If you believe the old adage, “bigger is better,” you probably have not tried checking into—or out of —a Las Vegas resort. Depending how you count, between seven and nine of the world’s ten largest hotels are here, and of these, almost all have over 4,000 rooms, with a couple over 6,000. Vegas is also home to more than half of the world’s 40 biggest hotels, and the “smallest” still have over 2,500 rooms. As you might expect, this can lead to extreme dysfunction at peak times, with roped off check-in counters resembling a busy airport, baggage that takes over an hour to arrive in your room, 45-minute queues for taxis, valet parking breakdowns, and room service meals that arrive after you’ve fallen asleep waiting.
Fortunately there is a much better way to do Vegas lodging without spending your vacation waiting in lines, at an entire second set of smaller – and often largely unknown – luxury properties. These include five Forbes 5-star winners—more than any other U.S. cities except New York and Los Angeles. Most are actually boutique hotels within the much larger casino resort mega-campuses, but in nearly every case they have separate VIP-style check-in and concierge areas and often a completely different entrance where getting a cab is a snap. Many add amenities like private pools, spas, additional dining options, and even bells and whistles like butlers, and in the case of MGM Grand’s over the top Mansion, the single most luxurious lodging in Las Vegas, unlimited complimentary transport around town in a fleet of new Rolls Royce Phantoms. Several luxe hotels, including better suites in Caesars Entertainment owned properties (Cromwell, Nobu) and all of the top MGM Resorts-owned hotel within hotel products (Mansion, Skylofts, Sky Suites, Hotel 32, Villas at Mirage) include roundtrip limo airport transfers.
All of these Las Vegas luxury hotels have nicer rooms than their giant Strip neighbors, and some forego the notion of hotel rooms altogether, like the residential apartment-style duplexes that comprise Skylofts or the freestanding villas and bungalows of the Villas at The Mirage, one of many such secret “hotels within a hotel” hidden on Las Vegas Boulevard. The one notable exception on this list is the new Cromwell, which is the only deluxe standalone boutique hotel on the Strip, and doesn’t need a separate entrance or check-in desk, because it only has 188 rooms and operates like a luxury hotel should – for all its guests (read a detailed review of Cromwell here). But even the Cromwell, which offers benefits like nicer rooms, complimentary champagne happy hours, and VIP access into two of the city’s hottest nightclubs, is part of the Caesars empire and thus allows guests additional benefits and access across the street at Caesars Palace and its other large casino hotels.
This side of Las Vegas luxury lodging offers the best of all worlds, better rooms and much better service, but still with easy access to all the other things people go to Vegas for, the shows, dining, nightlife and of course, gambling. Even the more traditional name brand luxury hotels here, the non-gaming Four Seasons and 5-Star Mandarin Oriental, are part of larger casino campuses bursting with amenities, Mandalay Bay and City Center respectively. While some visitors like the more resort-style suburban properties, Like M Resort in Henderson, Lake Las Vegas or the JW Marriott in Summerlin, this list is for the visitor to the city itself, and for those wanting the full Las Vegas immersion experience, these are 10 Most Luxurious Hotels.
