At 9:30 on a Wednesday night, the club is virtually empty. As the clock ticks closer to midnight, though, L.A.’s Hyde Lounge quickly fills to capacity with the beautiful and the well-dressed. Girls with model faces sport fashionably nerdy glasses with their mini-dresses. Guys show up in business casual or high-end sportswear. This is a club where you want to look your best. It’s too exquisite a venue to show up in the same jeans and sneakers you would wear to a rock concert. And in return, “Everybody needs to be treated as a VIP,” says Costas Charalambous, senior vice president of SBE Nightlife Group, the company opening Hyde Bellagio on New Year’s Eve.
In Los Angeles, Hyde has become synonymous with VIP nightlife. Its lineup of celebrity DJs and paparazzi-attracting clientele have made the club a household name. Hyde Lounge has been laying low since it closed earlier this year and reopened in August after a renovation, but it hasn’t lost its exclusive appeal. A night at Hyde Lounge will make you feel like a VIP, if for nothing more than the fact that it’s not exactly easy to get into the club.
In L.A., Hyde is open four nights a week—Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday—but sometimes those nights are occupied by private parties. It’s close in size to an average neighborhood bar, with a maximum capacity of just 100 people, but there are no average nights here. The guests are high-profile, so much so that no cameras are allowed at Hyde and press is rarely invited inside the venue.
“We want to protect our clients,” Charalambous says.
Exclusivity and discretion are part of Hyde’s brand, but the Las Vegas outpost—opening New Year’s Eve—should be a bit more accessible than its West Hollywood counterpart. Hyde Bellagio will be open nightly and the indoor/outdoor space boasts a capacity of 700 people, still quite boutique by Las Vegas nightlife standards.
Gulla Jonsdottir of L.A.-based G+ Design is responsible for the look of the West Hollywood venue. Inspired by a jewelry box, Hyde Lounge features quilted-looking paneled walls and ceilings that form wave-like curves. Behind the panels, LEDs twinkle throughout the night in different colors, replicating the shimmer of jewels. Booths are small, and the dance floor is narrow. Everything about this club points to intimacy. You have to sit close to your friends, stand and dance even closer to strangers, but it’s still a comfortable environment. Philippe Starck is designing the Las Vegas venue, where we can only hope that some of Hyde Lounge’s subtly opulent touches and cozy glamour will appear.
Early birds at Hyde have the chance to check out the venue’s food offerings, which are only available until 11:30 p.m. Chef Danny Elmaleh helms the West Hollywood kitchen, emphasizing small plates with shareable items such as sliders and prosciutto with melon. Hyde Bellagio will feature a menu by Circo, available nightly until 11. The menus will be thematically similar, with a focus on small, party-friendly portions.
Hyde’s signature drinks will also appear in Las Vegas. I tried a vodka variation of the cucumber watermelon margarita, a clean and refreshing drink perfect for warm weather. My favorite, though, is the Love Unit, a fragrant, slightly spicy concoction that features vanilla-flavored vodka and a red pepper garnish.
Musically, Hyde leans toward sophisticated and hip sounds. Before the DJ arrives, bands such as the Smiths filter through the house system at a volume that doesn’t overpower conversations. In West Hollywood, a rotating list of DJs play crowd-pleasing sets and draw young and hip Hollywood crowds. Chris Kennedy (a.k.a. actor Christopher Masterson, formerly of Malcolm in the Middle) was behind the decks when I visited. His cross-genre style is the sound of L.A. nights right now, and Hyde’s management is working to integrate this vibe into its Vegas location. Charalambous says that the idea for Hyde Bellagio—the fourth of five; Hyde Beach is planned to open early 2012 in Miami—is to blend talent from both cities with the occasional big-name guest stopping by for a set.
Hyde Lounge’s discreet chic has made it one of the hottest venues in Los Angeles for several years running. Can they do the same in Las Vegas? We’ll soon find out.