We hadn’t been to Vegas since 2007 — our honeymoon. Back then, we were on a tight newlywed budget just weeks away from buying our first home and making plans to have children. We splurged as much as we could and found ourselves in a decent hotel on The Strip across from the incredible Venetian resort, vowing that if we ever had the opportunity to return, that’s where we’d stay. So imagine the full-circle moment I get to have, nearly 13 years later, writing about the stunning Palazzo suites and scrumptious Palazzo restaurants — all housed in The Venetian complex.
The Palazzo suites
Whether I should start with the rooms or food and drink is a toughie, because both completely wowed us. But I’ll start with The Palazzo suites since they were our home base for three glorious days.
And this is the perfect moment to point out that The Palazzo is a sort of sister brand for the InterContinental hotel chain. So while there is no actual InterContinental Las Vegas, you can book Palazzo suites using your IHG Rewards Club points and/or earn points for staying there. As far as I know, this is the only IHG-related property on the Las Vegas strip.
Looking for IHG properties in other cities? Check out my InterContinental Toronto Centre review, InterContinental Monreal review, Holiday Inn Winnipeg Airport West review, Holiday Inn Mont-Tremblant review, and my post about the Holiday Inn stay, park and go service at Pearson airport.
All of the rooms at The Palazzo are suites. With space at a premium in a mega-city like Las Vegas where even restaurant tables are together in close quarters to accommodate the throngs of tourists and business visitors, walking into a room that has two TVs and a huge living area — and a bathroom the size of many of the neighbouring hotel rooms — you’ll instantly feel like you’re a shark who just won millions at the tables downstairs and is being treated to the life of the rich and famous.
Rooms at The Palazzo don’t mess around. Even the most “basic” Palazzo luxury suites put suites I’ve stayed in at other big cities to shame.
Here’s a look at our suite:
And our bathroom:
Turn-down service was lovely and we found things like chocolates in little satin bags on our pillows at night.
In short, The Palazzo suites are everything you could want in a hotel room and then some. You’ll want for nothing and have lots of space to move about and make it feel like home. If you’re with a group of friends and everyone doesn’t stay at The Palazzo, just be warned: you’ll be the designated host for pre-dinner drinks. Every time.
I’ve also quoted any specific prices in US dollars throughout. Canadians, you should just expect to feel like your credit card company is going to call you at any minute to warn you that the prices you see are going to practically double-down on your statement. Ignore and enjoy.
The Palazzo restaurants & bars
We made it to a fair number of The Palazzo hotel restaurants and cocktail lounges, so get comfy while you read this section!
To make it easy to figure out how expensive each place was, I’ll use a standard $-$$$$ (low to very high) indication — but keep in mind this is relative to all of the places we ate and drank in Vegas, which is as expensive as New York City when it comes to restaurants and bars, and relative to the meal itself (e.g. a breakfast that costs as much as dinner is going to get a $$$).
Thomas Keller’s food was everything we hoped it would be. You’ll need reservations for this French bistro and it’s in the Venezia Tower so you’ll also probably need directions to find it (give yourself a good 30 minutes to figure it out), but you’ll be rewarded for all of this effort with the breakfast of your dreams.
We went for: BREAKFAST
Price range: $$$
Food/drinks worth mentioning: The Assortiment de Pâtisserie (assorted Bouchon pastries) seem like a deal at $14.50 for four pieces, until you realize how mammoth they are and you have to leave some behind to avoid carrying food around in your purse all day. We had the croissant, chocolate croissant, almond croissant — we are croissant people — and a blueberry muffin. The best of these were the almond croissant and blueberry muffin.
And although I usually like to have Big B order something different for a main so we can try each other’s food and give me more to write about, we couldn’t resist ordering the same thing: the Poulet et des Gaufres, a 16-hour roasted chicken with a bacon-chive waffle so light in the middle and so crispy on the outside, I questioned if it might be crossed with a croissant. Served with Crown maple syrup and sauce Chasseur, the syrup went largely untouched while we ordered a second serving of the sauce — a gravy-like substance with chunks of bacon and other goodness in it that brought the whole dish together.
