“Boutique hotel” may not be the first idea that springs to mind in Las Vegas, land of the 5,000-room megaresort. But with the opening of SLS, Delano and The Cromwell in the last year, the boutiquification of the city is well underway. It is worth noting, however, that while Nobu and Cromwell, each with fewer than 200 rooms, adhere fairly closely to the traditional boutique idea—in general, “boutique” is more an aesthetic than a measure of size here. SLS, a remake of the old Sahara, weighs in with more than 1,600 rooms and the Delano (formerly THEhotel at Mandalay Bay) has 1,100—but both are comparatively small compared with behemoths like the Venetian/Palazzo and Wynn/Encore complexes. Most importantly, however, in contrast to pre-recession days when megaresorts were being built and scrapped (we’re talking about you, Fontainbleu), you might even call the movement toward boutiques in Las Vegas environmentally responsible—another term you might not associate with our city. The newest small boutiques are products of adaptive reuse. Others are boutique hotels-within-hotels.
Right off the casino floor in 4,000-plus-room Caesars Palace, star chef Nobu Matsuhisa opened his first hotel within what was the old Centurion Tower. His own restaurant anchors the sanctuary, created by natural materials like walls of mixed wood tiles. The 181 guest rooms combine grass cloth, natural Umi tiles and an unconventional nod to the flowing ink brushwork of Hitsuzendo on the walls – though all those natural touches belie the high technology that runs it all. Special elevators deliver guests straight to their own floor without stopping. Perks include: ordering Nobu in-room dining 24/7, contacting housekeeping via an app on your smartphone and getting your own sushi chef (in some suites that come with sushi bars). Recently opened: 18 suites, including a 4,350-square-foot Nobu Penthouse, in which you can eat, sleep and dream Nobu. The new 10,300-square-foot Robert DeNiro suite has a 4,700-square-foot terrace and some of the best views on the Strip.
Sky Suites at Aria
While Aria’s main hotel is massive—4,572 rooms and suites—its very separate Sky Suites, with their separate indoor and outdoor entrances to the hotel and casino, are the best way to have an exclusive experience and also steps-away access to Aria’s many attractions, including restaurants like Bar Masa, Julian Serrano, and Jean Georges Steakhouse, among others. Aria’s other superlatives, such as its 80,000 square foot spa and salon, its great public art collection, and walkway access to the luxurious Shops at Crystals are as close or far away as Sky Suites guests would like them to feel. The dramatic suites themselves start at 1,000 square feet and top out at 7,000, and come with all the extras: Hermes amenities, in-suites saunas, complimentary hybrid limo service to and from the airport, and even iPads and laptops.
Once the Barbary Coast, and Bill’s Gamblin’ Saloon, it was always a mystery why this prime piece of real estate facing the Bellagio fountains stayed so seedy so long. Happily, after a $186 million makeover, the 188-room hotel was reborn as The Cromwell, with some nice features, like one of the best small cocktail lounges in the city, Bound By Salvatore, in its lobby; a spectacular rooftop pool and club by Victor Drai, and nice little perks like complementary coffee and flavored waters on guest floors. Giada, the restaurant that anchors The Cromwell, is a definite scene – and spendy at that – but guests get to channel Giada di Laurentiis’s breezy California-meets-Hamptons-meets-Italian countryside lifestyle, and the retractable windows that open to let in the spectacle of those fountains can’t be beat.
Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas
For those who love to be sequestered—and pampered as formally as possible – the 392-room Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas is a beautiful ode to elegant Asian touches (designed by Adam Tihany) and solemnly perfect service – even the valets hand you your ticket with both hands and a slight bow. Nothing has been overlooked, from the delightful Shanghai Tang toiletries, to Frette bathrooms, to a not-to-miss high tea on the 23rd floor. The intimate 23rd floor Mandarin Bar is one of the most elegant rooms in which to end a perfect evening out.
SkyLofts at MGM Grand
MGM’s 51 luxury, two-level Skylofts—29 floors over the Strip—have a private entrance, their own gallery foyers, sweeping staircases, butler pantries, and billiard rooms. Book the two-bedroom with a bi-level patio and plunge pool looking over the Strip, and you’ll feel as though you’re in a villa miles away from the Strip. The suites come with some of the best amenities around: multiple in-bathroom televisions, spa butlers delivering “color therapy” baths (to your infinity-spa tub). And if you do book, you’ll be picked up from the airport in a Rolls–Royce Ghost limo and guided through your own VIP entrance where your private butler will attend to your every need. Standout dining spots such as Joel Robuchon have wisely been left alone, and SkyLofts guests have preferred access to all the nightspots and restaurants, including the Cantonese-themed restaurant and nightclub Hakkasan.