From the outside, the Cosmopolitan looks like any other generic glass-and-steel Vegas skyscraper. But inside, those video columns in the lobby will be programmed with works curated by New York’s Art Production Fund, Digital Kitchen, and the Lab at Rockwell Group. Along one side of the casino, the walls are covered in hand-stitched chocolate leather, while the dramatic centerpiece is a massive chandelier that conceals a three-story bar. The Cosmopolitan’s best physical feature is its verticality. Wedged into an 8.7-acre sliver of land, it packs all the requisite ingredients—100,000 square feet of gaming, a 32-room spa, 14 restaurants, three pools, shops, a nightclub—into two 50-plus-story buildings connected by several lower-rise structures. Unlike at some of its competitors, guests at the Cosmopolitan won’t need 15 minutes to walk from their rooms to their dinner reservations. Elevators are directly across from the main check-in desk, avoiding a bag-drag past dozens of blackjack tables. “The thing that was most challenging about the site may have been its biggest asset,” says Rockwell Group founder David Rockwell. “The space is more constricted, but you end up with more freedom.”
Another advantage Unwin has enjoyed: time. The Cosmopolitan began life in 2005 as a condo hotel—which explains why the bulk of the rooms are upward of 700 square feet, with balconies and kitchenettes—but the original developer defaulted in 2008. That gave the new owner, Deutsche Bank, the opportunity to adapt to the changing atmosphere. Instead of a lavish shopping center like CityCenter’s Crystals, Unwin is bringing in boutiques with a more casual profile and lower price points, such as CRSVR Sneaker Boutique.
Similarly, the restaurants—all new to Vegas—seem intended to establish the Cosmopolitan’s foodie street cred. “I love Le Cirque,” Unwin says, “but I prefer places where you can just hang out, even though the food is high-quality.” Chef and Food Network star Scott Conant will set up the fifth location of his sexy Meatpacking District spot, Scarpetta, as well as a wine bar. José Andrés will open a version of his Washington, D.C., tapas bar, Jaleo, plus a new restaurant that combines Mexican and Chinese cuisine. There will also be outposts of Blue Ribbon Sushi (the cult New York restaurant from the Bromberg brothers) and Milos Estiatorio (Greek seafood in Manhattan, Athens, and Montreal). Even more in tune with the hotel’s urban vibe is a “secret” pizza parlor, which won’t be promoted, but will instead be lying in wait—a discovery for those in the know.
The plan is to keep Cosmopolitan’s room rates competitive with hotels such as Aria, Wynn, and Bellagio. But in an age when it’s easy to find a deal offering a room on the Strip for less than a C-note, some observers fear the Cosmopolitan will start drawing customers from party-hearty off-Strip hotels like the Palms or the Hard Rock—frat-boy types unlikely to appreciate the Fornasetti wallpaper lining the closets or the intricately carved sandstone walls of its desert-themed spa.
Unwin is confident that the Cosmopolitan’s point of view is distinct enough to attract a sophisticated crowd. “The times are really ripe for something different,” Unwin says. Indeed, the hotel is set to be the city’s last major opening for a few years, which means it will become the standard for what happens in Vegas next.
Doubles from $199.