Sitting at the virtual center of the massive CityCenter complex, Aria Las Vegas seems to elicit the classic “love it or hate it” reaction from visitors. To be sure, it is unlike any Vegas megaresort that has come before it—all gleaming, glass skyscraper and contemporary interior design instead of the themed wackiness or faux old-school luxury of its predecessors. It feels almost out of place here, like someone picked up a big chunk of some ultracosmopolitan city (which Vegas most certainly is not, no matter how much it wants to be) and dropped it down in the middle of the Strip. It is dramatic and unexpected, modern without being cold or sterile, and for the record we are firmly in the “love it” camp.
Though its glass and steel exterior may seem sterile from afar, once you get up close and personal with Aria, you’ll see that it’s actually quite a vibrant space. The entire property is awash with imaginative visual details, even near the entrance, where a waterfall quietly cascades down a ridged wall on the outside of the building. Obviously, gaming is the main focus of the 150,000-square-foot casino, but there are plenty of other elements to catch your eye, whether it’s a hand-carved wooden mural, Maya Lin’s Silver River installation “flowing” behind the front desk, or the array of enormous, colorful butterflies suspended from the ceiling in the lobby. One of our favorite art works is a series of smoky prints by actor Christopher Walken that lines a corridor of the casino. If that doesn’t make this hotel cool, we don’t know what does.
The resort is enormous, with some 4,000 rooms, all with their own distinct character. The “standard” rooms are hardly standard, starting at 520 square feet, with rich, warm tones and floor-to-ceiling windows that bathe the room in abundant sunlight. Should you want to shut out the sun without getting out of bed, that isn’t a problem—the blackout curtains, along with pretty much everything electronic in your room, can be controlled by the in-room tablet located on the nightstand next to the bed. We love the spacious bathrooms with their plush robes (to keep guests warm amid all the cold granite). Some might consider it a design flaw that getting to the deep-soaking tub means you have to first pass through the frosted-glass shower, but a few extra steps won’t kill you.
Aria also offers an even more VIP experience in its Sky Suites, where the smallest accommodation is a one-bedroom at 1,050 square feet. Suite guests enjoy such niceties as a private entrance and elevator, a pool exclusively for Sky Suites guests, and a lounge with a daily wine and cheese reception, not to mention front-of-line passes for the buffet.
Aria’s collection of restaurants on the main and second floors feature cuisine from some of the best chefs in the country—when was the last time you had a James Beard Award-winner make your pizza? Venture out of the hotel to see the rest of CityCenter, which includes more hotels, shopping, and more dining options at Crystals.
If Aria is any indication of what Vegas is going to be like for the next 50 years, we’re happy to jump on board.