If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, it will have been hard to miss that I took a trip to Vegas in February to celebrate my friend Sonia’s 40th birthday, and celebrate we did. Fortunately, the six of us escaped the clutches of Sin City tattoo-free, with all of our teeth and without losing anyone on the roof of our hotel, but the fact that I am only getting around to writing this blog post now speaks volumes about our week of sleep-deprived, cocktail-fuelled craziness.
Just as it was a struggle to squeeze everything into our week in the city, it would be impossible to pack it into this blog post, so I have narrowed it down to seven little chapters of our adventure that have remained at the forefront of my mind, even amidst the haze of Cosmopolitans and exhaustion!
Disneyland for grown-ups
Disneyland for adults – that’s how the driver of our limo (yes, limo… when in Vegas!) from the airport, and I couldn’t say it better myself. There is absolutely no escaping the fact that it’s tacky, but once you embrace it, it’s quite exciting! Each hotel is like a city in itself, with shopping malls a mile long, restaurants and bars aplenty, and with each hotel having its own defining feature, from shark tanks to thrill-seeking rides. You could spend an entire day delving into the theme of just one hotel, but we tried our best to take a peek inside them all. Without a doubt, my favourite hotel was New York New York, with its NYC themed streets inside, and a deceivingly speedy rollercoaster, but the Caesar’s Palace shopping mall was a close second!
The Fremont Street Experience
The Fremont Street Experience was precisely that – an experience. We entered one of the hotels from a nondescript street, walked through a casino much like the others, got a drink at the bar, and stepped outside into the best kind of mayhem. The street was covered by a suspended screen showing hourly light shows, gaps between hotels and casinos were filled by stages for DJs, dancers and live bands, street performers and living statues peppered the walkways, music echoed wherever you walked, and it was impossible to miss the zip-liners swooping over your head – until of course, it was four of us that were doing the swooping! With bright lights aplenty, Fremont was photographic paradise, and the most inexpensive fun we had on the entire trip.
J Lo – need I say more?
When it came to deciding on one of our ‘big shows’ for the trip, there was only one choice in my mind. Put two Zumba instructors in a room with Latin goddess Jennifer Lopez, and you have a recipe for an absolutely amazing night. Her costumes were incredible, she is absolutely stunning, her voice is beautiful and on top of some of her biggest hits, including Dance Again, On The Floor, Let’s Get Loud and Jenny From The Block, she covered one of my favourite songs, ‘I Hope You Dance’, whilst being elevated on a platform in an exquisite ball gown. I loved every single second. Unfortunately, my camera looked “too professional” and was confiscated at the door, so my blurry iPhone photos had to suffice!
The Bellagio Fountains
The Bellagio Fountains are one of those Vegas things that everyone should tick off their list, but at the same time I feel like they are a very “Lauren” thing to enjoy. I love anything choreographed, be that a dance, a workout or a fountain – so watching a huge pool of fountains dancing against the night sky is just magic. As for the photography opportunities, don’t even get me started.
On a night when I couldn’t face another Cosmo, I took a walk alone to the fountains, just in case we wouldn’t get a chance to see them as a group. In my mind, it was going to be a case of elbows at dawn as I fought my way to a good vantage point for photographs, but as it happened, I strolled straight into the perfect position and met a lovely couple from Philadelphia who were happy to be my companions for the night. I stayed for two shows, and could easily have waited around for more.
The Venetian Hotel
I will say with 100% honesty that, before my trip, I was not a “Vegas person”. I didn’t really have an interest in it, nor did I know a lot about it. But one place I did have on my bucket list was The Venetian. It would, of course, be quicker for me to fly to Venice itself, but the thought of being transported to the canals of Venice inside a hotel just spoke to the romantic inside me. And it was everything I hoped it would be and more. Outside, there was torrential rain in Las Vegas, yet there I climbed aboard a gondola to sail through the ‘canals’ whilst a gondolier (who happened to look a lot like Gok Wan, but thats beside the point) sang Time To Say Goodbye. What more could you want from your final day of a holiday?
A shopaholic’s paradise
Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t think of Vegas as a hotspot for shopping, but had I been prepared and set some shopping spree funds aside, I have no doubt that I would have done much more shopping than I did in New York, and my mum will testify to the fact that this is quite the statement. For starters, you have the standard American outlet village which is just outside the city, but no more than a 15 minute drive, but the hotels themselves are utopia for shoppers.
Planet Hollywood is home to the ‘Miracle Mile Shopping Mall’, 1.2 miles of shopping; the Fashion Show mall is brimming with designer fashions, and even has its own catwalk; the Palazzo at the Venetian is the home of high-end labels; and as for The Forum at Caesar’s Palace, I managed to spend at least an hour navigating three-storeys of shops, and that was only in a bid to find the Cheesecake Factory at the other side of the mall. If something can’t be found in these stores, it simply can’t be found, and in typical Vegas fashion, there’s so much more to these malls than just shopping – I could talk about them all day and not even begin to do them justice.
Free cocktails? Not for us!
In the weeks leading up to my trip, friends, family and colleagues alike reassured me that although alcohol can be expensive in Vegas, fear not as the casinos were notorious for offering free drink to those who gambled in the casino. I’m not sure if this is just an old wive’s tale or if we were simply doing it wrong, but from personal experience, I can put my hand on my heart when I say that we did not get so much as a sip of a free cocktail in what was a very cocktail-heavy week! I’m putting it down to a combination of not being quite ballsy enough to ask; and the fact that I was the baby of the group! However, that being said, it certainly didn’t put us off cocktails for the week – I think I had more than my share, including THE nicest Chocolate Martini I have ever tasted in Caesar’s Palace on our second afternoon – my mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Thanks Vegas – you were crazy and exhausting, but definitely worth the trip!