From the outside, the building housing 8 ½ Ultra Lounge and Piranha nightclub is fairly unremarkable. The squat, stone-encrusted building on the south end of the so-called "Fruit Loop" is far less glamorous than its neighbor, long-time favorite nightclub Gipsy. But don't be fooled by the inconspicuous exterior -- this place so remarkable that to miss experiencing 8 ½ and Piranha could cause some serious regret.
Though physically and financially attached, the ultra lounge and the nightclub are two distinct venues. 8 ½ is an intimate, comfortable lounge decorated in rich, warm ambers, reds and browns. It seems like a pimped-out lodge -- stone walls, a fireplace and wood-paneled support columns are accented by rust-colored love seats, red and gold draperies and curtains and a black marble bar top with gold-accented wrought-iron stools.
Unlike at most Las Vegas bars, there are no video poker machines at 8 The lounge does feature a pool table, a dance floor, a stage and even a retro tabletop arcade game console featuring Ms. Pac Man and Galaga. LCD screens scattered throughout the venue display custom graphics, and a state-of-the-art sound system provides a constant soundtrack for low-key encounters.
Piranha nightclub is a whole other beast.
There are two ways into Piranha: via the patio -- itself a spectacle with multiple fireplaces, a fire-topped waterfall and intricate stone detail -- or under the arced piranha aquarium that connects the lounge and the nightclub. Yes, you enter Piranha with piranhas swimming overhead.
Inside, a concrete dance floor is flanked by a full-service bar and cushy seating. VIP tables on the main floor are separated by beaded curtains. The room is decorated in cool blues and grays with warm accents, including luminescent red columns. A dazzling lighting system is capable of countless effects, and the sound system can be felt throbbing through the floor and seating.
Beneath a crystal-adorned chandelier, a winding staircase with ornamental iron balusters leads guests to the second-floor VIP section. Three bottle service- only booths overlook both the dance floor and, via a west-facing window, the city of Las Vegas. In the corner, another full-service bar awaits patrons.
Across the venue, a walk down a dark hallway lit by faux candlelight and accented by eerie portraits that morph into macabre scenes leads to three semi-private skyboxes that overlook the dance floor. The lush suites have button-cushioned walls, coffeemakers, velvety settees, richly-decorated curtains and LCD screens. Heavy, sliding wood doors can be drawn for near-complete privacy.
Aside from thumping house music spun by top DJs, both venues also feature live entertainment, regular theme nights and killer drink specials. No matter what your persuasion, you can't miss with 8 ½ and Piranha -- two hot clubs in one convenient location.