People tend to fall into two camps with regard to Las Vegas – the lovers and the haters and I (a little to my surprise actually) fall into the former. I’ve visited Sin City twice with my husband, pre baby on both occasions; once as part of a 2 week road trip and another as a tag on to a conference I’d been to in San Fran. Here are some pointers following my visits!
I’d say two of the main things to consider when selecting a hotel would be whether or not it has its own casino and it’s location on the strip. Here are my thoughts.
Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas (formerly the Mandarin Oriental)
We stayed here when it was the Mandarin Oriental so I will not go into too much detail as things are likely to have changed.
We chose this hotel due to its very high Ranking on Tripadvisor and also drawn by the fact it doesn’t have a casino which we had read from the reviews would be “more relaxing”.
Although the hotel was fairly well located on the strip we did find ourselves walking a fair bit to get to where we wanted to go as it wasn’t as centrally located as it could have been. I also wondered whether we had missed out by not having experienced a hotel on a much larger scale to immerse ourselves more in the Las Vegas experience.
Not surprisingly, the Palazzo has an Italian vibe and a major plus point is that all rooms here are suites and are huge!!! We had a living/dining room area in our room as well as a very sizeable bathroom. Admittedly we didn’t need this much space as we didn’t spend too much time in the room but nonetheless it was nice to have more room than usual.
The hotel is very sizeable and is interconnected with the Venetian so you get some perks such as use of both the hotels’ facilities. The location was perfect, with a more prime position than our previous stay at the Waldorf, with lots more going on around us. It was good fun passing through the casino on our way out for the day or in the early hours on our way to bed. I didn’t think there were any negatives to having a casino on site, in fact I loved staying here on all counts!
Top tip #1: Consider whether to get breakfast included in your rates. We went for Room Only on both our stays as we weren’t certain what time we would make it up in the mornings and knew there’d be plenty of alternative food options to placate us!
Top things to do
Las Vegas sign
Whilst this attraction is swarming with tourists, you don’t actually have to join the long queue to get a photo right in front of it. Rather than being a queue jumper, it just takes some clever camera angles to reduce the tourist count in your snap. We did this en route out of LV in our hire car.
This iconic water, light and music show is a must see during your visit. It’s a free attraction and takes place at regular intervals; have a look at the Bellagio’s website for further details.
It was set to a Whitney Houston soundtrack when we watched!
Top tip #2: Try to get there as one show has just finished to secure a front row viewing spot!
Grand Canyon helicopter ride
This was definitely an item ticked off our bucket list!! It was an incredible experience with breath-taking views and a champagne breakfast hamper set down in the canyon. Watch out for a future blog post where I’ll go into more detail.
See a show
There are endless options so making a selection can be quite tricky. We decided on Le Reve – The Dream at the Wynn hotel which was an incredible mix of water based aerobatics, synchronised swimming and dance. Hands down this is the best show I’ve ever seen (seeing Cirque du Soleil at the Albert Hall the following year was unfortunately a little bit of a let down in comparison). It pays to do your research. I found a good deal through the Wynn’s website for a ticket and dinner at their all you can eat buffet.
Top tip #3: Make use of your hotel’s concierge team who will be happy to help; ours gave recommendations and booked the tickets for us.
Top tip #4: If you’re seeing Le Reve too, aim to get seats 8-10 rows from the front. This is a happy medium between being close enough to the action but far enough away to be able to see the performers dive down and do their aerial tricks (as well as being outside of the splash zone!).
Hit up a shopping outlet
I’m not usually one to give any airtime whatsoever to shopping whilst on holiday but this was an exception. Given the possibility of good discounts we spent half a day at the North Premium Outlet (there is also a South, which is smaller). Make sure you register for the coupon booklet which you pick up from guest services and you can also download an app for extra VIP discounts (top tip is to save as a screen shot on your phone to save on 4G / ropey WiFi coverage). It didn’t disappoint, among my purchases were sunglasses, Kate Spade bags, trainers, bargains from GAP and Ralph Lauren goodies.
We took the bus there and back which was very straightforward, taking about 20-30 mins (circa $16 return with pickup outside the Paris Hotel).
Have a nosy round the hotels
The hotels are VAST! Be sure to take some comfortable footwear as you will walk a lot. Our favourites were Caesars, the Wynn and the Venetian for their beautiful interiors and displays like no other!
Drai’s Beachclub & Nightclub, The Cromwell
We went to this club on a night that Chris Brown was performing. There’s a large outside rooftop area with a pool. It’s refreshing to get some air throughout the night and also take in the views of the city from this vantage point. We booked our tickets online and got there fairly early to avoid the long queues to gain entry.
OMNIA Nightclub, Caesars Palace
We had a night out at this superclub when NERVO were DJing. There’s a great atmosphere and plenty of places to take a step back from the packed dancefloor if you feel like a breather. One such place is the Terrace which, once again, has great views of the strip, especially of the Paris Hotel which is opposite. We also went here midweek, when it was a more relaxed atmosphere, to enjoy a couple of drinks and the view.
Skybar, Waldorf Astoria
This bar is location on the 23rd floor of the hotel and has stunning views of the Las Vegas skyline from several aspects thanks to its floor to ceiling windows. Try to bag a spot next to the window to enjoy a cocktail and the live music. Prices are high but in line with what you’d expect from any top bar in a major city.
We got into Tao for free when we stayed at the Palazzo. Although it’s a pretty small pool it had a lively atmosphere and we had a fab, relaxed time enjoying the great music and several (too many for some) Coronas!
Encore Beach Club was a different kettle of fish!! Everything was on a much larger scale and definitely had an air of pretension and a “see and be seen” vibe. That’s not to say we didn’t have a great time. We saw David Guetta here and it was quite a show! Even though we were a couple, I was still able to gain free entry and a drink through a promoter which was a handy saving. This was all very straightforward, arranged via WhatsApp with my name verified against their guest list at the gate.
Top tip #5: If you want to go to pool parties make sure you check schedules in advance of booking your trip. They tend to run between March/April until October.
Top tip #6: If going to one with a well known headliner it’s worth arriving as it opens so you can bag your spot. It’s a different story of course if you’re prepared to pay for a cabana.
Top tip #7: Apply plenty of sunscreen and keep hydrated as there’s limited shade if you haven’t invested in an umbrella / cabana.
Top tip #8: Download a Vegas app such as Vegas.com to get details of what’s on offer across all categories of entertainment to help plan your trip!
I have intentionally left this to last in our top things to do as there so many other sides to Las Vegas than gambling. Neither of us are gamblers and, to be honest, wouldn’t even know where to start. We did enjoy a few goes on the roulette tables for small stakes with my highest winnings being the grand sum of $37!
We enjoyed the atmosphere of wandering round pre or post dinner on a few evenings, observing some of the other players who clearly had more of an idea than we did and having a few drinks “on the house”. You can order anything from the cocktail waitresses; just make sure you tip!
Top tip #9: Some of the casinos have small lounge bars with live music which are well worth popping into.
When can we go back?!
For someone that loves travelling and experiencing new cultures it could be easy to dismiss what Sin City has to offer. It’s essentially an adults’ artificial playground with endless gambling and other opportunities to spend, spend, spend with a definite lack of “culture” in the traditional sense.
However, we had a fantastic few days here and will definitely return at some point in the future. Admittedly we didn’t travel with children in tow, but I think a lot of what we did would still hold true and there’s still plenty of activities we didn’t get round to doing that would be child friendly. I’d also like to explore some of the sights and activities away from The Strip. Until next time…
What are your thoughts on Las Vegas – Love or Hate it?!