Viva las Vegas: The Wynn and Encore hotel

After my recent trip around California ending in Las Vegas, I have literally so much to share with you, but thought I’d start at the end, with a review of the hotel we stayed in. It was really between Encore and one of the CityCenter complex hotels, which I think I would try next time, so I’ll be interested to hear if you can compare them.

The Room
When we were browsing hotels for our Vegas trip, there seemed to be 2 options; classic Vegas-style themed hotels that make up The Strip and much of Vegas’ characteristic attractions, or the new breed of uber luxury. Given that we wanted to treat ourselves and prices are relatively cheap considering the standard of hotels, we opted for the latter and chose Encore, the all-suite sister hotel of the Wynn. Built in 2005 the rooms looked stunning and the vibe seemed very young, cool and geared towards eating and drinking, plus essential poolside people watching.

Impressive is not the word for this hotel. On first arriving I was really over-awed. I’ve stayed in similar hotels before (Dubai seems the best comparison for opulence and sheer excess,) but having come from the solitude and isolation of Death Valley and other National parks before that, it was overwhelming in its contrasts.

Our room was incredible, with a wide hallway, wardrobe and large marble bathroom off that and then the bedroom followed by a separated lounge area with desk and floor to ceiling mountain views. (Strip views would have been amazing but were significantly more expensive and we were later told they could be noisy with traffic and party noise filtering up.) We also upgraded for about £40 to the top 10 floors and actually ended up on the 62nd, just under the top floor.

What I hadn’t anticipated was the all pervasive gaming and casino atmosphere. That might have seemed a little naive but we watched the hotel video and it was made such little note of. I expected the newer hotels to be a little less casino orientated and how wrong I was. Although much of it was close to windows and therefore different to some of the basement holes that passed for casinos in other hotels, of course, the whole hotel revolved around gaming. Bars have gaming screens built into the bar top, and many of the restaurants overlook the casino. There was even poolside gaming!

Most annoying for me was the smoke. Smoking is allowed in the casinos in Las Vegas and as a result basically filters throughout the whole hotel. We came face to face with cigars in the lifts, hotel corridors, cigarettes by the pool, in fact everywhere except the restaurants. It was a major turn off to Vegas for me, particularly when a short walk to your room or restaurant could leave you smelling of cigarettes like a blast from 2006 in the UK.

The Restaurants
We ate in the hotel restaurants each evening, first at Mizumi, a Japanese fine dining experience for our anniversary, the second at Society Cafe, (the fanciest cafe I’ve ever sat in that’s for sure,) and on the final night in Stratta after an epic walk down the strip. Although obviously expensive, the food was great in all of them, stunning in Mizumi and the decor in each was out of this world.

On our last day we also visited the brunch buffet which was incredible, although I was beyond disappointed that there were no breakfast items amongst the sushi, grill, barbecue, italian, seafood, asian and dessert offerings. I do like my pancakes!

The Pool
One of my favourite things about Encore was the pool scene. There are 5 pools at the Wynn – both Wynn and Encore have 2, a ‘resort’ pool and a ‘European’ pool, which was described as a place ‘you can go topless if you want to‘. We were a little bemused by that and I can only imagine they were trying to covey an atmosphere of beautiful people and decadence. In reality the guests weren’t topless (all but!) but there was brilliant music (on loud) and a great atmosphere, with people basically there to see and be seen.

I loved it and we spent a couple of hours each day at the Encore European pool. The fifth pool I mentioned above is the Encore Beach club – a pool party with DJ’s like Tiesto and Deadmau5. We thought about checking it out but it turned out tickets were $150, perhaps worth paying if you’re a fan of the DJ or club scene, but as we basically wanted to be a bit nosey, we opted out!

What I loved:

  • The range and quality of restaurants
  • The luxe rooms
  • The pool scene
  • Being able expected to dress up for everything from going to pool to dinner.
  • The incredible decor – not my personal taste but incredible all the same with amazing attention to detail and luxurious touches everywhere, from the curtain trims to table tops inlaid with mother of pearl.

What I hated:

  • The smoke
  • The cool kids (and not-so-youthful people flashing the cash)
  • The service, or lack of.
  • Did I mention the smoke?

To just qualify my statements about the service and the people, it really felt like the hotel was a conveyor belt designed to take our money. I’m not foolish enough to think that any hotel this size or in Vegas might be different, but from the lack of a bell boy, to the exclusive attitude of club managers (the lines were patrolled for pretty girls who were then ushered in for free, while men paid in excess of $100,) and the jaded looks of the casino staff, it really wasn’t for me. I like my luxury understated. We queued for check in like at the supermarket and it was a very faceless, impersonal experience. Little things like complimentary wifi, actually weren’t complimentary when we arrived. It was implied that as a hotel guest, you would get preferential access to things like the clubs but in reality it was very much about the way you looked and the image they were trying to create.

