What's old becomes new again in Las Vegas. The iconic Sahara Hotel shuttered in 2011, one of the last outward vestiges of vintage Vegas. In its place, the sleek, sophisticated SLS ushered in the new guard of Vegas resorts in 2014. It also made everyone take notice of the new things happening north of Wynn. And now, in the midst of another multimillion-dollar renovation, it’s back to being the Sahara.
For SLS, power designer Philippe Starck transformed the formerly kitschy Sahara into a temple of modern aesthetics, with edgy design, ornate chandeliers, and metallic colors throughout the casino floor. But what they didn’t take into account is the hotel’s location. Sure, if you build it, they will come, but the visitors SLS wanted to come—the hip L.A. weekenders, millennials with disposable income—weren’t filling the place up as fast as management liked. The hotel’s nearest neighbors are Circus Circus, the Strat, the World’s Largest Gift Shop, and the slowly resurrecting Drew Las Vegas hotel (from the old abandoned Fontainbleu bones). A new developer acquired the property in 2018, and for now, the renamed, swanky Sahara still offers rooms at near-budget prices.
The remodeled (2019) World Tower is a millennial’s dream, starting right when you walk to its golden, mirrored elevator bank (and ceilings too!) in the lobby, perfect for those “#VegasReady” squad selfies. The 325-square-foot rooms—small for the Strip, but average for the area—are as hip as those in any modern boutique hotel. Platform beds give the illusion that sleepers are floating off the ground, while wall-size mirrors with soft border lighting make the room feel bigger. Cold metal and white bathroom features make good use of little space, with infinity sinks and dual-head, glass-enclosed showers. Dressers are gone from these rooms, perplexing for those who, like me, unpack their suitcases to feel orderly. But it’s an efficient way to create more space, and most people don’t mind living out of their suitcases, anyway.
The Grand Tower offers guests of those rooms exclusive amenities such as a dedicated valet entrance and private check-in, plus a private rooftop pool deck with European-style (topless) sunbathing.
Bazaar Meat, one of the most talked-about restaurants in town, will expand and is the only original SLS restaurant to remain, but new dining options will certainly abound.