Can Boutique Hotels Reshape Vegas?

There are lots of reasons the independently-minded traveler would want to hit Vegas. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon? Meet you at the bar! Getting your nails done at the strip mall on the way in from the airport? Talk about meeting the natives. But choosing a hotel has always meant deciding between one cavernous lobby/casino/netherworld and another cavernous lobby/casino/netherworld with different uniforms on the cocktail waitresses. Faux Italy, faux ancient Rome: it’s all authentic Vegas, but lacking a certain subtlety. Any subtlety. To quote a famous (and humble) Vegas hotelier, “Las Vegas is sort of like how God would do it if he had money”.


The hotel industry nationwide is responding to an overall shift in travelers’ taste toward individualized, authentic  experiences with more and better boutique hotels. Recently, the trend has landed in Vegas, sunglasses on and ready to party, according to Nancy Trejos in USA Today. In true Vegas fashion, some of them are mind-bending set-ups, as if they were designed in Minecraft. The 181-room Nobu Hotel Las Vegas Hotel is inside Caesar’s Palace. Hotel32 is an intimate 50-room boutique … on the 32nd floor of the Monte Carlo. The Cromwell is a “stand-alone” boutique hotel.

The most interesting of the new-to-towners? SLS Hotel & Casino, a remodel of the legendary Sahara—the set of the original Ocean’s 11.  Hotelier Sam Nazarian posted a hand-written note on the door when he closed The Sahara reading, “Be back soon! Thank you for 59 years”. The new incarnation arrives with some serious food and design cred: food by The Bazaar, Katsuya and Umami Burger, interiors by Philippe Starck. They’re aiming for an “approachable experience” of Vegas.

“It’s great to see hoteliers going all-in for boutique hotels—and for travelers who want a sophisticated, human-scale environment,” said Stash team member Phillip Logsdon. “Those travelers are driving massive shifts in the industry. And they’re the reason we do what we do at Stash.”

What do you think? Can independent, boutique magic survive Vegas? Or is it just the latest theme hotel trend to hit The Strip? Tell us in the comments below.

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