Macau Budget Hotels (Acceptable)
The next 7 hotels are all adequate options, with no major deficiencies or black marks.
The Tin Lai and Villa Ka Meng, in particular, could be very appealing if saving money is of paramount importance to you.
OLE TAI SAM UN
Date Visited: Thursday, December 12, 2019 Location: Street of Happiness Price: $465
The Big $3 RMB hotel gets my vote for most original name in this guide, perhaps it cost that much when it first opened all those decades ago? It’s a place that quite a few travel blogs online like too, and I can totally see where they’re coming from.
For one the location is excellent, right in the middle of the historic Street of Happiness, perhaps the best place to base any trip to Macau from. Check in was handled superbly by a young Chinese man who actually seemed glad to see me. Super polite and super pleasant, if he can be so nice, then why can’t everyone else?
More importantly, rooms at Ole Tai Sam Un are all in tremendous condition, looking either recently refurbished and/or excellently maintained. They’re also very simple, outfitted with no major furniture outside of a bed. While that may turn off some travelers, I’ll take that every day of the week over old nasty carpet and unnecessary clutter. Besides that, if the purpose of your trip is leisure, who really needs a desk and chair anyway?
The bathroom was a touch on the small side, but the bathtub was of good size and the hotel didn’t skimp on necessities like soap, shampoo, towels, and facecloths.
The only reason Ole Tai Sam Un is on this list is because it’s about $50 to $100 more expensive than other hotels I like more. At the same time, they do a lot of things right and I’m sure you’ll have a very pleasant and enjoyable stay there.
An inexpensive breakfast is also available on site for hotel guests only, costing just $38 per head.
Location: 5 Check In: 5 Room Size: 3 Bed: 4 Cleanliness: 5 Wifi: 5 AC: 5 Water: 3 Noise: 4 Bathroom: 4.5
I FU HOTEL
Date Visited: Tuesday, November 5, 2019 Location: By 5th of October Street Price: $440
Like Ole Tai Sam Un, I Fu isn’t a bad hotel by any means, just too expensive. Smokers should give it a pass though as the entire premises is smoke free, something you hardly ever see in Asia, especially in budget hotels.
I Fu debuted in February 2018 so rooms are still sparkling clean, with all fixtures and furnishings in excellent condition. I was given a free upgrade to a Superior Double, which the desk staff said was a little larger, and if that’s the case, then the cheapest rooms must be very similar in size to what you get at Tin Lai and Villa Ka Meng.
Indeed, while living there, I got the sense that it was a nicer and newer version of those two hotels, just equipped with better beds, desks, tables and chairs etc. A slightly spruced up boutique hotel, I Fu is a little bit too simple and small to get my full endorsement, particularly at its price point.
Check in was handled very well though, with staff who spoke excellent English and gave the free upgrade, as already mentioned. Construction was going on outside which was disturbing, but also figures to finish very soon, so it probably won’t affect your stay at all.
The bed was a touch hard, scoring just a 2, while water consisted of only two free bottles. I Fu was also the first hotel to sell a bunch of snacks at typical marked up 500% hotel prices, and I don’t know whether that should count as a positive or a negative for this review. I’ll let you be the judge for that one.
If I Fu cost $100 less I’d consider it an excellent bargain, but $440 is too rich for my blood. The San Tung is just as new and clean and has bigger rooms to boot, all the while typically costing $30 to $50 less per night.
Location: 4 Check In: 5 Room Size: 3 Bed: 2 Cleanliness: 5 Wifi: 5 AC: 5 Water: 3 Noise: 4 Bathroom: 4
Date Visited: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 Location: Near Tap Saec Square Price: $325
Tin Lai was the first hotel that I visited to kick off this budget series. I had a very favorable impression of it then, and I still do now.
Check in was entertaining as the desk woman nervously flipped through my passport 3 times unable to find the picture page, before giving up and handing me a copy of the booking receipt to sign.
It was clear from that interaction that Tin Lai doesn’t get a lot of Western guests, so definitely expect some communication issues if you don’t speak Chinese. After I started speaking Mandarin to her though, she immediately opened right up, happy to chat about everything under the sun. Later on when I told her I forgot my iPad cord, she offered to charge it for me at the front desk, keeping it there overnight.
