A couple weeks ago I was invited to stay at the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas as a guest of Hilton Honors. You may remember this hotel as the Mandarin Oriental, part of MGM Resorts’ City Center development and adjacent to the Aria and Park MGM hotels. I loved visiting the former Mandarin Oriental’s SkyBar because it offered good cocktails with a great view of the Las Vegas Strip and none of the commotion you get at most casino hotels. This was my first chance to explore the hotel a guest.
One of the best features of the Waldorf Astoria, besides larger rooms and more polished service than your average casino, is the location right on the strip. It’s set back with its own vehicle drop off, so there’s no pass-through traffic. I would almost call it “peaceful.” You can still walk up the driveway and get to your room within five minutes. There are no long walks around water features and slot machines.
Everyone who arrives at the ground floor must take an elevator up to the sky lobby. There are also stops on the third floor (for meeting spaces and the casual restaurant Zen Kitchen) and the eighth floor (for the spa, gym, and pool). A separate bank of elevators connects these levels to the guest rooms in between. I love the small benches in the elevators, which seem useless but add a unique touch. Hopefully the new Waldorf Astoria keeps them around.
Most of the hotel is still very much a holdover from the former Mandarin Oriental design. Dark wood and marble, gold walls, and red trim are everywhere. At the sky lobby I was greeted by an Asimo robot, who will dance on request. There’s even a Moet and Chandon vending machine if you need a quick drink on your way to/from the room.
I checked in easily around noon on a Friday, along with many other guests. This is also where you’ll find the Tea Lounge, SkyBar, and the high-end Twist by Pierre Gagnaire. I joined a few Hilton Honors executives in the SkyBar later that evening for a few drinks before attending a private concert with Walk the Moon. Mark Weinstein (Senior Vice President & Global Head of Customer Engagement, Loyalty, and Partnerships) and Jonathan Nouri (recently promoted to Vice President & Global Head of Hilton Honors) were available to answer questions and take feedback about the program. I’ll share more about that tomorrow.
As a Diamond Hilton Honors member, I was upgraded to a Strip view, but it was still a standard room size. Frankly, that’s fine. It was one of the best standard rooms I’ve had in Las Vegas, and that includes stays at the Bellagio, Aria, and Venetian. Part of it may be the spacious Asian aesthetic, which reminded me a lot of my first trip to Bangkok. Mostly it was the thoughtful attention to detail. Some Vegas properties are just the same as all the others, with different wallpaper and the same cheap bathroom faucets. This, on the other hand, felt like the luxury most of Vegas only pretends to offer.
Starting with the entrance, there are two closets down a side hallway. These include robes, laundry appliances, and the other usual stuff. But there is also a tray for a complimentary shoe shine and a valet closet to drop off or receive deliveries. My newspaper was waiting inside each morning.
I think the bathroom was most impressive. Next to the large standalone bathtub was a nice display of bath salts. These and other bath amenities were by Salvatore Ferragamo and had a great scent. The double sinks were separated by a small potted plant. And there were drawers everywhere! I’ve rarely seen so much storage space in a hotel, just as if I were at home.
The main bedroom had a large king bed, a small chaise lounge, and a large desk. Once again, I appreciated the attention to detail, such as a small decorative glass object on one of the bedside tables. The view was, as expected, a nice look at the Strip. However, this room was set back a little from the street. I still think the best spot is to go to the SkyBar and soak it in with a drink.
Although the room was showing minor scuffs and signs of wear, I was overall pleased with appearance and very happy with the level of comfort. I’m looking forward to the renovation taking place later this year, which will see some of the Asian influences become more muted and the color palette become much brighter.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to tour some of the larger rooms because the hotel was completely booked, which is impressive for a March weekend when most pools were still closed. I did ask for and receive a few promotional photos in case you find them useful.
And that pool deck, by the way, is pretty good by Vegas standards. There are multiple areas for laps or wading, and even a couple of whirlpools around the corner in the back. It’s certainly not large, but neither is the hotel. Not once did I feel that the hotel’s public spaces felt cramped. There was usually a free table in the restaurant or bar despite the high occupancy. It seems most spaces were built to be a little more capacity than necessary, and the long, thin design of the building means you’ll usually have a good view.
Breakfast and lunch are served at Zen Kitchen. We were able to enjoy a complimentary breakfast thanks to our Diamond status with Hilton Honors. This consists of a continental meal with homemade yogurt, fresh fruit, and an assortment of small pastries. It also includes coffee and a choice of juice. (If you aren’t a Gold or Diamond member, this meal is about $22 per person plus tax and service.)
There is an à la carte menu that looked delicious as well as a larger buffet. I would skip the buffet since the selection is not much different than the continental breakfast aside from the addition of hot eggs and breakfast meats. We returned to Zen Kitchen for dinner with the hotel’s PR director and enjoyed another great meal. This bento box includes a miso mustard butter halibut, but there were a lot of people going for the Thai green curry.
On our second night we were guests of the hotel at their fine dining restaurant, Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, on the same level as the sky lobby.
Megan and I love French food, and the chef was very accommodating of her pregnancy, allowing us to each order different tasting menus. My carnivorous palate was satisfied, but we were both impressed by the quality of her vegetarian meal. The bartender even made her an impressive virgin cocktail (not too sweet!) to complement my Old Fashioned.
A word of caution: This is really a place to sit and enjoy a leisurely meal. We had about two hours before our show and felt a bit rushed. The staff were willing to pick up the pace, but it was clear that we were moving a little faster than usual. If you have plans for a 9:30 show, then either sit down by 6:00 or consider switching to the à la carte menu.
In summary, the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas is a great place to enjoy your Hilton Honors benefits the next time you visit this city. I end up here once or twice a year even though I’m not a gambler, yet this is my first time at this property. It certainly won’t be my last. I only hope that they don’t change too much during the renovation.
For an upcoming weekend later this month, rates start as low as $230 plus a $45 resort charge. There are also other great options to cover your stay, including a free night award with points or one of the weekend night awards that comes with various Hilton credit cards. Remember that resort fees are waived on free night awards, and most trips to Vegas are on weekends, so that works out great if you’re visiting with a partner who has a second card. In addition, those of you with a Hilton Honors Aspire card from American Express can take advantage of $100 in property credits when booking a two-night stay at Conrad and Waldorf Astoria properties.