Sure, regular visitors have their favourites, but Vegas isn’t for loyalists. It’s for seekers of the hottest, the newest, the now.And lately, they want to be seen at the Cosmopolitan, where a massive chandelier conceals a three-story bar and casino cabanas overlook the Strip.
So it’s no surprise that the attention-grabbing Cosmopolitan gets more check-ins on Foursquare than any other casino in Vegas.
The social site, which counts five million check-ins worldwide daily, reviewed its Vegas data from August 2011 to August 2012 to provide us with this exclusive list of the most popular casinos in Sin City. (After all, even if what happens stays secret, half the fun is letting all your friends know you’re in Vegas, baby.)
Established hotels, too, are coming up with new reasons to check in, spending millions on upgrades like the sunlit high-limits slot rooms at the Wynn Las Vegas (No. 14) or a refresh of the 171,500-square-foot casino at MGM Grand (No. 2). The biggest efforts go into the kinds of celeb-chef restaurants, retail stores, and entertainment venues that increasingly divert visitors’ attention from gambling.
Look for the Hakkasan restaurant and club coming to MGM Grand in 2013; four zip lines running between the Luxor pyramid and the Excalibur; a giant observation wheel at the Flamingo; and Gordon Ramsay’s first Vegas restaurant. At the No. 7-ranked Venetian, a mobile sports betting app makes it easier than ever to venture away from the casino floor.
While you can gauge the hipness of a casino by its volume of check-ins, that won’t predict your likelihood of winning big. But at least one thing’s certain: the lure of a deal. Foursquare found that the casinos with the most loyal patrons (those that got the most check-ins from repeat visitors) are affordable options like Circus Circus and Aquarius Casino Resort.
Read on for the latest buzz about Vegas’s popular hotel casinos, plus tips like where rookie gamblers can get free poker lessons, which 500-dish buffet is worthwhile, and how to score reservations at the soon-to-open Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace.
And wherever you are right now, check in to Foursquare and follow Travel + Leisure for tips and curated recommendations in hot spots around the world.
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Amid a sea of themed hotels, Vegas's most checked-in casino makes an urbane, design-forward statement.
That goes for the casino floor, too, where you can gamble and socialize in casino cabanas whose floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlook the Strip (no reservation necessary). Foursquare users also likely flock here to party at Marquee Nightclub (and summer poolside Marquee Dayclub), shop, and eat out, whether rustic Italian at Scarpetta or burgers and boozy shakes at Holsteins.
The Cosmopolitan can't be topped for surprises, from a pop-up wedding chapel to monthly live-in artists who work in a public storefront.
The Buzz: Live music, free parties, and movies below the 65-foot digital marquee at the Boulevard Pool. Concerts by the likes of Stevie Wonder and the Red Hot chilli Peppers, especially for New Year's Eve, are becoming legendary.
At 171,500 square feet, MGM's casino is the largest in the city, and it is getting a refresh (including clearer directions through the cavernous space) while preserving some classic elements like Sigma Derby, the last remaining mechanical horse-racing game on the Strip.
After all, MGM Grand has been an icon for nearly 40 years, with its giant lion dominating the intersection of Las Vegas and Tropicana. The nearly completed $160 million renovation extends to the 3,570 guest rooms and 642 suites and ushers in LED lighting, solar shades and biodegradable amenities.
The Buzz: Early in 2013, the Cantonese-themed restaurant and nightclub Hakkasan opens. Before the end of 2012, Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp will set up permanent shop, letting super fans and would-be rockers play with legends like Roger Daltrey, Alice Cooper, and Sammy Hagar.
In keeping with its opulent reputation, Caesars claims to have been the site of more million-dollar plus slot machine jackpots than any casino in the world.
In general, gaming is geared toward high rollers: two poker rooms get a lot of action (one for cash play, the other exclusively for tournaments); and sports gamers love the sports book, where most of the seats have tables with TVs. Qua Spa remains mostly unsurpassed, and the Forum Shops at Caesars are always adding something new under that ceiling that mimics the changes in real daylight.
Then, there's the Colosseum, which hosts entertainers like Celine Dion, and, coming in December 2012, Shania Twain.
The Buzz: Rarely does a buffet make major news on the Strip, but the new Bacchanal buffet lives up to its name, with more than 500 dishes spanning the world. Insider tip: check into the 180-room boutique Nobu Hotel when it opens in early 2013 (taking reservations as of Oct. 1, 2012) for your only chance to order Nobu in-room.
Venetian's big poker room (which can fit 50 tables) has plenty of action and often with more manageable wait times than at the Bellagio.
The sports book has gone mobile here and at sister property Palazzo: download the wagering app from the book or the website, and you can bet during dinner. That is if you can take your eyes off the surroundings.
With its canals traveled by singing gondoliers, the Venetian is a fine place to people-watch, whether at restaurants like Otto Enoteca or on a bench with a gelato under the convincing sky that turns from day to dusk.
The Buzz: New restaurants Public House--a speakeasy-style tavern with Nevada's first beer cicerone--and Bourbon Room, which pays homage to the musical Rock of Ages and serves 28 different bourbons, including two made just for the bar.
While the casino tables are geared toward high rollers, you don't have too look hard to find cheap slots; nickel and quarter slots are spread all over the floor.
Foodies and nightlife aficionados, meanwhile, come for Rick Moonen's RM Seafood, Fleur by Hubert Keller, the long-lived Aureole by Charlie Palmer, or the 43rd-floor Foundation Room. Families appreciate the 1.6 million-gallon Shark Reef and Mandalay Bay Beach, the 11-acre water park with real sand beaches, four swimming pools, a lazy river and a wave pool for body surfing.
The Buzz: Restaurants like China Grill and Red Square are being retired as the Delano Hotel moves in. A casual American bistro by chef Brian Massie, a Japanese restaurant by Akira Back, and a new nightclub by The Light Group are expected replacements. mandalaybay.com
Modern, high-tech, and LEED gold certified, the Aria is one of the Strip's most progressive properties. And while the CityCenter complex was the largest privately funded construction project in U.S. history, the casino at Aria is surprisingly intimate.
You'll find two daily tournaments in the 24-table poker room; a separate area of the smallish sports book dedicated to horse racing (separated into little areas with their own TVs); and slots that range from pennies to high-stakes.
The Buzz: Chef Masa Takayama's BarMasa has been a major draw, and he is already making changes. His new teppanyaki restaurant, Tetsu, replaces Shaboo as its restaurant-within-a-restaurant, with cooked-to-order Wagyu, live shrimp, and foie gras at huge blackjack-style grill tables. Coming soon, an outpost of the Los Cabos hot spot, Javier's.
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