Review written by Sophie Couard, on november 24, 2015.
The legendary Lisboa casino was inaugurated in 1970 by the famous Stanley Ho, the Chinese casino magnate. For years it has been one the most famous gambling establishments in Macau and probably even in all of Asia. This massive complex is like a city within a city, with extravagant kitsch, a fantastic hotel, eleven restaurants, four floors of shops, a spa and several different casinos. Unfortunately, I cannot help but think that the Lisboa has lost some of its charm in recent years. In any case, you are welcome to find out more about the establishment and what it has to offer in our review.
Three different casinos and a slot machines room
As always, I will start my review by talking about the subject that concerns us most, namely the various games that are offered by the . However, before giving you more details, I would like to make one comment.
A high concentration of tables
When you visit the different casinos of the establishment it is a little bit like being taken back in time, before the year 2002, and the end of the monopoly of the SJM. Today, many casinos in Macau have organised their gaming spaces, in order to give players the opportunity to move freely wherever they like, without feeling suffocated by the crowd, which is not necessarily the case in older SJM casinos, and the Lisboa for example.
The main objective was to squeeze the maximum number of tables in the space to offer a maximum of games to the players. The result is that many people now may think that the environment is not really ideal for playing in peace. However, some people may also find that it adds a certain charm to the whole atmosphere. The atmosphere is rather special and even a little magical. I think, a large crowd certainly makes playing the games more thrilling.
The main casino
The main Casino of the Lisboa is a magical place in Macau, and divided into two distinct areas.
Two stories for the public
The section for regular players is a little small, measured by modern standards. There are 95 game tables spread over two floors. However, what it is lacking in space is made up with style.
The dim lights are somewhat intimidating, and the main floor gives the impression of playing inside a cage with many black pillars that look a little like prison bars. There are also twelve dragons displayed on suspended ceilings that show a strange combination of symbols and drawings. However, the games room with the tables itself is very surprising, and the room is definitely worth a look!
Two floors for VIP's
In addition to the games area for regular players, there are also VIP tables spread over the third and fourth floors. The rooms are decorated with a lot of wood panels and gold leaf, which makes them look very 1980s, and unfortunately it seems a bit dated today. However, most of the gamblers will be very pleased to hear that these two floors offer tables with very high minimum bets. In fact, the table minimum stakes are at least $2,000. There are even two tables where you have to bet at least $10,000 per game!
A great selection of classic games
It is no surprise that you can play a lot of the old school casino games at the Lisboa:
- a lot of dice games (fan tan, fish prawn crab and 5 different variants of sic bo),
- games that are very popular in China (3 card baccarat, baccarat and pai gow),
- Western classics (blackjack and English roulette).
The other games rooms
Besides this main casino, the Lisboa offers three other gambling halls.
Mona Lisa Casino
Hidden behind this name is the most sophisticated casino in the hotel. There are 20 baccarat tables with minimum bets from $50 to $1,000. You can also play blackjack at 5 other tables. The games room is accessible from the lobby.
Crystal Palace Casino
The entrance for the casino is at the Avenue Amizade. It has a basic decor with low lights and a style that is a little over-used now. You can find the following games there:
- 2 blackjack tables,
- 3 sic bo tables,
- 36 baccarat tables.
SJM Slot Hall
This room is accessible from the Lisboa games hall, and it offers 65 slot machines with a minimum stake of 2 cents, up to $2. You can also play at electronic baccarat and sic bo machines.
A curious and labyrinth-like complex offering many services
Playing at the Lisboa is very nice and the casino has a nice selection of table games. However, the establishment is not just a casino. It also offers many other services aside from gambling. It is a very curious and strange complex. The establishment is a maze, and you can discover many corridors, as well as restaurants and shops, and works of art are displayed everywhere.
A 5-star hotel
The Lisboa also has a 5-star hotel in a very baroque and quaint style. The design may be a little tacky, and I had to smile when I first saw the decor that blends traditional Chinese and tacky gold leaf decorations in the rooms. There are 927 rooms in total, divided into 3 main categories:
- classic rooms,
- luxury rooms with a view of the lake,
- royal suites.
The rooms are very spacious, comfortable and well equipped. The Chinese type bedding is excellent, but also very firm, and the rooms have magnificent marble bathrooms that feature a power shower and a fantastic whirlpool tub with a very nice steam function.
However, it is a shame that, despite the smoking ban, you can still smell a tobacco odour even in the corridors.
If I can give you some advice, I recommend you book a room in the tower, as they are spacious, clean and nicely furnished in an amazing neo-empire style.
On the other side, the service of the hotel is impeccable, and they staff generally speak very good English. Overall, the rooms at the hotel are very good value for the price.
Almost a dozen restaurants
The Lisboa has 11 different restaurants. However, I found that only six of them are actually worth to be mentioned. The establishment also does not list them on the website on in their brochure, so I will only mention these:
- the Guincho a Galera that is the first restaurant abroad of the Portuguese start chef Michelin Fortaleza do Guincho,
- the New Furusato that celebrates Japanese cuisine with a menu offering kaiseki, creative teppanyaki, sashimi and the highest quality sushi, as well as a fine selection of tempura dishes,
- the Portas do Sol that serves tasty Chinese cuisine based on seasonal specialties and a wide selection of Dim Sum,
- the Noite e Dia Café that offers a 24/7 buffet that brings together the largest selection of over 200 different dishes of Chinese and international specialties in Macao,
- the Gallery Lounge which is an ideal place to have a snack or a drink with friends, including a large selection of wines by the glass,
- the Tim’s Kitchen restaurant will delight your taste buds with seafood dishes and Cantonese specialties.
Great leisure activities
In addition to playing games, sleeping and eating, the Lisboa also offers entertainment. You have access to:
- a rather uninviting swimming pool that is unfortunately very crowded, and this should keep many people from using it,
- the Lisboa Spa by CLARINS is a very nice and quiet place to relax and relieve stress through a wide range of special and innovative treatments with essential oils for the body and to stimulate the senses,
- the renowned Lisboa Salon that is famous for hair cuts, hair care and nail care,
- a commercial shopping centre on four floors that has many shops for clothes, watches, jewellery, accessories, or even vegetables.
In conclusion, I have to admit that the Lisboa unfortunately no longer reaches the heights it had at its peak during the period from 1970 to 2005, when it became the landmark hotel-casino in Macao.
We must recognize today, that the establishment has not aged badly, but it is a little pale compared to the newer resorts of the Cotai Strip.
However, you should not write it off too quickly, as it is still a magical place that is absolutely worth a visit if you go to Macau.
The convenient location in the centre of the island on one of the most prestigious avenues is also a plus, but also its value, the tacky atmosphere, the exceptional bathrooms and wonderful restaurants turn this hotel into an excellent choice for your stay.
The casino offers a varied selection of games that will please the majority of players. In addition, it also offers games that are less common, such as fish prawn crab which is slowly disappearing in Macau altogether. There are 8 types of games spread over 95 tables in the main Casino of the Lisboa, which still is one of the best establishments on the island of gambling, especially in terms of variety of games.
In short, even if the establishment has aged, and is not as prestigious and impressive than before, the Lisboa remains a magical place in Macau!