The first thing that jumps out about the guesthouse is that it is immaculately clean no matter where you are, whether it’s the front desk, stairwell, hallways, or inside the room and bathroom. I mean, I hadn’t been blinded by so much white since traveling in Japan. You could probably eat off those floors and that’s not something that I ever say about any hotel, including ones with five stars.
Very reminiscent of Hong Kong guesthouses, rooms are extremely small, but still have enough space for a little table and chair. The bathroom is a Chinese special, AKA you shower standing beside the sink and toilet, something most Westerners probably aren’t used to.
Noise might be a problem if you have a room with a window, as the hotel is on a fairly busy street and the steady whiz of passing cars and motorcycles could be slightly audible all night. Wifi tended to be spotty while free water could have be excellent, save for the fact that the dispensers outside only serve it hot, which is how the Chinese like it. There’s not even a cold setting on the back that you could diabolically switch it to, so you’ll be SOL there as well.
The worst thing about Tin Lai might be the location, in the Northern part of the peninsula, beside Tap Saec Square. Barring specific business up there, it’s probably a much better idea to stay around San Ma Lo and the Inner Harbour.
All in all, Tin Lai isn’t perfect, but it’s not bad either. Costing only $325 it is the cheapest hotel in this guide, so it might be useful if saving money is your absolute number one priority, and you can’t handle the conditions at the San Va.
Location: 1 Check In: 3 Room Size: 1 Bed: 5 Cleanliness: 5 Wifi: 2 AC: 2 Water: 3 Noise: 2 Bathroom: 2
VILLA KA MENG
Date Visited: Thursday, October 10, 2019 Location: By the 5th of October Street & San Ma Lo Price: $340
Villa Ka Meng and Macau Home are run by the same company, and as such, they’re pretty much the same from top to bottom – except for price. Why Macau Home routinely costs $40 to $50 more is beyond me, since the rooms are in no way better, just a touch bigger and have desks. Villa Ka Meng only provides a bed table, but I much prefer their bathrooms, since they have windows.
The check in lady at Villa Ka Meng was also far nicer, although she couldn’t speak a word of English. When I asked her in Chinese about drinking water she said guests can help themselves to as much as they want at the front desk, but the water had been boiled beforehand. When I told her that I didn’t like that kind of water, she pointed to a couple cans of beer she just happened to have there, and suggested we drink those together. I mean, talk about nice! (And no, she didn’t have to ask twice!)
The only downside at Villa Ka Meng was the bed, which I found a little hard, similar to my experience at Macau Home. Apart from that, the room was very clean, everything was quiet, the Wifi worked great and the location was stellar, right by the 5th of October Street.
For those looking to live around San Ma Lo and penny pinch while doing so, Villa Ka Meng is the cheapest hotel I’ve found that I feel comfortable recommending, outside of the San Va, of course. It’s definitely the one to stay at during summer though, given that all rooms have AC.
Location: 4 Check In: 4 Room Size: 1 Bed: 2 Cleanliness: 5 Wifi: 5 AC: 5 Water: 3 Noise: 5 Bathroom: 3
HAPPY FAMILY HOTEL
Date Visited: Tuesday, December 17, 2019 Location: San Ma Lo Price: $442
Happy Family is a hotel that initially really impressed me, mostly due to the pretty Portuguese azulejos and classic hard tile floor. It looks like something straight out of Lisbon, and for budget digs, I thought the effort put into the decoration went way above and beyond.
The problem was that the longer I lived there, the less I liked it, solely because of a very weird unpleasant smell coming from the hallway, that hit me like a ton of bricks after leaving the elevator. It reminded me of high grade chemicals used during home renovations, the kind where occupants need to live elsewhere for a week before returning. And if it were really my lucky day, I thought, perhaps it was DDT or asbestos.
After getting into the room and closing the door, the smell wasn’t so bad, but it seemed to linger and get stronger as the night wore on. As I started drifted off to sleep around midnight, I felt a bit of a headache and sore throat coming on.
The next morning at checkout, I asked the front desk why the whole floor smelled so bad. Naturally, he couldn’t understand me, but then got a Filipino worker to translate. He told me it was due to new paneling they had put in the day before. The best part of the story? The Filipino was probably the person in charge of the work and just happened to be wearing a mask!!
Hmm, I wonder why, Happy Family?? It wouldn’t have anything to do with fumes, now would it?
