Where to go for Valentine’s Day, here in Vegas? First, a story-book feeling. Drive up to the 46-floor shiny blue glass tower that is Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas and it seems physically like Gulliver among Brobdingnag giants – the building is dwarfed by even taller towers of other parts of City Center. But, as the gal was to discover, emotionally and experientially, this luxury hotel, like Gulliver with Lilliputians, way outshines anyone else around in this part of The Strip’s centre. And centre it is. Come out of the hotel and, to your left is Las Vegas Boulevard, also known as The Strip, North. To your right is Las Vegas Boulevard South. Here you are at the heart of Vegas.
The hotel is on the lower 23 floors of the building, with, above, the 225 most-desirable private residences in town. Those lucky people, many of them high achievers in their twenties, who live up there have a park for their dogs, service by the hotel and access to, and preferential reservations and rates in its facilities. Wow, they have found their pot of gold (added to which there are no state taxes here in Nevada). I found a wall of gold, instead. Rise up, in an alluring dark elevator with a scarlet-seat stool, to the 23rd floor, the public floor, of the hotel and I was greeted by a 14m-high wall of 1,516 gold ‘bars’. Is this designer Adam Tihany having a laugh?
I go down, in another elevator bank, to the 22nd floor, to the Mandarin Suite, 2211. This would be great for a coupla-couples (it has two bedrooms, but dining for eight, and a private gym with Kinesis). Question, how would more than one couple manage the sensational 2.5 by 2.5-metre square Jacuzzi tub, separated from one bedroom merely by a massively-open grill? Actually while one couple bathed, anyone else would be more than occupied looking out across The Strip, at the continuously-changing light show that goes on 24/7. I checked on it, indeed, at 2 a.m… and then went back to bed, with a covetable tome on American Fashion Accessories to while me straight back to sleep.
GM Clifford Atkinson spent a few years away from Mandarin Oriental working for Ian Schrager, who he says is a genius, even if he is prone to calling his colleagues at, yes, 2 a.m. Clifford Atkinson and his team here are justly proud of having been TripAdvisor’s #one for 15 months straight. Example, how did they know I love bananas, blueberries and mango? But then how did Ryuki Kawasaki, the Japanese head chef of the divine Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, know that the smaller the size of beautiful canapés, the more likely they are to be eaten? Here is another advantage, I find, of living above the hotel. You are more likely to get a reservation at the always-full Twist, where some regulars fly in, even once a week.
Dine here, in a white paradise with clear-bulb chandeliers over, and Bordier butter to go with the addictive cheese and bacon mini-breads, and yes, you want to reserve now, for next week. Pierre Gagnaire and Kawasaki-san like icecreams and sorbets. My Pierre salad has a pear-gorgonzola sorbet, my grilled organic salmon comes with fennel icecream. My risotto, by contrast, merely had divine fresh Alba truffles shaved over. We ate à la carte but many choose six, or four, course tasting menus, plain, or with general, or reserve, wine pairings. Some even those the Lucky Number 7 pairing menu, a mere $777.
This is one good-luck hotel, and now, celebrating Chinese New Year, it has a double-lifesize horse cut-out in the lobby. The horse overlooks the area where lucky afternoon tea is served. Go beyond, and you come to MObar, where the signature martini is the Golden Leaf, with Hendrick’s gin and a Campari-owned aperitif called Aperol (come here Sundays, for its live jazz evenings). Yes, there is lots to do in this luxury hotel, and I remember two final touches. First, server Kenneth asked if I would like a coffee-to-go after breakfasting in MOzen (get it?) Bistro and then, back up in 2211 for a final view across The Strip, a copy of today’s Financial Times arrived. Once again, how did they know? I feel better than having had an anonymous Valentine.