Budget hotels and accommodation in Macau is not a happy story. The city and its hoteliers have their eyes firmly on the high rollers who pull up every weekend, and most of the city’s new hotels are attached to casinos. While the room rates are fair for what these luxury pads offer, they aren’t cheap. At the bottom end of the market, there are also a good number of absolutely bargain bucket guesthouses. You won’t find a website, you won’t find anyone who speaks English, and you’re unlikely to find the place has been cleaned since the ill-fated Dutch invasion of the island back in 1622. They can be disturbingly hit and miss.
In between, there is a bit of a void. There are a couple of more acceptable guesthouses and hostels, a few of which are geared towards backpackers, and a handful of moderately priced 3-star hotels. The good news is that in the budget accommodation that does exist prices are very, very cheap and there is an increasing number of options, particularly in the 3-star category. Below you’ll find tips on when and where to book and reviews of what’s available in each budget accommodation category.
When to Go
Currently, capacity is always high in Macau; the roulette wheels are spinning faster than ever, and Chinese tourists frequently book out the city’s budget accommodation options. Weekends are basically block-booked when Hong Kongers wheel into town, so if you can swing a visit during the workweek you’ll find more options. Chinese New Year in January/February is a time to avoid as is the Macau GP in October, both of which tend to bring busloads of tourists.
When to Book
It’s no scoop to say it’s best to book early when it comes to accommodation, but as mentioned above, occupancy in Macau is high, especially in budget accommodation, so try and book early. If you are on short notice and on a budget, the massive casino resort hotels may be your only option, although you can always retreat to Hong Kong – less than an hour away by round the clock ferry. When it comes to guesthouses, ideally you need to see the room first, as some are little more than pits. Obviously, this isn’t ideal. Your only other option is to take a look at the properties we mention below and Google the merry hell out of it to be sure the guesthouse is reputable.
Places to Stay in Macau
Several of the city’s 3-star hotels are available to book online, and you’ll usually find the best rates through booking engines rather than booking direct. Guesthouses are a little trickier, and few have an online presence; even there email system can be a hit and mostly miss experience. Phoning is the best option. They should usually be able to rustle up someone who speaks English, and you should certainly negotiate the price. Try these sites below for online booking; even if you don’t use them to book, their live rates will give you an idea of how much money you’re playing with.
- TripAdvisor.com – This travel booking engine features the best of the city’s mid-range, three-star hotels and there prices and deals are better than the rates offered by the actual properties
- Hostelworld - Backpacker hostels never really landed in Macau, but there are a couple (literally 2) bookable online through Hostelworld.
There is precious little happening on the deals front unless you’re looking into the casino resort hotels. The best of what there is for budget accommodation can be found over at TripAdvisor.com, where they have regular promotions that can shake the price of a four-star down to the price of a three-star.
Probably the best news for budget accommodation seekers in Macau, the city has a number of cheap hotels and rates are fairly honest. Again, TripAdvisor.com has your best selection, which includes brand names such as Best Western and Holiday Inn. From the local names, the Grand Emperor gets positive reviews but is a little overpriced when compared to the competition, while the two-star Victoria Hotel offers cheap rates if little else.
Sometimes a beautiful colonial palace, sometimes a brothel and always a surprise, Macau’s guesthouses are the best place to find some budget accommodation, but they are also the trickiest. See our Guide to Macau Guesthouses for more information on what is a guesthouse and which ones to avoid.
Hostels and YMCA
There are a couple of establishments with hostel hanging over the door in Macau, but in reality, they are guesthouses. While it can be hard to seek out on the internet, the YMCA in Macau does run a bonafide hostel in its headquarters at No.3 Rua do Volong. Call in advance for bookings. There are no IYHF accredited hostels in Macau.
If you book in time, there is no reason you won’t be able to get a bed at one of Macau’s three-star hotels, and the prices are still very good. For those heading for the pocket change end of the budget, there are decent guesthouses available, it just takes a little work matching up your expectations to the right location. If you’ve booked too late or the guesthouses sound like too much trouble, remember you can always stay in Hong Kong. Macau is an easy day trip done in less than 40mins, and Hong Kong-Macau ferries run through the night.