As a Southern California native, I’ve taken countless trips to Las Vegas. I have memories of visiting the indoor amusement park in Circus Circus, marveling over the Bellagio Fountains, and, more recently, checking out the Cosmopolitan Hotel for a romantic getaway. But even for regular visitors, Vegas can be overwhelming. In 2021, 3.2 million people came to the city — and that’s while still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions. Bright lights, crowds, and noisy casino slot machines can dampen the experience if that’s not your scene. But there’s another side to the city if you know where to look. Case in point: the Nobu Hotel Las Vegas.
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Caesars Palace is one of the best-known hotels on the strip, and it’s easy to live lavishly in the Romanesque adult playground. But the resort’s best-kept secret is a boutique hotel with a whole different vibe tucked away inside one of the corridors. The Nobu Hotel made its debut as the first of its kind in 2013, named after chef Nobu Matsuhisa, who’s best known for his upscale Japanese restaurants that can be found on four different continents. This past January, the luxury boutique hotel announced a facelift with 182 redesigned guest rooms and suites and a hotel that draws inspiration from kintsugi, a Japanese artform where broken pottery is repaired with gold epoxy.
Stepping into the Nobu Hotel makes you feel like you’re in a whole other world than what’s just beyond its walls. I have no sense of direction, so I had to stop a few times in the massive Caesars Palace before finding Nobu. But at the check-in desk, it’s like the walls are soundproof with how much separation there is. The lobby is a masterpiece all on its own with low lighting that makes it feel intimate, while the walls are like the most intricate puzzle.
The Japanese influence continues in the rooms, but not in a kitschy way. I stayed in a Deluxe King Room with a luxurious king-sized bed, lots of Japanese artwork, a sofa, and a kintsugi-style coffee table. The room has lots of redwood and black accents, and the bathroom is spacious with great lighting that’s perfect for hair and makeup with has a separate vanity table. The black tiled walk-in rainfall shower is massive, and the sink bowls are porcelain white. The room’s elegance on its own is enough to provide a space to feel relaxed, but the ambiance overall makes the stay peaceful.
Food options at Nobu Hotel Las Vegas
In 2021, WalletHub named Las Vegas the eighth best city in the country for foodies, and I couldn’t agree more. While I cringe at the moniker, I consider food as one of the most important parts of a destination. And with celebrity chefs constantly opening restaurants across the Strip, Las Vegas brings the Food Network straight to your plate.
The Nobu Hotel may feel distinct from Caesars Palace, but the two share amenities and Nobu guests can access all of the amenities and restaurants by walking out into Caesars. If you’re craving some lemon ricotta cookies from Giada Pronto and are not interested in leaving your room, for example, no problem. Caesars Eats is the resort’s food service app that lets you order food from eight of the resort’s restaurants that can deliver food to you wherever you are.
Giada De Laurentiis, the long-time star who is currently the host of the Food Network show Giada at Home, opened her fast casual restaurant in the hotel in 2018, and it’s the perfect choice for breakfast. The Italian chef’s restaurant has plenty of options for breakfast, whether you’re in the mood for a quick pastry on the go, a healthy parfait, or a breakfast sandwich. For a full breakfast experience, try the All American Breakfast that comes with two eggs; toast; your choice of spinach, bacon, or sausage; and a side of lemon smashed potatoes. The lemon smashed potatoes outshine everything else on the plate, making me wonder if I have enough skills to follow her recipe and make them at home.
The world’s first Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen restaurant transports you to the show’s set, making you feel like you’re watching it live. If it’s not too windy, the HK outside is set aflame to let you know what you’re walking into. Check in at the lobby, where guests are greeted by a hall of fame with photos of each contestant that won the last 20 seasons of the hit reality show. Once seated, the dining room has a very open floor that still feels elegant while you watch the magic happen in the open kitchen where the chefs have nothing to hide. Chefs on each side of the red and blue teams split responsibilities, with one side making entrees and the other making appetizers and desserts.
The menu offers American dining with lots of neat party tricks. Cocktails smoke and change color, for example, and desserts are plated with dry ice. We ordered the pan-seared scallops served on a pea puree, pickled fennel, and sherry braised bacon lardons for appetizers. I enjoyed it, though I’m not very fond of peas. But my favorite thing we ordered at the restaurant was the lobster risotto. Luxurious butter-poached lobster is served out of the shell on top of a truffle oil risotto. Truffle oil is one of those ingredients you either love or hate; luckily, I love it (this appetizer isn’t be for you if you don’t).
