Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Nevada; 702-785-6677; nobucaesarspalace.com; 181 rooms from $249.
You know all that stuff that apparently happens in Vegas? Well, it's not happening at the Nobu Hotel. But that's precisely what all the buzz is about. Decidedly a hotel for grownups, this hot spot manages an impressive double act – it's at the apex of the action in the bloated belly of Caesar's Palace, while offering a temple of calm in the 24-hour zaniness. Now that culinary ace Nobu Matsuhisa – who's hooked celebrities on Japanese-Peruvian fusion with 26 restaurants worldwide – has entered the hotelier arena, expect more unorthodox twists and temptations. Mere minutes before the opening weekend sake ceremony, co-owner Robert DeNiro muses to me on his long-time partners Nobu and film producer Meir Tepper, "look at the influences around this table – you've got an Israeli, Italian and Japanese building one of the most cohesive brands in the business – that's America."
A prime example of the city's hotel within a hotel trend, Nobu occupies the second, shorter tower within Caesars Palace resort. Easily the opening of the year in one of the world's most visited destinations, Nobu's central location on the Strip also makes it an ideal base. Look for the front desk near Caesars' iconic Cleopatra's Barge bar.
Nobu succeeds in sparing guests from meltdown-prone reception areas – those serpentine check-in queues comparable to Heathrow come holiday time. Starchitect David Rockwell's take on the tiny lobby signals intimacy from the start, as its roughly the size and shape of a of an urban artist's loft. Rooms feature walls displaying evocative Japanese Hitsuzendo calligraphy, but sleek bathrooms are the real highlight – think freestanding concrete bowl sinks, a black Umi tiled oversize walk-in shower complete with teak Japanese bathing stool.
IF I COULD CHANGE ONE THING
Gouging guests $15 a day to check e-mail? And it's $29 if you want it property-wide using multiple devices. It's high-WiFi robbery. In 2013, free Internet feels like an inalienable right for guests, up there with HBO and the right to designer shower heads the size of flapjacks. Nobu's audience has long outgrown vodka body shots and snapping strapless selfies by the pool; they're certainly past the point of paying for a signal.
For devotees who just long to eat, drink and bathe in all things Nobu, Caesar's Qua Spa has developed exclusive treatments. Of these, the 90-minute Nagomi Ritual is the standout, combining a foot bath, melodic massage and divine Natura Bisse carboxitherapy facial. Nobu's ethos translates most effortlessly into lifestyle while other chefs are sliding into hospitality left and right – Alain Ducasse's gastro inns in Provence, Ferran Adrià's El Bulli Hotel, Gordon Ramsay's York & Albany in London. Imagine a facial inspired by invective-prone Ramsay? No thanks.
WHOM YOU'LL MEET
Nobu is a magnet for headline-grabbing A-list diners, and routinely draws the likes of Matt Damon, Jay Z, Beyonce, Natalie Portman, George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, Katy Perry, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. You'll also mingle with savvy high rollers, discretion seeking sophisticates and a dash of Fortune 500 types.
EAT IN OR EAT OUT?
One of the highs of my stay: noshing on Nobu's Green Tea Waffles at 3 a.m., wearing nothing but a plush bathrobe. No lounge music or chatter, just me revelling in the fluffy, golden grids topped with berries, bananas, toasted pecans, yuzu whipped cream and shiso syrup. Make the splurge: This is the only Nobu that serves breakfast and it's for in-room guests only. A big room-service hit is the High Roller bento box at $288 for lobster wasabi, wagyu steak, shrimp spicy garlic, spinach dry miso with crab and premium nigiri. Head downstairs and you can get a table at the largest (12,775 square feet) Nobu restaurant in the world. Another notable Nobu first: two teppan yaki tables serving up truffled shishito peppers, Kobe beef with a trio of sauces, heavenly Iberico ham fried rice. A clear antidote to the tacky gimmicks at Benihana.
The writer was a guest of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau.