When I think of luxurious hotels with casinos and spas, I immediately think Vegas. So when I was invited to try out a new MGM casino, my first thought was that I would be heading out to the desert. I imagined smoky casino floors, drunk tourists wandering down the streets with frozen drinks in souvenir plastic cups, and myself, parked at a Wheel of Fortune slot machine, slowly watching my meager savings draining away. And by slowly, I mean rapidly as I have about as much luck as that guy who was struck by lightning seven separate times in his life. I mean, most people will win for a little while, long enough to make gambling fun at least. But for me, it’s like feeding a parking meter. Each turn just goes down and down and down.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a great time in Vegas. Any place where it’s totally acceptable to have a few drinks in the daytime is a-okay by me. But these days, pregnant, and thus sober as the day is long, it’s slightly less appealing to be in a place dubbed “Sin City.”
So I was excited when I found out that the new MGM offering — The MGM National Harbor Resort — was located just outside of Washington, D.C. And upon arrival, I was not disappointed. The resort’s glittering tower rises up over the Potomoc like a dream, just a stones throw from the action of D.C., but far enough away that you feel like you’re removed from the hustle and bustle and compulsive lying of the capitol. More importantly, while you could certainly have a fun bachelor party at the new MGM, it doesn’t just feel like a place to party. The spacious resort has a relaxing, adult atmosphere with beautiful art, an airy conservatory, and fantastic high end restaurants from celebrity chefs.
Forget the smoky floors, cheap buffets, and cheesy clubs — the glossy hotel feels like the high end version of the Vegas you’d see in a magazine. Clean, bright, elegant entertainment that makes you want to grab one of their gorgeous cocktails, let work obligations slip from your mind, and stay for awhile.
Though the resort feels massive, the 308 room hotel is relatively small and intimate. I stayed in a corner suite and the wall to wall windows with views of D.C. and the river were stunning. I spent every minute I was inside it watching Law and Order SVU with the blinds closed like a vampire. I can’t promise you that The MGM National Harbor has a station that only plays marathons of SVU all day long, but from my anecdotal experience IT TOTALLY DOES.
More to the point, all the rooms have incredible bathrooms with showers that are so big you could have a birthday party for 20 of your nearest and dearest friends and family inside. And you should. Who doesn’t love a group shower with their friends, coworkers, and immediate family members?
While broke me did not gamble on this trip (and no one listened to me when I suggested they provide me with gambling money as a gift), I did get to tour the casino which was SMOKE FREE and delightful. Then we had drinks at Felt on the floor, a cosy lounge where the bartenders will bring a cart right up to your table to mix you fancy cocktails!
The casino was bustling at all hours of the day and evening making me exclaim more than once, “Don’t you people have Jobs?” Before remembering that I, too, was in a casino on a weekday.
I’ve never really noticed art in a casino before. But the artwork in the MGM National Harbor is awesome and hard to miss. The carefully curated collection includes several pieces by local as well as international artists. The mix is vibrant and richly adds to the beauty of the resort.
And the multi floor conservatory has art created with an unimaginable amount of flowers and plants. I believe 80,000 pounds. And they’re such a pretty assortment of roses that they’ll make your paltry dozen for Valentine’s Day look like a joke. A STUPID JOKE. Why didn’t my husband make me a three story rooster? GOD, HE MUST EITHER HAVE FALLEN OUT OF LOVE OR BE CHEATING ON ME. THERE’S NO OTHER OPTION. I’m going to pack my bags and move to the MGM National Harbor forever. I’ll be like an adult Eloise but with less whimsy and way more crying.
At the entrance of the casino is a pretty neat found object sculpture by Bob Dylan who has apparently made it his life goal to prove that anything he does will be amazing and that we’re all worthless, unworthy blobs in comparison. Thanks, Bob.
The real highlight of the resort is how many ridiculously good restaurants are on the premises. Seriously, you could be there for weeks and not have your fill. It got the point where I was almost dreading how incredibly delicious the next meal would be because it meant that I would stuff myself to the point of no return.
There’s Fish by José Andrés whose consistent advocating for immigrant rights would make me want to be a patron even if the food wasn’t incredible (which it totally, totally was — try the crab mac n’ cheese).
Then Marcus by Marcus Samuelsson whose unique flavorful twists on American classics had me salivating at the table.
And finally, the charming Voltaggio Brothers’ Steakhouse which had a nostalgic feel as if you were eating a WAY better version of your mother’s homecooked meals.
I returned home about 100 pounds heavier than when I arrived but I have to say, it was absolutely worth it.