With all the sensory stimulation in Las Vegas, I sometimes just need to slip into a comfy bar somewhere to get away from the crowds in the casinos and regroup. Luckily, Vegas has a lot of bars and lounges from which to choose. There are nightclubs and ultralounges; there are lounges with live music and dueling pianos; there are video poker bars; there are even ice bars and swim-up bars. To be clear, the bars I’m talking about today are not the nightclubs and ultralounges; I’ll leave that topic to someone who actually frequents them. I’m more interested in the casual bars, the ones where there is no dress code, no need to impress, and where the focus is on the historical purpose of a bar: to relax with a drink.
The trouble, as Paul of VegasNotes and I were discussing earlier this week, is that so many Las Vegas bars are interchangeable, practically identical–what Paul referred to as “Identikit”. Where’s the imagination, where’s the diversity, Las Vegas? (It’s all on Fremont East, apparently.) So many of them are transparently trying to attract the same twenty-something target demographic. Or else they see something that is popular at one resort (say, an ice bar or an Irish pub) and decide they need to add one to their resort, too. Copycat bars generally don’t have a lot of character and some of them even seem, dare I say it, soulless. Thank God for those few that stand out from the crowd as comfortable, unpretentious, and thematically or decoratively different.
Here are some of my favorite unique bars on the Las Vegas Strip:
1. The Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan
Or should I say “Chandelier Bars”? Because there are three of them, on three different floors, all surrounded by drapes of the massive chandelier that is the centerpiece of the Cosmopolitan. Each bar has a different feel to it, and each one offers its own specialty cocktails. There are numerous comfortable and cozy seating areas around each of these bars, and seating at the bars themselves. I love this place. You can have several different types of bar experience at the same hotel, and they’re all unique from anything else you’ll find on the Strip.
2. Carnaval Bar, Harrahs
The Carnaval Bar at Harrahs is located outdoors in the Carnaval Court and features live bands on the stage and flair bartenders working the bar. It’s a great place to hang out if you want to get away from the casino and enjoy a little fresh air. It can also be wickedly fun, depending on the crowd gathered there. Get in out of the hot sun during the day, or out of the smoky casino at night. You do have to time it right, though; this is such a popular bar it can often be hard to get a seat, especially at night.
3. The Seahorse Lounge, Caesars Palace
Truly one of the more unique resort lounges in terms of decor, the Seahorse Lounge is close enough to the action, but separated from it just enough to provide respite, with comfortable seating and plenty to look at, from the carved seahorses adorning the walls of the bar to the large cylindrical aquarium at the center of it. The bar is hugely long, providing plenty of seating for solos, or you can sink into one of the cozy lounge chairs around the room. It feels a little old school Vegas, and that’s just fine with me.
4. Salute Lounge, Palazzo
Given the dark, cave-like lighting in the Salute Lounge, I find the stalactite-shaped lights on the ceiling rather appropriate. And I just love the zebra stripes on the columns and upholstery. This lounge becomes a dueling piano lounge in the late afternoon through nighttime, and after two samplings of the show, I’d say it’s the weak link in the dueling piano chain in Vegas, but it’s a decent place to grab a drink during off-music hours. It’s got a bit of a retro Vegas feel to it, a sort of 60s-70s vibe.
5. The Peppermill Lounge
Don’t judge the Peppermill by the lousy photo I snapped above. This is probably the coolest bar I’ve ever visited in Vegas. The Peppermill Fireside Lounge, next door to the Peppermill Restaurant, has a retro feel to it, inspired by the decor, such as the hot pink plush seating you see above. In addition to the bar (with video poker if you’re in the mood) the lounge has extremely comfortable and cozy seating areas, some of which are around indoor firepits. If you want a taste of “classic Vegas,” this is the lounge for you.
6. The Petrossian Bar, Bellagio
For some reason that escapes me, I’ve never taken a photo of this bar in all my trips to Las Vegas. If you were to walk out of the lower righthand corner of the photo above, you’d be at The Petrossian. This is a very classy bar in the Bellagio that features a live pianist (not dueling). If you want to just relax and enjoy some soothing music at the end of a long, hard day of shopping, gambling, or sightseeing, I can’t think of a better place to do it.
Which bars on the Vegas Strip would you add to this list–and why?