With similar locations and comparable prices, ARIA and Vdara are seemingly very similar when it comes to luxury accommodation options in Vegas – but dig a little deeper and you’ll find some obvious and important differences.
This means one will likely be better suited to your needs than the other, depending on what you expect from the resort you choose – and to help you understand the differences, in this post, we take a detailed look at the question of ARIA vs Vdara.
ARIA and Vdara Overview
Conveniently situated on – or at least right next to – the Las Vegas Strip, ARIA Resort & Casino and Vdara Hotel & Spa are two hugely popular hotel complexes that are both located right in the middle of all the Las Vegas action – and they have much in common.
Both are operated by MGM and are considered sister properties – the two hotels sit opposite each other as part of the ARIA Campus, formerly known as CityCenter – and they are both considered luxury options, offering a full range of rooms and amenities.
However, at the same time, they also have some important differences, so now let’s look at these two well-known Las Vegas resorts in more detail to compare them.
Here’s a comparison of the two resorts at a glance.
|Owner||The Blackstone Group||The Blackstone Group|
|Location||Las Vegas Strip||Harmon Avenue (next to the Strip)|
|Pools||3 + Adults-only Liquid Pool Lounge||1|
|Restaurants||Over 10, many options||Café and lounge only|
|Nightclub||Yes, Jewel Nightclub||No|
|Spa||Yes, world class||Yes, world class|
|Resort fee||Yes, ~$50||Yes, ~$50|
|Smoking||Yes, in certain areas and rooms||No, completely non-smoking|
As we just mentioned, the two resorts are located right next door to each other and are both within easy striking distance of all the main Vegas action.
However, the big difference is that while ARIA is located on the Las Vegas Strip, Vdara is set just back from the Strip on Harmon Avenue.
This means that to reach the Strip proper from Vdara, you’ll either need to walk or take the free ARIA Express tram.
Walking only takes around five minutes, and the tram is even faster – but if you prefer to have somewhere to retreat from the chaos of the Strip when you need a moment of calm, Vdara gives you this possibility while still boasting an extremely convenient central location.
You can also easily walk between ARIA and Vdara over a walkway that also connects both resorts to Bellagio, another MGM property. However, be aware that while the section from Vdara to Bellagio is covered, the part connecting ARIA and Vdara is not.
Bother resorts are also conveniently located near a wealth of shopping and dining options, including the luxury brand shopping mall The Shops at Crystals, so whichever resort you choose, you’ll never have far to travel to find just about anything you could need.
Among the most important considerations when choosing where to stay in Vegas – or anywhere else for that matter – is your room, so let’s compare the options in the two resorts now.
ARIA boasts a full range of room types, from affordable standard deluxe rooms right the way up to luxury suites.
A basic standard room in ARIA covers 520 square feet, and they come with either a single king bed or two queens.
These high-tech rooms include intuitive temperature and light controls, large HD TVs, workstations, laptop-sized safes, minibars, high-quality bed linen, soaking tubs and more.
For higher levels of luxury and additional amenities, you can go for a suite instead, and there are several options.
ARIA suites start at 920 square feet, and you can choose from Corner Suites, Corner Strip-View Suites, Tower Suites, Centre Strip-View Suites or even a 2,000 square-foot Executive Hospitality Suite that includes a 12-person conference room.
Alternatively, for the most decadent levels of luxury, you can choose a Sky Suite or a Sky Suite Penthouse, considered the best – and most expensive – rooms in the resort.
Another option is to book into a Staywell room. These rooms and suites provide guests with extra comforts such as air purification systems, shower infusers, the use of non-toxic cleaning products, bacteria-killing UV lights and more to give you a health boost while you are there.
The Staywell option is available in a range of rooms and suites.
Vdara, on the other hand, is a suite-only hotel, which means that even the least expensive rooms in the house are still suites.
The most basic rooms in Vdara are called Studio Suites and have a floor space of 582 square feet, slightly larger than a standard room in ARIA. In addition to what you would expect in a regular room, they also incorporate a kitchenette, a dining table and a small living area.
They also include a pull-out sofa that doubles as an extra queen bed – so importantly, these rooms can sleep a maximum of four people, unlike the standard ARIA rooms, which sleep a maximum of three.
Moving up the price range, Vdara also has one-bedroom suites – and at the top of the scale, you can also opt for a one- or two-bedroom penthouse or loft-style suite.
These more expensive rooms include added luxuries such as a full kitchen, a spa-style tub, luxury bedding, robes and slippers and a minibar.
Rooms with panoramic views or views over the world-famous Fountains of Bellagio are also available.
Like ARIA, Vdara also offers Staywell rooms with the same health-boosting extras.
A major feature of most Vegas resorts is the range of dining options they offer, and here, there is a big difference between ARIA and Vdara – so let’s look at this now.
Like many of Vegas’ most famous resorts, ARIA boasts a suitably impressive range of dining options, from places serving quick snacks or fast food to fine dining establishments.
