The addition of a chapel in 1740 gave the fort a name for its present incarnation, the Pousada de Sao Tiago (St James), but only recently has the Pousada attained its apotheosis as an exclusive, super-luxury boutique hotel of just 12 suites, developed within a historic complex of World Heritage significance. Just to reach reception you have to climb stone stairs and walkways through the 6-m (20-ft) thick walls, and do it again to reach your room.
All the suites look out over the harbour and most of them have balconies. Their decor is wilful colonialist, an updated Portuguese/Chinese fusion if imported mahogany furniture, marble bathrooms, hand-made (and frankly bizarre) chandeliers, sections of openwork Chinese screens and carefully placed antiques. It’s a clever use of the surrounding history, and extremely comfortable. Even outside, sunbathing on the poolside law screened by century-old banyan trees, the Pousada is an enclave of tranquility cut off from the languorous but noisy city. At a time when Macau’s other important hotels are getting ever more frantic in association with the colossal and growing casino trade in Cotai district, the Pousada’s restrained, neo-Old World style is at a premium. It may not be at the centre of the city or the action, but it’s a perfect base for both. It represents the best of Macau.