HotelCrush: a vehement, furious, downright pathological appreciation for hotel design and culture

ABOUT:

We love hotels. We love room service. We love poolside cocktails. There is nothing more decadent than a trip to a hotel, the epicenter of our social circles and respite from our daily life. They are destinations in themselves, with the acumen of the location converged in the design and the sensibilities of its inhabitants. Hotels are daydreams made real, with amenities at your fingertips and a dip in the water just steps away. More than temporary homes, today's hotels aspire to be just like home - whatever home it is that you are looking for.

Mandarin Crush

7/24/11: las vegas, hotelcrush

Visitors to Vegas are struck by the sheer magnitude. Yesterday's dollhouses are today's miniature Venice, Paris, New York, and Lake Como. Everything is neon, gilded, metallic, reflective, light-up, angular, self-important, and not a small bit desperate. And out of this miasma of numb stimulation, tucked in from the frontal onslaught of the Strip, is the Mandarin Oriental. At first impression you'll know this one is different. There is no casino, and the lobby is on the 23rd floor, adjacent to a lounge serving afternoon tea and champagne on ice. A step further and you'll enter the bar, a rounded corner of a room with floor-to-ceilings of the horror below. A perfect place to recharge with a moment of float time before plummeting into a posse of pamphleteers advertising "Girls to your door in 20min".

Yes, we'll have another. . .

The Lobby and Lounge:

mandarin las vegas lobby mandarin las vegas lobby lounge

 

Yes...Still in Vegas

7/24/11: las vegas

There are five good reasons to be in Vegas.

  1. Your plane has a stopover
  2. You are driving from LA to New York and you need to make a gas stop before the Grand Canyon
  3. You're on tour and the show is mandatory
  4. Your friend has a plane, suite comps, and (the clincher) spa credits
  5. Your parents are celebrating a milestone anniversary

If, like us, you're hovering around reason #5, your goal is get in and get out without a sunburn, a hangover, a new debt, or a wildly unflattering photo. So far so good.

We spent the afternoon making the huge (read 5min, Angelenos) walk to the Aria at CityCenter. One of Las Vegas's newest, it's also one of the most sensible, with a Japanese take on minimalism and sufficient buffer around the casino to fool even us into a moment of location amnesia. We slid into resort mode at the lobby bar and ordered a pomegranate mojito. Delicious though too sweet for our taste, we tempered the sugar with handfuls of cashews, thoroughly ruining our plan for an afternoon gelato.

The Lobby Bar:

the aria lobby bar the aria lobby

Let's turn around:

the aria lobby and lounge the aria lobby and lounge continued

 

Tippling at the Bellagio

7/23/11: las vegas

A small part of us remembers swimming the noxious heat around the Luxor in the '90s - "Mom. Dad. It's so hot it's unhealthy. Let's get out of here." Grade school impression noted, not much has changed in Las Vegas. Except almost everything. Where once there was only gambling, there are now hotels brave (or snobbish) enough to be greenlit without casinos. There are more designers in two blocks than in all of Beverly Hills. The hotel spa scene is as competitive as Miami. There's reason to ask, what am I doing here in the casino when I could be shopping, spa-ing, or sipping a glass of bubbly by the pool?

We checked into the Bellagio amidst the hysteria of a Saturday afternoon. Greeted by a loud, persistent Chihuly installation that stretched the length of the lobby, we grabbed our room key and ran as fast to the elevator as the casino floor plan would allow. Something was definitely off – something that remained off through the parking lot of lounge chairs by the pool and the thunderous fountains that crushed the mental concentration of our inner tightrope walker. Something that was so off that the lovely Bellagio terrace bar is now being renovated into a chain outpost of Hyde.

The one standout we'll allow the Bellagio is the excellent steakhouse, Prime. Our dinner was perfect, from the savory shortribs to the macaroni and cheese, creamed spinach, asparagus, and blueberry crumble cake. We can't be sure of a trip back to Las Vegas anytime soon (we would rather go to Santa Barbara...or Pasadena) but we'll remember Prime for the next moment in desperation of taste.

The floor lobby and suite dining room:

bellagio suite lobby bellagio suite dining room

The bar and living room:

bellagio suite bar bellagio living room

One of the bedrooms and one of the bathrooms (there were 5!):

bellagio suite bedroom bellagio suite jacuzzi tub

 

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