum bets of $50 Outside and $200 Inside.
Sic Bo – Big/Small minimums are a pricy $300
Slot Machines – Around 900 slot machines, lows from 5 cents to a $1.
Three Card Baccarat – Minimum bet is $300.
Three Card Poker – $300 minimums.
STUDIO CITY PROMOTIONS
The worst thing about writing these casino reviews are the casino promotions, because they always change and most of them really don’t apply to the recreational gamer who’s in Macau for only a couple of days.
As for Studio City’s dead chip program, it returns the same rates as the one at the City of Dreams.
STUDIO CITY HOTEL
Studio City has 1600 rooms divided between the Star and Celebrity Towers. The Star Tower used to be exclusively for travel agencies and group bookings, but is now open to the public.
The Celebrity Tower is the much more luxurious digs, and the preferred option for solo visitors.
Rates below are in Macau Mops, inclusive of all tax and service charges.
STUDIO CITY HOTEL ROOM
I stayed at Studio City a month after it opened and was pretty disappointed with the whole experience. It started at check in which is either done at the Celebrity Tower or Star Tower, but I didn’t know which desk to go to. For group bookings or those who went through travel agencies, you should try the Celebrity Tower desk, while all others should be in the Star Tower.
I didn’t know that at the time though and went to the Celebrity Tower first, since I’d booked the cheapest room online and the Star Tower sounded far too posh for a $1480 Mop a night room. After waiting for about 25 minutes in a ridiculously long line at the Celebrity Tower, I finally got to the front desk and was politely informed that I was in the wrong place. The gentleman behind the desk said I could still check in there though so we got straight to it.
I had booked online using a credit card which the hotel did not charge until I got there. The problem with that is that I can’t make purchases in Macau with a credit card because the correct pass code that I input is always rejected. The general situation with booking rooms in Macau is that when you do it online the purchase goes through automatically so it’s already paid for by the time you get to the desk.
At Studio City however this isn’t the case and I ended up very short of cash. I asked him to just charge the room to my card on the computer without using the pass code but he said it wasn’t possible. That led me to having to pay both the room and deposit with all the money I had left and it was barely enough. I paid the deposit first which was $1000 and the room fee of $1487 with my last three $1000 bills. And then for some reason the man at the desk didn’t want to give me back any change!
Now I had serious business that night with my friend Wang Ping Ping who I was taking to dinner and I needed every Pataca back to show her a good time. He said that he wanted to retain the balance in case I made purchases later on inside my room. To that I replied, leaning in over the desk, in a not so friendly tone, then what was the $1000 deposit for? Why was I paying twice? Why won’t you give me my change?
Another co-worker came over and sorted it out rather quickly but I thought the situation was completely ridiculous from the outset. The checkout procedure the following day was also very slow and one of the doormen said it was because the cleaning crew was understaffed and so both check in and check out usually take a long time.
After check in I proceeded to my room on the 16th floor. Maybe some of the “Ritz Effect” was in play here because I didn’t think much of it at all. (By that I mean that when the last hotel you stayed in was the Ritz Carlton Macau, then the next hotel you stay in is going to seem far far worse no matter how good it is.)
For one, they call it a suite and it’s not a suite. It’s one room and one room only, with none of the luxury or flash appeal that typical suites should have. At least it wasn’t priced like a suite, but why are they even calling it in the first place?
The biggest problem with the room is that half of it is a bathroom and I don’t know anyone who would need one that big.
There’s also a stand-up shower in there, although it’s not clear from the photos.
The bed is also separated from the TV by a couch which I didn’t get at all, nor did I like the dark heavy colour scheme, which made the room seem a lot older than it actually was. It honestly looked five years old when it was closer to five weeks old.
I also heard a strange mechanical sound coming into my room which too which I attributed to the giant Golden Reel attraction outside, like a part was stuck somewhere and not getting enough grease. Of all the things to happen when I already didn’t like the room, that was the icing on the cake.
All in all, I didn’t think much of my stay at Studio City and wouldn’t recommend it as a living option. I don’t see how it’s better than the Holiday Inn at the Sands Cotai and rooms there are $500 cheaper.
STUDIO CITY POOL
After the Galaxy’s fantastic Grand Resort Deck, not many pools in Macau will impress and that is also the case at Studio City.
The shame of it is that there’s definitely enough space for 4 or 5 more of them but they decided to build a “Gala Garden” and “Event Garden” instead.
That means there is exactly 1 outdoor pool for a 1600 room hotel, and that math just doesn’t add up.
In a new development, non guests can also pay to get in, with the magic number $230 for adults and $80 for children aged 3 to 12 years.
