Sin City has an infinite number of laid-back watering holes to get your drink on, but it also has plenty of upscale spots where you can dress fancy and drink even fancier. These spots, which are classified into the entertainment category “Lounge” or “Ultra Lounge,” are venues with more visually impressive interior design and decor that attract more well-dressed clientele starting later in the evenings. Like their nightclub siblings, lounges emphasize music, alcohol consumption, and sexy people-watching. However, there are a few key differences between the lounges and the more well-known nightclubs of Sin City.
What is the difference between a Lounge and Nightclub?
- Size. Lounges are smaller venues than nightclubs, with layouts typically half the size (or less) of the square footages of nightclubs.
- Dance Floor. Lounges typically do not have dedicated dance floors like nightclubs do. Unlike a regular bar, however, you’ll often find a good amount of people at any lounge dancing to the music – either standing in place, at their seats, or within the lounge’s smaller open spaces that aren’t dance floors but can become de facto gathering places for drunk strangers to rock out to the music together.
- Drink Menu. Lounges offer libations of all price points but usually emphasize higher-end craft cocktails and mixology; nightclubs carry more standard drink options and focus on pulsating music and light shows / pyrotechnics.
- Seating Availability. Lounges often accommodate groups with seating at a reasonable price point, or merely require the opening of a credit card tab with no minimum spend in exchange for seats. Nightclubs only offer seating if a client reserves a pricy VIP section requiring a one or more bottle minimum.
- Dining Availability. Lounges frequently offer eating options, sometimes a full dinner menu but more often a limited set of appetizers that complement their drink menu or overall theme. Nightclubs rarely offer any eating options, as their core focus is on drinking and dancing. (That being said, a handful of nightclubs do offer munchies like fruit plates or french fries as tableside options for VIP clients, and many lounge and clubs even allow pizzas and other resort restaurant offerings to be ordered and delivered late-night to high-spending tables. Only in Vegas, baby!)
OK – so what’s the difference between a Lounge and an Ultra Lounge?
All up and down the Las Vegas Boulevard stretch, various lounges and ultra lounges offer up libations of the common and obscure variety to entertain the strip’s 42 million annual visitors. How are the two categories different?
- Vibe. The distinction between the “Lounge” and “Ultra Lounge” categories is a subjective one truth be told, but most nightlife industry insiders agree it is related to the vibe that the management of a particular venue seeks to project along the spectrum of “chill” to “relaxed” to “buzzing” to “all the way turnt up.”
- Music volume. A Lounge tends towards music of softer volume – a live music performance is not uncommon – that promotes a relaxed atmosphere and facilitates conversation among guests. An Ultra Lounge, on the other hand, typically pumps higher volume dance-friendly tunes – often provided by a live DJ – that encourage moving and grooving.
- Layout. Again, both the Lounge and Ultra Lounge venue types project upscale auras surpassing that of regular bars and dive bars; however, Ultra Lounges want to facilitate more dancing so they typically provide wider walkways, small pockets of open space, and less space taken up by couches, tables, or other seating.
OK, so you and the missus (or the boys!) have donned your finest outfits for tonight, you’re staying in one of the best hotels – or perhaps a luxury suite, you baller? – on the Strip. You sure as hell didn’t get dressed up for nothing, and you’re on the hunt for a Vegas drinking scene with more energy and action than run-of-the-mill bar. Well Don Juan, we’ve got just the recipe for you: here are Discotech’s Top 10 best upscale bars and lounges of the high-energy variety – or “Ultra Lounges” – on the Las Vegas Strip.
1. Alibi Ultra Lounge @ Aria – $$$ – Center Strip
A glittering center-strip jewel rising from the desert floor, Aria is one of the largest hotels on Planet Earth: 4,004 rooms, including 568 suites and two distinct AAA Five Diamond hotel products. The state-of-the-art accommodations above complement the state-of-the-art entertainment amenities on the casino floor: Aria has arguably the best collection of upscale dining options – CATCH, Javier’s, Lemongrass, Carbone, Din Tai Fung, and Sage, to name a few – of any Strip resort, in addition to a handful of high-class venues to sit and sip fancy drinks. Their best one of these, Alibi Ultra Lounge, benefits from its coveted location within Aria: it is immediately visible from Aria’s main visitor entrance and smack in the center of the casino floor subject to heavy foot traffic passing by from all directions.
Alibi has a rich, cozy interior beautifully decorated in darker tones, and its master mixology staff – one of the best in Vegas – wows guests stopping in with a combination of premium spirits, imaginative ingredients, and exceptional service. This place is particularly crowded on weekdays when there is a big white-collar industry convention or conference in town, as Aria is a popular hotel choice among professional services employees on business travel. It is also busy on Friday or Saturday nights, especially when Jewel Nightclub – located less than a hundred feet away – has a notable performing artist drawing crowd and thus pushing spillover traffic to Alibi. That being said, most Vegas party insiders will agree that the scene at Alibi is often more fun than the scene at Jewel on any given night: the music is always top-quality and the crowd is frequently peppered with beautiful, well-dressed clientele to complement the beautiful, well-dressed libations being served at the bar and plush seating areas.
