By Jonathan Evans
The mention of Macau tends to call to mind oversized, ultra-flashy casino hotels, big-name integrated resorts, or grandstanding showpieces like The Parisian Macao, with its opulent re-creations of French iconography, including a half-size Eiffel Tower.
Photography: The Parisian, Grand Lisboa (Right)
From the perspective of comfort and guest amenities, it’s hard to find fault with such palaces of plush as The Parisian or Grand Lisboa, with its pineapple-shaped golden exterior. But while these “premium-mass” temples to conspicuous consumption might appeal to high-rollers, they offer little individuality. if you’re looking for more a homey residence with character and guest-oriented service, there’s a far more alluring side to Macau’s hospitality sector.
Photography: Grand Lisboa, Regency Art Hotel (Right)
The five-star Regency Art Hotel’s sea views make guests feel far removed from Cotai’s gamblers’ paradise, yet it’s also a short stroll to central Taipa. The Mediterranean design creates a welcoming ambience, with its warm tones and plentiful outdoor space, while contemporary art adds a 21st-century touch to the timeless interiors.
Photography: Grand Coloane Resort
Further south in sleepy Coloane, refined offerings cater to those seeking a quieter break. Grand Coloane Resort, whose sloping architecture descends towards a central pool, has plentiful amenities and mod-cons, but its real USP is the far-flung location: it’s the only resort on Hac Sa Beach. Pousada de Coloane is another hotel making a virtue of its seclusion – concealed within a forested hillside, it overlooks Cheoc Van Beach and the South China Sea – and is set near hiking trails, nature walks and Coloane village. Classic European flourishes abound in the guestroom furnishings and terrace restaurant’s ornate lamps.
By way of contrast, the most recent addition to Macau’s ever-expanding skyline is Morpheus, an extraordinary project from the practice of late British architect Zaha Hadid, whose façade is like no hotel anywhere. Informed by traditional Chinese jade-carving, its interlocking lattice patterns are built around a steel exoskeleton, with three central openings dividing the hotel into twin towers connected by a skybridge. Befitting the building’s ultra-modernity, and its eponymous inspiration (Morpheus is the Greek god of dreams), the minimalist interiors bring a new level of chic to City of Dreams, with every detail meticulously selected for optimum sensual pleasure. While such avant-garde refinement – complete with world-class restaurants and ultra-luxe pool villas – comes at a significant price, the uniqueness of the experience makes it worth the splurge.
Hotel Guia might not be the swankiest address in town, but its eye-pleasing form – an accordion-like shape gradually ascending the street, opposite the fortress of the same name – and dead-centre location make it an offbeat choice in the peninsular area. This unlikely conflation of old and new is the only boutique hotel in Macau’s Unesco heritage area. Night owls wanting to party won’t even have to step outside; Hotel Guia comes with its own nightclub, while the leafy rooftop looks out on to the renowned lighthouse.
Photography: Guia Hotel, Altira (Right)
Another hotel with an unusual design and its own nightlife options, Altira ratchets up the luxe factor in the heart of Taipa with views to match. The 38-storey cylindrical exterior encloses a series of lavish interiors dreamed up by locally born design luminary Peter Remedios – who also worked on Morpheus – from the scarlet-tinged 38 Lounge, a rooftop music bar exuding style, to Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant Ying. The indoor pool, voted by Forbes Traveler as among the world’s top 10, serenades swimmers with underwater music.
Photography: Rocks Hotel
Back in boutique-world, the beautiful Rocks Hotel, a short walk from the ferry terminal, is ideally situated for visitors from Hong Kong but will also delight European guests with its pastel-ly furnishings, Victorian-era design details, staff dressed in period outfits and Portuguese cuisine. Perfect for weekenders seeking comfort and class without the bank-breaking bling, this Wes Anderson-esque address in Fisherman’s Wharf even comes with its own rooftop bar looking across the water.
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