My conclusion, Vegas is like Marmite. You either love it or you hate it and I swung between the two throughout our stay. In the past, I thought it would be a great place to go back to in winter for guaranteed sun and some adult fun, but now, I think I’d choose another location. That said, I am glad we went. It’s not somewhere I see there being a lot of things you can do with kids (although we did see them at the pool with families,) but it’s certainly somewhere you have to see once. 😉

I’d love to hear if you have a hotel recommendation or any thoughts on Vegas hotels. I’m going to do a post on things to do another time, so save those suggestions for me!


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10 thoughts on “Viva las Vegas: The Wynn and Encore hotel

  1. I had the same experience. My husband and I went nearly two years ago and whilst we had a blast, it was not really ‘us’. It just all felt a bit too fake, if that makes sense. We made the effort to go to the Hover Damn and Grand Canyon which was by far the best thing there, and also caught a show or two, which again was an amazing experience. All in all we were so glad we went, if just for those two things, but can’t see us ever going back. xx

  2. I’ve been wondering what you’d make of Vegas as I think from your previous posts you’re a lot like me when it comes to travelling in terms of what you like/don’t like (albeit I think much better travelled than me!) I went to Vegas for the first time last September, was travelling with a friend who’d been before and raved about Vegas although I was less convinced. We stayed at Caesar’s Palace which as you’ll know is pretty much right in the middle of the strip. Our room was very nice -though nowhere near as luxurious as your suite above! However I wasn’t sold on Vegas at all!! Maybe it’s just because I’m not a gambler -I’d rather just stick with my $50 rather than try and turn it into $100 but risk losing it all!! Also agree with you about the smoke.
    I did enjoy wandering up and down the strip and seeing the sheer extravagance/ridiculousness of it all, did you see the musical fountains outside the Bellagio? (which incidentally was my favourite of the hotels, partly because it was the only one that seemed to have any natural light and partly because it contains the world’s biggest chocolate fountain!!!!) I also swooned over the baby lion cubs at the MGM Grand. And did you go to the Grand Canyon? Now THAT was amazing!

  3. I spent a couple of days in Vegas last year as part of a bigger Arizona/Colorado/New Mexico trip. I’m glad I can say I’ve been, and I enjoyed checking out all the big casinos and hotels on the strip, but honestly it boggles my mind that some people love it as much as they do.

  4. I went in 2007 with my husband and we loved it I would definitely go back. I wouldn’t say it was the best place I have visited, but it has a certain charm and there is nowhere else that is like it. Also agree with comments above – the grand canyon was the highlight.

  5. A great review! I really want to take J to Vegas and this is such a well balanced review, I didnt realise about the gaming aspect and the smoking (thats a big bug bear of mine too!) xxx

  6. Oh my gosh, I wrote a massive long comment on this yesterday and it’s disappeared!!! Where has it gone?! Oh well, basically I agree with most of what you’ve said. I went to Vegas with a friend last September and we stayed in Caesars Palace. Our room was very nice and spacious but nothing like as luxurious as your suite above. Personally, as a caffeine fiend, I found it very annoying that the coffee in the room wasn’t even complimentary but had to be paid for!!! The experience of being in Vegas was fairly mindblowing but I found it an odd and rather superficial place. However we went out to the Grand Canyon which was amazing and I did like the musical fountains at the Belaggio (my favourite hotel I think, mainly because it was the only one which seemed to have any natural light!!)

    • Yes you did Anita and I saw it yesterday then read this and was like, ‘erm, where’d it go?!’

      To the trash apparently along with the last 4 days worth of comments too in a mysterious overnight comment heist! All duly rescued now. 🙂


  7. I have to say that when it comes to both Vegas and Marmite, I fall firmly into the love camp. We’ve been to Vegas a couple of times whilst road tripping in California and despite the fact that I’m not a gambler or perhaps because I’m not a gambler and am not planning on trying to break the bank, I love the whole crazy, camp, over the top atmosphere.
    Last time round we stayed in the Luxor which was nice but nothing special, especially compared to the new luxury hotels further up the Strip. But the pool(s) were great, and the hotel is full of restaurants, Starbucks, shops and various other attractions to check out in-between the casinos.
    The only thing I don’t like about Vegas is the constant smoke smell, just like you said Rebecca, there’s nothing worse than a constant waft of smoke drifting into your hotel room and making everything stink of cigarettes, they definitely need to sort that out!

  8. I swear that was our exact room at Encore. I LOVED the huge feather bed and the fact the TV turned round so you could watch on the Chaise or in Bed. We had an amazing 5 nights there for my 30th and would go back in a heartbeat 🙂 glad you loved it! Xx

  9. I got married in Vegas which was very much the husbands choice and I was really worried I would hate the place, but actually had a wonderful time. I think you need to suspend disbelief a bit it is a bit like a theme park in places, but I loved the glam, the pools and all the random stuff like lions and rollercoasters just on street corners!

    We stayed in the signature suites at the MGM which were fabulous and I loved having a tiny kitchen not that we really used it and we had the BEST meal at Pearl the chinese restaurant at the MGM would definitely recommend it.

    Completely agree with you about the smoke though Rebecca!

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