Living in LA, Vegas is only a hop, skip, and a jump away. Like many Angelenos, I find myself in Sin City at least once a year–if not two or three times–since it’s a less-than-an-hour flight, and the hotels, restaurants, bars, and shows are constantly evolving and expanding. Last time I was there, E. and I checked out Michael Jackson One – Cirque du Soleil and stayed at Caesars; this time, we finally caught “O” by Cirque du Soleil and stayed at an old favorite: Aria.
It sounds a bit funny to classify Aria–still a relatively new Vegas hotel–as an “old favorite,” but this was my third time staying there in fewer than two years. Each time, I’ve found more to love about it, and I left this visit firmly convinced that Aria is hands-down one of the only options in Vegas if you’re looking for a true luxury hotel experience.
Aria’s located in the heart of the strip, in the middle of the massive City Center which encompasses Aria, the Mandarin Oriental, Vdara, The Shops at Crystals, and Veer Tower, with people movers connecting you on either end to Monte Carlo and The Bellagio. Its central location means you’re never more than a few minutes away from the best of Vegas, much of it walkable. And Crystals is next-level shopping–think Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Gucci, and Versace–plus mouthwatering restaurants like Mastro’s Ocean Club.
Aria is also the largest LEED Gold-Certified hotel in the world, featuring smart rooms which automatically power up/down when you enter/exit. (Popular Mechanics called it “the most technologically advanced hotel ever built.”) It smells like warm vanilla, and the lobby is a feast for the eyes, with bright, swirling colors, giant indoor trees and plants, and an oversized kite installation.
Of course, all this flash means that Aria’s nobody’s little secret. With 4004 guest rooms, it’s one of the larger hotels on the Strip (not to mention in the world). So if you’re checking in at mid-day on a Friday or Saturday, you’d better be prepared to wait in a long line. E. and I turn into impatient brats when faced with massive queues, inevitably finding our way to VIP lines and doing our best to grease palms and bluff ourselves in. (You’d be surprised how often this works. Tips go a long way!)
Since this particular visit to Aria was graciously arranged by the PR, we felt comfortable going into the Invited Guests queue, which was dramatically shorter than the endlessly-snaking main check-in line.
Aria is divided into two towers, and like most Vegas hotels, you have to flash your key to make it past the security guard. We were jazzed to be upgraded to a suite on a high floor, and once we’d stashed our bags, we ran around the room exclaiming at all the little technological touches. By this point in time, they’re amenities you’re likely used to–the ability to check out via the TV, electronic blackout curtains, large flat-screens, iPhone charging stations and docks–but so many hotels still don’t offer these benefits. When you stumble across the techie upgrades, even if they’re expected, it’s still nice and very much appreciated.
And CHECK OUT our bathroom. Isn’t that one of the best bathtub views you’ve ever seen?
Obviously, I had to lounge in the tub while doing a Kiehl’s Rare Earth Pore Cleansing Masque on our last night. You know: to wash the Vegas out of my skin.
Aria features 16 restaurants, including Julian Serrano Tapas, BARMASA, Jean-Georges Steakhouse, and American Fish by Michael Mina. E. loves tapas, so we ate dinner at Julian Serrano and both fell in love with it. Keep in mind, I’m not the world’s biggest tapas fan–sharing food gives me agita and makes me feel like I’m going to leave the table hungry, and when in Vegas especially, I normally gravitate toward steakhouses or Italian for big, hearty meals–and even I was wowed by Julian Serrano. (Gazpacho is my crack, and Julian Serrano’s was the best I’ve ever tasted in my life.)
Aria also features a particularly scrumptious buffet (called, um, The Buffet) that includes all you can eat crab legs and an epic dessert station, in addition to next-level buffet food like fresh naan, made-to-order pizza, Asian dim-sum, a taco bar, and oodles of delicious sushi.
While staying at Aria, I walked next door to Vdara and experienced a massage at ESPA, a two-story zen temple with one of the prettier relaxation rooms I’ve seen. Two years ago, I did a spa tour of Vegas and drooled my way through several of the city’s top offerings. ESPA at Vdara rivals any of them and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.
Room prices vary wildly depending on whether you’re there during the week or on a weekend: I just did a quick price search and a Deluxe King Room for a Sunday night stay is currently on offer for $133/night. That same room skyrockets to $721/night for Friday.
Pound for pound, Aria offers one of the best Vegas experiences, bar none. If you’ve been wanting to check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
For some reason, this blurry, ghostly snap is one of only two photos of me at Aria on this trip!
Thanks to Aria for a wonderful stay!
Disclosure: While my one-night stay at Aria, meal at Julian Serrano Tapas and The Buffet, and spa treatment at ESPA at Vdara were complimentary, as always, all opinions remain my own.