Macau Budget Hotels Guide
(Last updated: June 13, 2020)
As I laid out in the Macau Hotel Guide, Macau has plenty of good hotels to choose from if you’re willing to fork over more than $600 MOP (about $75 US) per night. It’s when you don’t want to spend that much that things get tricky, and why this Budget Hotel Guide should prove so useful to prudent travelers.
Before beginning, I didn’t know anything about these hotels or how good they were going to be, having never stayed in any of them before. For a decade, my standard practice had been to go super cheap at the San Va ($220), or spend a little more and choose somewhere much nicer like the Lisboa, Sintra or Royal ($600 to $800). I’d always assumed that hotels in the $300 to $550 range were only nominal upgrades over the San Va, and thus not worth paying the extra money for.
After finishing this guide in late 2019 though, I’ve come to see that the truth lies somewhere in between. While there are plenty of hotels that the San Va does beat, at least in terms of value, a handful of options do exist where spending an extra $100 or $200 makes a ton of sense.
In order to be considered for this guide, hotels had to meet 3 requirements:
- Rooms are available to be booked online
- Rooms cost between $300 and $550 MOP ($40 to $70 US) from Sunday to Thursday
- Hotel location is conducive to easy sightseeing
By conducive to easy sightseeing, I mean that no hotel has a truly terrible location, like the Victoria near the Border Gate or the Riviera, stuck halfway up Barra Hill. Similarly, all hotels around the Macau Ferry Terminal were excluded, including some with casinos like Jai Alai, Golden Dragon and Casa Real. So even a hotel with 1 Location Rating doesn’t make it horrible or unlivable, just not as good as the rest. Besides that, sometimes the difference between being ranked a 2 or a 3 is walking less than two minutes around the next corner, so don’t sweat the Location rating too, too much.
All told, 28 hotels met my criteria, the vast majority of them situated around San Ma Lo and the Inner Harbour. As for Taipa and Coloane, only 4 made the grade, all of which are in Taipa: the Regency Art Hotel (beside Altira), the Inn Hotel and Asia Boutique Hotel (in and around Taipa Village), and the Pousada de Marina Infante (opposite Galaxy).
Here’s a chart ranking the hotels from best to worst, divided by the four tiers I’ve used in this guide.
Definitely only look into the hotels listed above, the ones below are not getting it done.
One thing I didn’t consider until nearly finishing the guide was the issue of heating, which came up after a cold unpleasant stay at the Kou Va. Macau buildings don’t have heat as a general rule although it’s probably needed from mid December until late March. If you’re on the road then, definitely inquire in advance if your hotel can provide a portable heater, as neither AC units nor central air systems keep much of anything (or anyone) warm then. Offhand, I’d wager that only the larger, more legit hotels will have them – in the smaller joints, no way.
Let’s start with the cream of the crop, the 6 hotels that I’d consider first before all of the rest.
MACAU BUDGET HOTELS GUIDE: MACAU HOTEL S
Visited: Thursday, October 31, 2019 Location: Inner Harbour by Praca Preta Square Price: $370
Among places to stay on the old Peninsula, I consider Macau Hotel S to be the greatest find of the Macau Budget Hotels Guide. Here we have a hotel that’s every bit as good as the Royal and Sintra, yet routinely costs half as much.
Why it’s not better known is beyond me, but it might have something to do with being formerly called the Best Western Sun-Sun for many years.
I imagine quite a few people heard that name and rejected it outright, their minds immediately flooded with bad memories of 1984, of post hippie families out on road trips in green and beige Volares, drinking stubby beers listening to Asia. (Okay, maybe that was just me).
Anyway, dated hotels have dated names, but nothing is dated anymore at Macau Hotel S, and they’re even hip enough to host the Outloud International Street Art Festival, which turns the streets around the hotel into an urban art museum every October.
Some of it was really spectacular stuff.
As for the rooms, they’re simple, straightforward and spotless, and include a coffeemaker, hair drier and fridge.
Bathrooms sparkle as well, with bathtubs that actually have bath plugs, and a full assortment of clean towels and facecloths.
Contents in mini bar are free (4 bottles of water, 2 cans of pop, and 2 milk drinks) while the Wifi is excellent as well, fast and reliable.
Check-in at Macau Hotel S starts from 3:00 pm, and will always have a line. To that end, free calamari is offered to guests sitting in the lounge area around 2:45 pm, something that more hotels should probably do. I also really enjoyed talking to the Malaysian desk staff, who gave me a few tips about where to eat in the area. Unlike many of the other hotels that follow below, it wasn’t all just scowls, translation devices and one word sentences. There’s no need to pay a deposit either, which always makes check-in and check out go much faster.
As you can see from the ratings below, Macau Hotel S is almost a clean sweep of perfection. For only $370, the value is just ridiculous.
