How to be a high roller––or pinch pennies––at Vegas’ sparkly CityCenter
You’ve probably seen pictures of CityCenter, the gazillion-dollar development with three glittering hotels, a mammoth shopping center, and an art collection with enough
stars for a MoMA road show. But amid the hoopla and big names (Daniel Libeskind was one of the architects; Maya Lin among
the artists), there are bargains to be found—as well as totally worth-it splurges.
Part of the appeal of CityCenter lies in its un-Vegas-like restraint, as much as a 67-acre complex right on the Strip can be restrained: There’s no flashing neon, only one casino, and buildings are connected by walking promenades—definitely a novelty on the Strip. Get ready; it’s big. But whatever your budget, we’ve got you covered.
On the Strip but blissfully quiet, the casino-free Mandarin Oriental feels like an oasis. Many rooms have wraparound glass bathrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Strip—the yoga
mat in the closet is also a nice touch.
Rooms start at $295 (book online with code “Sunset”; 2-night minimum), though if you pony up more for executive digs, you get better views.
The modern, sleek rooms at Aria start at $149, but to avoid sticker shock, factor in the daily resort fee of $30, which grants you access to a dazzling gym
and lush spa. Guests can also get deep discounts and seat upgrades at Aria’s Cirque du Soleil show, Viva Elvis.
The Libeskind studio–designed Crystals shopping center has all the usual high-end suspects—Vuitton, Cartier, Tiffany—but some real originals too: Nanette Lepore for mouthwatering
dresses, Assouline for lush coffee-table books, and the cult lingerie shop Kiki de Montparnasse.
The 17 pieces of public art scattered throughout CityCenter (pick up a map at any building there) make up an all-star collection, with works by Julian
Schnabel, Henry Moore, and Claes Oldenberg and Coosje van Bruggen.
Nancy Rubins’s crazy/wonderful canoe sculpture (pictured) and a rainbow Frank Stella canvas lift any mood. Don’t miss Peter Wegner’s brilliant two-story artwork in the Vdara Hotel’s lobby.
The spa at Mandarin Oriental (888/881-9530) is totally transporting, with terry lounge beds overlooking the Strip and attendants appearing at your elbow with tiny cups
of tea. It’s open to nonguests for a $60 day-use fee, but treatments are spendy—massages start at $200.
Sundays through Thursdays, nonguests can use Aria’s spa (877/312-2742) for the $30 resort fee. There’s the expected sauna and steam bath, but the ultra-cool salt room and hot-stone beds make you
feel like a VIP without having to pay for a treatment.
At Vdara (pictured; 702/590-2474), $50 gets you into the spa and pool, but the better deal is to get a treatment (say, a $30 manicure), which comes with access.
For total over-the-topness, check out the restaurants in Aria, where you can pack in a meal from practically every boldface chef in town—Michael Mina, Masayoshi Takayama, Jean-Georges
Silk Road (702/590-2030), in CityCenter’s Vdara Hotel, does a no-holds-barred breakfast (about $50 for 2) with a brioche French toast that is—and we’re not overstating matters—transcendent (we think it’s the cornflakes added for crunch).
Now this is mall food: Try the wood-fired pizzas (about $15 each) at Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina (702/238-1000) in Crystals. You can go hog wild with artisanal toppings like squash blossoms, burrata cheese, or pork soppressata.
Or make a meal out of the exquisite tapas (about $12 each) at Aria’s Julian Serrano (877/230-2742). Order the grilled white anchovies and tempura with wasabi foam, or skip the small plates and split a paella (about $60 for 2 with wine).