10 Best Places to Experience Las Vegas Nightlife

Photo courtesy of Erik Kabik
Photo courtesy of Al Powers
Photo courtesy of Angel Management Group
Photo courtesy of TAO
1. XS
Photo courtesy of Barbara Kraft
By Terrisa Meeks, Las Vegas Local Expert

Las Vegas nightlife is legendary and is a major attraction for visitors. Some clubs are like lavish raves, with celebrity hosts and DJs and thumping dance music all night long. These extravagant places are both expensive and sometimes difficult to get into. Once inside, though, you can join the party and hit the dance floor–and maybe spot a movie star or two.

Clubs aren’t the only place you can go for some adults-only time. Sophisticated lounges like Skyfall allow you to have a conversation, have some food, and enjoy the incredible view of the city. Several Las Vegas hotels have wisely decided to take advantage of the upper floors of their high-rises with elegant bars or restaurants featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, giving guests a birds-eye view of the famous Las Vegas Strip.

In Downtown Las Vegas, the bars and lounges are hipper, a little grittier than the Strip and are becoming more popular all the time. Perennial favorite, the Downtown Cocktail Room, is one of the best places to sample the trendy vibe on Fremont East. Hand-crafted cocktails are served in a small room with a side door that’s actually a little hard to find.

When you’re ready to head out for a night in Las Vegas, make sure you’re prepared: check out the dress codes, be prepared for cover charges, and brace yourself for the drink prices on the Strip. To boost your chances of getting inside the most popular clubs, do your best to make reservations or indulge in bottle service and a table.

10. Downtown Cocktail Room
Photo courtesy of Downtown Cocktail Room

Once you successfully navigate the front door at the Downtown Cocktail Room--or DCR--you'll find a warm and inviting space, a good, old-fashioned bar. More importantly, you'll get to sample some of the drinks. The music doesn't drown out conversation here, where the custom-made cocktails are worth talking about. Fresh ingredients, including homemade bitters, are a specialty here. The menu ranks the complexity of each original cocktail and includes wine, beer, punch and absinthe. A selection of small plate items is also available from neighboring restaurant, The Beat, which deliver items like a hummus and cheese plate or mac and cheese (brisket optional).

9. Drai's Beach Club · Nightclub
Photo courtesy of Erik Kabik

By day, Drai's acts as a pool deck/beach club, but by night it transforms into one of the hottest nightclubs in town. Perched 11 stories above Las Vegas Boulevard on the rooftop of the new boutique resort The Cromwell, Drai's Beach Club · Nightclub truly takes the Vegas nightlife experience to new heights. The 25,000-square-foot nightclub is spread out over two levels and features high-tech amenities like state-of-the-art LED screen, a towering 80-sided LED disco ball, two VIP bathrooms and six dedicated elevators so guests don't have to wait long to dance the night away. As for the music, there's sure to be something for everyone, with open format, electronic and hip-hop nights.

8. Hyde Bellagio
Photo courtesy of Hyde Bellagio

Hyde Bellagio is upscale, intimate, and overlooks the famous Bellagio Fountains. The design team behind Hyde was thinking "hidden Italian villa," and the understated elegance of the club matches that idea. With the feel of an ultra-lounge, Hyde gives guests a refined version of the Vegas nightclub. Although you won't find much of a dance floor, the music will get you on your feet into whatever space you can find. The Bellagio fountains are the club's backdrop, adding a dramatic touch to the swanky space. Guests can order small plates from Lago, enjoy the "award-winning mixology program" and dance to music from a variety of rotating DJs.

7. Mandarin Bar
Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas

Located on the 23rd floor of the exclusive Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, the Mandarin Bar is one of the city's most sleek and sophisticated nightlife venues. Guests can savor the stunning Strip views courtesy of the bar's floor-to-ceiling windows while imbibing one of its expertly crafted cocktails. In addition to a menu of creative alcoholic concoctions, the bar offers a variety of fine wines and delicious light bites, making it the perfect place to kick back and relax before or after dinner. Try one of the drink menu's featured items, like the Golden Leaf, also called the Mandarin Martini: Hendrick's, Aperol, muddled mandarin, plus fresh juices. Another specialty is the Cucumber and Cilantro Margarita, with Milagro Reposado, cilantro, cucumber agave nectar, egg whites and lime.

