In Search Of Excellence – And A Great Moscow Mule -- In Las Vegas

by Vanessa Lee

Posing with the backdrop of Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil

The Cromwell

The Cromwell pool

Giada’s Restaurant

Moscow Mule from Bound Bar at the Cromwell

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column comparing Las Vegas and its attractions, specifically in cuisine and entertainment, to those same categories on cruise ships.

Shortly after, I had a rare opportunity to travel to Vegas to enjoy what would essentially be a personal trip not a biz one -- as has been common in the past. I decided to check out some great dining establishments and a new-ish boutique hotel as well as other aspects of LAS today. 

It was an interesting exercise and for once, gave me a look at “Sin City” through the eyes of a regular “tourist” rather than as a conference attendee and not having the same kind of personal choices of where to go, where to stay and what to do.

Being able to choose our hotel was a biggie and we decided upon The Cromwell, the first stand-alone boutique hotel here, set in a great location basically in the middle of the strip. With just 188 rooms, 19 of which are suites, it really suits my personal preferences.

There is a casino but it’s small, and overall The Cromwell was a great choice. We loved it – the place is chic, sexy, sophisticated and delivers Parisian-inspired sensibility and décor. There are no lineups, no waiting, ice is delivered within 5 minutes of a request; maid service is prompt and excellent and all staff are attentive and responsive. 

The rooms come in ‘classic’ and ‘luxury’ categories, with the difference being the view. They are beautiful with slightly quirky (love the quirky bits) art and décor, and very comfy (especially the king bed). The property’s rooms take up floors 5 through 8 of the building with a fab pool deck and Drai’s Beachclub Nightclub encompassing the top open-air floor – 65,000 feet of fun!

Stay on 5 through 7 to mitigate noise from the nightclub unless you’re a late-night party animal. And bonus points for the two coffee machines and tasty complimentary coffees located on floors 5 and 7.

The shining star at The Cromwell is Giada’s Restaurant on the 2nd floor – Italian cuisine from celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis in her first restaurant. It is stunning in every sense and should be at the top of a dining list for a Vegas visit. Delicious food in a delightful atmosphere, a great view across to Caesars and the Bellagio with Paris to one’s left, and impeccable – yes truly – service from a brigade of staff who did the food justice. 

The whole space is gorgeous, there’s an open kitchen, a sexy lounge and bar area and the décor is outstanding. It was our best dining experience of the whole trip.

We also dined at Bellagio, initially with the intent of enjoying a lakefront and dancing fountains view from Lago Restaurant. We quickly determined this was not going to work as the noise factor was horrendous. Why, oh why, do good restaurants not care about reducing sound and ensuring diners can actually speak to each other while enjoying a great meal?

We left and wandered next door to Le Cirque, an outpost of the renowned NYC spot. Designed by Adam D. Tihany (now of Seabourn Encore fame), it is exquisite and beautiful in every way. It is also enormously expensive. However, we were made to feel very welcome without a reservation, the all-male waiters were charming and playful and the cuisine was thrilling – literally. All in all, it was a save from what could have been a disaster at neighbouring Lago. 

We played happy tourists for a few days, enjoying lunches at the Bellagio, the Venetian and at a Gordon Ramsay Brit-oriented pub-style resto at Caesars (not bad, says the woman who grew up in an English pub) and I had a personal mission of discovering the best Moscow Mule cocktail in Vegas.

After a number of obligatory taste tests, I am pleased to announce it can be found at the ultra-glam lobby area bar named Bound at The Cromwell. I had two just to be sure, but yes, our chosen hotel beat out many of the better-known Vegas watering holes to take the Mule honours. Further affirmation that our choice of hotel was the right one!

To end our stay, we decided on lunch at Wynn (gorgeous hotel) and then to take in one of the Cirque du Soleil shows before heading home. It was a fun few days for sure. Did we take advantage of all the city has to offer? No. Did I miss being on a small, luxury ship on the ocean? Yes. Did I find Vegas expensive? Yes, especially in the realm of food and beverage. But, as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for” – and that was mostly our experience in Las Vegas.  

Vanessa Lee

Vanessa Lee Columnist

An internationally-known luxury cruise expert, Vanessa is publisher and editor of Cruise and Travel Lifestyles magazine. She contributes a column every other Friday for OJ’s Splash News and appears with Nina on the bi-monthly video Cruise Factor.

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