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This story first appeared in the May 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Check in to the new Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace (rooms from $249 a night) and keep an eye out for Robert De Niro and chef Nobu Matsuhisa, who have made their first foray into hospitality. “I kept seeing that people wanted Nobu to open restaurants in their hotels because it was a drawing card. So I asked, ‘Why are we not doing our own?’ It just seemed like a logical next step,” says De Niro. Accommodations echo the elegance of a Zen garden, and room service from Nobu restaurant — a hub during the recent CinemaCon — offers creative takes like the bagel-inspired lox on crispy “everything” sushi rice. In need of a larger crash pad? Many hours of high-stakes casino play earn whales an invitation to stay in an opulent Laurel Collection Villa in Caesars’ Octavius tower, which range in size from 9,420 to 11,850 square feet. A similar room in Sin City could run $40,000.
At dinner time, call up chef Eric Klein of Spago (located in The Forum Shops at Caesars) and order a custom-made meal, starting at $100, like stars who perform in The Colosseum theater do.
For late-night drinks, head to Fremont East, formerly known as Glitter Gulch, which is evolving thanks to a crop of bars such as the ornately gothic Commonwealth (525 E. Fremont St.) and the Park on Fremont (506 E. Fremont St.), with a beer garden patio, and restaurants like Michael Morton‘s new Mexican eatery La Comida (106 6th St.). “It’s a Vegas most tourists don’t know,” says Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and the Downtown Project, his privately funded group that’s revitalizing downtown. “There’s no gaming. Just a lot of excitement that you’re part of something that’s changing rapidly.” Make sure to hit The Laundry Room (525 E. Fremont St.), a speakeasy with 28 seats behind a hidden door inside Commonwealth. Gaining admittance requires knowing someone at the bar, obtaining a card and texting to nab a seat.
Head a couple miles west of the Strip for lunch at under-the-radar soba noodle spot I-Naba (3210 S. Decatur Blvd.). “Some of the best Asian food on the West Coast is in Vegas,” says Facebook head of market development Matt Jacobson. “[I-Naba’s] owner’s family sends the buckwheat flour from Tokyo. It’s the best soba you’ve ever had.”
In the afternoon, request that Caesars’ Color Salon stylist Michael Boychuck (clients have included Kirsten Dunst) and his team come to your suite for a makeover (starting at $750), a service he also provides outside the hotel.
Enjoy dinner at Yellowtail at Bellagio, where chef Akira Back is known for impressing guests such as Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake with off-the-menu dishes like PB&J lobster spring rolls (custom dinners range from $150 to $350 per person). Special guests such as Taylor Swift are given chopsticks engraved with their name.
Party at Hakkasan Las Vegas at the MGM Grand. The new 90,000-square-foot temple of dining and nightlife, on five levels, is the world’s first Hakkasan club. The most exclusive spaces are four private Sky Boxes on the mezzanine, which close off into their own environments — a nightclub within a nightclub. Status, not just money, is a big consideration in snagging one.
Wrap it up at Mandalay Bay’s Daylight Beach Club, the counterpart to the resort’s Light nightclub (which features Cirque du Soleil performers). Opening Memorial Day weekend, this 5,000-person pool party will be Vegas’ version of the infamous Ushuaia beach in Ibiza. The focal point is a 1,500-square-foot, vine-wrapped metal-mesh stage with six LED screens where revelers will spy such DJs as Skrillex and Sebastian Ingrosso.
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Tracee Ellis Ross