Eighteen months ago, wagering on the success of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas resembled the sort of long shot fit for only the heartiest of gamblers. Situated right in front of CityCenter, the property began as a condo-hotel during the Vegas real estate boom.
Like other developments around town, it ran into serious trouble. By January of 2010, it had been taken over by financier Deutsche Bank after builder Bruce Eichner was foreclosed on. When the Wall Street firm announced Plan B-turn it into a luxury casino resort-would-be condo owners were up in arms. Things looked messy and unlikely to pan out as Vegas worked through a grim season.
Sometimes, though, as every gambler knows, the longshots come in beautifully.
As 2010 melded into ‘11, all naysayers were proven wrong. The just-opened hotel was packed with celebrities and high-rollers. The casino rocked, Dom Perignon flowed, and, at an opening night party, guests gorged themselves on Beluga caviar. On stage in one of the ballrooms, Jay-Z and Coldplay led the countdown to midnight. Soon after, Jay-Z implored his moneyed audience to "raise your diamonds in the air." It could have been a metaphor for the Cosmopolitan itself, which emerges as a perfect playground for gamblers in search of an innovative, high-energy option that falls comfortably in between the youth-appeal of the Palms and the lushness of the Wynn. In the process, the Cosmopolitan comes off as something unique and necessary in Vegas.
The property is cool, elegant and artful. Its lobby, like no other on the Strip, has been tricked out with floor-to-ceiling columns that contain computers inside and high-definition monitors on the outside. Videos that range from edgy to evocative unfold on the monitors and continually nudge the vibe of the room. Happening bands, rather than cheesy cover acts, play in the hotel's cocktail lounges. One weekend after the opening, Best Coast—a terrific, fuzzed-out, low-fi act from L.A.—went at it in the Book & Stage, situated alongside the casino.
More rarefied experiences are to be had in the three-tiered Chandelier Bar, where you can spend a night on the second floor, ensconced by strands of crystal as you waste away on excellently mixed cocktails (shaken in the terse, Tokyo style) and puff cigars. Rather than going after predictable, big-in-Vegas chefs, the folks behind the Cosmo have made thoughtful and with-it restaurant choices: an outpost of New York's beloved Blue Ribbon, a pair of innovative offerings from chef of the moment José Andres, and a carbon-copy of the West Hollywood favorite Comme Ca for terrific bistro-style fare.
The casino shines brighter and feels airier than other offerings in town, wildly successful Tao Group runs the main nightclub Marquee, and this summer sees the launch of a pool club (also run by Tao), which is going to have luxury bungalows for overnight stays. On one side of the townhouse-style pads will be the regular, raging waterfront bash; private Jacuzzis will adorn the other side.
For those of us in more standard accommodations, balcony fronted rooms offer unparalleled views of the Bellagio's famous dancing water. Snag a one-bedroom suite and you can soak in a deep, Japanese-style tub that looks out on a great, glistening slab of the Strip. The only big quibble here is the lack of a poker room, but Aria and its card den are just a short walk away.
As Las Vegas slowly regains its footing, Cosmopolitan is a welcome addition that offers something a little different for those of us who like glitzed-out action with our gambling.