Every Hongkonger knows that life in our crazy, fast-paced city wouldn’t be possible without the occasional getaway. That’s why we’re bringing you “Suite Staycation“: a monthly review of some of the finest hotel suites in Hong Kong and Macau. Rated upon the quality of accommodation, F&B and perks which we experience — not to mention on pure “wow” factor — our new column brings you in-depth analysis on where to spend your hard-earned dollars when it comes to taking some well-deserved R&R.
Swinging open its glass doors officially late last summer after long awaited anticipation, the appeal of Morpheus is mostly attributed to its pioneering design by the late Zaha Hadid. It’s a designer hotel with swish designer digs, from its one-of-a-kind exoskeleton structure (the first ever in the world to boast such a composition) to its Peter Remedios-designed interiors. Stepping into the lobby is like stepping into a hive-like cathedral of the future. The welcome is tinged with equal measures of sci-fi and elegance, with its impossibly high atrium ceiling and red plexiglass elevators bobbing up and down across two towers. It’s almost jarring to step into a hotel in Macau that’s not blinding you with garish gold trim or some kind of colour-changing water feature in the centre — truly a breath of fresh air.
Already, Morpheus’s brand of minimalist elegance and pure ‘wow’ factor right from the second you arrive is not something we’ve seen along the Cotai strip. Even the name itself — Morpheus, named after the Greek god of dreams — instills a sense of mythical wonder.
Coinciding with the opening weekend of a landmark Ferrari exhibition as well as the launch of Elekron, sister property Studio City’s newest entertainment spectacle, the lobby of Morpheus was absolutely buzzing, even when I checked in late on a Friday evening. Chinese tourists, South Korean tour groups, shoppers and families all stopped to stare at (and take selfies with) a ravishing white Ferrari 488 Pista Spider displayed as the lobby centrepiece.
Checking in wasn’t the most seamless procedure in the world, unfortunately. It took a tedious amount of time for the staff to check the ID cards of myself and my companion and swipe credit cards for security deposit purposes. They also managed to check us into a twin-bed Double Premier room instead of the Premier King room we had booked in for.
As we zoomed upstairs, the elevators boasted a fully digitised LED button panel, adding a futuristic touch to the hospitality journey. Looking below into the atrium, you notice the sheer amount of glass used to build the dome, and you can always spot harnessed men abseiling and clambering on top of the transparent surfaces, doing the constant polishing work. I spotted a gargantuan black KAWS sculpture on my way up, in the midst of diners and selfie-takers on the 23th floor — a gallery space with regularly changing collections on display, aptly named Art on 23.
Arriving finally in our Premier King room unscathed, I found that elements of art and architecture from around the hotel were echoed once again in-room — this fluidity of design was a stellar touch (although the way the headboard and the wooden panel behind it weren’t parallel had my OCD senses tingling). The long textured glass corridor hugging the bathroom welcomes guests into the main area, a comfortable and light-filled 58-square-metre space that feels even more spacious due to the open layout that spreads seamlessly from bathroom to bedroom.
The open layout also lends for an ideal staycation with your beau: you get to chat across the room with your partner while you’re sat at the vanity in the morning, in the bath, or catching up on cable TV in bed. You don’t even need to get up to turn off the lights, thanks to the handy bedside tablet that controls all of the room’s lighting, the curtains, air-conditioning, plus allows you to order room service and any extra housekeeping or concierge services.
With a choice of pillows ready for you, 600-thread-count cotton sheets and a featherlight yet comforting down duvet, the oversized king bed offers ample space for five-star R&R. My favourite feature of the room was the massive bathtub, which could have easily fit three or four people. It’s a diamond-shaped masterpiece that was specifically tailor-made for Morpheus. My only gripe? The Apple TV didn’t work, so I couldn’t Netflix during my bubble bath.
