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Modern in the Middle: SLS Las Vegas Carves Out Hip Niche on the Strip

Modern in the Middle: SLS Las Vegas Carves Out Hip Niche on the Strip

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Cheaper than the Cosmopolitan, less dusty than Downtown, the SLS Las Vegas is the freshest resort to hit the city in years. Don't believe us? Ask Adam Lambert.

There are two poles of cool in Las Vegas: the expensive and self-aware Cosmopolitan resort, at the south end of the Strip, and historic, unpretentious Downtown Las Vegas on the north end. The SLS Las Vegas, a Tribute Portfolio Resort, is carving out a desirable alternative to those stalwarts, one that feels welcoming to LGBT travelers.

The SLS, which recently saw two of its towers become a Tribute Portfolio property, is a bit of an island onto itself, though—the only walkable resort from there is the sad Stratosphere. Though a monorail station is nearby, the SLS has struggled a bit since opening in 2014, but there's a palpable feeling that things are turning around. With the Tribute Portfolio name, comes numerous advantages—most importantly, travelers at all of the SLS towers can take advantage of the Starwood preferred guest program, which should help fill the resort. Also, Starwood is turning one of the SLS's three towers into a W hotel, which will include a new spa and outdoor pool experience.

The W should debut later this year, but the SLS is worth checking out before then. Namely, the property—which previously housed the mid-century Sahara resort—invested millions in building out two beautiful performance spaces, which are hosting a curated, eclectic mix of artists. The intimate Sayers Club was the site of a recent performance by Charlie XCX, allowing folks to get up close to the British pop star, sit on lush couches only a dozen feet from the stage, or hang near an outside patio that glimmers with the lights of the Strip (albeit ones that highlight a tacky souvenir store). The Foundry though, is the star of SLS.


Billed as a "live entertainment hall," The Foundry is like Goldilocks's favorite concert venue: just right. With 20,000 square feet and a capacity of 2,000, it feels spacious without being overwhelming. Three roomy bars mean short waits for drinks and sight lines throughout are ideal to soak in the 25-by-65 foot stage. This Sunday, acclaimed (and gorgeous) artist Kid Cudi takes the stage, while out stars Adam Lambert and Alex Newell are booked for April 1, and indie sensation Santigold appears April 2.

The SLS's other attributes include its inviting design—from Philippe Starck and mega-firm Gensler—and immaculate attention to detail. The whole place is pristine, with sparkling mirrors, warm colors, and ultra-modern, minimalist rooms. A disco dance-floor greets walk-ins from the Strip and a carpet design near the valet honors the history of the old Sahara. 

Another plus: the eats. I'm personally a sushi lover, so having an outpost of L.A.'s famed Katsuya is a win. If you're a carnivore who knows his or her way around a leg of lamb or a pound of Kobe, Bazaar Meat from Jose Andres is there to eat up your rent money. Other restaurants worth checking out are the Mediterranean tastings at Cleo, and the Asian samplings of Ku Noodle. L.A. stalwarts like 800º pizzeria and Umami Burger (which includes an outdoor beer garden) also set up shop at SLS, and the resort's diner and coffee shop are top-notch.


Sadly, it was still too chilly to check out SLS's pool scene—which includes the LUX Pool and Foxtail Pool Club—but we got a look at their resort's nightclub, Foxtail. It was a beautiful space and though we never felt unwelcome, it's definitely more for straight singles on the make. 

Though the flirting options are limited at Foxtail, the SLS does not lack for handsome men strolling its lush corridors. If you're seeking the type of guy who likes his Vegas experience more sophisticated than the Rio or Golden Nugget, but doesn't feel the need to drop $300 on a crashpad at the Cosmo or Aria, you've landed at the right place.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Neal Broverman