IMG 6305I suppose I should start this piece by telling you I’m not into Vegas nightclubs or Ultra Lounges. I feel just a little too old to fit in with the moneyed, drunken, rowdy 20-somethings that tend to frequent the Vegas clubs. I also don’t care for the bottle service trend that has taken hold of most of the Vegas night spots - I simply don’t drink enough these days to merit the purchase of an entire bottle of booze, especially at a hugely jacked-up price. These days, I just want to sit, have a nice drink or two, pay my tab and leave.

Having said this, I was still awfully curious to see ghostbar, a well known and usually very crowded lounge on the 55th floor of the Palms Casino Hotel. I had heard all kinds of great things about it’s sleek decor, it’s dark, seductive atmosphere and the phenomenal outdoor deck, featuring a phenomenal view of Las Vegas. I was officially intrigued! After dinner one evening with my friend Gaylin, I asked her if she’d be interested in going. She said she was game and so off we went. Neither of us was sure what to expect, so it seemed like a little adventure.

We grabbed a cab and headed from the Strip over to the Palms, which despite it’s off-Strip location on West Flamingo Road, is very popular - particularly with the younger, hipper crowd. We went through the front doors of the casino itself, spotted a sign directing us to our left and eventually found the entrance, marked only by a discreet sign, a couple of velvet ropes and a bouncer, who checked our i.d.’s and allowed us past this first security point. Once inside, we made our way down a short hallway to a cashier’s counter. She charged us each $20 admission and our hands were stamped. Finally, we got in the elevator which was to take us up to the 55th floor.

(I should mention that we figured this to be an express elevator, stopping only at ghostbar itself. Wrong! On the way up, the elevator stopped, the doors opened and a bunch of rowdy party kids piled in. Seeing them, we assumed we were at the top, so we got out - there was nothing to indicate that we were only on the 52nd floor. We looked around, confused, searching for a nightclub, then called the elevator back and went up to 55.)

Anyway, when the elevator reached the right floor, we got out, and a second bouncer checked our hand stamps. We headed inside and found ourselves in a very modern, dimly lit lounge - a sleek, silver bar to the right, with a backlit wall behind it, showing off the many bottles of premium booze. To IMG 6309our left was a seating area with low sofas and tables, a DJ booth and several video screens, showing nothing that evening but the club’s ghostlike logo. The lounge itself was surrounded by 14 foot, floor-to-ceiling windows, which seemed to be darkly tinted. There was loud dance music pounding; the kind of generic, uninteresting dance beat I simply refer to as “Thump-Thump”, and a few customers hovering (no pun intended) throughout the indoor portion of the club.

IMG 2136The big payoff, however, was straight ahead. Through a set of sliding glass doors, is the skydeck! The skydeck gives you an almost 360 degree view of Las Vegas. The Vegas Strip glitters in front of you, while the Rio and Suncoast are visible to the left. The Palms Fantasy Tower, with its jacuzzi decks jutting from the side, is on your right. I’ve been to Las Vegas many times and seen some amazing views. This one tops them all!

The deck itself starts out wide and as you move toward the far end, it narrows down, almost to a point. There are some metal chairs and tables, as well as padded banquettes surrounding the deck area. There are also two side decks, each with it’s own separate bar. Interestingly, the Thump-Thump was clearly audible on the main deck, but not on the side decks, making them a better area to simply enjoy a drink and a conversation, if that’s more your speed. At the far end of the deck is a much-hyped glass panel in the surface of the deck, offering a view straight down. Not being afraid of heights, I was eager to stand on the glass and see the view below. I have to say that this was a little disappointing. The panel is actually rather small, the glass is scuffed and rather cloudy, and the lights shining upwards from below, obscure the view you might have of anything beneath you. Still, this is a minor quibble.

Gaylin and I ordered our drinks at the indoor bar: a vodka, soda and cranberry for her and a shot of Patron tequila straight up for me. The bartenders were friendly and efficient, getting us our drinks rather quickly. Pretty soon, we were out on the deck with our cocktails, enjoying the view.IMG 2140

As I expected, the crowd skewed very young. I still felt comfortable and not at all out of place, though. I will admit to a little relief when a group came in, accompanied by a man and woman who were clearly the parents of two of the 20-somethings. I turned to Gaylin and said “We are now no longer the oldest people in this club!” Also, at one point while we were out on the skydeck, a group of cute young guys asked me if I’d take their picture. I was happy to do it, and then, surprisingly, they pulled me into their group and we ended up in a loud, friendly conversation - it was a birthday party or a bachelor party, one of their friends hadn’t been able to make it because he’d gotten too drunk, etc, etc. I didn’t encounter any pushing or shoving either, when it came to moving up to the railing to get pictures of the Vegas skyline below. For the most part, when people had seen the view and taken their pictures, they simply moved over to let someone else get in and grab a shot.

Now, I should make this clear: Gaylin and I went to ghostbar on a weeknight. We also went fairly early, by Vegas standards - about 10:30 pm. It was never too crowded or crazy. If this had been a Friday or Saturday, it would’ve been absolutely packed and I would never have been able to enjoy the place. I believe the cover charge is also more expensive on weekends.

So here’s my advice to you. If you’re a big time party person, then by all means, go to ghostbar for the booze and the crowd and the Thump-Thump music. It’s definitely a hot, hip club and still quite the scene. If, like Gaylin and me, you’re just interested in a drink or two and one of the most astonishing views of Las Vegas you’ll ever see, then try it on a weeknight and avoid the crowds. Trust me, when you’re out on that deck, floating above the world, the place will truly knock you dead!