Tried & Tested

Hotel check: The Cosmopolitan

3 Dec 2013 by Jenny Southan

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

The luxurious twin-tower Cosmopolitan hotel opened in December 2010 and is one of the few Las Vegas properties to provide rooms with balconies for the majority of its guests.

It is also one of the most desirable, contemporary places to stay, with everyone I spoke to saying it was the “best hotel in town”.

Unlike many other properties, its 9,290 sqm casino on the ground floor is relatively small, and assuming you are getting dropped off in a car, you don’t have to walk through it to get to the Rockwell Group-designed reception, which is a plus.

The back entrance is always busy with people queuing for cabs and valets, and once inside the lobby, the lines for check-in can be long – this is a hotel with almost 3,000 rooms, after all.

But for me, first impressions were good – in addition to being able to check-in in the peaceful VIP room, there were eye-catching digital art installations in the public areas that changed throughout the day.

Sometimes the giant square columns fitted with 48 LCD displays showed old bookcases, while at other times times it was naked people in the mist, pressing up on the glass as if trying to get out. It certainly gave you something to look at if you did have to hang around.

As with every hotel in the city, the Cosmo is big – the aim being to create a world you do not wish to leave.

It has everything you could possibly want on-site – from swimming pools, gyms, shops, a spa, a salon and a sports lounge to bars serving more than 150 different cocktails, 13 restaurants, three floors of meeting and conference space, an ice rink in winter and pool parties in summer, an ice cream vendor selling liquid nitrogen sorbets, and a spectacular three-storey “inhabitable” chandelier dripping with two million crystals that drape various bars on the way down through the atrium.

By the end of the year, it will also have a new state-of-the-art entertainment venue called the Chelsea.

WHERE IS IT?

The Cosmo enjoys a prime location on the Strip, with street access for pedestrians from the front on Las Vegas Boulevard and from the side, by the Bellagio. There is also access via two elevated pedestrian bridges – one from the south crossing on Harmon Avenue, and a second from the east crossing on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Taxi/limo drop-off is from the back of the hotel, where even the tarmac sparkles. It’s just 5km from McCarran International airport.

ROOM FACILITIES

I was staying in a 57.5 sqm Terrace Studio with a 10 sqm balcony overlooking the Bellagio fountain and the fabulous Las Vegas Strip.

When I checked in, the first Terrace Studio room I had been assigned smelt strongly of cannabis, so I phoned reception to ask if they had another one they could move me to. The woman at the other end of the line didn’t understand what I meant at first, asking “It smells of canna-what?” The penny dropped when I said, “You know, marijuana, weed”, and she quickly sent someone up with a new room key. The second room smelt of raspberries, but that was preferable to dope.

Inside was a living room area with a couple of chairs and a coffee table, plus a workdesk, a Samsung flatscreen TV, a wardrobe lined with black and white Fornisetti wallpaper, and a kitchenette with a kettle, microwave, sink and a well-stocked Sub Zero minibar.

A large marble bathroom featured a walk-in rainshower, separate tub, twin sinks and a glassless window looking into the bedroom that could be covered with a drop-down blind.

There was a heat wave in Vegas when I stayed so I was glad of the air conditioning as I couldn’t leave the balcony door open for fresh air during the night. The view of the Bellagio fountains really was a highlight though.

I found the bed to be a bit too soft but was impressed by how stylish the décor was for a Vegas hotel, with a pleasant palette of royal blue, grey and cream, and a distinct lack of gaudy patterning.

High-speed wifi was free, which was useful, and there was a safe and an iron/ironing board. Tablet computers also allow guests to pre-set their temperature, lighting and music preferences, but I didn’t use this.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

You’d need to stay at the hotel for a week, eating at least two meals a day, to try all of the restaurants and bars in the Cosmopolitan.

Renowned chef Jose Andres has China Poblano, which fuses Chinese and Mexican street food for brunch, lunch and dinner, while Jaleo is his tapas outlet. For seafood, there is Estatorio Milos and Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar and Grill, while Comme Ca is a French brasserie, and DOCG is an Italian enoteca serving more than 500 wines.