Closest nightclub afterparty to Alibi Ultra Lounge: Jewel (in resort on first floor)
2. Clique @ Cosmopolitan – $$$$ – Center Strip
A popular hotel choice and rendezvous point for the beautiful twentysomethings and thirtysomethings of the world since the day it opened, The Cosmopolitan continues to stand out from all other high-end resorts on the Strip by maintaining its modern style and sophistication while consistently adding new attractions. A popular playground for well-traveled and well-heeled young foreigners as well as in-the-know locals, Cosmo’s casino floor has always attracted the “cool kids” crowd with its long list of buzzy restaurant/lounge scenes and its cadre of Instagram-worthy sights. Fitting right in with this ethos in the center of Cosmo’s first floor is Clique, a jewel buried right in the middle of the resort’s seemingly endless treasure chest of luxurious entertainment options.
Clique draws curious passersby into its clutches with a steady stream of those cool kids congregating around its entrance at all hours of the night, as well as timeless radio-friendly Top 40 / hip-hop tunes coolly bumping from within its semi-drawn curtains. Once you’re inside its seductive walls, you’re held in arrest by sexy service staff, tableside mixology, and inventive craft cocktails including a wide array of shooters, champagnes, and aperitifs. Several open areas within Clique’s layout often convert to dancing hotspots as the clock strikes midnight, which makes for a great way of burning off excess energy or even just great people-watching. And if it’s just latter you’re signing up for, you can do that not just over drinks but also over variety of savory appetizers and sharable dishes from Clique’s acclaimed food menu – we recommend their signature wings, juicy sliders, delicious deep-fried Oreos… or all the above?
Closest nightclub afterparty to Clique: Marquee Nightclub (in resort on second floor)
3. Skyfall Lounge @ Delano / Mandalay Bay – $$$ – South Strip
The Delano brand epitomized white-hued South Beach style and splendor for nearly a decade before making its way across the country to Las Vegas. This trademark splendor has been uprooted from beach to desert and painstakingly replicated in all aspects of the hotel-within-a-hotel at Mandalay Bay, including in its well-known and well-reputed rooftop ultra lounge. Located adjacent to Rivea, the James Bond-inspired Skyfall Lounge is a multi-sensory experience combining a spectacular panoramic Vegas Strip view, modern interior design, innovative dining options, artisan cocktails, and low-key sound grooves.
Although dress code is strict, the rest of Skyfall Lounge’s vibe exudes a laid-back atmosphere: a a carefree escape from the cacophony and stress of Sin City as resident DJs spin easygoing tunes to mellow you out so you can nod your head along to the eclectic beats. With clear, unobstructed 64th-floor views of the Strip from any location on the lounge floor, Skyfall Lounge can indeed get by on ambiance alone. Yet the on-staff mixologists provide another layer of elegance with an extensive and seasonally changing cocktail program and drink menu. If you want to ensure you get a seat to enjoy the views, reservations are suggested; alternatively, you can flash your Delano / Mandalay room key for no-wait entry as well as a free glass of champagne with early arrival before 8:30pm.
Closest nightclub afterparty to Skyfall Lounge: Light (in resort on first floor)
4. Rhumbar @ Mirage – $$ – Center Strip
Current mood: island relaxed. If this applies to you on your Vegas trip, then Rhumbar – a highly stylized cocktail and cigar/hookah lounge inspired by the cool breezes of the Caribbean – is your vibe. The spacious lime-and-coconut colored outdoor patio instantly calls to mind a tropical vacation with a frozen fruity drink in hand, only instead of a shoreline you’re feet away from the crashing waves of the bustling Las Vegas skyline. The venue has floor-to-ceiling windows that offer an unobstructed view of the lights of the Strip through the swaying palm trees of the manicured Mirage landscape.
In terms of entertainment though, Rhumbar is NOT just a day on the beach. Yes, patrons can puff stogies or shisha while sipping on the Strip’s best collection of rum cocktails. Or they can alternate their gaze between multiple big screen televisions and only-in-Vegas costumed oddities like Darth Vader and Pikachu passing through the well-trafficked Mirage lobby on their way out to Las Vegas Boulevard. However, the nighttime music format rotates between DJs, singers, and live bands and is upbeat with a decidedly Latin flair – salsa, reggaeton, bachata, Caribbean hip-hop sounds – that strongly encourages guests to mover la culita in the patio’s open spaces under the desert stars.
