In a town famous for its deliciously over-the-top themed casinos, it can be tough to narrow down a list of just a few favourites. From near-historic icons like Caesars Palace to subtly-themed recent additions like Circa, when it comes to themed hotels, Vegas runs the gamut from cheesy to classy and everything in between. Below are six of the most popular.
1. Caesars Palace
In the film The Hangover, one of the characters marvels at Caesars Palace’s opulent, marbled resort lobby and then asks the front desk receptionist: “This isn’t the real Caesar’s Palace, is it?”
While the 300,000-square-foot casino and resort isn’t, of course, a real roman palace, you couldn’t blame someone for mistaking it for one. Towering columns, cathedral ceilings and replicas of real Roman statues are just some of the realistic touches that make Ceasars Palace one of the city’s landmark properties.
The theme doesn’t stop at the casino’s doors, either. The Forum Shops—an upscale shopping mall that connects the casino to the Las Vegas Strip—also adopted the Roman Empire decor. While the talking water fountain show and color-changing ceiling aren’t the same jaw-dropping novelties they were when the shops first opened in 1992, the mall’s grand architecture is still impressive and a can’t-miss attraction.
2. The Venetian Resort
Over the last decade, several Las Vegas resorts have scaled back on their themes—Treasure Island closed its pirate show, for instance, and the Excalibur has removed some of its medieval art and décor. Not the Venetian. The second largest resort in the world continues to embrace the same Italian theme it had when it opened in 1999. The Venetian includes replicas of a number of famous Venetian landmarks, including St. Mark’s Campanile and Venice’s famous canals. The canals wind their way through the cobble stoned-streets of the Grand Canal Shops, which include over 160 stores and eateries. Guests can take a gondola ride (complete with costumed, singing gondola driver) or grab an Italian coffee and gape at the mimes and other talented street performers that perform in the Shop’s central square.
3. Paris Las Vegas Hotel
The Paris Las Vegas Hotel is perhaps best known for the giant replica of the Eiffel Tower that stands outside the casino’s Strip-side entrance. At 540-feet tall, the tower is impressive (it’s about half the size of the one in France), but it’s not the only attraction that lends this Parisian-themed resort it’s French flare. The Paris Hotel also has a French bakery, a “street” of chic shops and restaurants and the authentic French bistro Mon Ami Gabi (that’s “My Friend Gabi” in French). Mon Ami Gabi serves an all-French cuisine, including a delicious banana fosters crepe, and has been voted one of the top 10 best French restaurants in Las Vegas.
4. New York New York
Second only to perhaps the castle-shaped Excalibur Resort, the New York New York Hotel and Casino has one of the most easy-to-recognize themes. Modeled off of the 1940s New York City skyline, the resort’s exterior includes several replicas of famous Big Apple landmarks, such as the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. Gusts can choose to view these attractions either from outside (while walking across a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge) or via the Big Apple Coaster—a roller coaster that circles the exterior of the resort.
For a quieter NYC vibe, guests can pull up a seat at The Bar at Times Square. This cozy piano bar showcases piano players who perform quintessential New York classics from Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel and more.
5. The Cosmopolitan
While The Cosmopolitan doesn’t have a theme exactly—unless “cool” is a theme—the hip and artsy hotel has been a unique and popular addition to the Strip since it opened in 2010. Branding itself as a trendy alternative to classic mainstays like Caesar’s Palace, the resort and casino features pool deck concerts, swim-up movies and hundreds of works of art and art installations, including a giant high heel and the Chandelier Bar; a three-story bar and lounge encased in a massive chandelier. The chandelier is made up of seven million crystals and is a great place for people watching (don’t be surprised to see a celebrity or two walk by). Look for the repurposed cigarette vending machines that disperse actual art and “Secret Pizza,” a hidden pizza shop located down an unmarked hallway on the resort’s third floor. It has arguably the best pizza on the Strip.
The latest addition to themed hotels is Circa, which opened in downtown Las Vegas in October 2020. Circa (as in circa 1940) pays tribute to the “vintage Vegas” of the 1940s and 80s in much of its décor and interior fixtures, including Vegas Vickie, a “kicking cowgirl” neon sign that first made an appearance on Fremont Street in 1980 and now hangs in front of one of the resort’s lobby bars. But Circa also has its modern touches as well. The boutique-y hotel features a rooftop pool amphitheater that showcases a 125-foot high movie screen. Guests can watch a sports game or enjoy a live concert while lounging in one of the hotel’s six pools that are heated year round.