Location: 3 Check In: 5 Room Size: 5 Bed: 5 Cleanliness: 5 Wifi: 5 AC: 5 Water: 5 Noise: 5 Bathroom: 5
MACAU BUDGET HOTELS GUIDE: REGENCY ART HOTEL
Date Visited: Tuesday, October 22, 2019 Location: Taipa, By the Middle Bridge and Altira Hotel Price: $470
Formerly known as the Hyatt Regency, the Regency Art Hotel used to be one of Macau’s precious few 5 star hotels in the 1980’s and 1990’s. A top living option back then, it’s mostly an afterthought now, primarily due to its unfriendly tourist location in an unappealing part of Taipa that’s nowhere near the Cotai Strip or Taipa Village.
After my first visit in July 2017, I thought the hotel was an utter hole, as no one working there seemed to give a damn about anything. The spa was closed, the pool cordoned off, the playground and tennis courts in varying states of disrepair, while online reviews hammered home just how disgusting the breakfast buffet and mould infested bathrooms were. It appeared for all the world that the Regency Art Hotel was the second coming of its next door neighbour, the gross Greek Mythology, which had been Macau’s worst hotel bar none, before being shut down due to various health and safety violations in 2016.
However, we live in the here and now, and I’m proud to report that the Regency Art Hotel is back in the circle of trust. If you intend to sightsee and be outside for most of your trip, then by all means, stay at Macau Hotel S. However, if you want a resort type of experience with excellent outdoor pools, and the BEST free spa facilities in Macau, budget hotel or otherwise (I mean, they are just as good as the Ritz-Carlton), then book the Regency Art Hotel without thinking twice.
A leftover from the hotel’s halcyon days of the 1980’s, the spa is just to die for, rocking two hot tubs, one huge sauna, one cold pool, one steam room, and one relaxation room. And the best part is, you’ll probably have it all to yourself when you’re there!! (Simply because very few people know just how good the Regency Art really is.)
For more information about a hotel that definitely needs a second look, please follow the link to the Regency Art Hotel review.
Location: 1 Check In: 2 Room Size: 5 Bed: 5 Cleanliness: 5 Wifi: 2 AC: 5 Water: 5 Noise: 5 Bathroom: 5
MACAU BUDGET HOTELS GUIDE: EAST ASIA HOTEL
Date Visited: Wednesday, October 16, 2019 Location: 5th of October Street Price: $375
I’m sure quite a lot of people will people will live at the East Asia for a night or two and then forget about it the next day. Others, such as yours truly, will be affected in a way that’s perhaps disproportionate to the experience, particularly if they happen to like old things.
Simply put, the East Asia is not from, for, or of this era, yet continues to be outstanding nonetheless, even when it doesn’t have to be.
Allow me to explain. Most of the old Chinese hotels around San Ma Lo clearly threw in the towel years ago (think Kou Va, Man Va, Hou Kong), and decided to only give 25%. Perhaps they’ll keep things fairly clean but that’s about it, with no efforts paid toward providing guests with a nice comfortable experience, especially in terms of amenities, furnishings and fixtures. Thus you’re left with shoddy distressing rooms in various states of despair that no sane person ever wants to return to, where one visit is always one too many.
The East Asia is completely different though, and perhaps the only hotel of its kind still left in Macau. Built way back in 1920, it’s history in motion, it’s the past flourishing in the here and now.
Those vibes started right at check in with a man who’s probably been working the front desk for 30 years or more; his manner professional, efficient and to the point, yet courteous and respectful at the same time. The restaurant adjacent to the lobby was a mad cacophony of Cantonese and diners delighting in dim sum, no doubt the darling dive of locals who pack the place everyday, and have been doing so since 1981.
After getting my room key, I proceeded up to the sixth floor. Upon leaving the elevator I noticed another small desk right beside the door. Perhaps decades ago, each floor had its own dedicated bellman who was stationed there, or maybe it was a second place to check in? If anyone has any idea, I’d love to know the answer.
A typical and very traditional Chinese style room, it was so bare bones basic that I was totally into it just because of that. Of course, had the tables, chairs and cabinet been third rate dumpster diver debris, or the carpet stained, the walls marred by mould etc, then the East Asia would be on another list altogether. As it was, and I don’t really know why, they actually adhere to standards and keep them strong, something their counterparts gave up doing at least a decade ago.
The wooden furnishings were especially good, with nary a chip or scratch anywhere, looking recently purchased and brand new.
The bathroom was in great shape too, large and in charge, with a big bitching bathtub and enough space for two people to get busy and do their thing.
In terms of negatives, the Wifi was very unreliable making it difficult to stay connected, while I wouldn’t count on rooms being very warm during winter, so definitely try other hotels then. No free water was given, just the dreaded Chinese kettle that I will never go near. Why anyone in the world would ever drink water hot is beyond me, and that goes double during Macau’s pernicious punishing nine month summers.
Location: 4 Check In: 5 Room Size: 3 Bed: 4 Cleanliness: 5 Wifi: 2 AC: 4 Water: 0 Noise: 5 Bathroom: 5
MACAU BUDGET HOTELS GUIDE: GRAND HARBOUR HOTEL
Date Visited: Tuesday, October 8, 2019 Location: Inner Harbour, No 8 Lin Mao Lane Price: $335
Unlike 85% of the places that in this guide, the Grand Harbour Hotel actually looks and feels like a real hotel, with a proper lobby, front desk, elevators and service staff. The rooms are as large as any in this guide, while bathrooms come equipped with large bathtubs, but no bath plugs…. I even called the staff for one but they said they didn’t have any.
