5 -min. read

You may not have realised it, but fabulous Las Vegas has slowly been shedding its tacky, kitschy and showy attributes as of late. The reason you may not have noticed it is because, well, Vegas will always be Vegas, baby – Vegas!  Swingers in some fashion or another. This neon city will always have showgirls, casinos, nightclubs, Cirque du Soleil shows, Elvis impersonators, giant souvenir drinks, and the infamous ‘What-Happens-in-Vegas-Stays-in-Vegas’ credo. And let’s be real – there’s some strange comfort in hearing the ding-ding-ding-ding of the slot machines whenever you enter a Vegas casino… Or the airport, for that matter.

View of Las Vegas – via <a href=";rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=images&amp;cd=&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0ahUKEwiTp_-LgOLYAhUJLcAKHeaZCAoQjB0IBg&amp;;psig=AOvVaw11i2tkn-eo3R_lD7LyBdtI&amp;ust=1516381678261935" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Most Perfect View</a>
View of Las Vegas – via The Most Perfect View

But Las Vegas is now mixing in more influences from beyond the glitzy Las Vegas Strip – and not just in a hokey-theme way. Turn your eyes to Paris Las Vegas and The Venetian Las Vegas – to be fair, these resorts have lots of good qualities, despite their obvious replications of European cities

MGM’s CityCenter complex signalled a new beginning for Vegas when it opened back in 2009, with a casino bathed in fresh light; high-tech amenities in each room; several celebrity chef–driven restaurants; a separate tower with just hotel rooms and no gaming; and the notable lack of any sort of theme. The following year, The Cosmopolitan opened next door, and it quickly became a resort to linger at – not because of its casino offerings, but instead because of its nightlife and restaurant options. (The sexy, high-design rooms helped, too.)

Since then, we’ve seen a Nobu tower open at Caesars Palace, The Delano open a tower at Mandalay Bay and SLS open a mega-complex on the site of the former legendary Sahara Resort & Casino, home to the Rat Pack. Just last year, a W moved into one of the SLS towers, too. We wouldn’t be surprised if EDITION tried to open in the city right now.

Rendering of exterior of Park MGM – courtesy of Park MGM
Rendering of exterior of Park MGM – courtesy of Park MGM

Next up is a new boutique concept with a bonafide Manhattan pedigree, Park MGM. As its name indicates, Park MGM is an MGM Resort, but the concept for the property was developed with the Sydell Group – the likes of NoMad, Line, and Freehand Hotel fame.

And what Sydell and MGM have done is quite extraordinary: working within the bones of the Monte Carlo resort – itself a cheesy homage to that flashy European gambling haven – the two companies have created a handful of sophisticated, yet sweet guest-room layouts that make you feel like you’re in a historic neighbourhood of an older city like New York or London or Chicago. The inspiration, fully realised by British designer Martin Brudnizki, was meant to be residential and European, but it’s so signature Sydell. Touring the rooms last week, we couldn’t believe this was in Las Vegas and not NYC.

The attention to detail is a key differentiator here from other boutique hotels in Vegas. Collages of framed artwork can be found above the beds, which in some rooms are nestled into newly created little alcoves, while the furnishings feel as if they were meant just for that room. Quite a feat since there are 2,700 guest rooms in Park MGM. There are two colour schemes at Park MGM as well – jade green or faded red – both are lovely, but remember red is good luck.

We also loved a ceiling lamp whose electrical cord was encased in a brass frame that extended from the ceiling along the wall and down into the outlet. Most hotel design is about trying to minimise cords and other odds and ends, but Park MGM made that a design focus. Smart, cool and absolutely unexpected for Las Vegas.

Bavette's at Park MGM
Bavette’s at Park MGM

Downstairs is the new steakhouse Bavette’s, which has been imported from Chicago, and fulfills the requirements of tasty steak, excellent side dishes, and dark, yet captivating decor; meanwhile, the all-day dining café Primrose serves South-of-France-inspired cuisine in a bright and airy setting that is akin to what you might find in a Soho House or Firmdale hotel. The casino floor will remain, but games and tables may be moved around to facilitate a more intimate or boutique experience.

Primrose café at Park MGM
Primrose café at Park MGM
Primrose café at Park MGM
Primrose café at Park MGM

Yet what we saw in the lobby truly signals a big change for Las Vegas. Gone is the mile-long front desk. In its place are three short rows of check-in kiosks, cleverly designed to look like vintage ticket stands. These kiosks will print a guest-room key, and will hopefully eliminate those long lines at check-in. There is still a front desk – a normal-sized one – where guests can get further help, or more likely, pay cash.

Park MGM's spectacular lobby
Park MGM’s spectacular lobby

Park MGM will be officially unveiled in March, and will be the final piece in MGM’s The Park complex, which includes a theatre/concert venue, the thrilling Bliss Dance installation, and the T-Mobile Arena, where the city’s new NHL team plays. See? Vegas really is changing.

But wait, there’s a little bit more! Also coming this spring/summer to Park MGM is NoMad Las Vegas, which will be a separate hotel within the hotel comprising of 292 guest rooms, a casino, a private rooftop swimming pool, a NoMad Bar and restaurant from Chef Daniel Humm and restauranteur Will Guidara, and an Eataly outpost. May we suggest leaving your yard-size souvenir drinks outside for this one?

[Photos are courtesy of Park MGM]


Juliana Shallcross
A self-confessed hotel addict, Juliana Shallcross has been reporting on hotels around the world for more than a decade. She was previously the managing editor A good portion of her job involves sleeping in new hotels, obsessing over technology and keeping tabs on the ever-changing hospitality landscape. She's based in Los Angeles.

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