My partner and I absolutely loved what they’d done to the casino, clubs and restaurants... everything seemed so much bigger than I remembered. But, as with any opening, you can expect a number of bugs. The first bit us in the Paradise-side parking garage, where only one elevator car was functioning. We gave up waiting after ten minutes (and three failed attempts to shove ourselves into the working, but overly crowded car.) So, down five flights of crowded stairs we went, with our four pieces of luggage and dozens of anxious visitors struggling to get around us.
Fortunately, the reservation desk was just inside the Paradise entrance, exactly where it had been during the Sahara days. Not so great was the fact that it wasn’t marked with any visible signage or queuing stanchions. Just a bunch of pretty people positioned in front of a spectacular video screen with images of the Sahara in its heyday (nice touch) and monkeys, too.
Check-in was super fast. Perhaps too fast, though, as we received no information on the resort fee or what it included, no instructions on how to operate the Jedi-style touchless keys, no map of the property and nothing in the way of a fun book or guide. Just a finger (not that one) towards the World Tower elevators and a smile.
The swanky elevator lobby was bright and hip, and that attitude continued into the neatly-decorated cars that whisked us to the eighth floor. When the doors opened... whoa! Cue the theme music from Vertigo! Crazy carpeting and wall coverings induced an instant feeling of dizziness. The uneven floor had us tripping, too, and not because of the prior night’s cocktails.
When we arrived at our room, our next surprise was waiting. Another guest was already inside. (Pro tip: always keep the deadbolt secured in your hotel room.) Luckily, nobody was interrupted in flagrante delicto so it was back downstairs to get things straightened out. The agent was quite apologetic and promised us an upgrade to a higher floor which turned out to be an additional 17 floors up.
Let’s put this out front right now before you even say it -- yes, the rooms are the same size as they were before the renovation; but, as any show on HGTV will tell you, the illusion of size can be created with color, styling and layout. And, let me remind you, that I’ve stayed here many times before. Yet, despite the familiar dimensions, the room felt absolutely tiny... and very bland.
If you’ve ever stayed in Downtown's El Cortez Cabana Suites, use their Jr. Suite (middle tier) as a comparison to a World Tower room at SLS. Similar layout, similar amenities, same functionality. Just switch out a muted version of the hallway’s funhouse wallpaper for the infamous green Cabana Suites paint job and you may as well be in a downtown hotel.
Upon crossing the threshold, the bathroom is on the right and on the left is an open closet, stocked with an iron, ironing board and luggage rack. A minibar/fridge combo follows that sports a safe hidden in a drawer. Beyond that is the room proper, offering one king bed with a plush loveseat at the foot. (Rooms with two doubles also are available.) A matching easy chair is in one corner, with a reading lamp and a painted tree stump... errr, coffee table. There was no dresser or clothing storage of any kind, aside from the closet rod and a few hangers.
The bed is flush to the exterior wall and topped with a padded headboard that extends beyond the frame and becomes part of the wall itself. Dual nightstands were highlighted by wall-mounted light fixtures controlled by switches on easily reached cords. One nightstand had a power strip for charging phones and other electronics. On the opposite side, an iHome clock radio with an additional USB charging/connection port was a nice touch. Its bluetooth connection to my Windows smartphone was effortless. Neither my partner nor I, however, could figure out how to correct the time. If you know the secret, share it in the comments, as the housekeepers shrugged when asked.
The king-sized bed itself was firm yet comfortable. Linens were high-end as were the oversized pillows (we would have preferred more than two, though.) The comforter had a bizarre plastic inner liner that crackled with every shift. It also became unbearably warm. Try sleeping under a shower curtain or tarp and you’ll understand why we wanted to toss it out the window.
The center position of the bed actually made it almost impossible to see outside the window, unless you knelt on the pillows and peered through the slats of aluminum mini-blinds. I cut my finger while capturing the photo below. A whimsical retracting shade, adorned with groupies, was quickly lowered. It stayed down most of our stay as the sunlight easily overpowered the room’s air conditioning.
On the cool side, large, illuminated mirrors on both walls were awesome. Just awesome. They did, however, have the unfortunate side effect of bouncing reflections in such a way that a clear view of the shower and toilet were visible from nearly any position, including when the sliding bathroom door was shut (watch out for that wide crack… in the door frame, that is.) Aside from a sizeable flat-screen TV with a slick menu and a channel for McCarran Airport flight times, the room was devoid of upscale technology (like remote-controlled lighting or climate touchpads, or electronic drapes.)
The rooms in the World Tower are designed with business travelers in mind. The combination desk/media center should meet most needs, but just barely. A two-layer desktop is tilted at an angle that could prove a problem for the left-handed. We tried to pivot it in the other direction, but it seemed fixed. Power outlets (including USB), the house phone, and a reading lamp were the basic equipment, along with a small notepad and sleek chrome pen. The small, armless chair was unpadded and quickly became uncomfortable. Wi-Fi, included in the resort fee, was fast and flawless.
There's not much to say about the bathroom. Small, white, functional. A glass shower enclosure with white tile and rain showerhead. The single-bowl sink is wide, narrow and shallow. It's also positioned too close to a shelf, making it impossible to shave or wash your face without bumping your head. The countertop was wide with room for plenty of personal items, and a unique two-piece mirror benefitted from bright yet soft lighting.
Towels were thick, thirsty and plentiful; although, being new, left us covered in white lint. If you enjoy higher-quality toiletries, you’ll enjoy the Ciel-branded ones offered in generous tubes. They’re provided by the Ciel Spa, located on the second floor of the
Story Lux Tower where you'll also find the nicely appointed fitness center. (We made that discovery on our own after receiving shrugs from two security staffers.)
Now, about those rates. I compared the arbitrary dates of Sept 12-15 (three nights, two guests) at SLS (again, the World room) against a Wynn Deluxe Resort (similar location) and a El Cortez Cabana Jr. Suite (similar size and amenities). Wynn came in at $399, Cabana Suites at $95, and SLS was $339 (all plus applicable resort fees and taxes). The Wynn is infinitely superior, much more spacious (640 sq. ft.), and well worth an additional $60 per night. For the thrifty, a full weekend at the Cabanas (400 sq. ft.) is cheaper than one night at SLS.
So, is the SLS World Tower a good choice for the business traveler? Maybe, maybe not, but the easy access to the Las Vegas Monorail and nearby Convention Center make it a decent contender. As for myself, certainly not until the prices come way down. But, if you're planning on hitting the SLS venues and want to crash upstairs, go right ahead. Just beware of those crazy hallways, especially if you've had a few too many.