By E.C. Gladstone
Despite plenty of advance notice and digital renderings, when it comes to Las Vegas hotels, you can never tell what a new property or expansion is going to be like until you’ve actually walked through it, sat down to dinner, and spent a night in a room. I thought I’d said all I would want to about the Hard Rock Hotel’s expansion when I blogged about the new Paradise tower in September (Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel rocks anew). But the second new tower, HRH, is far from just more of the same; it brings to the property a level of style, elegance, class and sass that it has long needed.
Also designed by Mark Zeff, HRH tower shares the Paradise’s Anglo-inspired motifs but instead of dark and gothic, a standard suite here is bright and airy, in neutral tones — dun colored walls & bright white trim — with a serviceable wet bar at entry, a spacious L-shaped sitting area facing a center-room island with a flatscreen TV on each side (one for the sofas, the other for the bed) and a raised, puffy white bed.
Enclosed by smoky glass, the roomy bathroom area offers twin sinks, a deep soaking tub with offset spout, and a big shower stall with bench and optional waterfall/wand spray (aided by some of the softest (huge) Corinelli bath sheets I’ve felt in some time) — all making it very couples-friendly. Tech in this Las Vegas hotel room also includes a DVD player, two iPod docking options (AMX main touchscreen also has several music “jukebox” programs and resort information) and multiple lighting options. Big windows offer great views from high floors (though also sound from Vanity nightclub below).
Of the seven new penthouse suites in this new Las Vegas hotel tower, I think the most impressive are “Altered States” and “Living Art” — with features including
“Altered States” features a one-of-a-kind, specially programmed, interactive five-screen digital projection, which reacts to sound and people in the room. “Living Art” has lifelike moving nude portraits.
Just beyond the video-art enhanced valet and luxe VIP check in, the 40,000-square-foot new casino floor, which presents some of this Las Vegas hotel’s most impressive artifacts (from Sid Vicious’ chain to Otis Redding’s plane), shares the gothic-urban-sophisticated cool vibe, with muted music making it (in my mind) significantly more mature than the main pit — not to mention most other casinos. The small but open-walled high-roller lounge is exactly the kind of place where Daniel Craig’s James Bond would feel at home.
I’d say that Vanity, on the second floor, is the best nightclub in Vegas now, fitting textural design and multiple experiences in one relatively intimate space, including a sunken dance floor, cool lampposts for platform pole dancing, a fire pit-centered patio with bottle service cabanas and fantastic lighting and sound.
Located directly adjacent to Vanity, Reliquary Spa is a “water sanctuary” with a distinct difference. Carrying over the property’s gothic English inspiration, the centerpiece co-ed bathhouse is a dramatic respite that invites social interaction. The spa menu offers several intriguing treatments, including rooms and packages for larger parties, and also serves several adjacent spa suites. Outside is an espresso bar offering everything from healthy breakfast treats to specialty cocktails.
There are other recent additions to the overall property also worth highlighting:
The new John Varvatos boutique, offering an impressive rack of mint condition vintage vinyl and analog stereo equipment, finally brings some real rock and roll to the rock and roll casino (oh yeah, they have cool mens clothes, too).
After a few months of operation, Rare 120 has come into its own as a solid creative-comfort-food steakhouse, with a spacious bar lounge, masterful meat, and the rare manager who actually touches tables (don’t miss the tuna/hamachi poke, mushroom pot pie or bacon creamed spinach).
Last but not least, the Love Jones boutique — one of the first lingerie shops in a casino — continues to be among the best of its kind in town. Last time in there, selections included vintage-inspired black satin sets and knit pasties. Not gonna find that at Victoria’s Secret!
Insider Tip: If the Hard Rock’s dining options don’t appeal, directly across Paradise Road, the new Ferraro’s Italian location has amazing Osso Buco and a huge late-night small plates menu (until 3 a.m.). The well-regarded Origin India and the Hofbrauhaus are also nearby.
Veteran entertainment and travel writer E. C. Gladstone writes regularly on top Strip entertainers, restauranteurs, moguls and behind-the-scenes players for many local and national publications and Web sites. Like many Las Vegans, he sleeps only when absolutely necessary.