Inside the hidden 51-room luxury hotel at the top of the MGM Grand
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When the massive, emerald-hued MGM Grand hotel and casino opened in Las Vegas in 1993 (with a Wizard of Oz theme back then), it was the largest hotel in the world. With almost 7,000 rooms, it is still one of the largest on earth. Obviously, it's hard to deliver high-end or personalized service at a hotel with thousands of rooms, but MGM found a way. Its solution: Open a 51-room, high-end boutique hotel within a hotel.
The Skylofts, my absolute favorite hotel in all of Las Vegas, has sat atop the MGM Grand since 2005. The hotel may share a physical address with the MGM Grand but when the private elevators open on the 29th floor, you've entered a whole new world of butlers, two-story lofts and personalized luxury.
The Skylofts served as our honeymoon destination after a Las Vegas wedding at Mandalay Bay 11 years ago. Now, fresh off an anniversary stay at this Forbes five-star and AAA five-diamond property, I wanted to share a few highlights of this gem hidden high above the Las Vegas Strip.
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No normal lines for you
The check-in area for the MGM Grand is predictably massive and busy but that's not your problem when staying at the Skylofts. The busy elevator banks? Those aren't your problem either. To get to the Skylofts, you enter the MGM VIP lounge, located just behind the main check-in area.
You can grab a beverage or snack on your way to a private bank of elevators. If you forgot to make a dining or show reservation, you can text your butler and they will get it squared away. All you need to do is book your hotel stay and let someone else manage the rest. (If you don't stay at the Skylofts, here are some other ways to skip lines in Las Vegas.)
The smallest loft is 1,400 square feet
There are no bad rooms in the Skylofts. Both of our stays have been in the base-level, one-bedroom lofts, but even those are on another level at 1,400 square feet spread across two floors.
On the first floor there is a six-person dining table, coffee station, small fridge and snack area (the nonalcoholic drinks used to be included but no more) and a living room.
There's also a small office space hidden under the stairs.
Up the sleek stairs is the bedroom, with a clear view down to the living space -- or out toward McCarran Airport.
There's also a steam immersion shower, massive infinity tub and a closet about the size of my first Brooklyn apartment.
If I have to nitpick, and I do, I'll say that other than the flooring pattern in some rooms, the loft's décor hasn't noticeably changed in the 11 years since our first stay. Perhaps it was way ahead of its time a decade ago as it still doesn't feel old in most respects, but I was surprised it looked so familiar.
There's a butler ... and a sleep butler
At the Skylofts you don't just get a butler, there's even a sleep butler who can create personalized baths, help you choose from a pillow menu and make sure some relaxing tea is ready when you get back from a night out in Vegas. Nothing is really free in Vegas anymore, so expect to pay $25 for a butler-drawn bath, but the fact that it's even an option sorta blows my mind.
You must dine in the Mansion
You might skip the $25 butler-drawn bath, but if you pony up the cash to stay in the Skylofts, don't skip a special perk that isn't available to most of the guests staying at the MGM Grand: a meal at the Mansion. Believe it or not, the Skylofts is not the most exclusive place to stay at MGM. That award goes to the Mansion, comprised of 29 Tuscan-inspired "villas" that you can't book without being on the MGM VIP list. This is where many of the special guests (aka big-time gamblers) of MGM stay. The smallest villa in the Mansion is 2,400 square feet.
While a regular Joe can't just buy a night at the Mansion (or even see them), you can buy a meal -- if you stay in the Skylofts. We asked to have breakfast at the Mansion and our butler was able to secure the booking, though she had to escort us through the special Mansion VIP lounge and gaming area and into the bright atrium.
Breakfast prices were reasonable, considering the ambience, at $10 for a yogurt parfait, $17 for French toast and $26 for smoked salmon with garnishes. It's fair to say this was the prettiest yogurt parfait I've ever seen. Don't miss a meal in the Mansion if you stay at the Skylofts -- it is as if you are no longer in a massive Vegas casino, but are instead somewhere in Italy.
Book wisely for extra perks
When we honeymooned in the Skylofts over a decade ago, Vegas was more affordable across the board and the same was true of the Skylofts. Now the cheapest night you will find at the Skylofts is about $600 for the one-bedroom suites on off-peak dates and rates go up (and up) from there.
You can save a little at times booking via M life, but you'll get more perks booking via a program such as American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts or Chase Luxury Hotels & Resorts. Booking via either program gets you a noon check-in, 4 p.m. late checkout, daily breakfast for two and a $100 stay credit. This credit comes in the form of a spa credit with Amex FHR and dining credit with Chase LHR. You can also earn 5 points per dollar on your Platinum Card® from American Express if you prepay your stay that was booked via FHR.
Should you want to use points, you can find the Skylofts in the Chase booking site, so your points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve can get you 1.5 cents in value each toward a night of Vegas luxury.
There are all sorts of ways to experience Las Vegas on almost any budget. You can spend about $35 per night and book a room at the world's only Hooters hotel (at least until it rebrands), or you can shoot for the top, and enjoy your own butler somewhere like the Skylofts, a high-end hotel somewhat hidden in plain sight.