Get Your Just Deserts: The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas Strip
There will come a time in your life – a pivotal point – that you’ll find yourself in Vegas. Maybe it’ll be business, a stag, a stopover en route from LA, but at some point you’ll be standing on the Strip at 5am staring blankly at a hairy crossdresser in a cowboy hat singing ‘wanna get lost in rock and roll’ into a gold karaoke mic. And you might not have even considered it before. You might have always said: ‘Yeah, no, that’s not my kind of thing. I’m more of a beach-with-moderate-activities kinda guy.’ But you know, it’s inevitable.
What’ll happen next is this: it will smack you between the eyes. The Herculean scale of everything, the remorseless glitz, the fact that you can take a rain shower at 4.30am and then order a burger and a Bloody Mary from room service. By day three of whatever convention-slash-stag-party got you here, you’re fried. You’re high on the oxygenated air and you’re repenting the several hundred/thousand dollars you just sunk on the roulette table. But now you’ve experienced it, you’ll probably be booking your next visit before you’re even on the flight home.
There’s a slew of five-star mega-hotels on the Strip (apparently no alternative piece of tarmac is sanctioned), so I’d done my research and booked the Cosmopolitan. A newish one, open since 2010, it’s billed as providing ‘a welcome respite from the theme-iness of other Vegas hotels’. Which only makes sense when you compare the Cosmo to the other options. For a start, there are no Grand Canals on the first floor, or roaming centurions in the lobby. Instead (in addition to the mandatory casino, bars, pools and clubs), it has a distinctly modern vibe and abstract installations, like the repurposed cigarette machines that dispense $5 art pieces.
Surprisingly stylish rooms – and spacious, given that there are nearly 3,000 – have wraparound private terraces with skyline views and give an impression of New York bachelor pad. King-size beds framed by leather ottomans, flat screens and glass-walled showers. But it’s all about the nightlife: among your options are a three-storey bar built inside a giant chandelier, a hybrid supper club interactive show called Rose. Rabbit. Lie., and the legendary Marquee night/day mega-club, where the premium bubbly is delivered by the Champagne Fairy who arrives on a zipline, naturally, and the go-go girls dance on stages.
There might have been 25 other nightclubs that could have done us, where women in vajayjay-skimming dresses sell you the same Grey Goose and cranberry while exactly the same dance tracks play on loop every single night. But Marquee is a destination joint and one of the most badass in Sin City. It gets the pick of the big DJs. Somewhere in the recesses there’s the ‘Library’, fitted with fireplace, book-lined walls, a vintage billiard table and cocktail waitresses dressed as librarians. But we hit the main club. Because that’s what you do here: Vegas allows you to party very, very hard.
Absorbed into the pulsating throng of the mosh pit, momentarily blinded by fit-triggering strobes, dodging the creepers and the drunks and the stray elbows, it really kicks off. Debauchery. Mayhem. There’s no rhyme or reason to the flow of the place and the energy races. Then, like three minutes later, when it’s four in the morning, you’re still bizarrely alive but someone makes the call to go and it seems like everyone has the same idea, so you exit in the tidal flow of burned-out partygoers back through the lobby, past the casino floor and back to your neon tower in the sky.
Although there are enough comic-like oddities to compete with Disney, Vegas takes itself startlingly seriously. Madness is professionally dispensed and meticulously monitored. Everything’s shiny and new and big and bright – and the drunken disorderly are expertly assuaged and expunged. Security has seen it all before. They must have seen everything. In Vegas, if someone throws up all over their $10,000 table next to the dance floor, you know that within seconds a crack team will materialise with towels and Clorox, leaving the puker remarkably pukeless. (Because here, puke will not interfere with lucrative fun.)
Cosmo’s STK restaurant is a highlight – a sexed-up steakhouse cocktail bar, you slide into cocooned booths set in smooth cream and black lacquer; smoky mirrors reflecting the sultry vibe. A DJ spins records to one side. Aside from the chance to rub shoulders with the occasional steak-loving celebrity, a filet/bone-in 14 oz/kobe wagyu plus truffle fries and cream corn has to be the best defence against an offensive hangover. STK’s portions (generous, just not so big that you need a lie-down) won’t defeat you so the fun never has to stop.
Pool time is essential – not the retoxifying Marquee-kind (though that’s an option), but the kick-back-and-piece-together-the-previous-night’s-madness kind. Cosmopolitan has several: the Boulevard pool (yacht club polish), the Bamboo pool (discreet haven) and the Marquee Dayclub pool (with cabana bungalows). There’s also the epic 50,000 sq ft Sahra spa and hammam where you can get your twisted muscles dealt with, even if by now it’s your twisted brain that needs assessing.
But there has to reach a point when the thrill ride comes to an end. Dazed bodies emerge from the chaos, airport-bound, blinking in the shadowless midday sun wondering what in God’s name just happened. You may never speak of it again, but the memories will (perhaps unwelcomingly) always cling. Like superglue. In this clock-less desert city, where the freaks roam free and where less savoury venues entertain the low-rollers in casinos that are thick with the sad smell of cigar smoke and lost pensions, the Cosmopolitan is altogether better, brighter, and way, way cooler. I still can’t explain it, but Vegas hasn’t seen the last of me.
Located at 3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South. Check out the website for bookings and information www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com or call reservations on +1 (702) 698-7575.