Beside the pool, there’s also a small Riverscape Ride that children might enjoy, so not all is lost.
Star Tower guests, finally, can make use of an indoor pool that’s also located on the 3rd floor.
STUDIO CITY RESTAURANTS
A property branded for the stars needs celebrity chefs and Studio City initially boasted an impressive roster of industry giants, none of whom ever bothered to show up.
Rather, the amazing Alain Ducasse, owner of 19 Michelin stars worldwide, and Chef Patissier Pierre Herme, AKA the “Picasso of Pastry”, opened their restaurants in the Morpheus Tower instead.
As for Alan Wong, the world renowned master of Hawaiian cuisine, I have no idea what happened to him.
Here’s what’s left of their signature eateries, which mostly remain very anonymous.
Hide Yamamoto – Global Chef Award winning Hide Yamamoto offers four premium dining experiences daily: teppanyaki, robatayaki, sushi and ramen.
Cold appetizers: $95 to $180 Teppanyaki: $120 to $480
Warm appetizers: $30 to $100 Sushi (1 piece): $20 to $130
Tempura: $120 to $220 Sashimi (3 pieces): $60 to $400
Japanese beef: $300 to $1880 Robata: $160 to $880
Rice and Noodles: $60 to $210
A 7 course sushi set runs $1050 for 1 person, while 8 courses is $1150. A 9 course Megumi set is $1450, while a more premium counterpart is $2350.
There are four set lunch options that range in price for $188 to $328. Composed of either 4 or 5 courses, sushi, wagyu and teppanyaki are all available.
Hours daily are from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm, and from 5:30 pm to 11:00 pm.
Hidemasa – Obviously affiliated with Hide Yamamato in some way, Hidemasa sells cheap Japanese fast food like sushi ($78 to $88), tempura ($30 to $60) and ramen noodles ($$78 to 98).
Hidemasa keeps hours from 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm daily.
Rossi Trattoria – Formerly known as Trattoria Il Mulino, that iteration went over like a lead zeppelin; hence the name change. I doubt this Rossi version will be any better.
Anti-pasta: $85 to $265
Pasta: $120 to $395
Mains: $265 to $570
Desserts: $45 to $95
Weekday hours are from 5:00 pm to 11:00, while it opens up for lunch on weekends from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm.
Rossi Pizza – Small, small menu at Rossi Pizza consisting of 8 different tiny 30 cm pizzas that range in price from $120 to $160. Word to the wise, you might have to order three to finally feel full.
Rossi Pizza also runs a 2 hour Free Flow Drink Promotion for $150 or $188 per person, with select wine and beer on offer.
Hours are from 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm daily.
Pearl Dragon – Much celebrated Executive Chef Tam Kwok Fung fled for Wynn Palace in 2018. Regardless, Pearl Dragon still retains their Michelin star, for reasons that I don’t understand.
Dum Sum: $28 to $598 Dried Seafood: $428 to $34,888
Appetizers: $88 to $428 Vegetables: $158 to $368
Barbecue: $78 to $768 Meat: $168 to $1288
Soup: $88 to $1388 Poultry: $228 to $888
Seafood: $128 to $1388 Rice/Noodles: $88 to $388
For a review of my dinner there, please follow the link: Pearl Dragon
Hours from Monday to Friday are between 12 pm and 3 pm in the afternoon, and from 6 pm to 11 pm at night.
Spotlight – Studio City’s buffet restaurant is located on Level 2 in the Celebrity Tower. Rates for children and adults are as follows:
Buffet times are from 6:30 am to 10:30 am (breakfast), 11:30 am to 3 pm (lunch) an 6 pm to 10:30 pm (dinner).
In terms of casual dining, Studio City also has a ton of smaller restaurants located on Level Two in the Macau Gourmet Walk.
Studio City has two fitness centers, one for Celebrity Tower guests and the other for Star Tower guests. The Celebrity Tower gym is an embarrassment with very little to no heavy lifting equipment. It’s basically all cardio, so you can’t say now that celebrities never get the shaft.
The Star Tower gym meanwhile is very comprehensive and worthy of actually being called a fitness centre. Both are located on the 3rd floor and stay open 24 hours. Just bring your room key to get in.
Zensa Spa – Studio City’s lone spa charges two different rates, one for Weekdays (Monday to Thursday) and Weekend (Friday to Sunday). For this review I’ve used the weekday rates.
One 90 minute Recovery Journey runs $1980 while four other 120 to 180 minute signature treatments cost between $1980 and $2880. 60 to 90 minute massage is a standard $1280 to $1650 while 30 to 90 minute body treatments are $710 to $1430. A wide range of facials are also available, most of them 60 or 90 minutes, for $1130 to $3900.
