During my visit to Las Vegas as a guest of MGM Resorts, I stayed at Aria, their newest hotel and casino — not counting the renovated Delano — that opened in December 2009 as part of the massive City Center complex. I remember visiting Vegas with my college friends in 2007 and seeing the site under construction; there must have been 30 cranes or more operating on that site. With Aria at the middle, City Center also contains the Crystals luxury shopping center, the Veer condominiums, Vdara Hotel & Spa (with kitchenettes and no casino), and a Mandarin Oriental (also no casino).
As an M life NOIR member due to a special offer when the MGM/Hyatt partnership was announced last year, my airport transportation was provided complimentary. Incidentally, every time a limo picks me up at the Las Vegas airport, we go to the hotel via the tunnel and freeway, a longer route that taxi drivers generally use to rip you off. I don’t mind because I’m not paying, but I thought it interesting that the people who aren’t trying to drive up the meter are choosing to use this route.
My driver was chatty and dropped me off at the Aria Sky Suites lobby in the back of the hotel. These include some enormous suites and villas at the top of Aria’s main tower, but there appeared to be some confusion as I was only assigned a standard room. I didn’t mind much. It just meant I had to visit the normal check-in counter when I needed a new key and later when I checked out, but M life elite members can use an expedited queue. (If you have Platinum or Diamond status with Hyatt Gold Passport, you can match that to M life Gold or Platinum, respectively. You can do it in advance by phone, but you’ll still need to visit an M life service desk on the casino floor to get your card.)
Despite the hiccup trying to figure out where our check-in desk was, I really enjoyed our stay. Aria is an excellent property that manages to provide a solid 4-star experience without going over the top. For example, I’ve stayed in some other Vegas hotels and seen three or four different shades of gold plating that diminished rather than enhanced the feeling of luxury. I just want stuff to be well designed and tastefully decorated — something Aria accomplished.
When I first walked in, the room activated its intelligent entertainment system, opening the blinds, turning on the lights, and playing music on the television. I’ve been to hotels that will have your name on the TV before you arrive. But there was something more exciting about witnessing the room “turn on” only after I walked in. Buttons throughout the room make it possible to adjust the lighting to different moods or flick a master switch by the door. Often these systems are too complicated for me. This one was better than most. I think fewer buttons is the key, so I can learn what each one does.
Rooms at Aria are staggered in a way that tries to give every room that “corner view” experience. My room faced the interior of City Center, but I could still see parts of the Strip between the buildings. Being set back with so many other large towers in front, this may not be the best place to stay if you want a great view unless you can get yourself on a higher floor. I was somewhere around the 30th.
The bedroom was average sized but comfortable enough. I did like that the foyer had two large closets and several drawers. It seemed a better place to put them — near the bathroom — than in the middle of the room under the television.
The bathroom was more interesting. It had double sinks — something I consider mandatory in Las Vegas. And someone was smart enough to partition off the toilet even though it didn’t have its own room.
But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shower and tub combined like this before. Open the shower door, walk through the shower, and you’ll find yourself in a big bathtub.
It wasn’t the largest tub in the world, but by putting them side by side it was certainly more spacious. At the Delano two weeks later, the tub was outside the shower and each felt a little cramped even though they were just as large individually. Breaking down walls certainly helped in this case.
I had only one complaint when staying at this hotel, and it’s really one that should be anticipated better given the locale. The blackout drapes were completely overwhelmed by the rising sun each morning, with light pouring around the edges. Given the number of people who party late and sleep in the next morning it might be a problem for some. My advice if you suffer from the same light sensitivity is that you pack a face mask or pick a different view.
But Ben and I were up at 7 AM anyway, surviving on just five hours of sleep after visiting Franklin at the Delano the night before so we could hit the Aria Buffet. It’s good, and one I’ve been to before at more reasonable hours. Besides the usual seafood, Indian, Japanese, pastries, and omelette station, you’ll also find some of the largest vittles this side of Texas, like this two-foot diameter red velvet pancake.
Between that and several cups of coffee, I was ready to swim with some dolphins.
Disclosure: Accommodations, dining, and activities were provided by MGM Resorts. I paid for my own flights and transportation. No other compensation was provided. This content is the opinion of the author and was not reviewed or approved by MGM Resorts.