WHERE IS IT At the corner of E. Harmon Ave. and Paradise Road, the recently-opened, completely reimagined casino-resort affords views of the Las Vegas Strip, yet remains far enough removed to avoid the boulevard’s teeming masses and ever-present gridlocked traffic.
WHAT’S IT LIKE After a year-long, $200 million transformation of the prior Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Virgin Hotels Las Vegas opened in March, 2021, realizing Virgin Group owner Sir Richard Branson’s long-held desire to enter the Las Vegas hospitality market.
In a welcome respite from Las Vegas casino-resorts’ much-despised propensity to add upcharges to artificially-low room rates, Virgin Hotels’ upfront pricing mantra delivers with no resort fees, free Wi-Fi and complimentary self-parking, creating a unique value proposition in this market.
The property has a moderately upscale, relaxed feel with modern design touches aimed at appealing to a wide range of clientele, while providing the value one would expect at an off-Strip resort. During a recent midweek stay, I experienced a boutique hotel vibe with all of the requisite Vegas trappings – just in a manageable geographic footprint.
And like other Virgin Hotels, the Las Vegas property aims to mix a passion for food and beverage with music and culture, while meshing with the local desert landscape via a “desert modern” design theme.
ROOM FACILITIES All 1,504 full-renovated and redesigned rooms are non-smoking and spread across three towers, with the Ruby Tower comprising all suites, ranging from 555 to 757 sq. ft. Standard accommodations in the Canyon Tower and Opal Tower, however, are also generously sized from 460 to 604 sq. ft.
All Chambers (Virgin’s term for its hotel rooms) and suites feature the company’s patented, ergonomically-designed “Virgin Hotels Signature Bed,” conceived as a way to work comfortably by using a padded headboard (conveniently set at a 120-degree angle) to facilitate sitting up with a laptop. The bed also features three “cubby holes” that allow up to three people to sit with their backs supported while facing each other for “relaxed” meetings. Bedside charging sockets keep devices humming, while Virgin Hotels’ Lucy mobile app controls lighting and environmental functions nimbly. And the accommodations represent a complete refresh from the prior Hard Rock rooms, as furniture, fixtures, equipment and decor are all new. The “chamber” effect is realized by closing a door between the bedroom and dressing/bath area, thus providing privacy for room service deliveries.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS With an eclectic dining roundup, Virgin Hotels Las Vegas appeals to a wide range of palates at multiple price points. Thankfully, two popular holdovers from the Hard Rock have returned in the current incarnation with new decor – but menus relatively intact. Leading the pack is the Las Vegas’ original Nobu, featuring the uber-chef’s traditional Japanese cooking; and One Steakhouse (previously MB Steak), successfully delivering on the Morton brothers’ devotion to their family’s classic steakhouse tradition with nods to modern tastes, including melt-in-your-mouth Japanese A5 wagyu.
LA-based chef Kris Yenbamroong’s Night + Market menu offers the chef’s decadent and often-playful Thai cuisine (lobster pad Thai or kosher pastrami with wok-tossed rice noodles, anyone?) along with a sophisticated wine program, while Casa Calavera (from Vegas nightlife/restaurant juggernaut Hakkasan Group) matches Cabo’s open-air atmosphere with approachable Mexican cuisine (most dishes under $20) and an interesting cocktail program.
After a successful, 20-year run at Bellagio, James Beard-Award winning chef Todd English brings his noted Olives restaurant back to Vegas with a Mediterranean-focused menu, while Pizza Forte is the perfect place to pick up a slice when the need arises.
Other venues of note include Kassi Beach House, a European-style restaurant and lounge; the sports bar Money, Baby!; The Shag Room, a moody lounge accessed through a speakeasy photobooth entrance; and The Kitchen at Commons Club – a casual, 24/7 spot with a nod to Virgin’s British roots, which replaces the former Hard Rock’s popular Mr. Lucky’s.
LEISURE FACILITIES The completely refreshed outdoor experience combines a resort pool, the Mykonos-themed Elia Beach Club, The Promenade and Event Lawn, with the latter two forming a pathway and green space facing patios of several food-and-beverage outlets.
The Fitness Room features all-new lines of equipment and floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the pool complex, while The Spa offers the requisite relaxation and wellness treatments, in addition to a Roman-style bath.
Marking the first tribal casino presence in the Las Vegas market, the otherwise unremarkable Mohegan Sun Casino sports a 60,000 sq. ft. gaming area with a variety of slots using 4D video technology, and a majority of Blackjack tables offering a player-friendly 3:2 payout on a natural 21. The compact-yet-complete Betfred USA Sportsbook includes luxury seating, a state-of-the-art video wall, over-the-counter wagering and self-serve kiosks.
The hotel’s intimate live entertainment venue, 24 Oxford, currently houses 27 – A Musical Adventure, a tribute to music icons gone-too-soon at age 27. And while the concept is slightly macabre, the show does have multi-generational appeal with acts featuring tribute artists representing blues and rock legends from several eras. Specifically, the acts featuring Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse are impressive. Meanwhile, the larger, 4,500-seat Theater (formerly the Joint) will feature headline entertainment.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Virgin’s dedicated convention and meetings space, The Manor, can also serve as an entertainment venue. The Manor includes 130,000 sq. ft. of indoor space, a versatile outdoor Event Lawn (built on top of the prior Rehab party pool) and 5 acres of pool deck – all combining to host up to 10,000 guests.
VERDICT Forget any preconceived notions of the former, party-focused Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Deftly striking a balance by maintaining its predecessor’s hipness quotient while appealing to a slightly wider demographic via unique indoor/outdoor venues and an eclectic dining program, Virgin Hotels Las Vegas seemingly fits into a niche of its own – a rarity in the hyper-competitive Las Vegas casino-resort market.
CONTACT Virgin Hotels Las Vegas: 4455 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, NV 89169; Phone 702-693-5000; Reservations 800-693-7625. https://virginhotelslv.com