Studio City guests get no free access to spa facilities and must pay a $180 door fee to get in, while the price for walk in visitors is $380.
Zensa Spa is located on the 3rd floor and keeps hours from 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm daily.
Private Massage Center – Up on the second level beside Legend Heroes Park, there’s a small massage place that opened sometime in late 2019. Owned by a third party operator, there’s no mention of it on the Studio City website, so I can’t even tell you its name.
Anyway, the menu is quite small, limited to just 30 minute massage ($198 to $488), 60 minute massage ($698 to $998), 90 minute massage ($998 to $1448), 30 minute facials ($198) and 30 minute nail treatment ($268). There’s also 45 and 60 minute foot massage available for $228 and $298 respectively.
STUDIO CITY ENTERTAINMENT
The House of Magic was a signature Studio City attraction, but it sadly bit the dust in 2017. “Asia’s entertainment capital” probably needs to add a few more attractions ASAP, at least for adults anyway.
Dark Knight Flight Simulator – The Dark Knight Flight Simulator is very similar to rides found in large North American amusement parks, the kind where you’re strapped into a chair watching a big screen, then get rocked back and forth according to what’s happening on the TV.
For more information, please follow the link to the review here: Dark Knight
Only about 15 minutes long, some people I know balk at the price ($100 Mops) but it’s a fun little diversion that I’d do again.
Ride hours are from 12 pm to 8 pm Monday to Friday and from 11 am to 9 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Golden Reel – Golden Reel looks pretty boss from the outside and is a key feature of Studio’s City’s unique design, but the Ferris Wheel ride itself isn’t that interesting. The problem is that there isn’t much to see as you make your way up and down, just a bleak view of Zhuhai on one side, and an empty piece of Cotai land on the other.
Perhaps it gets a lot better at night when some the Cotai Strip is all lit up, but even then, I’d take a pass. Wait until the area around it gets properly built up so there’s actually something to see.
If you book a room through the Studio City website now, tickets for the Golden Reel usually come free as part of the package. Otherwise they’re $100 for adults and $85 for children.
Hours are the same as the Batman ride.
Warner Brothers Fun Zone – At over 4,000 square meters, Warner Brothers Fun Zone is Macau’s biggest and best Play Area for children. It features interactive rides and games along with a chance for children to meet famous characters from DC Comics, Hanna Barbara and Looney Tunes.
The cost is only $100 for children and adults, with no time restrictions placed on either. That makes it very unique for Macau, as all other Kids Zones usually charge more money after two hours.
Hours are daily from 10:30 am to 7 pm.
Legend Heroes Park – Studio City’s newest attraction has the potential to be a game changer, particularly if you have children. Featuring games, games and more games, Legend Heroes Park is a virtual arcade for the 21st Century, with cutting edge VR, Projection Mapping, Holograms, Motion Tracking, and Sportainment all available. There’s also old school arcade games, car racing and bowling lanes, if you’re not quite hip to the times.
With over 60 games in total, the action is divided between the Heroes Zone on Level 1 and the Legend Zone on Level 2.
Pricing has come down a lot recently and is excellent, especially when compared to Golden Reel and the Dark Knight Ride.
2 Hours Unlimited
4 Hours Unlimited
Legend Park is open from 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm daily, with only Mondays off.
STUDIO CITY BARS
Showhouse– For more information on Macau’s hottest nightclub, please check out their Facebook page here: Showhouse Macau.
Showhouse is only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 pm to 6 am, with Ladies Night on Friday. That means girls get in and drink for free, so it’s always super busy then. Men, on the other hand, need to pay a $200 cover charge to get in.
STUDIO CITY SHOPPING
The shopping quarter at Studio City might be the coolest one in town. There’s Times Square and Beverly Hills, not to mention a ton of cameras overhead that make you feel like you’re always on a movie set.
Regardless of whether you’ve come to shop or not, it’s definitely worth checking out.
THE LAST WORD
Studio City won’t get my return patronage as a hotel guest, simply because there’s little incentive to stay there. The rooms aren’t good enough, nor is the service or amenities. The dining is still a work in progress while the casino is just a repeated version of what’s already been done in Macau a million times before.
I’d call Studio City an epic bust but for its groundbreaking architecture, fun movie star vibes and bitching nightclub that’s the best one in town. Once they add a few more attractions and activities for walk in visitors to see and do, it’ll come closer to realizing its vast potential.
As of now, consider Studio City a star in the making that’s one big break away.