On either side of the Aria Hotel and Casino, which serves as the heart of the new City Center on The Las Vegas Strip are two extreme opposite venues – the super luxe and small Mandarin Oriental hotel and the wanna-be glitzy and glam Cosmopolitan.
(Technically The Cosmopolitan is not part of City Center, but since everyone thinks it is, and it’s connected via sky bridge, I’ve included it.)
I think you can already tell which one I prefer, but they both serve completely different purposes.
High rollers should STAY at the Mandarin Oriental (as expected, room rates are pretty steep) and EAT at some of the best restaurants at The Cosmopolitan. If you read my review of The Aria last week, you’ll realize it provides the best of both worlds – nice rooms at an affordable price, unique restaurants from famous chefs, and a fun atmosphere with gambling and clubs.
THE DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH — The Mandarin Oriental
If you know about the chain, it’s no surprise that The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas is quiet, private and also pretty pimp. They spare no expense on creating a luxurious experience for the big spender who does not want to feel like he/she is in Vegas. It’s small and understated – upscale done right!
- Valets in top hats and cashmere walk you into a small casino-less lobby
- The real lobby is on the 23rd floor with huge floor to ceiling windows
- Minimal and modern Asian decor in hues of beige, brown, and espresso accented with red
- Rooms with external valet closets, a touch screen remote that controls everything, large tubs, the whole kit an caboodle basically
- 2 small restaurants with exceptional and food
- One of the best spas I’ve been to in Vegas – again, small with unique amenities and solid services
The MO wins in my book because you have privacy and peace you’ll only find at The Four Seasons Hotel (which is at the end of the strip) AND the great location of being dead center in the middle of the Vegas action.
A few pics from my tour to give you an idea.
I wish I had taken a picture of the valet, which is desolate in comparison to the other hotels. This bit of decor is tucked a way in the corner of the downstairs lobby.
On the 23rd floor, where you would check in, you’ll find the front desk, tea lounge, Twist (the fine dining restaurant), and the club (which I don’t remember the name of, but it was PUMPING when I passed by).
Twist, which is the main restaurant in the MO, was being prepped for an event while I was there (which is why I used a press photo). It seems lovely, but a little cold.
This is MOzen bistro which serves Japanese and Indian, both are fantastic!
I L-O-V-E-D the Indian curry and will attest that the best roll I’ve ever had in my life was here. Feast your eyes on (I forget their name for it) shrimp tempura, cucumber, avocado wrapped in soy paper, easy rice, with spicy tuna (like they make in LA) on the top. OMGoodness!
Ok, the roll isn’t that photogenic, but you know what is…a room at this place!
Totally chic but still comfy – my favorite combo.
What I really love about the rooms at MO’s are the valet closets – a little closet that can be accessed from the hall so they can drop off deliveries and food without having to come into the room.
As I said, the spa was spectacular as well.
Above is the pool with submerged airbeds. When you lay down, bubbles turn under you to support you and contour to your body. Below are heated marble seats that overlook the strip.
They treated me to a facial which was fantastic. I liked the treatment rooms and staff better here than at The Aria. The darker atmosphere, smaller space, and decor made a big difference.
GLAM BAM THANK YOU M’AM – The Cosmopolitan
As a friend of mine told me recently my standards are high. So keep that in mind when I tell you I think The Cosmopolitan is on the trashy side, it’s like the Hard Rock revamped and on crack. The whole venue has a cartoon sensation (see large shoe pic below), but inside you’ll find some of the classiest restaurants – just like Nobu at the Hard Rock.
This all sounds harsh, but that’s how I felt when I walked in the door just after leaving the beautifully modern and stark Crystals mall in The Aria.
BUT! Many people love the hyperactive character of the decor and the energy of the younger crowd. It’s a youthful, whimsical, I-wanna-be-a-billionaire Vegas.
My reason for going – the restaurants. I’m a huge fan of most of the national names you’ll find inside like STK, Comme Ca, Blue Ribbon Sushi, and Scarpetta. And many locals recommended Estiatorio Milos for unforgettable Greek.
Here are some pics I took, take a look and tell me what you think.
WTF? This giant shoe sums up the whole hotel for me. But the rest of my pics make it seem pretty cool. Which it is…just not my kind of cool I suppose.
The stores tailored my opinion of the Cosmo. As I said, I walked from the pretty Crystals mall in The Aria to find boutiques with questionable clothes displayed in their windows lining the carpeted hallways. You can’t really tell from this pic, but you just have to trust me on this one.
On to my favorite part, the restaurants!
While you wait for a table, you can sit at a bar (there’s one around every corner) or play foosball. Pretty cool!
The decor of the room doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It’s really random, no? But most have balconies (which is unusual) and kitchenettes!
As for the pools, I believe the party would be pumping all day long, but just like at The Hard Rock, I really want no part of the tatooed, Ed Hardy, I-wish-I-was-still-in-college, spring break crowd.
Leven says one of her favorite LA DJ’s spins at their club sometimes. No question in my mind that their club is one of the hottest spots on the strip right now.
Rereading my notes on The Cosmopolitan I beat this place up pretty good. It’s just not my cup of tea, but is a really the best example of a modern and hip Las Vegas.
My Bottom Line For The City Center
You can’t go wrong here. There are room rates, accommodations, and an aesthetic you’ll appreciate at every price point between The Aria, Vdara, Mandarin Oriental, and Cosmopolitan. Plus, it’s so easy to explore all of the different places because the compound is connected. If you do choose to stay elsewhere, you’ll absolutely want to come spend the day roaming around, eating, drinking, and gambling the day away.
So you’ve seen it all now through my eyes. What do you think? Have you been?
(Full Disclosure: A meal and spa service comped by Mandarin Oriental. Many thanks for the invitation.)