You’ll soon find that the words of the same level of preposterousness would come out of your mouth during your stay, including “Oh good, Hermés body products.” On opening the bathroom drawers: “Ah, a Dyson hairdryer, of course.” I let out some happy appreciative sounds when I found Royal Selangor pewter rinse cups, felt the satisfying heaviness of Alessi silverware, spotted Zweisel crystal glassware and stemware in the mini-bar, and stole away a few Thé Labo artisanal tea bags. It was luxury and quality to the point where a Japanese bidet and a Nespresso coffee machine seemed like the very minimum requirement befitting such an experience.
At the same time, it felt like the brand names were a wonderful perk, but also a distraction from some systemic issues that kept cropping up, namely to do with service. With a hotel of such a large scale, hospitality felt inconsistently attentive and lax depending on who was helping you at the moment. Concerns were not followed up by the same staff or showed lack of communication in the team, such as with our room check-in debacle, or simply that people weren’t paying 100 percent attention — for instance, I had found a false eyelash in the teapot, which made me halt my tea-making immediately.
More than a beacon of architecture and design, Morpheus has also cultivated quite the following for being Macau’s newest culinary nucleus, particularly with the collaboration with Alain Ducasse and Pierre Hermé, two legendary figureheads of French cooking in the arenas of haute cuisine and patisserie, respectively.
Alain Ducasse by Morpheus is the hotel’s — and Macau’s — first formal outpost by the grandmaster, a shrine to the hallowed tradition of formal French dining. It’s a neoclassical French menu executed by head chef Pierre Marty, using European ingredients yet harmonising subtly with Asian and Macanese influences.
There’s also Voyages — Alain Ducasse’s much more convivial sibling. Whereas at Alain Ducasse you’re dining under Lasvit chandeliers, at Voyages you’re clinking Italian glasses under a gigantic painting of an octopus, surrounded by the uplifting pop of vermillion walls. A unique concept dreamed up specifically by Ducasse for the property, Voyages introduces a menu of freshened up bistro classics executed by Executive Chef Anthony Bacle, though during the opening stages, it seemed the emphasis was more on international influences on French cuisine. That concept seems to have since faded into the background.
Pierre Hermé takes centre stage with his eponymous Lounge in the lobby, holding court like a bird’s nest in the northern section of the hall for grab-and-go coffee, afternoon tea and lighter café fare throughout the day. If we didn’t already indulge in an in-room breakfast, we would have definitely enjoyed a croque monsieur or one of the pâtissier’s signature scarlet Ispahan cakes and macarons.
And on the note of in-room breakfast, it was nothing short of spectacular. Not your typical tray on the bed room service, Morpheus didn’t spare any expenses in investing in a specialty dining trolly that folds out onto a starched, white table-clothed dining table in the middle of your room. The server deftly opened up a food warmer in the centre and pulled out our mains: one American breakfast set with a perfectly smooth and airy French omelette, on request; and one Chinese congee and dim sum set featuring siu mai, a spinach dumpling, a turnip cake with chili oil, a spring roll, and classic soy fried noodles. This was accompanied by fresh fruit platters and an excellent pastry basket (the pain au chocolat was very on point), and coffee or tea. With the early morning sunlight filtering through the blinds, it was by far one of the most fabulous ways to start the day I’ve had.
We were excited to drop by Voyages for a happy hour tipple, enticed by the wallet-friendly negroni menu (MOP88 each!). We were told on the phone that happy hour started at 5pm, but when we arrived at 5pm we were told by the host that happy hour started at 6pm. Thus started a streak of raised eyebrows, but nevertheless, we stayed to explore their wider cocktail list. My Bijou (MOP108) a classic drink by bar legend Harry Johnson, was a lip-smacking and balanced blend of gin, vermouth and chartreuse, ending nicely with a herbaceous tang.
Even with the headiness of alcohol to potentially smooth things over, the continuation of service-related hiccups managed to sober us up. Wanting to continue to dinner, we weren’t allowed to order further happy hour drinks at the dining area, but we technically could order them at the bar and walk them over to our dining table, to be paid for under the same tab. A questionable rule created for the sake of having it, rather than sense.