Wynn Tower Suites
Steve Wynn’s twin resorts, Wynn and Encore, are attached at the hip by their shared casino floor, and boast the greatest total of Forbes stars under one roof on the planet, a staggering 60, including two 5-Star hotels, The Wynn Tower Suites and Encore Tower Suites, both with 5-star spas, plus ten more 4-Star awards for lodging and dining. Other than the style of décor, the Wynn and Encore sides of the complex are very similar, each with a top tier spa, and guest preference often comes down to proximity to particular eateries. Each half boasts a separate all-suite boutique luxury hotel known as the Tower Suites, with just under 300 units. The main difference is that the two share a private pool with cabanas, and it is located at the Wynn Tower Suites, a potential decision maker for pool fans. Wynn Tower Suites has a separate driveway entrance and taxi stand, dedicated lobby with check-in desk and concierge, its own lobby bar, and rates include breakfast. Rooms are residential in feel and bathrooms have soaking tubs and separate walk-in showers, with first-rate spa toiletries. This is also the only resort in the city with its own onsite golf course, a Tom Fazio design ranked in the nation’s Top 100. Photo: Barbara Kraft
The Mansion (at MGM Grand)
There is simply nothing like the Mansion in Las Vegas – or anyplace else. The massive Florentine-style property is attached to the nation’s largest hotel, MGM Grand, yet completely hidden from outside view or access, with an unmarked gated entrance and private motor court. Because guests get unlimited chauffeured transport in Rolls Royce Phantoms, including the airport, not even taxis are allowed in. The Mansion contains 29 huge villas, an enclosed 125-foot atrium, walled gardens with pool, its own guest-only restaurant, and guarded entrance into the rest of MGM Grand. Every villa has a full-time butler, bathroom with jetted tubs and walk-in steam shower, and is decorated with original fine art, while many have private full-sized swimming pools, hot tubs, gourmet kitchens, wet bars, wood burning fireplaces, private gyms, beauty salons, baby grand pianos, media rooms, and more. Photo: MGM Resorts
Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas
The only standalone Forbes 5-Star hotel in the city, the Mandarin Oriental is a self-contained high-rise urban luxury hotel with fantastic staff, service and concierges. It is one of the very few hotels in the world to accomplish a triple sweep of 5-Star awards, including its lavish spa and fine dining eatery, Twist by Pierre Gagniare. But it is also part of the 76-acre City Center development, giving guests easy access to the vast array of shopping in the high-end Crystals Mall, the large upscale ARIA casino, Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana show, and tons of dining options from a Todd English pub and Bobby Flay burger joint to a star studded fine dining lineup that includes Masa, Julian Serrano’s Tapas, and Michael Mina’s Bardot. There is an outdoor pool deck with hot tubs and private cabanas on the eighth floor, and the 392 LEED Gold certified guest rooms are among the finest in the city, sleek with Asian-inspired design.
Nobu Hotel (Caesars Palace)
This 181-room boutique hotel is the first of several planned worldwide by celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa, located right in the bustling heart of huge and iconic Vegas resort, Caesars Palace. It lacks a separate entrance, but has a private check-in area within its secure express elevator vestibule, and functions as a Zen-like oasis while giving guests immediate access to Vegas action, just steps from Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill, the sports and race book, poker room, and luxury Forum Shops mall. Rooms are much nicer and completely different from regular Caesars’ rooms, featuring sitting areas, contemporary Asian decor with black lacquer furniture, and oversized Japanese bath house-style bathrooms with enormous walk-in showers. Mini-bars feature high-end sake and Japanese craft beers, and the hotel houses the largest Nobu restaurant on earth, which also supplies room service, and as result, guests can order the only Nobu breakfast on earth. The huge indoor/outdoor Nobu Villa is one of the top VIP high-roller suites in the city.
ARIA Sky Suites
The all-suite Forbes 5-Star Sky Suites hotel occupies a dedicated tower attached to the ARIA Resort, and contains 442 suites and 16 even swankier Sky Villas. The suites all include dining areas with wet bars, home entertainment centers, and whirlpool tubs. The hotel tower has its own gated driveway and private lobby with VIP check-in, concierge, fast valet and taxi access, plus a guest lobby lounge with complimentary refreshments and snacks. There is a secure connection into the heart of the Aria casino, with easy access to all the shops, dining, nightlife and shows. All Sky Suites guests receive included roundtrip airport transfers in limousines. Photo: MGM Resorts
Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas
The first true luxury hotel in Las Vegas, this original hotel-within-a-hotel concept opened on the top floors of Mandalay Bay in in 1998, but just finished a $30 million renovation, including complete redo of all 424 guest rooms. The feel is more like other Four Seasons worldwide than Vegas glitz, with a separate porte cochere entrance and white glove service throughout. Rooms are elegant with high quality finishes and large deluxe bathrooms with separate soaking tubs and walk-in showers. The hotel has its own deluxe spa, in addition to the two others in the rest of Mandalay Bay, as well as a private pool with service, while Mandalay Bay has one of the biggest pool complexes on the Strip, including automated waves for surfing, sandy beach and waterside outdoor gambling. The Four Seasons contains two of its own restaurants, Verandah, a hip indoor/outdoor lobby bar and café, and Charlie Palmer Steak, while a direct secure connection into Mandalay Bay adds one of the city’s best variety of high quality dining, including Aureole, Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood and Michael Mina’s Stripsteak.