Award-winning Wolfgang Puck has what appears to be a small steakhouse tucked into The Palazzo, but the exterior is deceiving — it’s huge inside. It’s also got a cocktail lounge vibe that isn’t something you normally see in a steakhouse, making it feel more modern and less stuffy. Come ready to spend some serious coin but enjoy one of the most memorable steaks of your life.
We went for: DINNER
Price range: $$$$
Food/drinks worth mentioning: An honourable mention must go to the house butter before I get into any of the actual food; the butter at CUT is stupid good. I started with the Hokkaido scallop crudo (featuring a beautiful green onion kimchi), a raw dish that was small but mighty. Like any good Asian fusion dish, it screamed flavour from the first bite to the last, changing with each bite depending on what landed on my fork and where it hit my tongue. Big B raved about the maple-glazed pork belly starter and a dinner companion ordered the roasted bone marrow that made me second-guess my choice when it arrived. (And then I tasted my scallops and immediately took back any momentary regret.)
This steak-lovers’ paradise has plenty of options for those who wish to bleed money on full cuts of Wagyu, but you don’t need to. There’s American Wagyu on the menu and it’s as flavourful and tender as any Wagyu I’ve had elsewhere — for far less. Brought in from Snake River Farms in Idaho, American Wagyu is a cross between traditional Japanese Wagyu and American Black Angus. It produces are more marbled beef, richer in flavour than a regular steak thanks to the extra fat. This is where the phrase “you could cut it with a butterknife” belongs. I went with the $92 nine-ounce rib eye — and a spectacular red wine Bordelaise — and I can tell you with certainty that it was better than a $250 T-bone I had at Jacob’s Steakhouse in Toronto (sorry, Jacob’s). And I washed it all down with a gorgeous Cabernet Sauvignon from Heitz in Napa Valley.
Since CUT is true a la carte, we also had to order sides — all of which were delicious. The spinach, beans, baby carrots, and wild field mushrooms with Shishito peppers had gorgeous presentation and were reasonably sized. But the standout sides were the Cavatappi pasta “Mac & Cheese” made with Québec Cheddar and the Yukon Gold potato puree.
Of all The Palazzo restaurants we visited, this was by far the most expensive but definitely the best.
Just off the casino floor at The Palazzo, this Cheescake Factory-created restaurant is super casual but has a European café vibe. I arrived at 7:45 a.m. to a buzzing and nearly full restaurant, with two parties ahead of me. I didn’t wait more than five minutes for a table, but by the time I left 45 minutes later, the line was out the door.
We went for: BREAKFAST
Price range: $$
Food/drinks worth mentioning: I was solo and en route to the Canyon Ranch Spa and decided to pop in for a quick bite. I ordered the chorizo and cheese omelette and — WOW — I underestimated how much food I’d be served. Ground beef and Spanish chorizo find their way into an omelette that must be made with six extra-large eggs. Folded in with peppers, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, the exact right amount of pepper-Jack Cheese and lightly spicy red chile hollandaise sauce that blew me away considering the dish’s $14.95 price tag, my breakfast order also came with a basket of sourdough bread that I couldn’t even touch. I could have fed both of my children AND myself with this entree.
But it’s not just about quantity here — the food was excellent. The perfect blend of heat and sweet, a good overall balance of flavour, served piping hot. And if it wasn’t for the regular drip coffee costing $4.50, I’d have given this only one $ above because 15 bucks for the amount of food presented to me is insanely good value.
This is a New York pizza chain transplanted to Vegas. Hand-tossed and served Neapolitan style, Grimaldi’s uses a coal-fired brick pizza oven to get the crust extra crispy on the outside while staying doughy and chewy on the inside. Even the mozzarella is homemade.
We went for: LUNCH
Price range: $
Food/drinks worth mentioning: The house salad was fine and I was glad we ordered it because by the time we made it here for lunch, we were on day five of pure gluttony and my pants didn’t fit. But would I order it again? No. The pizza, on the other hand, was AWESOME. We went with the Brooklyn Bridge: oven-roasted red peppers, creamy ricotta cheese and hand-pinched Italian sausage. You have to really love ricotta (which I do) and you probably don’t want to be lactose intolerant (like Big B) because the cheese game on this pizza is strong. Every bite was amazing and I finished all my crusts, which is unusual. That’s how delish it was. And $25 for a fantastic 16-inch pizza in a town where they could easily charge $40? Yo, that’s really good.
