3730 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89158
At the heart of MGM’s City Center sits the Aria, one of the strip’s biggest fan favorites because, well, it’s pretty damn nice smack dab in the middle of some pretty solid action on the Boulevard and offers something for everyone. That’s the popular opinion. Does Casino Guy agree? Let’s find out…
You are saying to yourself, “Come on Casino Guy, it’s on the strip. What is there to even say?” Au contraire mon frere! With a sweet locale in the center of the MGM properties makes walking the bridges and the escalators top-notch people watching fodder. However once you get off that bridge, the fun begins trying to get to the tables or your room. As you can tell, I like to live within the guardrails of facts without hyperbole (for those new readers, that was called sarcasm). With that said, I have never walked longer to get to anything in my life. The safe estimate is 12 miles. Walking down the bridge, across a six-lane highway, through the mall, past a couple restaurants, across a football field, through 14 sets of doors and then past the rows and rows of slot machines you finally get to a table game. Sure if you want to sit at a slot machine, you can shave an hour off the trip but still. I am tired just recapping the journey.
Look and Feel
This entire place screams cool from start to finish. It’s new, modern, classy, fun and smells FANTASTIC all at once. Every shade of brown in the world is represented inside this place. The carpets, the seats, the table felts, the massive wood beams on the ceiling…they have more browns than Cleveland (badabing!!!). The outside is massive. When it’s all lit up, it is as nice as anything on the strip and definitely sticks out from the pyramids, lions and fake castles. Much like the Wynn and Bellagio, this is a true collar and khaki place.
You name it, you got it. Just about all Vegas strip properties have what you need. Maybe not 100X craps but all the regular and bonus bets you can imagine. And there is an abundance of tables available. The evening table limits are where you think they would be for an upper tier property. That still doesn’t drive away folks from popping in next to you, stealing your cards or your roll and then leaving because they suck at life. Hey pal, just go play Casino War. Stop messing up my mojo. Oh yeah, they have Blackjack Switch. Do people realize how fun this game is when you are hammered? Spoiler alert, its a boatload of fun, not so much when a dealer pops a 22 because mass confusion sets in, but I digress. Seems a little out of place for a higher-end joint like the Aria.
Little side story for you…I was at Aria with Casino Guy one time when he was on a glorious cold streak and more than pickled after 16 solid hours of enjoying Vegas. At one point, he is down to the felt and asks the dealer to save the seat. The dealer asks us after he stumbles away, “Is your friend ok? He doesn’t look well.” For a Vegas strip dealer to do a wellness check on you, things must be going swimmingly.
We were hoping he went to bed. Nope, this jackass goes to the ATM to max his daily limit (it was only 2AM) and then proceeds to try to chase the murder than just happened. This man is quite the performer in the art of losing in ridiculous ways. Needless to say, things did not go well when he came back. No one is quite sure what the beating really was that day. All we do know is that random strangers looked at this degenerate with confused horror while his friends sat back with a big ole bucket of popcorn enjoying this artiste perfecting his craft. – Wingman #1
The book is great if you can get a booth and bucket chair. Without that, it’s meh.
The high limit area is glorious. Wild semi see-through walls, comfy chairs if you want to take a breather from the cash being thrown around, attentive staff, different smell (probably the smell cash covered in chocolate), top shelf booze, it’s all here. And you better be flush with dough if you are going to swim in this pool – limits are not for the wannabe rollers.
Classy joints attract classy people, right? Yes and no.
Yes – because if folks are staying there they can’t leave because of the long walk to the strip (see above). Aria knows this so the room prices are on the high end.
No – because, well, it’s Vegas and you get all sorts of characters strolling on through. My least favorite that was highly represented at my last visit was what scientists call the Homo Stultus Frater, or commonly known as the “Bro Douche”. You have seen them in the wild. They travel in packs and are usually dressed very nice. They go from school to school of lady fish with as many hooks in the water hoping to snag a prize. They learned how to gamble by watching Danny Ocean or Alan Garner, so basic gambler decorum is out (Hey Chad, stop taking the dice past the edge of the table! Hey Brad, stop staying on 14 against the dealer 7 at 3rd base!! No one give a fuck about your gut!!!!). 50% didn’t earn the money they are playing with. 50% did earn the money and will burn through it in a year because their hedge fund dried up but the coke habit didn’t. They try to order shots at the table (not gonna happen dummy).
I have one thing to say to the Bro Douche, if you ever see me GTFO of my safe space (millennial term for the win!). I am trying to catch a buzz and make some bad money decisions and you are going ruin it!
The casino’s bathrooms are majestic. No two ways about it. Lots of options, toilets sit up a little higher than most, not too bright, clean as shit (figuratively speaking of course). Definitely a highlight of the property. If it weren’t creepy, I would stay in there all day.
Side note, I have stayed in the Sky Suites at Aria. The bidet sounds like a cool thing and frankly it is on your first go ‘round or two. However, when you are waking up after a 20 hour bender and on your 4th trip to the war room in two hours, NOTHING is worse. Straight flames shooting through your body. To hell if I know how to shut the damn thing off. Also, the bathrooms at the pools were as fantastic as the casino’s were. Late in the day, you may get a little show during your visit from some overserved co-eds making some poor decisions with a guy they just met outside said bathroom… Ah, America’s Youth. So promising.
Whether it was the waitresses or dealers at the tables, the concierge service for the SkySuites or the security guard who I must have asked 15 times where my elevator was while I was 10 feet away from it (it was a helluva weekend), everyone greeted you with a smile and seemed to be on the high end of the scale for their profession. Kudos to the Aria HR and training department. You either have an eye for talent or a tremendous CIA-esque brainwashing program. In any event, well done.
Grub & Liquid Courage
The drinks were phenomenal, from what I remember. Full beers, tall mixed drinks all comped at the tables and slots. No surprise there. There were number of little tucked away bars with video poker so if you went bust on some higher level betting, you could still get your “free” drink on while casually playing. Shout out to the spot near the buffet that had draft beers flowing right up until the doors opened at 7AM.
As far as food, I thought everything was great. Buffet, quick bites, sit down, it didn’t matter. The only drawback is you may have to make the 12 mile trek out to the front of the property for a couple places. The food is so good in most spots that you need to book in advance or you are shit out of luck. Options and quality are in abundance at Aria.
I mean this place really does have it all. Incredible to see from afar and just as good when you get up close. Unfortunately, getting up close takes 100 days and will wear out the battery on your step counter. It’s really remarkable how far from the strip the tables are and how discombobulating it is inside there.
Look I didn’t want to derail this entire review because of the distance it took to scratch the itch, but it is a MASSIVE black mark against the place. You can’t complain against anything else really. It’s easy to glow about the majority of the things Aria brings to the table. Stay there, go to the pool, enjoy bars and the food….do it all, just be prepared to go through a few pairs of shoes or hire a rickshaw.
Official Casino Guy Ranking: Kings Full of Sevens – a monster hand, with one major flaw that prevents it from the being the nuts.