From high-roller apartments co-designed by David Beckham to a 1:1 replica of Big Ben tower, The Londoner Macao is a fun, full-on tribute to jolly old England. We checked in.
EVERY TIME I VISIT MACAU, I find myself newly amazed at how many countries can fit in this one little special economic region. Upon my arrival at the airport, an immaculately tailored butler of the British style shuttled me in a spiffy new limousine the 20 minutes to the new Londoner Macao, where we pulled up at an entrance driveway that looked remarkably familiar — “That’s right sir, it’s modelled on the edifice of Victoria Station,” the butler informed me. Next to this stood a 1:1 replica of 96-metre Elizabeth Tower in Westminster, the structure known to most as Big Ben (though actually, that’s the name of the clocktower’s bell — fun fact, old chap).
We entered the lobby and night turned to day.
The space, which the hotel calls its Crystal Palace, was bathed in illumination of a wattage that 1800s English electric lighting pioneer Sir Humphry Davy could scarcely have conceived. At its centre sat an homage to Piccadilly Circus’s Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, complete with gilt statue of Anteros, a popular backdrop for Weibo and WeChat snaps.
The sense that I’d taken a trip to a theme park called WEE BRITAIN (wink to you Arrested Development fans out there) was only enhanced when performers — dressed as Victorian gentlefolk, ‘Bobby’ coppers and bearskin-hatted Beefeater guards — emerged from alcoves around the walls and began putting on an enthusiastic dance show.
As the West End-inspired razzle-dazzle continued, I was shown to the elevators — sorry, lifts — and ushered down a hall, past a life-size bronze statue of Shakespeare, to my room. The Londoner is an all-suite property with around 600 keys. My accommodations were of the base ‘Louis & Victoria’ level yet nevertheless, at 75 square metres, offered ample space, with separate sitting room and bedroom, and a capacious bathroom, complete with tub. Indeed, we at T+L believe that hotels should be able to show us eternally spoiled travel writers to their standard rooms and still bat it out of the cricket ground.
While my tub came with a special gentlemen’s bath bomb to aromatically enhance my masculine ablutions, I chose to shower and was delighted to find the water pressure exemplary. It seems the hotel’s designers chose not to emulate London’s frightfully iffy plumbing. Quickly toweling off, I sent my wife a message to let her know I’d arrived safely and was enjoying the pleasures of a couple of tarts that had kindly been sent up to my chambers.
I know what you’re thinking, but no, of course, these were not the sort of tarts of the apocryphal backstreets of Soho! They were instead the custard and pastry variety, for which Macau, this former Portuguese colony, is renowned. This first delicious morsel was, as it turned out, indicative of the continuing dining experience — food at The Londoner is excellent, proving to be of a consistently high standard across an array of restaurants of different styles, formality levels and culinary provenance.
Those who, like me, abstain from gambling will find plenty to keep them occupied on the F&B front at The Londoner Macao. (Tip: the wonderfully gentlemen’s clubby Churchill Bar is a must-visit, and the modern Cantonese fine dining at Pin Yue Xuan is well worth the trip across the road to Italianate sibling property, The Venetian.) The players among us, meanwhile, may be lucky enough to be granted entrée to the invitation-only David Beckham suites that occupy the hotel’s two uppermost floors.
Co-designed, and very elegantly at that, by the suave former England football captain, these lavish apartments are exclusively offered, at management’s discretion, to the highest of high-rolling VIPs. The biggest spans nearly 300 square metres — ideal for any gaming enthusiast committed to living seriously large. But as they cannot be booked, you’ll just have to try your luck, and let the chips fall where they may.
www.londonermacao.com; starting rate for Louis Suite MOP 5,598 per night for 2 adults.
Writer’s note: My ersatz English experience wasn’t supposed to begin until I’d arrived in Macau for a stay at the British-themed Londoner Hotel. But from the moment I took my seat on the Macau Airways flight out of Singapore, I was filled with memories of the four years I spent residing in the British capital, some two decades ago.
When I asked the flight attendant for a refreshment, I was informed that they only had warm beer, like so many English pubs. In-flight entertainment consisted of one television program that everyone was forced to watch — echoes of the ‘Hobson’s choice’ provided by UK TV broadcasting in the pre-digital era, so accurately parodied in National Lampoon’s European Vacation, where the only thing the Griswolds can find on telly in Britain is a documentary on cheese.
Fortunately, once I’d landed, cleared passport control and been greeted by my immaculately tailored butler from the luxurious Londoner Macao, these Dickensian privations were soon forgotten, and the experience took on a far more Belgravian flavour. Point being: however you get there, The Londoner’s royal embrace is as high-end cosy as a crackling fire in the great hall on Boxing Day.