Tucked into one corner of The Palazzo casino floor, Rosina — like much of The Palazzo decor — is an elevated Art Deco-style haven that makes you forget you’re essentially smack in the middle of a busy casino. In addition to its regular bar menu, Rosina offers “secret menus” (the night we were there, it was a series of alternatives for Manhattans, Juleps, Old Fashioneds, and champagne cocktails). There’s even a “Champagne Call Button,” which is so OTT fancy and ultra-Vegas; plus, if you’ve always wanted to try a glass of Dom but never had the budget for a whole bottle, you can order it by the glass here for $55.
We went for: DRINKS
Price range: $$$
Food/drinks worth mentioning: We ordered almost entirely from the secret menu, and the expertly handcrafted cocktails arrived quickly with beautiful presentation and stellar service. My Oaxacan Old Fashioned — with mezcal, reposado tequila, agave, bitters and a grapefruit twist — was simultaneously smoky and citrus-y and an interesting riff on the classic Old Fashioned. I also enjoyed a cocktail from the secret Champagne menu: the Firing Squad Royale, a celebration of tequila, fresh lime, homemade pomegranate grenadine, bitters and Champagne. A traditional Kir Royale is one of my favourite drinks and this take on it was as inspired as cocktails come.
One of the newest Palazzo restaurants, this upscale Italian restaurant is in St. Mark’s Square — one of the central areas in the Grand Canal Shoppes. Look up to see a blue sky dotted with clouds so realistic you’ll swear you’re outdoors (until you realize it’s 11 p.m.). You might also swear you’re in the heart of Venice. This restaurant is in the middle of the action and you might even be treated to live music or other street performers. sixth+mill flew in two pizza ovens from Italy, so make sure you have a pizza.
We went for: DINNER
Price range: $$
Food/drinks worth mentioning: I started off with a cocktail called the “rubicon.” Bloom jasmine and rose pink gin stirred with chartreuse luxardo maraschino and rosemary — are you drooling yet? My goodness, it was so good. Once my palate was primed, we started with the arancinotto rice (usually called arancini), stuffed with beef and pork to create a bit of a mozzarella bomb in your mouth. Next up was the crostone mushroom toast, which was delightfully smothered in provolone and heavy on the mushrooms.
I gained a lot of weight on this trip because writing about food means I really want to try All The Things. So at sixth+mill, we ordered three entrees…you’d think I’d be embarrassed to write that out loud, but NOPE. Our gnocchi sorrentina with a generous dollop of burrata on top was the perfect weight, texture and done-ness. Sometimes gnocchi can get too doughy or be much too heavy, but this one tasted like my grade 11 boyfriend’s authentico Nonna made it. The brasato (braised beef), served with fresh carrots and smashed gaeta olives, comes drizzled in a heavenly gravy and could have been eaten with a spoon it was so tender. Our final entree was the coppia pizza — with ricotta, fennel sausage, speck and sauteed arugula — which had exceptional balance.
Although my brain wanted to try more than one dessert, there was no chance my stomach would co-operate. Everything sounded like it deserved our attention, but we ultimately decided on the chocolate hazelnut caprese cake made with 70% valhrona chocolate and almond flour — and OMG, I’m so glad we did. It was rich but not so heavy that it left us with eater’s regret for taking it one step too far after dinner.
An incredible dinner with an artisan cocktail, beer, two starters, three mains and two desserts and the bill was less than $150. Put this place on your must-eat list.
Although a lot of our meals were carefully planned ahead of time — because I’m the girl who researches restaurants well ahead of time to ensure I get the reservations I want and who plans our activities around food — SUSHISAMBA was a bit of an accident. A happy accident! We checked into The Palazzo and had some time to kill before our Gondola ride and felt a bit peckish after our five-hour flight. Since we had an early dinner planned, we just wanted something light — like sushi. I had no idea until we sat down that we were in for a Brazilian-Peruvian-Japanese culinary delight.
We went for: LUNCH
Price range: $$$
Food/drinks worth mentioning: Lemme just start with the Wagyu cocktail. Because that’s actually what I started with when we sat down. It’s an Old Fashioned that meets Japanese whisky first treated to a wash of the highest-grade wagyu and then stirred with maple and salted caramel. It was every bit as decadent as that sounds and could have doubled up as dessert.