6. Ghostbar
Photo courtesy of 9Group, Las Vegas

Located at the very hip Palms Casino Resort, Ghostbar is located on the 55th floor of the resort's Ivory Tower. The sleek, sophisticated bar and club offers guests panoramic views of Las Vegas through its 14-foot floor-to-ceiling windows. Booths fill the outside edges. The color scheme is white, black, and fuchisa with a sensual design and plenty of space. The outside patio area takes you one step closer to the view of all those Vegas lights. A glass panel in the floor lets you work on any fear of heights you might have. Happy hour is from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. when beer and cocktails are half price.

5. Marquee Nightclub
Photo courtesy of Al Powers

Marquee at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas features seven different bars and three rooms--the Main Room, the Boom Box and the Library--each with a distinct musical experience. Marquee's Main Room features a state-of-the-art sound and visual system with a 40-foot LED DJ booth and projection stage in conjunction with 32,000 subwoofers and full range speakers. Overlooking the main floor is the intimate, lounge-style Library room, which is home to a fireplace, billiards table and vintage books. On the lower level of the nightclub is the Boom Box room, featuring gorgeous views of the Strip and a separate DJ and sound system.

4. Skyfall Lounge
Photo courtesy of Skyfall Lounge at the Delano

Skyfall was created through the renovation of an existing space, but the spectacular 180-degree views of Las Vegas remain the same. A warm, inviting decor offers plentiful seating, and the expertly crafted drinks are sure to please (even if you like your martini shaken, not stirred--yes, there's a slight Bond theme). The lounge evolves throughout the night, beginning the evening as a more relaxed space and getting its nightclub on later in the evening when the DJ starts the music. Inside and outdoor areas are available, and the upscale restaurant, Rivea, is just next door. But while the drinks and music are certainly worth coming to Skyfall for, it just may be the terrific view that keeps you around.

3. Hakkasan Nightclub
Photo courtesy of Angel Management Group

Hakkasan Nightclub is both momentous in scale and ambition. The club is a bold evolution of the prestigious global restaurant brand into an all-encompassing nightlife experience, presented in a five-level space filled with a variety of experiences and atmospheres. Hakkasan works with some of the top musical talent, who have tailored their performances to suit the unique capabilities of the venue and compliment their own versatile styles. Guests can see everyone from Calvin Harris to Tiësto performing at the club. Hakkasan was created through partnerships with several leading international design firms, including Gilles & Bossier from Paris and New York's 212 Design, to offer guests an amazing experience.

2. TAO Nightclub
Photo courtesy of TAO

The entrance to TAO gives guests an interesting introduction to the club: it's lined with bathtubs filled with rose petals, and sometimes models clad only in rose petals. For several years it's been one of the Strip's most desirable nightlife destinations and a haunt of A-listers in the sports and entertainment worlds, bringing a bit of Zen ambiance to the desert. The atmospheric club is adorned with Asian artifacts, decor and statuary, and soft lighting sets the scene admirably, along with alluring performance artists. Over the main dance floor sits the DJ booth, raining down house, hip-hop and R&B over stylish, of-the-moment patrons. An outdoor terrace and multiple bars ensure that there are plenty of pastimes on-hand.

1. XS
Photo courtesy of Barbara Kraft

The name of this club says it all: it truly is "excess," in a lavish, Las Vegas-style way. XS epitomizes the thinking of "go big or go home." It's got gold everything, a huge dance floor, a $10,000 drink: the Ono, which features an exclusive champagne and a rare cognac, Remy Martin Louis XVIII Black Pearl. Custom glassware and jewelry--including a pearl necklace--comes with the Ono. You don't have to spend five figures on a drink to enjoy XS, though you should be prepared to splurge. In summer, one night a week guests get to enjoy a nighttime pool party at XS's pool, although the area and its cabanas are open throughout the year. The downside about all this excess at XS? The line to get is one of the longest in Vegas.