Inside Macau’s new Zaha Hadid-designed Morpheus hotel, much more than just a casino

Inside Macau’s new Zaha Hadid-designed Morpheus hotel, much more than just a casino

The Chinese gambling centre’s latest hotel is also its most startling. The extraordinary design, top dining options and art make the hotel well worth a visit.

Where is it? Take one Iraqi-British architect, a Greek god, a brace of French chefs, a son of Stanley Ho Hung-sun, a couple of sterling designers, and mix well together with a billion US bucks. Hey presto, casino! The result is Macau’s latest, and most startling, hotel; Morpheus by name and fairly revolutionary by nature.

Abutting – but really rather superior to – the rest of the City of Dreams, on the Cotai Strip, the hotel’s 772 rooms, suites and villas are wrapped up in the world’s first aluminium exoskeleton-bound high-rise, an extraordinary structure not least for the free-form figure-of-eight punched through its midriff.

Developed by Melco Resorts & Entertainment, which is headed by Lawrence Ho Yau-lung, Morpheus makes a fitting epitaph for its late designer, Zaha Hadid, and doesn’t so much raise the bar as propel it into orbit when it comes to imaginative accommodation.

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Presumably, in a hotel named after the god of dreams, the sleeping is good. Absolutely. First off, the villas – six duplexes and three with private pool – are by invitation only, so the chances of a common-or-garden punter lolling about therein are fairly slim.

The remaining rooms and suites (the handiwork of interiors wunderkind Peter Remedios) are another matter: the “rounded-rhomboid” baths are fun, likewise the supersized mini­bar (creative chocolate, treats, beers, fine wines, champagne). Just about everything you might want to open or close or turn off or on (bar the bathroom taps) is controlled by iPad. Tap away on that screen and the cur­tains will swish closed and block out the floor-to-ceiling panoramas over Strip, city and sea.

What’s the eating like? Talk about a trump hand. Two restaurants by Alain Ducasse, a Chinese fine diner and a Pierre Hermé patisserie in the lobby, which at 35 metres high is fairly impressive in itself. At Alain Ducasse at Morpheus, the French master sticks to what he knows best (Gallic classics with a twist), but he takes an ambitious stab at Asian cuisine in Voyages by Alain Ducasse.

Last and very much feast, omakase Yi hovers on a sky bridge linking the hotel’s two towers. Needless to say, the interior design at each restaurant is as arresting as whatever’s on your plate or in your glass, and the staff shimmer back and forth in duds by Hong Kong couturier Barney Cheng Siu-leung.

Is there much to do beyond the casino?Several high-end boutiques open onto the lobby, but there’s free entertainment to be had riding the beam-me-up-Scotty, glass-sided, panoramic lifts, which overlook the hotel’s central atrium. The restaurants and the club lounge are set on higher floors, as is the spa, pool, fitness centre and an art gallery that has pulled in works by, among others, Kaws, Jean-Michel Othoniel and Thilo Heinzmann; even if the names are unfamiliar, their art might ring a bell.

The spa features half a dozen suites, an amusingly gimmicky Snow Garden and “butlers” who can advise on treatments. The pool, on the 40th floor, is open to the sky but is surrounded by the same exoskeleton that covers the hotel’s exterior, making for some intriguing reflections.