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Las Vegas is one of the most popular cities in the world, but is it an attractive tourist destination for people who don’t gamble? We put the city to the test, starting out by finding hotels in Las Vegas without casinos (or that place them in a separate building). They still provided an exciting Vegas vibe while allowing us a bit of freedom from glitzy slot machines and poker tables. As an added bonus they are all non-smoking hotels.
The Vdara Hotel & Spa
Tucked into the glittering City Center complex that also includes The Aria hotel & casino, the Vdara offers a slick yet sedate address right in the thick of The Strip. Accommodations are all suites of varying sizes, decorated with edgy touches like remote controlled sun shades straight out of a James Bond villain’s lair.
You’re also only steps from Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana show. We had never seen Cirque du Soleil show before and were blown away by it. With eight different Cirque du Soleil shows currently appearing in Las Vegas, you’ll never run out of nightly entertainment options.
There’s a gourmet market and café off the lobby that offers a varied selection of simple meals and snacks to enjoy in your room. There are no in-room coffee makers, which perhaps explains the long lines at Starbucks down in the lobby, but upon request housekeeping will bring up a Keurig machine with all the fixings.
Highlight: The super quiet atmosphere in the midst of the buzzy Strip, along with the north-facing rooms offering an impressive view of the Bellagio fountain show.
The Platinum Hotel
Perhaps the best-kept secret in town, this all-suite smoke-free property sits tucked away only two blocks east of Las Vegas Blvd, putting guests within easy walking distance of the dancing fountains and flashing lights of The Strip. Describing the accommodations as “suites” is an understatement; they are large 1- and 2-bedroom apartments, complete with well-stocked kitchens, gas fireplaces and washer/dryers. We could easily have moved in for a few months.
Westward rooms face the glitz of Las Vegas Boulevard while eastern rooms offer a majestic mountain view; these also face the airport but the windows are so insulated you won’t even notice the planes gliding by.
Highlight: The 6th-floor indoor/outdoor pool, with a fantastic view of The Strip.
A quiet oasis perched at the edge of the sprawling Palms casino/hotel complex about 1 mile west of The Strip, all accommodations are sleekly decorated “suites” that are either studios or full apartments. The location is just perfect for offering a panoramic view of The Strip skyline to the east; western-facing suites give you the mountains and glorious sunsets (note: 1- and 2-bedroom units have huge tubs perched right at the windows, so you can indulge in a soak while you soak up the views).
Full kitchens provide convenience for take-out meals and snacking. There’s plenty of free covered self-parking in the adjacent lot. One acrid note: the bar that is open to the lobby allows smoking, which was odd in an otherwise smoke-free hotel.
Highlight: The epic showers, with a combination of rainfall and massaging showerheads that made us want to spend hours in there soaping up with the luxury amenities, including a complimentary bath pouf.
J.W. Marriott Resort and Spa
This elegant property is nestled amidst a golf course in the upscale community of Summerlin, about 15 minutes northwest of The Strip. Although the separately-operated Rampart Casino shares the property, the towers housing the rooms are completely separate, so you never need to pass through the gauntlet of slot machines. Rooms, which are spacious and chock-full of luxury touches like fluffy robes and oodles of pillows are housed in two 6-story towers with balconies or terraces overlooking the lushly landscaped grounds.
Although the resort offers several restaurants, they are near the casino. If you’re seeking a quieter and less smoky option head to the nearby Tivoli Village luxury shopping and dining complex and feast at Echo & Rig, a new restaurant that combines a fine steakhouse and bespoke butcher. They offer delicious cuts of meat we hadn’t even heard of before and grill them all over red oak. Delicious!
Highlight: The huge pool area offers plenty of spots of lounging in sun or shade.
Dining: Many of the signature celebrity restaurants in Las Vegas are affiliated with casinos and often open up right into the smoky, noisy gaming room. Here are two upscale dining options off the Strip that are freestanding restaurants, making them quieter and smoke-free.
Piero’s Italian Cuisine: This old-school Italian restaurant is the place for celebrity spotting off the strip. The most popular item is the tender Osso Bucco, which comes with a special spoon to scoop out the delicious marrow. As an extra throwback bonus, 1980s semi-icon Pia Zadora sings in the lounge on Fridays and Saturdays. 355 Convention Center Drive (702) 369-2305 www.pieroscuisine.com
Echo & Rig—Butcher and Steakhouse: If you want to get your carnivore on, this is the place to go. The in-house butcher shop creates prime cuts that are not found elsewhere: ask for the “Cap” steak, which is the tender part of a ribeye, its smaller size makes it a good value. 440 South Rampart Blvd., (702) 489-3525, www.echoandrig.com