by Kristy Alpert
Las vegas has played a Starring role in its fair Share of seedy capers and Debaucherous bachelor Party movies, but the city’s real-life personality proves that you can’t judge a city by its film credits. Behind the city’s flashy facade and cinematic bad boy reputation, Sin City is actually a heavenly haven for five-star dining, A-list shows and the world’s most luxurious hotel rooms.
The city has grown tremendously since it began as a small railroad town in the heart of the Mojave Desert centuries ago. Today Las Vegas is a shining jewel in the state, bringing in more than 42.3 million visitors per year to its perfectly manicured streets and sidewalks. The city boasts more than 150,000 hotel rooms, more than 50 golf courses and more than 100 casinos, making it the ultimate adult playground and easily earning its nickname as the entertainment capital of the world.
From scoring a seat at a secret restaurant that takes VIP to a new level to navigating the city’s best tables and entertainment, here’s where the high rollers eat, stay, and play while in Las Vegas.
In Las Vegas, a hotel is rarely just a hotel. In fact, some of the city’s best hotels are actually better known for their gambling, dining, or entertainment experiences as opposed to their quality of hospitality and actual overnight experience. In terms of a standalone hotel, the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas (mandarinoriental.com) offers the brand’s signature white-glove service from check-in until check-out with the added benefit of being located at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. The hotel is part of the greater CityCenter complex (aria.com), and is directly linked to the Aria Casino and The Shops at Crystals, a chic retail and entertainment district. It is also within a five-minute walk from the brand new T-Mobile Arena which hosts the city’s biggest concerts, UFC fights, and sporting events from basketball to ice hockey.
If gambling is more of a draw, then the Wynn Las Vegas (wynnlasvegas.com) is the clear choice. Aside from an overwhelming amount of high end table games, slot machines, and some of the city’s best poker rooms, the casino at the Wynn offers a mobile sports feature that allows guests to wager on horse races and sports from anywhere in Nevada via the Wynn’s exclusive Race & Sports Book app.
The Cromwell Hotel (caesars.com) was Vegas’ first standalone boutique hotel and casino on the Strip, and continues to attract foodies with its proximity to the biggest names on Las Vegas’ culinary scene as well as housing Emmy-award winning celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis’ only restaurant in the world, GIADA. The petite hotel features 188 opulent rooms, and offers a true luxury experience with personalized service and an intimacy that is unrivaled in the city as well as VIP access into two of the city’s hottest nightclubs.
But the most luxurious hotel in the city is one that few visitors even know exists. The Mansion is the MGM Grand’s (mgmgrand.com) hotel-within-a-hotel concept, and it operates completely off the radar. In fact, despite being located within the nation’s largest hotel, the Mansion is completely hidden from outside view and has an unmarked gated entrance to its private motor court that is only used by the hotel’s fleet of Rolls Royce Phantoms that transport guests anywhere they wish during their stay. The hotel offers 29 oversized villas, each with its own full-time butler to attend to anything guests may need, and features a guest-only restaurant and pool. Rates are unpublished, as only “qualified guests” are able to make reservations when calling the front desk.
CHEFS IN THE CITY
It may seem like every city is claiming to be a “food city” these days, but nothing can compete with the sheer number of celebrity chefs, high-end dining options, and creative culinary prowess that Las Vegas offers … in spades. Although the all-you-can-eat buffets are delightfully indulgent (try the Bellagio, bellagio.com or the Le Village Buffet at Paris Las Vegas), offering exotic and upscale cuisine in a wedding reception style manner with prime rib carving stations, foie gras appetizers, King crab legs on the salad bar, and freshly made mozzarella balls, the city offers the chance for diners to experience gastronomic greatness some of the world’s most celebrated chefs.
Award-winning chef Michael Mina operates four restaurants in the city, but his most recent addition to the Las Vegas dining scene is a lively bistro called Bardot Brasserie. Although his French creations feature his signature sweet finesse, the icing on the cake at his brasserie is not an actual dessert, but is instead an elegantly curated Champagne cart.
Almost every celebrity chef has come to the city to offer something unique for Las Vegas diners either on or off the strip, like Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s delicious Italian steakhouse Carnevino (carnevino. com), Guy Savoy’s exquisite tasting menus that remain his only American offerings to date, and Iron Chef Morimoto’s newest location in the MGM Grand Las Vegas. Even the grandfather of gastronomy himself, acclaimed French chef Joel Robuchon, opened a restaurant in the city, where he offers a stunningly sophisticated seasonal menu with a wine list of more than 1,700 hand-selected bottles.
Jose Andres made history in the city when he opened Jaleo (jaleo.com) the best Spanish tapas in the city prepared around an impressive million-dollar grill, but it’s his secret venture restaurant (ebyjoseandres.com) that has the Vegas insiders buzzing. Located through a discreet side door of the main restaurant, this exclusive restaurant is setting new standards in molecular gastronomy. The restaurant is miniscule for Vegas standards, and allows only 10 people inside to witness this culinary masterpiece. Diners need to make a reservation at least three months out, where they will be given a “golden ticket” once they are selected for the dining experience.
UP ALL NIGHT, PLAY ALL DAY
It’d be a sin to talk about Las Vegas without mentioning its gaming scene. Caesar’s Palace has long been the best bet for an opulent gambling experience with its Roman facade and high-limit games, but the MGM Grand has recently taken over with its impressive 170,000 square feet of gaming space and exclusive skybox experience for betting on sports and races. While poker and blackjack may seem like the obvious choices for table games, true high rollers stick to baccarat, and there’s no better place for the game than The Wynn Las Vegas, where table minimums hit $100 in the low-limit areas.
Beyond gambling, Las Vegas is a playground for adults, with sexy lounge pools, award-winning golf courses, and high-end bars and clubs. Spend the morning exploring the essence of golf’s origins at the Royal Links Golf Club (royallinksgolfclub.com), where eleven different Open Championship rotation courses await with some of the most challenging and stunning greens in the city, before heading to the Wet Republic pool (wetrepublic.com) at the MGM Grand to soak in some rays. The pool features a DJ booth, six VIP private dipping pools, and exclusive lounges where professional models hand out towels and serve icy cold refreshments.