No matter, just stuff the hole with soap and toilet paper, then cover it up with the kettle lid, and you’ll be in like Flynn.
Apologies for the pictures looking as bleak as they do, but the rooms in real life really aren’t that dark and dingy!
With a small fridge, kettle, and hair dryer, the amenities were excellent while the Wifi was a monster too, fast and stable throughout. The bed wasn’t super soft, but not horribly hard either, just somewhere in between, so be prepared for that.
Some might find the noise from the road outside to be a little bothersome, and the location is a little out off the way too, by the Inner Harbour in close vicinity to Camoes Park. A walk to Senado Square, for example, might take 15 minutes, so while it’s not exactly tourist central, it’s not utterly horrible either.
The only downside about Grand Harbour was check in, which was handled poorly by a surly gruff Filipino woman. She made it sound like speaking English was a chore for her, even though hers was perfectly fine. She asked for a $500 deposit, more than the room cost itself, which has to be a first in the history of the travel industry. I told her I’d give her $200 because that’s all I had, which she quickly agreed to. I mean, talk about bad first impressions, asking for $500 and then taking less than half two seconds later is not a good look at all, I don’t care what country you’re from.
All check-in issues aside, I’m behind the Grand Harbour with everything I’ve got. You will not find larger rooms anywhere in Macau for only $335 per night, making it the best value for money option in this Macau Budget Hotels Guide.
Location: 2 Check In: 1 Room Size: 5 Bed: 3 Cleanliness: 5 Wifi: 5 AC: 5 Water: 3 Noise: 3 Bathroom: 5
MACAU BUDGET HOTELS GUIDE: SAN TUNG FONG COMMERCIAL INN SOUTH WING
Date Visited: Thursday, September 26, 2019 Location: San Ma Lo Price: $415
I knew right after stepping into my room at San Tung Fong that I’d found a winner.
Opening in 2018, the word here is “new” and every part of the hotel is still in pristine condition, looking less than a day old. Bathrooms are especially impeccable, with big towels and a very good faucet, sink, and shower head.
In fact, it’s so nice that it wouldn’t look out of place in a 5 star hotel.
Rooms aren’t especially large, with most space occupied by a huge bed that is super comfortable, the sheets so soft and scrumptious that I wanted to lay in them forever. The flat screen TV was also quite big, while other amenities included a small fridge and hair dryer. Besides the fact that water only amounted to two free bottles, I don’t have a bad word to say about San Tung Fong.
Desk staff spoke brilliant English during the day, and while the night staff’s could use some improving, they smiled, tried their best and were very cute while doing so.
Excellently located right on San Ma Lo, San Tung Fong Commercial Inn figures to be a top budget option for the next 3-4 years at least. So long as the standards for cleanliness don’t slip, it will come with my full endorsement.
Location: 5 Check In: 5 Room Size: 2 Bed: 5 Cleanliness: 5 Wifi: 5 AC: 5 Water: 3 Noise: 5 Bathroom: 5
MACAU BUDGET HOTELS GUIDE: CARAVEL HOTEL
Date Visited: Tuesday, November 26, 2019 Location: Inner Harbour, By Fifth of October Street Price: $515
Foot for foot, inch for inch, the Caraval boasts the nicest rooms in this Budget Macau Hotels Guide.
Named after the legendary sailing vessel that piloted the Portuguese through their glorious Age of Discovery, central design themes include pictures of ships, street tile and scenes from day to day to Macanese life; in my case, the kitchen from Niu Ji restaurant about 20 years ago.
As nice as that all looks, it was the little things at Caravel that impressed me more: the above average Couvent des Minimes toiletries; the free almond cookies, juice and tea; the smartphone that guests can take around town to always stay connected.
The bathroom was pretty narrow and would have benefitted from being a touch bigger overall, but as I said above, the toiletries were all first class.
A fairly new hotel having opened in late 2017, everything at the Caravel is still in fantastic condition, in particular the chairs, lamps and clocks, the overall quality of which have no business being in a budget guide.
The Wifi was excellent throughout and the bed was another one I could sleep in forever, 10 times better than the one in my own hovel of a hole, um home, in Zhuhai. Check in was no Chinese special (fortunately) and the location is perfect, directly opposite the Inner Harbour by the Sofitel and Hou Kong Temple.
Pure class through and through, the Caravel is a touch nicer than Macau Hotel S in every area, with bonus marks given for it being a lot more “Macanese”. Higher grade rooms have bathtubs and balconies, and if you book through their website, breakfast is included as well. For a few extra hundred Mops, that’s not a bad deal at all, especially if you’re travelling in a group of 3 or 4 people.
Location: 4 Check In: 5 Room Size: 4 Bed: 5 Cleanliness: 5 Wifi: 5 AC: 5 Water: 5 Noise: 4 Bathroom: 4