Isn’t this exactly the kind of hotel you think about—or dream about or fear—when you think “Las Vegas”? There it is; a jumbled pile mock-up of the venerable Manhattan skyline—the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Public Library—all crammed together, along with the 150-foot Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, all built to approximately one-third scale. And as if that weren’t enough, they threw in a roller coaster running around the outside and into the hotel and casino itself.
And it’s gotten even more . . . well, “more.” New restaurants and stores were added in 2015 and 2016 to the Strip facing front, including a Shake Shack and a flagship Hershey’s Chocolate World.
Inside is a different story these days. Once as highly themed as the outside, the main casino space has less of the New York detail that used to be such giddy fun. Gone are the Big Apple Bar and Central Park–themed gaming areas, replaced by a sleekly modern decor that, while pretty, is nowhere near as entertaining. The replica of Greenwich Village, down to the cobblestones, the manhole covers, the tenement-style buildings, and the graffiti, remains, and you’ll still find enough of the Gotham silliness elsewhere to probably evoke a smile or three, but dizzy laughter over the sheer spectacle is a thing of the past.
Rooms are housed in different towers, each with a New York–inspired name. The place is so massive and mazelike that finding your way to your room can take a while. There are 64 different layouts for the rooms, which have moved them ever farther from the original Deco-inspired decor to something bland, albeit comfortable, and though the bathrooms are small, they are pleasantly decorated. There can be a loooong walk from the elevators, so if you have ambulatory issues, you had best mention this while booking. Light sleepers should request a room away from the roller coaster. The health club and spa are nice but nothing to write home about, and the pool is right next to the parking structure.
In addition to a particularly good food court and several restaurants, there are some festive bars, clubs, and activities offered, including The Bar at Times Square; the aforementioned Roller Coaster; and the topless and adults-only Cirque du Soleil production Zumanity, which we think is improving but not the best that Cirque has to offer.
- Rick Garman