Villas At The Mirage
The latest addition to the hidden world of Las Vegas “hotels within hotels,” the villas were previously not available for rent, and only used a freebie for high-rolling gamblers – or in Vegas parlance, “whales.” Last year the Mirage re-launched them as a boutique hotel, unique on the Strip in that they are part of an outdoor complex with separate gated entrance and VIP check -in. All guests get roundtrip limo transfers from the airport, butlers, free access to the Mirage spa and Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden, preferential tee times at Shadow Creek, the number one rated golf course in Nevada, and VIP admission to the 1 Oak nightclub. Accommodations consist of villas and lanais. The larger villas start at 2 bedrooms, spanning 7,000 indoor and outdoor square feet with private pools, backyard putting greens and outdoor living space with misters, music, flat screens and covered dining. Inside are living and dining rooms, whirlpool baths, fireplaces and extras like iMac computers, iPads, Molton Brown amenities, Creston automated home control systems, and fully stocked complimentary refrigerators. The lanais are similar but start at just one bedroom and a still very generous 2,650 square feet, and have the same amenities – minus the putting green. Photo: MGM Resorts
Encore Tower Suites
Steve Wynn’s twin resorts, Wynn and Encore, are attached at the hip by their shared casino floor, and boast the greatest total of Forbes stars under one roof on the planet, a staggering 60, including two 5-Star hotels, The Wynn Tower Suites and Encore Tower Suites, both with 5-star spas, plus ten more 4-Star awards for lodging and dining. Other than the style of décor, the Wynn and Encore sides of the complex are very similar, each with a top tier spa, and guest preference often comes down to proximity to particular eateries. Each half boasts a separate all-suite boutique luxury hotel known as the Tower Suites, with just under 300 units. The main difference is that the two share a private pool with cabanas, and it is located at the Wynn Tower Suites, a potential decision maker for pool fans. Encore Tower Suites has a separate driveway entrance and taxi stand, dedicated lobby with check-in desk and concierge, and rates include breakfast. Rooms are residential in feel and bathrooms have soaking tubs and separate walk-in showers, with first-rate spa toiletries. This is also the only resort in the city with its own onsite golf course, a Tom Fazio design ranked in the nation’s Top 100. Photo: Barbara Kraft
Skylofts at MGM Grand
Skylofts is a Forbes 5-Star boutique hotel occupying the top floor of the larger MGM Grand. It has a separate, private entrance lobby and cab stand, with secure express elevators to the 29th floor lobby, where guests are greeted by their butler, who does the check-in procedure in the suite. There are just 51 Tony Chi-designed units, all of them two-floors with 24-foot high windows featuring electric blackout shades. Rooms are more like apartments, with very residential feel, and1-3 bedroom units start at 1,400 square feet, with deluxe amenities including billiard tables, Bang & Olufsen home theaters, offices, iPads, and high-end four figure Swiss Jura espresso machines. Bathrooms have oversized steam showers and whirlpool baths with chromatherapy lighting. Skylofts has dedicated concierges, five employees for each unit, a butler staff that unpacks and presses, and includes airport transfers. Photo: MGM Resorts
The 188-room Cromwell is the first standalone luxury boutique hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, and offers a refreshingly easy valet, cab access and front desk experience, with a friendly well-trained staff. Guests are greeted in their room upon arrival with a signature glass of artisanal house made sangria, French-style macaron pastries are the turndown amenity, and the General Manager hosts a twice weekly happy hour reception with free flowing Moet & Chandon champagne. Rooms are larger and better appointed than most standard hotel rooms in the city, with oversized walk-in showers (steam showers in suites) and standout toiletries. The hotel is home to Giada’s, the first and only restaurant in the world by television food personality Giada De Laurentiis, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and room service, and houses two of the city’s hottest clubs, Drai’s Beach Club & Nightclub and Drai’s After Hours. Both offer Cromwell guests expedited admission.
VIEW SLIDESHOW AT THE SOURCE: http://www.forbes.com/sites/larryolmsted/2015/03/09/10-most-luxurious-hotels-in-las-vegas