The pork belly buns from the brunch menu came with fries that were much tastier than I would have ever expected from a sushi joint, and the sliders were mouth-melty in part because of the sweet soy and aji amarillo aioli and in part because of the bouncy sweet buns. I’d go back just for these.
All of the sushi sounded incredibly complex and so inventive that I wondered if in execution it would seem just too much for a food category that often revels in simplicity. But SUSHISAMBA pulls it off. We tried two different kinds of rolls: the LIMA (shrimp tempura, spicy king crab and avocado) and the NEO TOKYO (bigeye tuna, tempura flake and aji panca — a sweet, smoky paste-like sauce made from a pepper found in Peru). Both were more “stuff” than rice, which is what you want when you’re paying upwards of $18 for sushi roll, and both were simply damn good sushi at their core with some bold character thanks to their Brazilian and Peruvian influences.
Come for dinner, stay for the nightclub. Or head to the beach if it’s open.
We went for: DINNER (in 2007…)
Price range: $$$
Food/drinks worth mentioning: I don’t remember exactly what we had there 13 years ago, but I know we weren’t all that impressed. Perhaps it was that the Tao hype was still pretty big when we visited (having only been open for a year or two at that point). Perhaps it was that we expected to be moved by the one meal on which we blew our budget.
Yes, things can change in a restaurant inside of a month, let alone in more than a decade, but it was a big indulgent splurge for us back then and we distinctly avoided it this time because we’d had better sushi for a fraction of the price back home in Toronto. The actually space was really beautiful but nothing else about our meal there was impressive. Our snack-meal at SUSHISAMBA (above) eclipsed our entire dinner service at Tao.
The Dorsey is actually in The Venetian casino, and again you’ll feel transported away from the bright lights and noise of the casino floor the second you step inside. Voted “Best Bar in Las Vegas” by Condé Nast Traveler (which is no small feat), it’s known for freshly squeezing citrus and juices every day. The space feels like an old library that’s covering for a speakeasy, but there are no gimmicks here — just incredible cocktails. After six days of non-stop drinking on and off the Vegas Strip, Big B and I agreed that The Dorsey was our top overall pick for bevvies.
We went for: DRINKS
Price range: $$$
Food/drinks worth mentioning: We tried six different cocktails in all here and I’m not even going to do them an injustice and try to rank them among each other. That would be like choosing a favourite puppy out of a litter of the cutest puppies you’ve ever seen. Here’s what we drank at The Dorsey:
- Round No. 1: The Coconut White Russian (vodka, coconut, coffee liqueur and hand-whipped cream float), which was like a better, creamier version of an espresso martini and Big B had the Red Hot Fox (fresh lemon, cherries, allspice, orgeat and whipped egg white), which was rounded beautifully thanks to the citrus and cherry notes working in harmony
- Round No. 2: I had a Spicy Flamingo (tequila, fresh lime, watermelon, agave and chili salt) — and as expected it was a zinger, with the chili salt leaving a welcome punch at the end of every lightly sweet sip. Big B ordered what’s generally considered The Dorsey’s signature drink — Penicillin. A mix of scotch, fresh lemon, ginger, honey and an Islay float
- Round No. 3: For our last round, I ordered a Cherry ‘75, which was a lovely combination of gin, fresh cherries, lemon and Champagne (who knew gin and champers could be this good together?!) and Big B ended off with a classic Old Fashioned
OK – we didn’t actually make it here because it was challenging to get a reservation (one night it was completely booked for a private corporate function!), but we heard over and over how amazing the fried chicken is and that people who come to Vegas frequently always make a stop here a priority. So please go and tell me what it’s like!
Fitness & fun at The Palazzo and The Venetian
This is what I’d been wanting to do for 13 years! A private gondola ride at The Venetian. Dreams do come true. You can make this a much more cost-effective affair by sharing the ride with another couple — foursomes pay $29 each, whereas a couple who wants to ride alone will fork over $116 (these are low season prices, BTW). I also paid about $40 extra to get two photos of our ride, which netted me both printed and digital images. But, hey…when in Vegas.
