It takes a lot of nerve to advertise a new $3.9-billion casino-hotel development with a line that begs to be mocked. Yet the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has held tight to its tagline, "Just the right amount of wrong."
As the latest major development to open on the Las Vegas Strip, the Cosmopolitan has endured many wrongs since the project broke ground in 2005. Foreclosure, changes in concept and ownership, extensive redesigns and, oh, that little inconvenience called the recession.
But this hotel, built atop a former parking lot, is a confident competitor. It packs 2,995 upscale guest rooms, 13 restaurants, gargantuan meeting rooms, three groovy pools, a light-filled casino and oodles of geek-worthy tech toys into two 50-story towers that teeter on just 8.7 acres. Yet it struggles to stand out next to its neighbors on either side, Bellagio and the year-old CityCenter.
The punishment — and reward — for being in the middle defines the Cosmopolitan. It challenges upscale rivals to rethink how casinos and hotels cater to their guests. More style-driven than most Vegas resorts, the Cosmopolitan is a trendy boutique hotel writ large but aimed at young, tech-savvy couples.
I reserved a one-bedroom suite that packed a king-size bed, kitchenette, two flat-screen TVs, a dressing area, 110-square-foot terrace, Japanese soaking tub and long, curving couch into 610 square feet. At $408, the Saturday-night rate was high (and about the lowest price offered), perhaps to capture conventioneer dollars. Rates for upcoming weeks range from $220 to $450 for the same one-bedroom.
Planning your trip
The Cosmopolitan, 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas; (702) 698-7000 or (877) 551-7778, http://www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com. Doubles from $150 a night, depending on the date, but generally average $291 a night for the month of February.
When I arrived on an early January weekend, I expected a staff exhausted by the December grand opening and a New Year's Eve party that featured entertainment by Jay-Z and Coldplay. Instead, I found an energetic young crew eager to please.
Except when I needed room repairs (a faulty tub stopper) or housekeeping, I rarely needed to interact with employees. Many hotel functions are automated through the room's centralized systems. The TV monitor is also used to schedule spa or restaurant reservations and to control the TV and Sirius radio, room temperature and lights — even the nightlight. Typical of these complex systems, it took two nights to operate the thing competently, and I still ended up turning off the lights manually.
Electronic glitches aside, you may not want to leave your room. Soaking in the deep tub, I had a view of both the bedroom and Vegas from 25 stories up. A shade dropped to shield the tub from the bedroom, and a sliding door shut off the bathroom.
The best and biggest number of rooms feature, like mine, only a king bed, not the two queens that casual friends or business travelers prefer. Some suite-size rooms have a sleeper couch in the living room that can be separated from the bedroom by sliding doors. Big closets, double sinks and, in larger rooms, a kitchenette, large tub and two TVs give roommates lots of space to relax.
The guest rooms were decorated by David Rockwell, veteran designer of the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood and several W hotels. His palette of navy, ivory and other cool neutrals ensures that the rooms are a calm counterpoint to the cacophony of the lobby, which is defined by video monitors built into tall columns. Though arriving guests are surrounded by the lobby's high-tech touches, the clerks add humanity by stepping out from behind their oversized check-in desks.
With no back story or brand name to give it an identity, the Cosmopolitan's novelty and design alone may not be enough to attract repeat guests. Yet the range of relaxing and entertaining options may. The Sahra Spa & Hammam is one of the best designed hotel spas I've encountered. Areas for dressing, grooming, showering or relaxing are expertly separated. The design also embraces you with gentle desert décor, including a large, warm whirlpool with waterfall, and a hammam, a treatment room anchored by an enormous, heated rock. It may be the only truly quiet place in the hotel. Serenity comes at a price: Most 50-minute massages cost $150.
The designers have added other areas to allow for low-key lounging, notably the cozy couches in public areas. Refining the concept of pool as outdoor bar, lounge chairs are set directly in shallow water. The 17th-story Marquee Nightclub is also a "dayclub" that connects to a pool and outdoor bar.
This summer, the Boulevard Pool is likely to be a hot spot: It overlooks the Strip, can accommodate 3,600 people and includes an open-air stage.
The cocktail lounges and restaurants, many without solid walls, are arranged for maximum people-watching, particularly if those people are swarms of pretty young women in tiny dresses. The centerpiece of the hotel is the multistory Chandelier, a lounge encircled by miles of crystal-beaded swags that hypnotize with twinkles.
Many equally glittery shops are nearby, including the only Vegas outposts of vintage eyewear specialists RetroSpecs & Co., Droog home décor, denim boutique DNA2050 and Allsaints Spitalfields clothing.
With its famous-cocktail name, high-style appearance and vertical design that minimizes walking, the Cosmopolitan is a comfortable fit for stiletto-wearing "Sex and the City" types. Stylish guys may go for the meat-centric STK steakhouse, Holsteins or the nicely rustic D.O.C.G., Scott Conant's wine bar that flanks his latest Scarpetta outpost.
As in most hotels, there are noticeable differences that distinguish rooms that are excellent from those that are just adequate. If the prices of the two-queen City Room and the one-bedroom terrace room are close, go for the upgrade. More room options (and prices) may become available when the remaining 1,000 rooms open by July.
The two-tower design offers a mixed bag of amenities. The East Tower has a smaller fitness center and requires a much longer walk through the lobby and casino. The West Tower has more convention traffic, but direct access to the Wicked Spoon Buffet, the spa and the larger gym. The East Tower includes the best lunch spots: chef David Myers' Comme Ça and José Andrés' China Poblano.
The Cosmopolitan has hooked up with Marriott International's Autograph Collection, a group of independent hotels with access to Marriott's reservation and rewards systems. The new hotel may need the marketing muscle of Marriott's huge database to keep clients coming back.
If you need another reminder that the Cosmopolitan is ready to fight for success, go no farther than the West Tower gym. Just beyond the weights and treadmills is its own boxing ring. Pow.
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