Number of Rooms:



Resort Fee:

Vegas4Visitors Rating:

North Strip

2535 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109



1,600 Rooms

$129 and up double

Avg. $200-300

$25 per night plus tax



What is it?

a top to bottom revamp of the old Sahara hotel.

Where is it?

On the North Strip, at the corner of The Strip and Sahara Avenue.

What is included?

More than 1,600 rooms, a new casino, restaurants, nightclubs, shopping, and more.



More than three years after it closed, the former Sahara hotel has gotten a new lease on life as the SLS Las Vegas. The completely revamped property debuted to the public at 12:01am Saturday, August 23, 2014.

The Sahara opened in 1952 and was one of the city's premiere resorts for decades but it declined over the years to become a second (or even third) tier property, mostly famous for its cheap rooms and $1 blackjack tables. It was purchased in 2007 by SBE, a hotel, nightlife, and restaurant company based in Los Angeles headed by Sam Nazarian. He closed the hotel in May of 2011 to begin preparations for turning it into a sibling to the company's SLS branded properties in Miami and Beverly Hills.

$415 million has been thrown at the hotel to modernize, expand, and renovate every part of it, with most of the buildings being gutted and rebuilt. Two of the existing hotel towers were stripped down to the concrete and got all new interiors and exteriors, a third tower was being rehabbed on the inside, and a fourth, low-rise building was torn down. The SLS has just over 1,600 rooms, several hundred fewer than when it was The Sahara.

The new rooms try to do a lot with relatively little space. The Story Tower rooms will be 325 square feet, about half the size of the standard accommodations at places like The Venetian, and less than the average of modern hotels that run in the 400-500 square-foot range. They come with one king bed or two double beds and feature plush mattresses, high thread count linens, 55-ince HDTVs, wireless Internet, and high-end bath amenities.

These rooms are aimed at the youth market, not only for their relatively low price point, but for their cool touches like a vanity that doubles as a mini-bar.

The World Tower rooms are a bit larger at 360 square feet and will add a work desk and a couch at the foot of the bed plus a bigger bathroom. The primary audience for these rooms is intended to be the business and convention visitor, so there is a whole host of tech features designed to keep people connected while on the road.

The top of the heap Lux Tower rooms are 425 square feet and have a French boudoir design scheme complete with mirrors above the bed and a long couch under the windows. These are intended to serve the primary gaming and leisure traveler with luxurious appointments and swank furnishings.

If those aren't high end enough for you, there are four penthouses that have been designed by singer and actor Lenny Kravitz, each with extravagant decor and amenities and footprints that go upwards of 3,300 square feet.

The rest of the building has getting a similar extreme makeover. The roller coaster and NASCAR related attractions are gone and the casino, lobby, pool, and other public areas have been completely redone not only with a swank, modern decor but with a revised layout.

The main casino is about 56,000 square-feet, about the same size as it used to be when it was the Sahara, but new from the ground up with around 800 slot machines and 74 table games. By way of comparison, that's about half the size of The Venetian's casino so it's definitely more intimate. There is a race and sports book run by William Hill and a high limit lounge.

There is also be a separate boutique casino paired with a Jose Andres restaurant featuring a few table games but no slots.

Speaking of food, the dining offerings are up few rungs on the epicurean ladder from the NASCAR cafe days. SBE, the company that is creating the hotel, is mostly famous for its roster of restaurants in Los Angeles, New York, and Miami and many of those will be making their way to the Vegas hotel. They are:

  • Bazaar Meat is the new steakhouse concept by Jose Andres, whose posh Bazaar restaurants in Beverly Hills and Miami are considered to be foodie heavens. Instead of the traditional steakhouse experience, this one will have more small plates and shared dishes with a distinct gourmet twist.
  • Katsuya by Starck is a sister to the sushi restaurants in Los Angeles, Miami, and Dubai that serves up some of the best rolls and robata grill offerings around.
  • Cleo is another Los Angeles transplant that serves a wide variety of Mediterranean specialties with both Greek and Turkish dishes.
  • Ku Noodle is another Jose Andres restaurant that focuses on Asian cuisine.
  • Umami Burger often winds up near the top of those "Best Burgers" lists for their inventive toppings of things like truffles and bacon lardons.
  • 800 Degrees Pizza already has one location in Las Vegas but gets a sister here at the SLS, serving up their quick-cook, made-to-order pies.
  • The Griddle Cafe is crazy popular in Los Angeles for their wild breakfasts (Frosted Flake and strawberry pancakes!) but the Vegas version at the SLS is open 24 hours.
  • The SLS Buffet offers some unique food twists on the standard Vegas buffet with Mediterranean, Indian, Japanese, and wood-grilled stations among the offerings.
  • The Perq brings another LA favorite with gourmet coffee, handmade gelato, and pastries.

Nightlife will include a 20,000 square-foot dance club called Life that opens on to its own rooftop pool. It hosts daytime parties called, naturally, Daylife. There is also an ultralounge space adjacent to the main pool called Foxtail that turns into a nightclub late nights and offers a day club experience while the sun is shining. The Sayers Club is a live music venue, also transplanted from Los Angeles, with a Strip facing patio. Two more casino and lobby bars round out the drinking part of the program.

Furthering the LA resort feeling is a series of boutiques from famed Tinseltown retailer Fred Segal, plus a high end spa and a fitness center.

Those looking for a blast-from-the-past version of The Sahara will most likely be disappointed. There is virtually nothing left of the old hotel except the walls. Everything else was sold at auction after the hotel closed. Having said that, they do have a couple of nods to the building's history with Sahara playing cards as part of the carpet design in some spots.

Room rates are starting at around $150 during the week and around $230 on the weekend for the smallest Story Tower rooms. Add about $20-$50 for the World Tower and another $100 for the Lux tower rooms. There is a $25 per night resort fee that covers the usual amenities like Internet and gym access.

I will have a full review of the hotel soon.





by Rick Garman of