What factors should you consider when choosing where to stay in Las Vegas? Location and room size are important, of course. But an equally important—and often overlooked—consideration is casino ambiance. Unlike hotels in other popular travel destinations, a hotel in Las Vegas isn’t merely a place to store your luggage while you sightsee or lounge on a beach. In Las Vegas, your hotel is the destination and much of your time will be spent within the walls of the casino, doing everything from gambling and dining to swimming, shopping, drinking and even dancing (Las Vegas has some of the largest and most extravagant nightclubs in the world). And if a casino lacks vibrancy and energy, your whole vacation can feel flat. The following is a guide to which Vegas casinos have the best ambiance and why.
But first: What is casino ambience?
Before we can talk about which casino has the best ambience, we first have to identify what we mean by casino ambience. The dictionary defines ambience as “the character and atmosphere of a place.” However, a casino’s atmosphere can vary wildly depending on its target demographic. Casinos marketing to hipster millennials, for example, may have a lively and contemporary vibe whereas casinos targeting a wealthier, health-conscious clientele may aim for a more subdued setting. What defines perfect ambience is subjective, which is why we’ve broken down casino ambience into several distinct categories.
The Most Sophisticated Ambience: Bellagio Hotel and Casino
While many of the Strip casinos strive for an opulent and upscale ambience, none do it so thoroughly as the Bellagio. You can almost feel the casino’s sophisticated ambience the second you step through the doors. From the fresh, floral scent in the air and the cathedral ceilings dripping with art to the marbled floors and high-end shops, the Bellagio was designed with well-to-do in mind and it shows. You only need to look at the lobby ceiling—with its colourful glass flower art—or the indoor botanical gardens—with its 10,000 potted flowers—to see that this is true. When it comes to creating an ambience of class and refinement, the Bellagio has spared no expense.
The Trendiest Ambience: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
The Cosmopolitan (or “Cosmo” for short) has gone to great lengths to create an ambience that’s a mixture of cool quirkiness and exaggerated luxury. The first thing you’ll see when you walk in the main entrance of the casino, for example, isn’t the front desk but a bar. And not just any bar, but a three-story lounge draped in a shimmering curtain of two million beaded crystals. Called the “Chandelier,” the cocktail bar is the place to go to see and be seen and is often where young people grab a drink before hitting a nightclub. With other hip bars—such as a speakeasy tequila bar and the library-themed “The Study”— as well as poolside concerts, quirky art and a black and royal purple interior, the Cosmo is a casino made for with the Instagram Generation in mind.
The Most Whimsical Ambience: The Wynn
You wouldn’t know it from standing outside, but the Wynn has an Alice in Wonderland-like ambience that’s adorably whimsical without feeling childish or cheesy. The “razzle dazzle architecture and décor,” as Vegas.com puts it, includes a carousel made out of flowers, a lobby walkway lined with live trees and a lounge decorated with “dancing parasols.” The casino also includes a 90-foot waterfall and three-acre lake, which features a nightly Lake of Dreams light show. Calling it a “light show,” however, is selling it short, as the production features holograms, a giant singing frog, flying puppets and more. The best place to enjoy the free show is on the patio of the waterfront seafood restaurant “Lakeside.”
The Most Classical Ambience: The Venetian Las Vegas
There are a lot of classy casinos in Las Vegas but nothing more traditional than the Venetian. With Italian Renaissance paintings on the ceilings and replicas of real Venetian landmarks, including actual canals that wind through the inside and outside of the casino, the Venetian aims to bring an old world European ambience to the American Southwest. Of course, if you look closely, you may notice that the gondola driver serenading you with an Italian opera has a Boston accent and the stones in the cobblestoned “streets” at the Grand Canal Shoppes look a little too shiny and clean to be anything you’d find in a real Italian city, but the hotel isn’t aiming for precise realism. The resort is like an Italian-themed art gallery—you’ll feel more cultured for just having walked through it.
The Most Relaxing Ambience: Aria Hotel
Although the Aria is technically located on the Strip, it’s partially hidden by the high-end shopping plaza The Shops at Crystals, which gives the casino a tucked-away feeling. The casino’s clean, airy architecture offers a modern look but the waterfalls and Asian-inspired art, such as the Buddha statue that sits near the front entrance, lends a relaxing and zen-like ambience. The casino also showcases a number of sculptures throughout the inside and outside of the property. Pick up a map at the front desk and go on a self-guided tour to learn about the history and inspiration of each piece.
The Best Ambience: Bellagio
Which casino has the best ambience overall? If we had to pick just one, we’d have to go with the Bellagio. With a little something for everyone, the Bellagio offers up a one-size-fits-all ambience that no other Las Vegas casino can match. The ever-changing flower shows at the botanical gardens lend a festive ambience (especially during the holiday season) and the Fountain Show and French patisserie add a romantic flair for honeymooners. The casino’s white interiors and open-concept floor plan make the casino floor feel light and airy, which adds to the resort’s cheery feel.