For a classy – and pricy – meal, you can choose between Italian restaurant Carbone, Jean Georges Steakhouse for meat, Bardot Brasserie for French cuisine or CATCH for seafood, to name but a few.
There are also Asian-inspired options like Blossom, a Chinese restaurant, or the pan-Asian Din Tai Fung, which specializes in dumplings and noodles.
Alternatively, for something cheaper and less pretentious – but no less delicious – you can opt for pizza at Moneyline Pizza & Bar or your favorite all-American classics at Posh Burger.
You’ll also find a patisserie, a Starbucks and more – so in short, at ARIA, when it comes to food options, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
At Vdara, on the other hand, you’ll only find one restaurant – and even that’s more of a café where you won’t find anything more substantial than a sandwich.
There’s also a Starbucks along with a lounge and bar called Vice Versa, but beyond these, you’ll have to be ready to head elsewhere if you plan to dine out.
Having said that, Vdara does offer in-room dining options for you to take advantage of should you not wish to venture outside.
As you would expect of any Vegas resort worth the name, both ARIA and Vdara have pool areas for the use of their guests – so now let’s see how they compare.
ARIA boasts an extensive pool and sundeck area with no fewer than three distinctive ellipse-shaped pools – plus the adults-only Liquid Pool Lounge.
Two of the main pools are for the use of all ARIA guests while the third, the exclusive Sky Pool, is reserved for guests staying in the resort’s Sky Suites.
The outdoor area also includes a pool bar where guests can order drinks and light snacks, and for a little extra luxury and privacy, you can also reserve a cabana or a gazebo for your group.
During the winter months starting in October, most of the pools close for cleaning and maintenance. However, during this period, the Sky Pool remains open and becomes accessible to all guests and not just those staying in the Sky Suites.
Vdara also incorporates an attractive rooftop pool area, but it is smaller than the one at ARIA and only includes one pool. The pool area at Vdara can be described as having a quieter, more laidback feel than the one in ARIA.
It’s also important to note that during the winter months, the pool at Vdara closes for annual maintenance. During this time, all Vdara guests are given access to the Sky Pool at ARIA, but Vdara guests are not permitted to use any of the ARIA pools at other times of the year.
Many people are drawn to Vegas primarily by the casinos, and most of the big resorts have one of their own on the premises. This is also another major difference between ARIA and Vdara – so let’s have a look at why.
ARIA is a typical Vegas resort in that it boasts a large and impressive casino for use of guests and non-residents alike.
There, you’ll find the full complement of exciting slot machines, table games and poker. There’s a high-stakes lounge for those with nerves of steel – or deep pockets – and there’s also a large sportsbook for those who prefer to have a bet on the next big game.
Unusually for Vegas, Vdara doesn’t have its own casino – and for those not coming to Vegas to gamble, this can be a big draw.
Resorts with casinos have a certain kind of energy and attract a certain type of clientele, and if you don’t want to be part of that, choosing a resort without an onsite casino can give you somewhere to escape from all the typical Vegas madness.
However, due to its convenient location right among the other major Strip resorts, if you stay at Vdara, you’ll never be far from a casino if you do decide you feel like partaking in a spot of gambling.
Nightlife is another area where ARIA and Vdara are significantly different – and here’s why.
If you’re staying at ARIA and are looking for somewhere for a big night out – or even just somewhere to chill and sip an expertly crafted cocktail in plush surroundings – you won’t ever have to venture beyond your resort.
ARIA offers a range of bars, including the opulent ALIBI Ultra Lounge, the relaxed Purple bar at the edge of the gaming floor, Easy’s Cocktail Lounge and the stylish Gem Bar among others.
At the same time, if you want more than just to enjoy high-end libations in chic surroundings, you can head to the ARIA’s Jewel Nightclub, one of Vegas’ premier nightspots and a place where you can dance the night away to the sounds of A-list DJs such as Steve Aoki.
In contrast with ARIA, Vdara has nowhere to head for a drink – let alone somewhere to spend a night on the tiles.
This is in keeping with the general feel of the hotel and the fact that there are no restaurants and no casino either.
However, since you’ll be located right next to a plethora of places with all the nightlife you could ever ask for, this gives you the best of both worlds.
You can happily isolate yourself in Vdara’s oasis of calm to kick back and relax – but exciting nightlife venues are only a stone’s throw away should you decide you want to live it up a little.
Something that ARIA and Vdara have in common is that, unlike lots of Vegas resorts, neither offers any kind of entertainment in the form of shows.
However, since for many visitors to Sin City taking in a show is an integral part of the Vegas experience, if you decide to stay in ARIA or Vdara, you won’t need to miss out.
For example, neighboring Bellagio hosts Cirque du Soleil’s spectacular aquatic-themed ‘O’, while Planet Hollywood is also not far away, giving you the opportunity to see the likes of Gwen Stefani perform live.
Both resorts are also located a relatively short walk from the T-Mobile Arena, a large venue capable of holding over 5,000 spectators that plays host to a wide range of shows, concerts, sports events and more.
