Macau Budget Hotels (Acceptable)

(Last updated: October 11, 2023)

The next 7 hotels are all adequate options, with no major deficiencies or black marks. 

The Tin Lai, in particular, could be very appealing if saving money is your main objective.

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.

Ole Tai Sam Un Hotel front

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 nasty old carpet and unnecessary clutter.  Besides that, if the purpose of your trip is leisure, who really needs a desk and chair anyway?

Ole Tai Sam Un Hotel room

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.

Ole Tai Sam Un Hotel bathroom

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.

Ole Tai Sam Un Hotel TV and door

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 Hotel Superior Double

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.

I Fu Hotel Superior Double desk

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.

I Fu Hotel Superior Double bathroom I Fu Hotel exterior

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

TIN LAI

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 favourable impression of it then, and I still do now.

Tin Lai Hotel Macau

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.

Tin Lai Hotel Macau bed

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.

Tin Lai Hotel Macau bathroom Tin Lai Hotel Macau TV and desk

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

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. 

Happy Family Hotel Macau bed

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. 

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.

Happy Family Hotel Macau bed and cabinet

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 panelling 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.  And with friends like Happy Family, who needs enemies?

Turning to other negatives, no free water was given, and the bed was unusually hard which may disturb potential guests. The front desk check in man had all the personality of a 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! 

Happy Family Hotel Macau bathroom Happy Family Hotel Macau bathtub

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

INN HOTEL

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.

Inn Hotel Macau bed

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. 

Inn Hotel Macau bed and closet

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. 

Inn Hotel Macau bathroom Inn Hotel Macau bathroom sink and toilet

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

GRANDE HOTEL MACAU

Date Visited: September 13, 2023     Location: San Ma Lo       Price: $360

It makes the most sense to compare the Grande Hotel to San Tung Fong, since they’re both located on the northern end of San Ma Lo and cost just about the same thing. After having stayed in both of them, I’d say the San Tung is the much better option by far, and definitely the one you should be staying in. 

Grande Hotel Macau room

It pretty much just boils down to the little things: the bed at the Grande not being as soft, the bathroom not as nice, and I could hear a lot more noise coming from San Ma Lo at night, with its non-stop parade of cars and motorbikes.

A very historically significant hotel, the Grande Hotel first opened its doors in 1941.  During the 1990’s business declined, and the hotel remained shuttered for more than 27 years.  The building itself was in an abhorrent condition, just an exposed concrete shell, a picture of which I included in Trip Report III

Grande Hotel Macau exterior

New ownership took over during Covid, and the hotel came back to life on August 18, 2023.  The history buff in me would love to love it, but the truth is that the San Tung has it beat across the board, which is why I can’t rank it any higher.

Sure the lobby has pretty azelujos and so do the hallways and rooms, but we get that design feature at many other hotels in town, so it’s not really that special anymore. Apart from that, the room is extremely basic with nothing that’s particularly nice to look at.  Functional is the key word here, but that’s what I prefer my coffeemaker to be, not the place I’m staying in.

Grande Hotel Macau room and door

They had 30 years to get the sound proofing done right but couldn’t even manage that, which was the most disappointing part of the stay. The bed should have been much softer and check-in could have been better too, had they given me a key that could actually open the door. There was no sign of a central heating system, so living here could be an issue from December to February, the only three months Macau is actually cold.

Grande Hotel Macau bathroom

Given it’s so new, the condition and cleanliness of the rooms will be major selling points at the Grande for at least a couple of years. I actually wouldn’t mind going back if other options like Hotel S, Caravel, San Tung Fong and East Asia were not available, but only if the room was on a higher floor.

Location: 5    Check In: 3    Room Size: 3    Bed: 2    Cleanliness: 5    Wifi: 5    AC: 5    Water: 3    Noise: 2   Bathroom: 4

PENSAO COLOANE NO 1

Date Visited: September 14, 2023     Location: Coloane Village       Price: $485

Coloane Village may not have a proper supermarket yet but they finally do have a hotel for us to try, after Pensao Coloane opened sometime during Covid.

Pensao Coloane No 1 exterior

One of the smaller rooms in this Budget Guide, it did still feel somewhat comfortable and cosy, mostly due to the contoured walls and cute wooden window, a little reminiscent of the house I stayed in in Marvao, Portugal.

Pensao Coloane No 1 room with bed

Besides some decent looking rooms, we’re not really getting much at the Pensao Coloane, and ultimately location is really the only thing you need to consider here. Coloane Village is a must visit while in Macau but I would never base my trip from there if you really want to pound the pavement and sightsee. Pensao Coloane is more for tourists who just want to kick it in Coloane for a few days, and I’m not really sure how many of those people actually exist.

Pensao Coloane No 1 artwork above the bed

If relaxation is truly your goal in green and serene Coloane, then you should be doing it at Pousada de Coloane or the Grand Coloane Resort instead, seeing as they are far more comprehensive properties with much bigger and better rooms, not to mention far more complete in terms of facilities.

In terms of negatives, the bed was uncomfortably hard, while check in was slowed by the fact that the front desk man actually escorts you to your room. Not a major deal of course, but it was already past 10 pm for me and I just wanted to get to bed as soon as possible. The Wifi cut out a few times, but that might have just been the occasionally unreliable nature of my iPad, so perhaps it will be better for you.

Pensao Coloane No 1 bathroom

On the flip side, they gave three bottles of water instead of the standard two, and noise will never be a problem, considering Coloane Village is a ghost town at night.

Definitely overpriced, I’d be a lot more enthusiastic about Pensao Coloane if it were $100 cheaper. It’s not terrible per se, but its location is really inconvenient for tourists who want to see the history laden peninsula or casino driven Cotai Strip. Barring specific business in Coloane Village, you really should be staying somewhere else.

Location: 5 or 0 (depends)    Check In: 3    Room Size: 2    Bed: 2    Cleanliness: 5    Wifi: 3    AC: 5    Water: 4    Noise: 5    Bathroom: 3

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