When The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas first opened, and a good chunk of my friends and acquaintances gushed over its restaurants, live entertainment and general vibe, my initial reaction was — as it is to most new hotel-casino developments in Las Vegas — simply “meh.” Look, I’ve lived here 20 years, I’ve been in the swankest of suites, the poshest of parties, the douchiest of nightclubs … I’ll admit it, I’m jaded. I like new and shiny stuff as much as the next guy, but I had no reason to visit the Cosmopolitan, located in the same glut of the Strip that CityCenter calls home.
My first time there, finally, was a few months ago to attend the opening reception for local artist Steven Spaan’s “Trash=Art” show at the P3 Studio. Yes, that’s right: The Cosmopolitan’s plan to draw local aesthetes otherwise uninterested in nightlife or gaming to a Strip resort worked. This place was definitely designed with hipsters in mind, from the underground parking structure’s graffiti-art walls and the pool tables in the common areas to the Art-o-Matic vending machine and the nameless, hidden pizza joint that serves PBR. I liked it enough, though when the girlfriend and I tried to find somewhere to eat that wasn’t too fancy but wasn’t pizza, it became a bit of a challenge, because we’re simple people and the menus of even the tapas and Mexican-Chinese fusion places were a bit challenging.
When I returned to the Cosmopolitan on a lazy-ish Saturday afternoon to do my reporting for this week’s Vegas Seven article on Kidrobot’s summer takeover of P3 Studio, I found myself warming up even more to the place. After spending some time in the cool little Kidrobot store and chatting with Frank Kozik in the studio, I headed down the escalators of the Chandelier Bar to grab a drink while I reviewed my notes. The bar was mostly filled with a mix of people (though mostly under 30), but I grabbed an open spot between an old man and two young women. The bartender, a younger guy himself, had an old-school charm, seeming genuinely interested in the welfare of his patrons. He made me a perfect drink, checked in on each of the other customers and made some weak attempts at flirty humor with the girls next to me. He asked about what I was writing and how the interview went. It was … nice.
I know that the Cosmopolitan’s inviting nature to decidedly non-gambling 20- and 30-somethings hasn’t helped it’s bottom line much, despite being insanely popular (read this excellent feature in VEGAS INC for more on that), so my enjoyment of the space without being inclined to empty my wallets doesn’t help them much. But I can dig what’s going on there, and the attention put into the little things. Like a well-crafted cocktail. A friendly bartender. Or a store full of vinyl toys chomping cigars.