Spa and Fitness Centers
When it comes to spa and gym facilities, ARIA and Vdara are comparable, and both resorts boast world-class facilities.
The opulent spa at ARIA has received the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award, and this sprawling complex is the largest Forbes Five-Star spa in the world.
It offers the full range of skincare treatments, massages, pedicures, pampering and pure relaxation that you would expect.
It also boasts Japanese-style ganbanyoku stone beds, a shio salt room, an infinity-edge therapy pool and private spa suites that can be booked out for customized experiences.
ARIA also offers guests the chance to break a sweat in the onsite gym, a 6,000-square-foot exercise area where you’ll find state-of-the-art machines, a climbing wall and a pool.
Like ARIA, Vdara’s spa boasts a Forbes Five-Star rating – in this case, having earned the award for an impressive five consecutive years.
The complex is smaller than the one in ARIA, but it still offers a full suite of treatments.
The spa at Vdara occupies two floors and includes the signature European heat experience, which takes you on a therapeutic journey of temperature changes while offering various treatments.
Vdara’s gym is similarly well-equipped and includes cutting-edge cardio machines along with weights, aerobic equipment and more.
If you’re planning to travel to Vegas with your furry friend, choosing a pet-friendly hotel will be of the utmost importance, and in this case, between these two resorts, you only have one option.
This is because ARIA does not allow pets while Vdara offers several pet-friendly accommodation options.
In Vdara, you can book a room where up to two dogs weighing a combined total of under 100lbs can stay with you – at a charge of $150 per dog. Cats are also permitted in pet-friendly rooms.
Even better, Vdara boasts a dog park with a dog walking trail that remains open 24 hours a day.
When it comes to price, while there is a wide range of rooms available in both resorts catering to almost any budget, as a general rule, ARIA is the more expensive option.
This means that although you can easily spend far more on a top-end room in Vdara than you would on a standard room in ARIA, when you compare rooms of similar standing, the ones in ARIA will cost more.
The price difference is reflected in the quality of the rooms, so while both are considered luxury resorts, comparable rooms in ARIA will be slightly more comfortable and luxurious than comparable rooms in Vdara.
It is also reflected in the slightly better facilities in ARIA, which include, for example, the bigger pool area, a slightly better spa and slightly better gym facilities.
However, depending on the time of year and the offers you find, it’s still quite possible to stay in either resort for extremely attractive prices, as is the case in almost every hotel and resort in Vegas.
One other point to note is that both ARIA and Vdara charge a resort fee, which is in the region of $50 per day. This is ostensibly to cover things like wifi use, pool access and the like. However, you are required to pay it, even if you don’t plan to use any of those facilities.
Valet parking is available at both hotels and is charged by the day.
Cheaper self-parking is also available at ARIA, and guests staying at either resort can take advantage of this. Furthermore, the daily self-parking fee also covers parking in other MGM properties, allowing you to drive to other resorts and park there without having to pay again.
Something less objective but key to which resort of the two you pick is the overall vibe, and this is at the heart of the difference between ARIA and Vdara.
With the array of restaurants and bars, along with its casino and nightclub, ARIA is every bit the typically exuberant Vegas hotel, albeit one that draws a slightly more mature crowd than some of the other places in town.
It’s a vibrant resort full of energy that combines a fun a lively vibe with high-end luxury and state-of-the-art technology – and with over 4,000 rooms, at ARIA, it always feels like there’s plenty going on.
Vdara, on the other hand, doesn’t have any restaurants, bars or nightspots, and it doesn’t even have a casino.
It has more the feel of a traditional boutique hotel than of what most people think of as a normal Vegas hotel. With just over 1,400 rooms, it also has a much more intimate feel – and importantly, the whole complex is strictly no-smoking.
It’s a place to go to escape from the craziness outside, so in a way, it’s a bit like a hotel in the middle of Vegas for people who don’t want to stay in Vegas.
Which One Should You Pick?
So which one’s best, ARIA or Vdara? Well, this is probably the wrong question to ask.
Instead, a better question would be, which one is most suitable? And the answer depends on what you want.
If you want the full Vegas experience – bars, restaurants, casinos, nightclubs and all – and you are in town to party, even just a little, the better choice will be ARIA. It caters to a younger crowd than Vdara and is a fun and lively place to stay.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to get involved with all the usual Vegas shenanigans – or you do want to get involved but prefer somewhere safe and quiet to retreat to once it all gets a bit too much – Vdara would be a better choice.
Vdara could also be a good option for families – but that depends on your family and what you’re looking for since ARIA can be a great option for fun-loving, outgoing families too.
Neither “better” – and Both Wonderful Places to Stay
When it comes to choosing between ARIA and Vdara, neither is “better” than the other, and which one you choose depends on what you expect from the resort and what you are hoping to do while in Vegas.
If you’re in town for partying or gambling, ARIA is the one to go for – but if you prefer to avoid the usual chaos and craziness of Sin City while you’re in town, Vdara is a better choice. And with our guide, you should now understand why.