Moving on, dinner at Voyages was executed beautifully, and outshone the previous mishaps: from the addictive, cheesy gougeres, fabulous bread, to the comforting and frankly perfect French onion soup, to the gorgeous duck from Dombes with orange to share, which was served as a smoky, unctuous roast and an accompanying tangy stir-fry with fennel. We were too stuffed for dessert, perhaps a good thing, because we made a plan to return another time for more.
Whether it’s the rooftop pool on the 40th floor (closed for winter during our visit), the state-of-the-art fitness club offering TechnoGym equipment and a virtual reality ICAROS trainer, or the steam- and sauna-equipped Morpheus Spa and Salon, there are plenty of options for wellness warriors looking for a break from city stress during their Macau getaway. The Spa touts relaxing ayurvedic aromatherapy treatments by Subtle Energies and beauty rituals by collagen saviour Margy’s Monte Carlo, both exclusive to Macau. Bookings were full the day I arrived, so I vowed to come back another time to try out the very reasonably priced treatments, starting from MOP1,280 for a 60-minute body treatment.
Outside the hotel, the new Ferrari: Under the Skin exhibition and City of Dreams’ latest headline entertainment spectacle, Elekron, provide some worthwhile diversion. Under the Skin features 10 of the rarest and most significant Ferraris in the world — including a reconstruction of the first-ever Ferrari. However, unless you’re a true petrolhead obsessed with the marque’s shining history, you’ll find the exhibition rather quick to finish. Similarly, unless you’re truly enthralled by zooming cars and daredevil acts, Elekron’s screeching automotive feats and burning rubber are dazzling at first, but can quickly get tiresome when paired with the cheesy storyline and slapstick, truthfully macabre humour. One comic act featured a woeful actor, crushed after the object of his affections has rejected him, and begins to feign suicide with his (fake) gun. Not the best example to set with a family friendly audience!
I found myself more drawn to the new Morpheus Boutique, which offers a long corridor of curated lifestyle products, from art and home decor to gifts and stationery. There are also a selection of fashion brands that are first in Macau, including Thom Browne, Proenza Schouler and Calvin Klein 205W39NYC.
Overheard on my shuttle bus back to the ferry on my way back to Hong Kong, a middle aged auntie was complaining about bad feng shui from Morpheus’ exoskeleton design. “It’s like a construction net!” she proclaimed. “This is a hotel for foreigners.” When we passed the massive moat and glimmering gold facade and gilded dragon sculpture of a nearby competitor, she seemed pleased. “Now this, this is something Chinese people want to live in.” I smiled, because of course, what does she know?
On the Cotai Strip’s slew of maze-like casino hotels each seemingly touting flashier and gaudier displays than the last, Morpheus stands out like a fantastic alien spaceship. It’s a reflection of Macau’s new generation of visitors — whether foreign or domestic — who seek less lurid displays of wealth, instead opting to tick the boxes off world-class art, culture, design and lifestyle offerings in a place they choose to stay. Yes, it’s still done in a rather showy manner, but compared to past trends it’s a step in an attractive new direction.
Despite a few moments of clunky miscommunication at Morpheus, the overall execution of its luxury offerings, particularly food and beverage and retail programmes make the whole experience larger than the sum of its parts. It’s certainly a worthwhile staycation spent to slow things down with good food, great relaxation, and not a slot machine in sight.
Morpheus currently has a “Morpheus Transcendent Retreat” package priced from HK$6,299 for two, including one night in a Premier King Room, a 105-minutes’ Morpheus Awakening treatment for two from the Morpheus Spa Signature Collection, as well as Club Lounge access and complimentary wi-fi.
Morpheus, City of Dreams, Estrada do Istmo, Cotai, Macau, +853 8868 6688