Las Vegas Nightlife Best Bets
Best Local Lounge
Peppermill's Fireside Lounge, with its lethal Scorpion cocktail.
Best outdoor patio
With cabanas, private tables, a DJ, and a dance floor, Encore Beach Club is the perfect way to spend a night under the stars.
Best antidote to the Strip
For an alternative scene, the no-frills Double Down Saloon rules, although charming lounges like the Griffin, the Downtown Cocktail Room, and the Artisan Lounge are giving it a run for its money.
Best legal high
The "hookahs" at Paymon's Mediterranean Café and Lounge.
Best all-around "hang"
The Chandelier at The Cosmopolitan, where mixologists serve up dozens of handcrafted cocktails in a three-story bar—all inside the world's largest chandelier.
Find Out What's Going On
With the number of nightlife options in Las Vegas, it's not hard to be overwhelmed. Remember that party schedules—as well as the popularity of any one spot—can change overnight.
Anthony Curtis' Las Vegas Advisor (702/252-0655 www.lasvegasadvisor.com) is a monthly newsletter that's invaluable for its information on Las Vegas dining, entertainment, gambling promotions, comps, and news. If you're here for a short visit, pick up free copies of Vegas, Today in Las Vegas, and What's On in Las Vegas at hotels and gift shops.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal, the city's daily newspaper, publishes a tabloid pullout section each Friday. It provides entertainment features and reviews, and showroom and lounge listings with complete time and price information. The Review-Journal maintains a website (www.lvrj.com) where show listings are updated each week. The Las Vegas Sun, once a competing daily, is now a section inside the Review-Journal but maintains its own editorial staff and website, www.lasvegassun.com.
Two excellent alternative weekly newspapers are distributed at retail stores and coffee shops around town and maintain comprehensive websites. Las Vegas Weekly (www.lasvegasweekly.com) and Las Vegas City Life (www.lasvegascitylife.com) offer some timely and incisive reflections on the nightclub scene and music outside the realm of the casinos. Vegas Seven (www.weeklyseven.com) also has reliable listings. And nothing imparts the flavor of "Viceville" (our proposed alternate nickname for "Sin City") better than ShulmanSays.com (www.shulmansays.com), a website published by Michael Shulman, the former gossip columnist for Vegas Magazine (www.vegasmagazine.com).
How to Get In
Nobody comes to Las Vegas to wait in line. So how exactly do you get past those velvet ropes? Short of personally knowing the no-nonsense bouncers and serious-looking women holding clipboards that guard the doors, here are a few pointers.
First, know that even though this is a 24-hour town, lines start forming around 10 (or earlier). If you're not on a list, get there after dinner and dress the part—which is to say, don't expect to go straight from the pool to the club. Vegas bars and clubs have pretty strict dress codes, so leave those T-shirts, baseball caps, and ripped jeans in your hotel room (unless you're headed to the Griffin Lounge or some other hipster haven). Arguing that your sneakers were made by Alexander McQueen probably won't help, either. At most of the trendier spots, at least for women, skin is in—this is Sin City, after all. And needless to say, the universal rule of big-city nightlife also applies in Vegas: groups of guys almost always have a harder time getting in without a few women in the mix. If your group is gender impaired, consider politely asking some unaccompanied women to temporarily join you, perhaps in exchange for some drinks once you're all inside. Too shy, you say? If there was ever a place to check your shyness at the airport, it's this town.
Most spots have two lines: a VIP line (for those on the guest list or who have a table with bottle service reserved) and a regular line. You can either ask your hotel concierge for help contacting a club to get on a guest list, or contact the club directly. Some websites such as www.vegas.com sell passes they guarantee will get you past the crush, but save your money for the door—better to slip the bouncer $20 per person than hope they'll acknowledge the Internet ticket you've bought for the same amount. If you have a few people in your group, it might be worth it to splurge on a table reservation: without one, a group of five could easily spend $20 each getting in good with the bouncers, plus $20 each for the cover charge, and then there's always the expensive drinks.
A further note on going deluxe: if you're getting a table with bottle service, note that your VIP host will expect something from you, as will the busboy who actually lugs over your booze. (The waitress or waiter usually gets an automatic 20%-30% tip on your bill.) On holiday weekends and New Year's Eve, expect to multiply what you plan to give them by at least two.