Our Gondolier’s name was Enzo — or at least that was his stage name. He had a really nice voice and was easy to chat with during our 10-12 minute ride through the canal; he sang three songs and we may or may not have sung along to a couple of them with him (whether he cared for it or not).
I’d read that the indoor ride is better than the outdoor ride, and although I can’t compare the two, we did really like the indoor ride since it’s all through the Grand Canal Shoppes, but I’m not sure you can have a bad experience on such an iconic ride — provided you go into it knowing that it’s short and sweet.
The iconic Vegas Gondola ride is just one of the many things to do in Vegas for couples.
As a Palazzo suites guest, you have the option of using either the fitness centre in The Palazzo (adjacent to Canyon Ranch Spa) or wandering alllllllll the way down to The Venetian. There’s a daily resort fee added to your room bill that allows you to use both gyms or attend any of the group fitness classes at no extra charge. I only visited the gym in The Palazzo, which I thought was pretty good (but bring your own water bottle) and had enough equipment to satisfy a better-than-basic workout.
Big B, however, tried both and raved about the gym at The Venetian, which is flanked by a climbing wall. He said it was bigger and had more interesting equipment (like battle ropes).
Of course neither of us took a single photo in either fitness centre. Sorry about that.
I hear there are casinos in Las Vegas. But I’m not a gambler, so I can’t tell you about a single one — including the one at The Palazzo. What I can tell you is that the air filtration system was the best out of any casino we walked through the entire week we were there (and I walked through casino floors at The Venetian, The Mirage, Sahara, Treasure Island, The Wynn, New York New York and Mandalay Bay during this visit); I could barely smell any smoke, which I noticed in most of the others.
One of the things at the top of my Vegas wish list was a spa day. Now, because I’d rather throw down $800 on a pair of shoes or a purse rather than hand it over to a masseuse and aesthetician for a day of pampering, I didn’t plan on doing any actual services. But water therapies, saunas and steamers? Oh, yes.
As a guest at The Palazzo or The Venetian, you can purchase a day pass for the Aquavana experience. I went midweek for $51.50 and that gave me all-day access to the spa’s facilities as well as a large locker. I stayed for four hours, making this about a $12/hour experience — not bad.
This is the first spa I’ve been to that’s clothing-optional and I took full advantage! (TMI?) Until you venture out into the co-ed areas, you can wear as much or as little as you prefer while you experience all of the ladies-only spots:
- Herbal Laconium — this was my favourite single-sex room. It’s a humid, herbal-infused room with space for four people that smells really nice
- HydroSpa — I fell asleep in one of these radiant lounge chairs after relaxing in the hot tub!
- Igloo — the cold cycle of these things isn’t exactly my favourite part, but I know it’s an important part of the biological experience, and I have to say that the Igloo was a nicer option than a cold plunge. I just stepped in for the cool air but if you really want to take it to the next level, you can add an arctic mist experience as well
- Finnish Sauna – this classic dry-heat sauna is lit by colored light that’s refracted by crystals; it was nice and hot but not so hot that I couldn’t last longer than five minutes
- Crystal Steam Room — unfortunately, the steamer wasn’t working very well on the day I was there, which was disappointing
- Experiential Rains — these were colder than I expected, and only one seemed to work, but it’s a blend of colour and light therapy set to co-ordinate with the shower as it pumps out water in variable pressures
No photos allowed — sorry!
All I know is that the photos of The Palazzo’s pool looks amazing, and you have access to whatever The Venetian has as well thanks to your resort fee. But we landed and the next day, the weather turned so — sadly — we didn’t get to take advantage of these at all.
Palazzo vs. Venetian
Venetian or Palazzo? That is often the question. I wouldn’t hesitate for one second to return to The Palazzo. Considering the suites there are the same price as the regular rooms at The Venetian, that’s a no-brainer. I also like that it was just slightly removed from the Venetian resort and all of the foot traffic that goes along with it. It’s always nice to be able to leave the party and retreat when you want.
Overall, we found The Palazzo an elevated, sophisticated property with outstanding amenities and easy access to world-class dining.
DISCLAIMER: The Palazzo treated us to two nights at the hotel with some food and drink vouchers to facilitate this post. We spent much more of our own money to remain on property because we fell in love with it. All opinions my own.