To say that Aria is unlike any Las Vegas casino hotel that has come before it is an understatement of huge proportions. It is, quite literally, a game changer from a design perspective and helped chart the future of what you'll see in the city for decades to come.
As the centerpiece of the CityCenter development, the 4,004 room Aria is a modernist wonder; visually delightful in just about every way. Granted, this is all a matter of taste, but has been a long time since a Las Vegas hotel made such an immediate and lasting impression on me.
The exterior of the building is deceptive. At first glance it looks like a fairly basic glass and steel skyscraper. But look closely and you'll start to note the intersecting curves and echoing angles that make up an almost silky shape. It's certainly a welcome change from the bland, slab sided boxes that most Vegas hotel towers have become.
But it is inside where the place really takes off. The interior spaces are simply stunning, with a soaring lobby filled with lots of natural light, sculpture (art and architecture), and plants combining to create a warm welcome. Check out the huge reception desk with the sculpture in the giant window behind it - that's from artist Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam War Memorial.
The casino is just off the lobby and it stretches off in a 150,000 square-foot semi-circle making it the second largest gaming space in Las Vegas (behind only the MGM Grand). If you can ignore the slot machines and table games for a minute, you can really start to appreciate the design details here. It's dark - darker than just about any other casino on The Strip - but there are shafts of natural light that peek in here and there and provide interesting offsets to the heavy use of wood, metal, stone, glass, and fabric around the room. It's as if the whole thing is one big art installation, with sinewy colored glass structures, fabric covered walls, and copper and wood clad support columns everywhere you look. It is, without a doubt, the most visually dramatic casino in town.
But of course you didn't really come here for the scenery; you came to gamble and there is plenty of that. Thousands of slot video poker machines offer all of the latest high-tech bells and whistles, including an electronic concierge service of sorts that can give you information about all of the property's offerings without ever having to leave your seat. Many of them are also server based, which means the themes can be changed out by the casino or by you. They have machines of all denominations and both video and reel versions of the slots.
Dozens of table games include all of your favorites and there is also a large, well-equipped sports book, a poker room, and two high-limit lounges (one for slots and one for tables).
A number of bars, lounges, and restaurants, from high-end to casual, ring the room. Check out the related reviews at the bottom of the page for info on some of them.
But wait, there's more. A lot more. Although it may not actually be significantly larger than most modern Vegas hotels, it certainly feels like it.
Head up the escalators to the mezzanine level and you'll have your choice of more restaurants (more than a dozen total), a couple of boutiques, and a massive convention center. This is where you'll also find the full service 80,000 square-foot spa with 64 treatment rooms, a salon, a workout facility that is larger than most gyms in your town, and the entrance to heavily landscaped pool area.
The one category that the hotel is weak on is entertainment. The showroom, which had a couple of Cirque du Soleil shows during its lifetime, was closed to make way for more convention space. The good news is that the 20,000-seat arena and upcoming 5,000-seat theater at The Park are right next door.
A lower level off the north valet lobby used to feature a nightclub but that closed in late 2014. A new club, Jewel, is taking its place in 2016.
To get to the guest rooms from the lobby or the parking garage you do have to pass through the casino, which is annoying, but if you really want to avoid it all together after you check in you can by using the north valet and heading up the escalators to the mezzanine level. Guest elevators stop here, which means you won't have to traipse by the craps table to go to the pool.
Parking is one of my few major gripes about the place. The self-park garage is located eight billion miles (give or take) from guest elevators. That's not unusual for a major hotel-casino in Vegas but when the valet parking doesn't offer you much more convenience it becomes an issue. Dropping your car off to the valet is easy - drive up, hand them the keys, walk in the nearby front door. But retrieving your car means you have to walk to the far end of the building in a separate location that kind of defines inconvenient.
There are other valet parking options at the Crystals mall, on the north side of Aria that are better if you are just visiting, but don't work well for guests with baggage.
It's also worth noting that there is really only one way in and out of the place, via the main driveway off The Strip. You can come in the back way via Harmon Avenue but only if you are using that north valet. If you want to go to the self-parking or main valet, you will have to deal with traffic.
Standard rooms are about 520 square feet so not exactly huge but bigger than the shoeboxes at older hotels. The furnishings are all sleek and modern but the heavy use of dark woods and rich fabrics gives them a bit more warmth than you'd expect. Each comes equipped with a 42" LCD TV, mini-bar, robes, iron and board, safes, and high-speed Internet (both wired and wireless). The bathrooms have dual vanities, soaking tubs, and separate shower stalls plus some high-end amenities for you to stuff in your suitcase. Interestingly, you have to go through the shower to get to the tub, but hopefully you'll know whomever is using the other facility while you're attempting the maneuver.
Of course larger rooms are available, from corner rooms with impressive views all the way to their Sky Suites, which act as a separate club-level style boutique with concierge service, private elevators, and private check-in.
All of the rooms are packed with technology that has never been used to this degree in Las Vegas before. Using the television or a touch screen panel, you can control the lights, drapes, temperature control, and music plus make dining reservations, order room service or housekeeping, and more. Settings can be created that will allow you to create different moods and even program the environment in which you want to wake up. For instance, you could have the lights come up to 50%, the drapes open, and soft music start to play. The screen will even tell you if the front door deadbolt has been engaged and warn you if you have accidentally left it ajar. In case you're technologically challenged, or a technophobe, there are manual controls for things like lights and air conditioning as well.
Prices for all this can be surprisingly moderate if you go at the right time. Weekdays go for as low as $99 per night and weekends as low as $119, although you can expect to pay $50-100 more than that usually. Not exactly cheap but not out of line for what similar properties in Vegas are charging. There is that nefarious $44.22 (!!) (plus tax) per night Resort Fee that covers things like gym access and Internet - you have to pay it regardless of whether you use the amenities or not.
And don't forget about the fees for parking. It costs $10 per day for self parking and $18 per day for valet for hotel guests and non-guests alike. The only way to get out of it is if you have a players' club card at the Pearl or above level, which gets you free self-parking and the Gold or above level, which gets you free valet.
Service throughout the facility was among the most friendly I've ever experienced on The Strip. The people who work here seem to be really proud of what they have done at Aria.
And they should be.
Recommended for: People who want a modern and exciting Las Vegas experience.
Not recommended for: People who are on a budget.