Closest nightclub afterparty to Rhumbar: Omnia (@ Caesars’ Palace next door)
5. Electra Cocktail Club @ Palazzo – $$$ – North Strip
Like Alibi at Aria and Clique at Cosmopolitan, Electra Cocktail Club at the Palazzo is a can’t-miss centerpiece on its resort casino floor. Bold and modern, Electra is the brainchild of famed mixologist Sam Ross and his partners. Traditional and abstract custom artworks adorn the space to provoke and inspire the free spirits coming to Vegas. In the evening, colorful artistic visuals unfold on Electra’s 40-foot-long high-definition electronic wall synchronized to the beats of hip-hop, R&b, and rock music expertly mixed by the resident DJs. The entire scene overwhelmingly encourages visitors to order and drink their libations quickly and then immediately stake out any open spaces to dance, dance, dance the night away.
Don’t gloss over the drink ordering part, however. The Electra bar menu focuses on the spirits of rum, mezcal, and agricole but also offers lighthearted slushie creations, including a peach daiquiri and a frozen take on Ross’ signature Penicillin, a smoky mix of Scotch, lemon, ginger and honey. Other offerings like the Cucumber & Elderflower Daiquiri (made with white rum, fresh lime, cucumber and elderflower) and the Disgruntled Mai Tai (made with two rums, Aperol, fresh lime, Curacao, orgeat and Underberg) are good to the last drop and worth pausing to savor prior to letting the music take control.
Closest nightclub afterparty to Electra Cocktail Club: Tao Nightclub (@ Venetian next door)
6. Artisan Lounge @ Artisan Hotel – $$ – North Strip
Swanky. That’s the one word most often used to describe the Artisan Lounge, the pristine entertainment venue inside of the Artisan Hotel. Its true location is technically classified as Vegas Strip, but it’s actually tucked away one street west of Las Vegas Boulevard on Industrial Road. Shrouded in lush vegetation on the outside, Artisan Lounge revels in its hidden gem reputation: once discovered, the candlelit venue treats its curious clients to visually stunning interior architecture, richly hued wood paneling, mirrored ceilings, plush leather couches, and gilt-framed reproductions of classic paintings from Monet, Picasso, and Da Vinci.
Popular amongst in-the-know Vegas locals and their hipster friends from California and parts beyond, Artisan Lounge offers a satisfying escape from the intensity of the Strip yet is always buzzing with enough people to feel endlessly happening. Patrons rave about the bar’s creative drink menu at reasonable prices, intimate dance floor with wide-ranging musical variety, and ultra-chill outdoor patio inviting longer conversations among friend old and new. Oh, and two huge added perks: Food is served from 6AM to 2AM, and the Artisan Lounge – not to mention the rest of the hotel – offers free Wi-Fi, so you can immediately Instagram and Snapchat the sights and sounds of your memorable time to all your jealous friends around the world.
7. Juniper Cocktail Lounge @ Park MGM – $$ – South Strip
Home to the largest collection of gin in Las Vegas, Juniper Cocktail Lounge – the new kid on the block on the Strip’s south side – takes its name from the juniper berries that produce gin. The menu features and all of the spirit’s top-shelf brands from around the world, other premium liquor brands, and a carefully curated cocktail list using house-made juices and syrups; a favorite of ours is “True to the Roots “with Spring 44 Gin, clover honey, and fresh lime and orange wedges.
Formerly the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, the upscale Park MGM Las Vegas opened in 2018 after a multimillion-dollar renovation, providing a casual and cool atmosphere catering to younger adult travelers. The true stars of the resort are the restaurant offerings: Park MGM’s goal was to be known as a foodie haven, and with ultra-hip(ster) offerings such as Eataly and Roy Choi’s Best Friend that box has been checked. Making good on this promise has attracted mid-twenties to early-thirties clients to Park MGM in droves, which has in turn made their evening entertainment venues like Juniper Lounge active hotspots for singles to mingle. On weekend nights, a live DJ spinning radio-friendly tunes and affordable bottle service are offered, which along with the sublime mixology from the bar ensures nostalgic millennials (and older millennial wannabes) fill up the lounge from dusk til dawn. For those of you that love that new new, Juniper Lounge is the walk in the Park that you want to take.
Closest nightclub afterparty to Juniper Cocktail Lounge: On The Record (in resort on first floor)
8. Vanderpump Cocktail Garden @ Caesars’ Palace – $$$ – Center Strip
Renovated and relaunched in 2019 by British TV personality Lisa Vanderpump (“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”), Vanderpump Cocktail Garden is located between the Colosseum and the entrance to Forum Shops in the space previously occupied by Fizz. An immediate favorite among bachelorette parties, Vanderpump Cocktail boasts a sprawling indoor patio layout that weirdly feels outdoor, with pink-accented booths and a full bar adorned with garden decor, lantern-adorned trellises, romantic lighting, and walls and furniture showcasing Vanderpump family pictures (including numerous of her adorable canine children). The end product is a classy yet inviting Hollywood-style supper club that turn into an ultra lounge “see and be seen” scene at night, a drinking / dining / mingling destination whether you’re a superfan of the Real Housewives franchise or not.