There is also a branch of STK – the popular steakhouse that also resides in New York, Miami, LA, Atlanta and London.

I had brunch (served from 8am-2pm) one day at Wicked Spoon, which is a massive, chaotic, school canteen of a place serving up every kind of food imaginable, buffet-style. It was a bit overwhelming, especially as I am indecisive at the best of times.

Another day I ate at Overlook Grill (open seasonally, reopening again from March 2014), which looks on to the Boulevard Pool and has outdoor seating, which is rare for the Strip. The food is pretty average, with the exception of the “monkey bread”, which is incredible – a gooey mess of soft brioche balls, pecans and toffee.

The final place I tried was Holsteins (holsteinslv.com), for lunch. It’s a glorified burger bar, but one that does have a wildly varied beer menu – Fat Tire, Brothers Thelonias, Hobgoblin, Dogfish Head 90-Min IPA? They have them all.

It also specialises in sinfully sweet alcoholic shakes such as the Frozen Grasshopper with peppermint, chocolate, Crème de Menthe and Van Gogh chocolate vodka. There are 15 different kinds of burgers, including the US$28 Billionaire, made with Kobe beef, port onion marmalade and truffle mayo.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES

The second, third and fourth floors of the hotel accommodate 14,000 sqm of event space with seven ballrooms (hosting 5,297 people in the in largest) and 46 meeting venues. The fourth-level Boulevard Pool can also be privatised for parties of up to 3,000 people.

There is a 24-hour business and technology centre and the option of themed catering.

The Chelsea is a brand new 3,700 sqm split-level performance venue that is due to be unveiled in December 2013. It will have fixed seating for 753 guests, VIP boxes and a floor capacity of 2,566 delegates theatre-style.

LEISURE FACILITIES

If you are in Vegas on business, it is unlikely you will have a huge amount of downtime, but if you do have a few hours free, there is a lot to entertain you at the Cosmo. In addition to two modern fitness centres (one in each tower) with Technogym equipment, there is the 4,000 sqm Sahra spa and hammam with 16 treatment rooms (though guests need to pay extra to access this area).

There are also three outdoor pools, with Marquee Dayclub laying on hedonistic pool parties in the summer, and the Bamboo and Boulevard pools providing luxurious cabanas on which to while away the hours with buckets of cold beer. Partygoers can also revel at Marquee Nightclub.

As well as vending machines selling gadgets, souvenirs and even unique miniature works of art (at Art-o-Mat), there are dozes of boutiques throughout the property, from All Saints Spitalfields to Retrospecs and Co.

This isn’t the best hotel in Vegas for gambling, as despite there being 9,290 sqm of gaming space, there isn’t as much choice as at other casinos and the stakes are consistently higher than average.

It’s as classy as you are going to get, though, so have a flutter at one of the blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat or Let it Ride tables if you feel like it. There are also 1,478 slot machines.

VERDICT

An impressive, well-designed luxury hotel on the Las Vegas strip that will suit any business traveller (particularly ones with hedonistic leanings). The Cosmopolitan offers everything anyone could possibly need, and somehow manages to avoid being overly tacky, which is an achievement for Sin City. The new Chelsea concert hall will be an added bonus when it opens at the end of 2013.


FACT FILE

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 2,995 rooms including 708 City rooms (43 sqm), 882 Terrace Studios, 177 Terrace suites, 845 Terrace One-Bedroom suites, 247 Wrap-Around Terrace suites, 11 two-storey Lanai suites, City suites, ten three-level Bungalows overlooking the pool deck of Marquee Dayclub and four West End Penthouse suites on the 70th floor. (To reserve the Bungalows and Penthouses, call +1 855 435 0005.) 
  • HIGHLIGHTS Views of the Bellagio fountain and Strip from large balcony, hip contemporary design and emphasis on art, free wifi, VIP check-in/check-out and cutting-edge new event space.
  • PRICE Internet rates for a City room started from US$207 in January.
  • CONTACT The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, 3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South; tel +1 702 698 7000; cosmopolitanlasvegas.com


Jenny Southan

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