I couldn’t leave the restaurant without ordering Ramsay’s signature dish — a beef Wellington served medium rare wrapped in golden-brown puff pastry with a layer of finely chopped mushrooms served with potato puree, glazed root vegetables, and a red wine demi-glace. The steak was perfectly cooked and tender, but the potato puree ultimately tied the entire entree together to make it delicious. For dessert, the famed dish is sticky toffee pudding. Still, we decided to split the chocolate sin cake served with caramel mousse and chocolate gelato, and the coconut three-ways — a coconut sorbet, passion fruit caramel, coconut cake that’s super refreshing and served on dry ice. Be sure to bring lots of friends as the portions are generous and you’ll want to try a bit of everything.
Located within walking distance from the casino, Giada, De Laurentiis’s main restaurant, is inside a boutique hotel called The Cromwell. The sit-down restaurant screams elegance with superb elevated views, crisp white linen tablecloths, golden chandeliers, and plates with her name on them. The dishes are straightforward — there are no fancy tricks or fluff, just well-executed, tasty food from an Italian chef obsessed with lemon. I opted for the tasting menu, which is a four-course meal. A perfectly executed salad topped with pancetta, the signature spaghetti with shrimp, petite filet, and Giada’s signature cookies covered the courses. I wasn’t expecting much from cookies, but the lemon ricotta one is an experience I might never forget.
I am convinced you’re sleeping under a rock if you haven’t heard of Nobu. There are two locations of the Japanese restaurant with a Peruvian twist in Las Vegas — one just outside the Nobu Hotel, where, if you stay there, you get priority access for reservations, and one in the Paris hotel just a short walk down the Strip. Don’t be surprised if you walk out with a bill topping several hundred dollars, but Vegas is all about living large. I’ve eaten at a Nobu in Los Angeles before and I wasn’t that impressed. During this trip, it was clear the party I went with in Los Angeles ordered all wrong.
The best way to order at Nobu is to leave your menu to the server and the chef. Let your server know your favorite flavors, dietary restrictions, and how much you want to pay per person up-front, and get ready for a curated menu of your dreams served family style. I doubt you’ll be able to leave here without feeling stuffed. Still, I promise you, dishes like the melt-in-your-mouth yellowtail jalapeno sashimi, the rock shrimp tempura, and the tataki filet served with truffle butter on a hot stone are worth it. A plethora of traditional sushi creates a dining experience you might dream about for days.
Things to do when staying at the Nobu Hotel
One of the best parts of traveling to Vegas is the large talent pool of performers. Fan favorites like Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group have entertained audiences for decades. After a period of pandemic restrictions and audience size limitations, shows have come back in a big way. If you’re a cult follower of the reality show Ru Paul’s Drag Race, you’ll be obsessed with the live performance that premiered at The Flamingo in 2020. The show rotates out fan favorite queens, so you’ll never know who you’ll get. It’s combination of comedy, runway, lip-syncing, and dancing challenges that will make you feel like you’re sitting at the judge’s table. I was in awe once I realized my favorite queen, Naomi Smalls, was in the performing cast. Derrick Berry performed her signature Britney Spears impression, and Latrice Royale, who won Ms. Congeniality during the fourth season, stole the show with a showstopper number.
If you’re looking for something a bit more fantasy, Absinthe is a must-see show that’s held in a giant circus that made me feel transported to an adult playground conducted by The Gazillionaire and his green fairy. This show combines circus, burlesque, and vaudeville with acrobatic numbers and cheeky moments of cabaret in lingerie. My favorite number was the bathtub (as you might guess, water is involved, but the front row is offered a giant tarp to prevent from getting soaked). This show is 18-plus, and for a good reason. The jokes can be kind of raunchy, and the host is quick to pick on victims in the audience, so if you’re a bit of a prude, you might want to pick something else.
If you’d like to relax, my favorite part of my visit was a trip to the Qua Baths & Spa. This 50,000-square-foot spa takes relaxation to the next level. The facility doesn’t allow phones inside, making it perfect for immersing yourself and just living in the moment. I checked in and got a tour of the facility, which has two wet rooms with Vichy showers, a cedar sauna, an herbal steam room, a whirlpool, a tea lounge, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Beyond what you would expect in a spa are the specialty rooms. The arctic ice room is a great (but freezing) way to cool down while running the traditional spa circuit. Snow bubbles fall from above, and if you’re like me, you’ll only be able to hang out there for a few minutes before switching to the whirlpool or the jacuzzi. The Laconium Room is the opposite if you’re wanting to sweat it out, but the Roman Baths make the spa a marvel. You can bathe peacefully as the Romans did in cool, warm, or hot water pools while a waterfall rains from above.
The spa treatment menu features a variety of choices. There’s a little something for everyone with prenatal treatments, couples massages, and even bridal party experiences. I opted for the signature Mojave Rain experience. It’s a specialty massage that uses the Indigenous community’s sacred plants, oils, and the Four Directions. The 80-minute treatment begins with a sage smudging. Then several different warmed essential oils are cascaded along the body, and finally, a massage and energy work completes the experience. I’ve never left a treatment feeling so relaxed and zen.