And the L.A high life you shall toast to while in Vegas at VCG, with complex cocktails showcasing innovative takes on classics. Cocktail names are witty, such as the matcha-infused Matcha Matcha Man, paying homage to the Village People tune; the spicy Checkmate Bitch, a provocative combination of Stoli Hot vodka and Chacho aguardiente (a jalapeño-infused Colombian spirit from sugar cane) named after an unforgettable Vanderpump rant from Season 3 of the show; and the Rome is Burning, a smoked black cherry Manhattan laced with black cherry chocolate bitters, served tableside in a large smoking jar. In addition to a full appetizer and dinner menu showcasing the prodigious talents of LA’s top chefs, the exclusive Vanderpump-branded sangria and rosé will also be available to order and take with you back up to the hotel room afterparty.
Closest nightclub afterparty to Vanderpump Cocktail Garden: Omnia (in resort on first floor)
9. Eastside Lounge @ Encore Hotel – $$$$ – North Strip
With its ubiquitous red and gold interior decor – lucky colors particularly to the wealthy Asian clientele that often frequent its casino floor tables – the Wynn and Encore have always been one of the most luxurious properties on the Vegas strip. In recent years, they’ve traded in their elitist vibe – without sacrificing any of the luxury – for a more high-energy fashionista cool to target those aspirational Millennials of the aughts and teens that now have money to burn in 2020. The Eastside Lounge is on the Encore casino floor at the mouth of the well-traveled walkway between the Wynn and Encore properties; for that reason, its energy and vibe always ratchets up in the hours leading up to the start of the weekend.
The upscale ambiance of Eastside Lounge is relaxed – even sleepy – during the day and afternoon, with a view of the resort’s beautiful pool area accompanying expertly crafted cocktails, wine, beer, and spirits. Starting in the late afternoon, action picks up as expert mixologists spin up more complex drinks using fresh, seasonal, and novel ingredients while live entertainment (the lounge has a piano and singer setup) regales relaxed onlookers. As dusk falls, however, Eastside takes on a whole new personality as one of the most boisterous spots on the Strip: it is the closest and thus most convenient pre-game / rendezvous point for young, well-dressed, beautiful people headed to nearby nightclubs XS and EBC At Night. If one or both of these nightclubs are open on the night you find yourself at Encore, expect the Eastside Lounge to be poppin’ from sunset until at least three in the morning.
Closest afterparty nightclub to Eastside Lounge: EBC At Night / XS (inside resort on first floor)
10. Centrifuge @ MGM Grand – $$ – South Strip
Hookah lounge by day, ultra lounge by night, Centrifuge at the MGM Grand Strip side entrance is a 77-seat circular bar surrounded by a second circular bank of small-table seating for smoking and socializing. The centerpiece of Centrifuge is a mesmerizing glow-in-the-dark installation that spins continuously while changing colors every so often, to the tune of live DJs spinning dance selections heavy on reggaeton and radio pop. To cater to the hordes of tourists traversing this central throughway, Centrifuge carries on their menu the specialty cocktails from each of MGM Grand’s signature restaurants, a well tasty fruit-infused cocktails like the Kentucky Peach (peach-infused Woodford Reserve Bourbon, peach nectar, fresh sour and ginger ale) and the Frida (strawberry pineapple-infused Patron tequila, lime and citronage).
Similar to Encore’s Eastside Lounge mentioned above, Centrifuge is quiet when the sun is up and anything but when the sun goes down… and for the exact same reason: location, location, location. The usually monstrous lines for Hakkasan Nightclub less than 50 feet away can be conveniently eyeballed from the Centrifuge bar area, which makes this lounge the optimal pre-game / rendezvous point prior to entering Hakkasan not to mention the first spot for one more drink (or eight) upon leaving the cavernous nightclub. This unavoidable crowd spillover into Centrifuge, along with its record-shaped layout allowing the bar to be accessed from all sides, makes it a most ideal drinking, people-watching and people-meeting venue.
Closest nightclub afterparty to Centrifuge: Hakkasan (in resort on first floor)
OK, so you’ve loved every second of your ultra lounge experience, but at this point in the alcohol is just hitting DIFFERENT and so you’re finally ready to let loose on a pulsating dance floor, amirite? What’s the next step??? Line up your party plans in advance and set aside the appropriate budgets (or sign up for guest lists) using our Discotech app. Available in both the App Store and Google Play and featured on BBC Travel and highly reviewed on Yelp!, Discotech is here to make sure that strong bar buzz or yours carries over into high-energy late-night and next-day adventures. Cheers lads and lasses!