Travel Diary: The More Chill, Less Thrill Side of Las Vegas

With its new boutique hotels, elegant eateries and a SoCal‑style shopping promenade, Las Vegas is attempting to cash in on its less OTT side

Las Vegas Delano

The Vegas Delano is far less flashy than the original South Beach location

I landed in Las Vegas, eye roll at the ready. I’ve been a few times, mostly for work, and I’ve never understood the city’s in-your-face appeal. But I was grateful for sun on my shoulders and palm trees overhead, and you know how they say things happen when you least expect it? Well, I was about to discover a more chillaxed Sin City.

The Delano Lobby Las Vegas

The Delano’s desert-Zen lobby (Photo: MGM Resorts International)

This becomes apparent as soon as I step into the tranquil lobby of the new Delano. It’s dimly lit, with warm desert touches (including one massive boulder found nearby). With a primarily white palette, Zen-like lines and cult favourite Malin + ​Goetz amenities, the suites are similarly calming. Not that they’re without baller features: some penthouses offer near-360‑degree views of Vegas, and all are equipped with make-your-own-manhattan kits.

Giada Las Vegas Plate of Food

A ladylike lobster roll at Giada

The Delano is just the latest in a handful of boutique hotels opening in Vegas, including Nobu, SLS and The Cromwell, which is barely recognizable from its former incarnation as Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon. There you’ll find the first restaurant from Giada De Laurentiis (she’s also the first woman on the ever-​expanding list of celeb chefs with restos in Vegas). Like its namesake, Giada is super pretty and delightfully unpretentious. I order the lobster roll—punctuated by crispy bursts of brininess in the form of fried capers—and pair it with white sangria while watching chefs bustle around the marble-walled open kitchen.


Brooklyn Bowl’s Linq outpost, with the world’s highest observaton wheel lurking in the background (this is Vegas after all) (Photo: Denise Truscello)

I then hit The Linq, an open-air shopping and entertainment promenade that feels more laid-back SoCal than Vegas. At Kitson, an ever-popular Los Angeles shop, it’s a high-low explosion (McQ sweatshirts, blinged-out dice). Sweet teeth will find a 24-7 fix at the Sprinkles cupcake ATM; at 12AM Run, brands such as Billionaire Boys Club, The Hundreds and Young & Reckless make for some serious shoe game. The shop is owned by hip-hop icon Nas, and sneaker freaks flock here for the latest launches.

Cup Cake ATM

Feed your cupcake addiction at the Sprinkles ATM

My favourite Vegas find, however, involves art, not commerce. During the 50‑minute Aria Art Hike, a workout that takes place in and around the massive hotel complex, I do lunges by a spectacular waterfall and push-ups in front of “Vegas,” an LED wall—part of Aria’s $40‑million art collection—that scrolls anti-Vegas truisms by the artist Jenny Holzer (“If you live simply, there is nothing to worry about”).

At 12AM Run, a jokesy Karl Lagerfeld print: "I've always wanted to wear sweatpants."

At 12AM Run, a jokesy Karl Lagerfeld print: “I’ve always wanted to wear sweatpants.” (Photo: Al Powers)

On my last night in town, I start off with a more typical Vegas experience: a sumptuous dinner and dancing. At Rose Rabbit Lie, an art deco–inspired supper club that oozes glamour, the menu is upscale comfort food (light-as-air gougères; a stunning beef Wellington loaded with foie gras and truffles), which I later work off on the strobe-lit dance floor at XS. But afterwards, I tumble into a cab headed to Tacos El Gordo, a refreshingly no-frills, off-the-strip Mexican joint. My late-night munchies satisfied, I realize that Vegas has finally won me over.

Rose Rabbit Lie Las Vegas

Rose Rabbit Lie is an art deco delight. (Photo: Courtesy of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas)

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