Star bars

These city hotels offer great spirits and soul

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  • The Bambuddha Lounge's Asian-influenced chic extends to its drinks and dinner menu.

    Star bars

    Noah Webb

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We present four picks among the West's top hotel bars.

Santa Monica, Veranda Lounge, Hotel Casa del Mar: Beauty at the beach
Casually gorgeous, the Veranda pulls off the trick of drawing A-list Hollywood types without intimidating the rest of us. Toward dusk, you look out to the sunset-softened Pacific and the neon whirl of Santa Monica Pier's Ferris wheel. Now, you think, I know why people move to L.A.

The crowd: Powerful middle-aged guys with shaved heads and carefully coiffed women in linen suits all working their BlackBerries. Also Bono, Keanu, and Julia ― or maybe just CPAs and dentists who look and dress astonishingly like Bono et al.

The drink: Lime on the Beach is a summer drink that works for all seasons. 1¾ ounces Hangar One Kaffir Lime Vodka, 1½ cups lemonade, splash of Rose's Lime Juice.

Sound track: On Wednesday nights, first-rate live jazz.

Where: 1910 Ocean Way; or 310/581-5533.

Las Vegas, Parasol Down, Wynn Las Vegas: Desert dreams
Vegas lives for the new and spectacular, and this surreally beautiful space (kin to Parasol Up in the casino above) is both. Inside, drink beneath a flotilla of umbrellas. Outside, terrace tables overlook Steve Wynn's Lake of Dreams, a misty, alluring 19,000-square-foot pool backed by a 40-foot-high waterfall and an artificial mountain dense with real pines. At night, moody lights play across the lake, and the waterfall becomes a video portal where projected snakes and showgirls writhe to the jungle beat. Tony Soprano, meet René Magritte.

The crowd: Visitors from Tokyo to Topeka, all of them dressed to the nines.

The drink: The lavender mojito and the sidecar are both first-rate, but the Tropical Dream is the big seller. 1½ ounces Cruzan Estate Light Rum, 1½ ounces pomegranate juice, 1 ounce pineapple juice. Serve with sugared rim.

Sound track: Whoosh of waterfall, plus thumping dance music that's vaguely hot, vaguely annoying.

Where: 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; or 702/770-7000.



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