The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas Hotel Is Now Better Than Ever

Food & Drink

Virtually no hotels in Las Vegas offer terraces, but the Cosmo has lots of them. This is the view from one – maybe your room.

Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, aka The Cosmo, was never intended to be a typical Vegas casino hotel. That may be the best thing about it.

The project originally had a lot of condos, and by the time that fell through, construction was too far along to change the basic footprint of the structure. As a result, the hotel rooms here, many intended to be apartments, are generally the biggest on the Strip, even without upgrading to a suite, and fans have long loved that the Cosmo delivers bigger and typically better-appointed rooms and more bang for the buck. This value proposition among upscale hotels has become the worst kept secret on The Strip

But the fortunate change of plans also gave the hotel other advantages. While it has about 3,000 rooms, it was not meant to be another mega-resort like its neighbors, so it required a smaller site. This allowed it to be built in a perfectly prime location in the heart of the most desirable part of the Strip, right next to the Bellagio. Because it is more compact, it’s also easier to maneuver than many of its ginormous and often intentionally confusing and convoluted peers, and this improves everything from simply getting in and out to moving around inside. In short, it feels more like a hotel, and guests love that.

For more great Sin City travel info, check out “The Very Best of Las Vegas 2019 For Every Budget,” here at Forbes.

The Chandelier Bar at the Cosmo spans three levels in the middle of the lobby atrium, and has become one of the most popular places to go for a cocktail in the entire city.

Anthony Mair

Necessity being the mother of invention, because the casino area is smaller than just about any other resort with this many rooms (gaming was originally planned to be on the second floor), more stress was put on other operations to help the hotel’s bottom line from day one. As a result, the Cosmo has had some of the finest cuisine and amenities in Vegas ever since it opened. For example, it was Wicked Spoon, the all-you-can-eat three meal a day eatery here, that reinvented the Las Vegas buffet concept as more gourmet, with individual servings, better plating and more cooked to order dishes, and its success led pretty much every big competitor to revamp its buffet in similar fashion. Just a year after the hotel opened, its wildly popular Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub was believed to be the nation’s top grossing nightclub.

Another perfect example is the signature centerpiece three-level Chandelier Bar. While many Vegas casino floor bars are colorless adjuncts to blackjack tables, the Cosmo has become one of the most popular places in the entire city to have cocktail, a bar for bar’s sake, and as a result, it draws in many guests staying elsewhere. In general, the casino level – the first thing anyone sees – just generally looks nicer, classier and more inviting than most Vegas properties.

In a city known for gaudiness, the Cosmo takes a classy approach, and the lobby, casino and public areas just look nice.

Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Also, while pretty much all of the big casino resorts in town have some standout eateries, you can wander around until past your reservation simply trying to find them. Not so in the Cosmo, with the city’s most concise collection of great dining, all laid out around the shopping mall-style multi-level escalator served atrium. Guests can easily eat very well here, fancy or casual, star chefs or upscale food court, night after night.

Based on my personal experience, having covered the Vegas food scene in depth for more than 20 years, I want to point out my own favorites here. Jaleo, by star Spanish chef Jose Andres, is one of my Sin City favorites, with classic Spanish dishes done really, really well, mostly driven by impeccable ingredient sourcing. One of my personal worldwide faves is the beautifully simple Catalan tomato bread, and I’ve had it in many places in Spain, and this is the best I’ve ever tried. The inventory of amazing hand carved Spanish ham is fantastic, the octopus tender and perfectly grilled, the signature slate of paella overwhelming with tempting choices. You can eat here over and over without repeating and still be wowed.

Paella is traditionally cooked over an open fire in Spain, but very few US restaurants bother. Star Spanish chef Jose Andres is an exception and has all sorts of paella on the menu at his stunning Jaleo, cooked in an open fire pit in full view.

Anthony Mair

Estiatorio Milos, with branches in Montreal, London, New York, Athens, Miami and now Cabo, is one of my all-time favorites. This Greek-focused Mediterranean eatery is famous for its incredibly high-quality and varied seafood sourcing, and stocks some of the best fish of any restaurant in the world, flown in fresh daily, just stunning stuff. Every Vegas casino resort tries to outdo each other with Italian, and there are some great choices, but Scarpetta is consistently among the best. The myriad fans of New York’s beloved Blue Ribbon will find the Vegas outpost just as good, and in the city’s increasingly hyper-competitive world of gourmet burger joints, patty and shake specialist Holsteins is one of the best, and cheerfully without the genre’s all too common (and undeserved) pretension.

All this would be enough, but the Cosmo is better than ever after a recent round of notable additions and renovations – including all guest rooms. The deep-pocketed Blackstone Group acquired it in 2014 and made plans for a major expansion, adding two top floors of ultra-luxury high rollers penthouses called the Boulevard Suites (free to those gambling 7-figure bankrolls and not for rent to mere mortals).

The Block 16 Food Hall imported beloved cult eateries from around the US to the Cosmo a few months ago. One is Portland’s Lardo’s making killer Italian sandies like this griddled mortadella.

Alan Weiner

But there were a lot of upgrades everyone can enjoy. The most edible of these is the all new Block 16 Urban Food Hall, opened early this year. This imported several famous names with cult followings in other parts of the century, all first appearances in Vegas. These include Lardo’s, whose crazy good sandwiches, many focused on artisan Italian charcuterie, is a huge hit in its native Portland; the first branch of New Orleans’ beloved District Donuts, Sliders, Brew which will satisfy any sweet tooth; LA’s Eggslut, which has reinvented the breakfast sandwich several times over – think tri-tip with chimichurri plus egg and arugula a roll; wing lovers drool over James Beard award-winning Chef Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok Wing in Portland and now here; and my personal favorite, Nashville Hot Chicken legend Hattie B’s, which brings the first taste of the Music City’s spicy signature to the Strip. Wow, that’s a lot of fantastic choices, and it’s not even a complete list.

Andy Ricker has wing lovers drooling at his Portland Pok Pok, now in Vegas for the 1st time at the Cosmo.

Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Besides this stunning new food court, the latest wave of improvements added Red Plate, a sophisticated traditional Chinese eatery, and the brand-new Barbershop Cuts and Cocktails. I had to see this to believe it – an actual upscale barber shop with a hidden door to a speakeasy featuring a huge whiskey program and one of the city’s best intimate live performance spaces – something surprisingly lacking in Vegas. Cosmo also added a very high-profile new show, Opium by Spiegelworld, the production company’s sequel to wildly popular Absinthe, usually rated the number one show in the city and rightfully so (see my previous story on the 5 Best Shows in Vegas here). It plays in the new Opium Theatre, which like the tent that houses Absinthe, is small and has nothing but good seats close to the action.

You don’t need to spurge for a suite to have lots of space at the Cosmo, with some of the biggest guest rooms on the Strip – all just renovated. This is a regular King.

Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Last but hardly not least, last year the hotel completed a remodel of all 3,033 guest rooms, which are essentially brand new. I took a tour, and while they were already very nice, they are now even better. Because of the original condo concept, many had kitchenettes no one used, so the space has been repurposed and many room types now have more functional living, dining, working and/or bedroom areas.

Also, while almost no casino hotels in Vegas offer outdoor terraces, generally considered a no-no here, the Cosmo does, up and down its towers, including awesome wraparound corner Terrace Suites. All rooms are now equipped with tablets allowing guests to book restaurant and spa reservations, purchase show tickets, order room service, access thousands of e-newspapers and magazines and control automated lighting and temperature. The Cosmopolitan claims to now have the fastest Wi-Fi on the Strip, though I didn’t test that. There’s too much other fun stuff to do.

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