The changes seem slight at the Strip hotel formerly known as the Mandarin Oriental. Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria brand officially took over the luxurious CityCenter destination in August and no major alterations were expected: Chef Pierre Gagnaire’s extraordinary Twist restaurant is intact, as is the 23rd-floor bar offering brilliant views and serenity.
But wait, what just happened? Was that a Halloween party? With a DJ? Indeed, on October 27 Forbidden Forest brought music, a costume contest and a partnership with Belvedere showing off the brand’s new Single Estate Rye to the newly rechristened Skybar. A spooky sign of new programming to come?
It’s unlikely the former Mandarin Bar—known as much for afternoon tea as a gorgeous evening cocktail spot—will go full nightclub, but there’s a new energy to the space. It’s still one of our favorite Strip hideaways, and those floor-to-ceiling windows remain the stars. But there’s a new menu of “eclectic bites” including oyster beignets, pork belly buns and a fries and tots sampler. The cocktail menu has been reimagined with local history in mind, resulting in libations like the Spanish Trail (Azuñia organic tequila, mandarin liqueur and fresh lime). Sounds like this spot will continue to be a secret Strip favorite for locals, too.
SKYBAR Waldorf Astoria, 702-590-8888. Daily, 5 p.m.-midnight.