Las Vegas is a city that, for years, has been dominated by conspicuous consumption in mega-clubs. Want your bottle service delivered by scantily clad superheroines on a zipline, or to the private pool in the rooftop bungalow you rented for the night? You got it. And while getting dressed up in things you’d never wear back home and getting crazy in Vegas will never go out of style, more and more people are looking for an intimate vibe—and opting for mixology masterpieces over volume booze. Now, plenty of locals, and those looking to party off the Strip, have more options than ever in low-key and late-night socializing.
We love a spectacle in Las Vegas, and the city’s club scene is unrivaled. The biggest clubs are still all about superstar DJs with a global following; getting seriously dressed up (if you can’t wear your glittery Louboutins here, can you wear them anywhere?); and laying down lots of cash to get special treatment at the best table—and a bit of security that shields you from the masses. This is not to say you won’t have fun if you’re just here to dance but to ensure you get treated like gold, reserve in advance and prepare to spend.
Plan a night around one of these fabulous Vegas nightclubs:
- Apex Social Club: The best view of the Strip can be found at Apex, the 8,000-square-foot space 55 floors in the air at The Palms that’s now an open-air boutique nightclub. Think massive one-of-a-kind art pieces plus specialty crafted cocktails and bottle service.
- Omnia: Guests at Caesars’ Omnia party under a domed four-story room surrounded by mezzanine-level private booths modeled after a European opera house—a lavish showcase for some of the world’s biggest DJ names.
- XS: The most expensive nightclub in the world when it was built, XS at Wynn Las Vegas is known for its heavy-hitting DJ roster and over-the-top decor (think: XS employees cast in gold on a bas-relief at the entrance).
- Hakkasan: The city's cavernous Hakkasan restaurant is spread over five levels of more than 80,000 square feet. While other Hakkasan locations get clubbier as the night wears on, the Vegas location features a dedicated nightclub—which is able to pack in 3,000 revelers. Here, it's all about the DJs. Calvin Harris, Tiesto, deadmau5, and Steve Aoki have all been residents.
- Marquee: The venue that reinvigorated Vegas’s nightclub scene remains one of the city’s most popular spots to catch EDM, rap, and hip-hop acts. Reserve bottle service or escape to The Library, with its fireplace, book-lined walls, and sexy librarian servers.
- TAO Nightclub: After more than 10 years in the game, Venetian’s Asian-inspired nightclub, Tao, continues to appeal to the celebrity set. Since Tao has orchestrated so many bachelor/ette parties, they have entire departments to plan them for you, arranging dinner at Tao Asian Bistro, then accompanying your group upstairs to the nightclub.
- Jewel: In its small (by Vegas standards) Jewel, Hakkasan Group’s Las Vegas venture in Aria is accessed through tunnel-like bronze arches. Inside, a richly toned room has a dramatic staircase that leads to five themed VIP boxes with a bird’s-eye view of the action below.
- Drai’s: Drai has built a glowing, palm tree-lined pool party scene on the roof of The Cromwell, which has 150 VIP tables, night swim parties, eight pools, and incredible (and spontaneous) live music programming. You never know who will jump onstage for a set.
- On The Record: OTR in Park MGM is all retro vibes with an outdoor patio that has a British double-decker bus that serves cocktails, a speakeasy-style bar, walls lined with vintage vinyl (and cassettes!), and a more mellow atmosphere than most of the Strip’s large nightclubs.
Grown-up lounges are enjoying a renaissance on the Strip, and the more elaborate the mixology expertise, the better. Think labor-intensive cocktails with fresh fruits and herbs and unexpected spirits; Prohibition-era punchbowls; and ambiance in spades. Décor at these lounges is as important as the wildly creative and increasingly nuanced cocktails they serve. Dress to impress and make them your first or last stop (or both) on a night out.
Head to these sophisticated lounges when you’re dressed up and feeling like a million bucks:
- The Dorsey: At the cozy, library-inspired Dorsey in the Venetian, cocktails come with a pedigree: they're designed by Sam Ross of Attaboy and Milk & Honey. Don't miss The Penicillin, a smoky-sweet remedy for just about everything, made with single-malt and blended Scotch, honey, ginger, and lemon.