If hotels are doing work of this nature doing the day, then they can’t rent out the affected rooms at night, until the smell has gone away. When I asked why I wasn’t put on another floor, they said it was because I was given the biggest and nicest room. With friends like Happy Family, who needs enemies?
Turning to other negatives, no free water was given, and the bed was unusually hard, the latter of which may disturb potential guests. The front desk check in man had all the personality of the frying pan, while the bathtub was oppressively small. I mean, you couldn’t even argue that it was made for the Portuguese or Chinese in mind, because they’re both way taller than that!
Maybe the hotel got a deal from a horse track somewhere, who wanted to sell off part of their jockey’s dressing room, but that’s the only justification I can see.
As for positives, the Wifi worked great, while every inch of the room was pristine and spotless. The AC unit was a bad mother, so don’t sweat it if you stay there in summer (because you won’t), while the location is stellar as well, just off of San Ma Lo, slightly behind the Grand Lisboa.
Look, take the smell away and I’d put the Happy Family on the “Love it” list, but it’s clear they lack proper quality control. There’s probably an 80% chance you’ll go there and have a great stay, but I can’t guarantee it.
Location: 5 Check In: 2 Room Size: 3 Bed: 2 Cleanliness: 5 Wifi: 5 AC: 5 Water: 0 Noise: 4 Bathroom: 4
Date Visited: Wednesday, January 22, 2020 Location: 822 Estrada Governador Nobre Carvalho, Taipa Price: $530
Located in the southern part of residential Taipa, somewhat close to the Cotai Strip, the Inn Hotel only makes sense for travelers who plan to be spending a lot of time in Taipa Village. However, since most people only need half a day there tops, it’s a little hard to see the appeal.
Check in was handled very well though, and the nice desk girl even tried to quiet down all of the children running around the lobby. In typical mainland fashion, the parents weren’t doing anything, just letting them dart around the groups of people and suitcases. Her English was excellent and gave a free upgrade, even though I didn’t have enough cash to cover the $500 deposit. (She would end up taking $300 instead).
Now whether my room was really any kind of real upgrade is another story.
Still very much on the small side, it reminded me a lot of the ones at Macau Hotel S, with a similar size, layout, and colour scheme.
Wifi was very fast throughout although the bed could have used being a touch softer. Water was just the standard two free bottles, and the fridge was empty.
For some reason the bathroom fan could not be shut off in any way, so I had to keep the bathroom door closed all the time to muffle the sound.
All in all, the Inn Hotel is right about on the same level as the Sintra or Royal. Fairly comprehensive, it offers a restaurant, bar and swimming pool, the latter of which was closed for the off season. Would it be located centrally on the old Peninsula then I might recommend it more, but it’s too far out of the way to be taken seriously. As I said above, only use it if you’ve got business around Taipa Village, otherwise leave it alone.
As Inn Hotel is affiliated with the Grand Emperor, there is a free shuttle between the two hotels that runs daily from 11:00 am to 10:30 pm. Not everyone can hop right on though, only hotel guests.
Location: 3 Check In: 5 Room Size: 3 Bed: 3 Cleanliness: 5 Wifi: 5 AC: 5 Water: 3 Noise: 3 Bathroom: 5
FIVE FOOTWAY INN
Date Visited: Wednesday, November 20, 2019 Location: By the Fifth of October Street Price: $452
I find myself very much in two minds about Five Footway Inn. On the one hand, there’s nothing particularly nice about it, yet I still don’t mind it either. The good vibes started at check in with the desk girl who let me do it at 12:00 pm, even though she said they basically never do that for anyone.
The room was simple and uncluttered, super clean, while the bathroom had a bathtub, both of which were probably too small though.
Wifi was very fast all the time and guests can help themselves to all the free water they want downstairs, in a room beside the front desk.
At the same time, a closer check of the furnishings revealed a chipped up desk and sad throwaway chair, while noise from the major road below was a bit of a problem too.
Very similar to what you get at Tin Lai and Villa Ka Meng, just with more space, there’s not much at Five Footway Inn worth writing home about. If it were $100 cheaper I’d be behind it a lot more, but $450 is really pushing the envelope.
Still though, in a pinch, I’d probably live there again.
Location: 4 Check In: 5 Room Size: 3 Bed: 4 Cleanliness: 4 Wifi: 5 AC: 5 Water: 5 Noise: 2 Bathroom: 4