In addition to the many bars and lounges at street level, you might also check out the incredible nighttime view at the bars and lounges atop the Stratosphere Casino Hotel & Tower or midway up on the Eiffel Tower Ride -- nothing beats them. Except for maybe the more up-close view of the bar adjacent to the 23rd floor-lobby at the Mandarin Oriental. The floor-to-ceiling windows make you feel like you're floating in the middle of the Strip, especially at night.
No Smoking! -- Long the last best hope for smokers, Vegas is considerably less smoky these days. A recent ban forbids smoking in most indoor spaces, including restaurants, shopping malls, and public hallways. Stand-alone bars and casinos are exempt, which, in theory, means you can't smoke in a hotel lobby, but you can a few feet away in a casino. It's an interesting evolution for a town so dedicated to hedonistic pursuits.
What, you may be asking, is an ultralounge? That’s an excellent question, since it is loosely defined at best. Generally speaking, ultralounges are smaller than traditional nightclubs, offering a more intimate vibe. Some have dance floors and some don’t, although even the ones that don’t usually have DJs and people will dance wherever they can find the room to do so. You’ll also usually find a lot more seating at an ultralounge, but most of it will probably be reserved for people willing to pay for bottle service. Drink and cover prices may be a bit less than the big nightclubs. The type of crowd they draw depends on the location and theme, with the most popular bringing in the same young and pretty crowd that goes to the hot dance clubs. (They’ll often come to an ultralounge first, and then head to the dance floor elsewhere.)
Most of the nightclubs in town are ruled by the young and pretty—you know who we mean: the 23-year-olds in impossibly short dresses, with tiny waists, and an attitude that can be seen from space. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. If I were thin and pretty, I’d want to hang out at these nightclubs, too.
But what about the rest of us? What about older people who may no longer be a size 0 but still want to go out, dance, and have a good time?
For them we offer what some consider to be a dinosaur of a bygone age: the hotel lounge. Don’t roll your eyes! Many hotel lounges offer entertainment, dance floors, low or no cover charge, cheaper drink prices, and an almost total absence of the kind of “hey, look at me” posing that’s de rigeur at the trendy nightclubs. These are great places to go to simply have a night out of fun that doesn’t involve a slot machine or blackjack table. All of the major hotels have at least one, so you can just wander by to see if it strikes your fancy, but here are a couple that might be worth the extra effort to visit.
Cool By the Pool
A critical part of the nightclub scene is that it takes place at night. Maybe that’s why they call them “night” clubs. But you don’t have to wait until the sun goes down to start partying, especially in Vegas, where a host of daytime pool clubs give vacationers an opportunity to boogie down while working on your tan.
Most of the major hotels have some form of a poolside day club that usually operates on weekends and only in season (Mar–Oct mostly). They all feature DJs or live music, bars, private cabanas, and lots of opportunity to splash around in pools that are separated from the main recreational facilities, for people over 21 years of age only. All charge a cover (although they vary as much as nightclub covers do) and some offer table games (like blackjack) and topless sunbathing. All are open to the general public (you don’t have to be staying at the host hotel).
It should go without saying that these usually draw a younger, fit crowd who aren’t embarrassed about how they look in a bikini or board shorts. If that isn’t you, you may want to consider alternate afternoon entertainment.
Here are the most noteworthy of the current pool clubs:
- Bare At the Mirage, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (tel 702/696-8300; www.barepool.com). Small pool, cabanas, DJ, and bar. Topless sunbathing allowed. Open daily 11am–6pm. Cover $20 and up.
- Daylight At Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (tel 702/693-8300; www.daylightvegas.com). 50,000-square-foot beach area with pool, three wet decks, private cabanas, DJ, bars, and food service. No topless sunbathing. Open Wed 11am–3am and Fri–Sun 11am–6pm. Cover $25 and up.
- Encore Beach Club At Encore Las Vegas, 3121 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (tel 702/770-7300; www.encorebeachclub.com). 60,000-square-foot facility, three pools, cabanas, DJ, gaming, bar, grill. No topless sunbathing. Open Fri 12–6pm and Sat–Sun from 11am–6pm. Cover $25 and up.
- Liquid At Aria Las Vegas, 3730 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (tel 702/693-8300; www.arialasvegas.com). Three pools, cabanas, DJ, bar, restaurant. No topless sunbathing. Open daily 11am–6pm. Cover $20 and up.
- Marquee Dayclub At the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, 3801 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (tel 702/333-9000; www.marqueelasvegas.com). Two pools, cabanas with private pools, DJ, gaming, bar, food service. No topless sunbathing. Open daily 10am–sunset. Cover $25 and up.
- Rehab At the Hard Rock Hotel, 4455 Paradise Rd. (tel 800/473-7625; www.rehablv.com). Several pools, sandy beaches, cabanas, DJ, gaming, bar, food service. No topless sunbathing. Open daily 10am–sunset. Cover $25 and up.
- Tao Beach At the Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (tel 702/388-8588; www.taobeach.com). One pool, cabanas, DJ, bar, food service. Topless sunbathing allowed. Open daily 10am–sunset. Cover $20 and up.
- Wet Republic At MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (tel 800/851-1703; www.wetrepublic.com). Two pools, cabanas, DJ, bar, food service. No topless sunbathing. Open Thurs–Mon 11am–6pm. Cover $20 and up.
The Gay & Lesbian Scene
Hip and happening Vegas locals know that some of the best scenes and dance action can be found in the city’s gay bars. And no, they don’t ask for sexuality ID at the door. All are welcome at any of the following establishments—as long as you don’t have a problem with the people inside, they aren’t going to have a problem with you. For women, this can be a fun way to dance and not get hassled by overeager Lotharios.
If you want to know what’s going on in gay Las Vegas during your visit, pick up a copy of Q Life, which is also available at any of the places described below. You can also check out the online edition at www.qlifemagazine.com.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.