- SkyBar: The bar and lounge on the 23rd floor of Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas has a stunning view of the Strip and elegant décor, with dark wood and a stylish bar counter. It’s one of the best views—through floor-to-ceiling windows—of the Strip at night.
- Parasol Up: With its central location and views out onto the gaming floor and toward the esplanades in Wynn Las Vegas, Parasol Up offers some of the best people-watching on the Strip. Try the blackberry-infused Sinatra Smash.
- Vesper Bar: The cocktails are as exciting as the all-chrome and shiny mirror-walled décor at this Cosmopolitan lounge. Try reimagined classics like The Gilded Age, a sour that fuses Hawaiian and Mexican ingredients like mezcal, Kapena Li Hing tequila, pineapple and habanero syrup, tamarind, and lemon.
- The Chandelier: The three-floor lounge housed in a two-million-crystal chandelier is iconic in Vegas, and each floor has its own vibe.
- Rosina: Pocket-sized, Art Deco-inspired Rosina in the Venetian is technically a bar, but it’s so transporting, we’re calling it a lounge. The cocktail menu includes impeccably served, tried-and-true classics, broken out into three different categories: “shaken,” “stirred,” and “bubbly.”
Look for throwback, old-school Vegas vibes, Atomic Era fun, a bit of theatrical tiki, and a cool, diverse crowd that will wear whatever they please to imbibe, thank you very much. Whether you’re bar-hopping Downtown’s fun and wacky energy or staying up (very) late for drinks and after-hours dinner in Chinatown, Vegas has designed a bar for exactly what you’re seeking.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Commonwealth: A long list of beers and a convivial rooftop scene provide just the laid-back antidote to the cocktail-heavy swagger of the Strip. (Although there are great cocktails here, too.)
- The Golden Tiki: It’s all sugary, fluorescent drinks, theme nights, and the city’s luminaries portrayed in the form of shrunken heads in this Chinatown strip mall. It’s a don’t-miss, only-in-Vegas experience.
- Herbs and Rye: Think throwback everything, from the Old Vegas dining (linguine and clams, an iceberg wedge) to the “alcoholic remedies” from the Gothic and Golden Ages.
- Velveteen Rabbit: You’ll lounge on Victorian furniture and spot quirks like draft beer pulls fashioned from antique mannequin hands at this whimsical Downtown bar with a devoted local following. The cocktail list of “elixirs” is among the most sophisticated in the city.
- Frankie’s Tiki Room: In case you haven’t had enough tiki, head to this old hangout whose interior was built by Bamboo Ben, grandson of the original “beachcomber” who created the décor at Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and Aku Aku. Enjoy a sugar coma with such beverages as the Malekula, Tiki Bandit, and Thurston Howl, and take home a collectible glass.
- Atomic Liquors: Atomic is the oldest freestanding bar in Las Vegas, and when it was new in 1945, hosted watch parties from its rooftop for Las Vegans who wanted to watch the nuclear blasts conducted at the Nevada Test Site. Rehabbed in 2013, it’s a fun dive bar that partners with the National Atomic Testing Museum to display memorabilia.
Tips for Going Out in Las Vegas
- Don’t get behind the wheel of a car at night. Uber and Lyft are your friend as taxis are expensive in Las Vegas. If the weather is nice, consider walking from place to place to enjoy the scenery—or plan your bar, restaurant, and nightlife experiences for the same hotel.
- Be a good tipper. Las Vegas bars—especially those off the Strip with famous mixologists and great cocktails—are big draws for industry types, especially after their shifts on the Strip. This town runs on tipping: Don’t be cheap.
- There’s no law requiring last call in Las Vegas. Bars here are free to stay open 24 hours a day.
- You can drink alcohol in the street in Las Vegas, so have the bartender fix you a roadie, if that’s their policy (and you’re not driving). But only in plastic containers; it’s illegal to carry any beverage on the Strip in a glass container.
- Some districts, like Fremont Street, have their own drinking rules. For instance, no glass or aluminum cans are allowed, and you must have purchased your alcohol from a business on Fremont Street.
- Cover charges vary by club, by night, by type of group, and even by gender in Las Vegas nightclubs. The best way to alleviate cover charge annoyance (and long wait times to get in) is to reserve a table and bottle service in advance.