Something of a stealth property in the world of the Vegas Strip, Cosmopolitan, owned by one John Unwin and Deutsche Bank has been talking big game since long before it opened, but then every property talks big game before it opens. And usually, it disappoints. So far it’s hard to say that about any aspect of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, particularly its many food and beverage venues, considered the focal point of the property. It would not be hype to call this place The First Foodie Resort.
Cosmopolitan turns a lot of conventional Vegas wisdom on its head right from the start—and you can expect it to be copied quickly. They aren’t the first to introduce daylight into the casino (It was Mr. Wynn), but they’ve taken the notion farther. Cosmo is right up against the sidewalk, with a true city-style glass front exposing the casino, a radical design gallery-store, restaurant, bar and even go-go dancers to the outside. When you enter, you’re faced not with clinging slots (though they’re to either side) but with the dramatic, energetic three-tiered Chandelier Bar, the property’s centerpiece. With different experiences—and even different signature cocktails—on each level, The Chandelier draws you up to the Cosmo’s retail, casual and formal dining on levels 2-3. They don’t seem to be worried that you’ll forget about the gaming.
The second level offers not only a smattering of smart retail—jewelry, swimsuits, Allsaints Spitalfields—and “casual” eats like Holsteins… but also a store called EAT which culls products inspired by the restarauteurs (again, an idea taken from Wynn but better executed) and a Japanese-style fancy kiosk “U tique,” vending everything you could wantneed on vacation, from Lady Gaga earbuds and Vosges chocolates to bronzer and sex toys. There are also, around another corner—and across from the Buffet–vintage cigarette machines restored selling pocket-sized artworks instead, $5 a pop (with better odds than the slots for sure). This is the kind of thing that’s so cool for Vegas that the natural local reaction is “I hope this lasts.”
Speaking of art, there is a great deal of it, mostly pop, some ethnographic (from giant high heels to African statuary), in the conference center, and it’s intriguing and illuminating enough to be worth a meander through that end of the third and fourth floors.
Then there is Level Three. Here you’ll find a branch of clubby steak chain STK, a spin-off of David Myers’ LA French bistro Comme Ça, the latest expansion of Scott Conant’s exploding Scarpetta series (this one with a casual D.O.C.G. enoteca/trattoria that feels oddly authentic), and West coast spins on Blue Ribbon sushi, Estiatorio Milos and Jose Andres’ Jaleo (as well as his new fusion concept China Poblano). In a city already well-saturated with fine, creative dining, there are several substantial additions to the scene in this one spot. Already, I’ve noted that no-brainer places like STK, D.O.C.G. and Holstein’s have taken off, but I’d expect Scarpetta and Milos to be appreciated by the more refined…Blue Ribbon has a perfectly sexy lounge space inbetween its sushi bars…and so far I can’t see any clunkers in the bunch (though I predict Comme Ça may have to differentiate itself more strongly, which is no slight to its literally God-like burgers). While I haven’t fully studied the wine programs here, I did notice that even Blue Ribbon has a small selection of vintage Bordeaux including a 1982 for a cool $20 grand.
That third level is not just, as most are calling it, “the foodie’s ultimate food court,” but also, smartly, a fun communal space. In the center are three areas offering (don’t choke) a free pool table, foosball, board games and a third funky lounge. Where you can, presumably, sit for hours without having to spend a dime. And, thanks to the amazing smells, enjoy three or four gourmet meals without a calorie!
Several third level restaurants—particularly Scarpetta and Comme Ça—are well-placed to enjoy dramatic wall-to-ceiling views of the Strip (Scarpetta gets the Bellagio fountains too) from Cosmo’s excellent vantage. You’ll feel equally “on toppa da world” on the Boulevard pool deck, which from first glance looks to be a diverse sun and fun experience (it will also be used for concerts at night) with a few different pools, bars, etcetera—though it seems decidedly adult. No slides, lazy rivers, volleyball pits or wave pools here (a la Mandalay Beach, Excalibur, Monte Carlo, Flamingo) that I could see. That isn’t the only pool of course—there’s another one for the Marquee club (see below) and a smaller more private one adjacent to the 14th floor fitness center, tennis courts and chic spa.
And those aren’t the only restaurants. As mentioned, there is a buffet, Wicked Spoon, awkwardly located down a long hallway near the meeting space, and purportedly featuring multiple live station cooking. There is The Henry on the casino floor, a sort of modernized, open-walled country club (24/7 creative café food), as well as a pool café, Overlook Grill, that looks to be also more refined than necessary. You’re even in good hands with room service, run by the estimable Chef Gerald Chin (ex-RM Seafood, Bradley Ogden) There are also four other casino-level bars, each strongly conceived, with serious cocktail programs—including Bond, a front-window space-age space with those go-go dancers and modular seating, Vespers, an elegant spot by registration, as well as a pleasant high-roller lounge, and Book & Stage, which renews the promise of a classic Vegas Lounge.
Then there’s the multi-level Marquee day/night club, claiming, with 62,000 square feet, to be the largest of its kind in the world. It opens New Years Eve. I expect several other clubs here to close the next day.
As for the rooms, they come in several classes, more suites than standards, and most with walk-out balconies, a true rarity on the Vegas Strip today. I wasn’t terribly moved by the first one-bedroom suite I saw on opening night (got to watch the Brandon Flowers concert from there), the amber-lit bedroom and connected bathroom are plush enough, but the living area feels somewhat cold and stiff. However, the junior suite I stayed in a few nights later instantly became one of my favorite rooms, with two big flatscreens, smartly placed light switches, absolutely plush bedding, a big living area, multimedia ports on one of two big flatscreens, Bigelow products and a jet tub in the spacious bathroom and lots of cool art books to peruse. Oh, and a serviceable kitchenette with room in the mini-bar for your inevitable leftovers. Unlike at most other Vegas resorts, Wi-Fi here is free, and everywhere. Not part of a resort fee. Just F.R.E.E.
I’ll leave you with my new favorite locals joke:
Q: What’s the silliest thing about the Cosmopolitan?
A: The sign that says “Bridge To City Center.” After seeing the Cosmopolitan, who would bother going to City Center?