Las Vegas Check List and Rules

Vegas travels

So you’re going to Las Vegas, Sin City, Palace of Dreams where everything is possible, what do you after you have finished doing air pumps…

…make a rational list of course, very wise 😎 (That is the closest I can get to a smiley with glasses, Apple have been great at providing smilies of different race, sex and sexuality but can I find a smiley looking studious and wearing glasses…of course not.

Rule #1 REMEMBER YOU ARE IN A DESERT (so it doesn’t feel like it and all the hotels are air conditioned but you can’t control the climate). Sunstroke is just as bad as a hangover.

  1. Take a big sun hat (or buy one…did I mention the shops 😍)
  2. Take sunglasses (see comment above)
  3. Take (and use!) sun cream….yes I sound like my mum (red burn lines are not attractive)
  4. Take water. If you are out at a cafe you can ask for free tap water but at lots of places it is just as expensive as beer. So fill your hotel ice bucket up and let it melt to fill your water bottles the next day. (If you drink hotel tap water you will not have a Sex In The City film Charlotte moment)

Ruke #2 TAKE LOADZA MONEIES!!! You will spend money, lots of it and it will be completely worth it (how many times are you going to be in Vegas?)

5. Rough budget of ours for 7 days

  • Cirque du Soliel and other shows: $100 pp
  • Helicopter trip: $400
  • Transport: $10 a trip (monorails 24 hour pass is $12 and taxi from airport to Strip is $30)
  • Baseball tickets: $15
  • Exhibitions: $25-35 each (you can get a deal of 3 for $58)
  • Food and drink: $20 a meal (get your basics from a local shop)
  • Shopping and gifts: $$$$$$$ (that’s down to you, but if you want standard cheesy stuff go to a street store rather than getting it from the hotel for twice the price)

Total spend for 7 days: 4 shows, helicopter ride, exhibitions, food and drink, booze, transport and shopping $1,500/ £1,000

Worth every penny.

Rule #3 USE YOUR ROOM SAFE AND SLIPT YOUR CASH (each room should have a free wall safe, only take out what you need for the day and don’t keep it all in one place in case you loose your hand/hold luggage, purse/handbag or are just drunk.

6. Take a handbag with a zip top (or if you are like my friend and can totally pull it off- a bum bag!) Just because there is loads of money here doesn’t mean there isn’t poverty. If you have a bag with an open top and your valuables visible you are just being silly. Deep bags are great because everything falls to the bottom and someone needs to get past the zip and then put their whole arm in your bag without you noticing them.

Rule #4 TIP!!!! Staff don’t get paid service charge so you usually leave 20% of your bill even if you’ve just had tea and toast. With taxis just round up the total and if you’re at a bar don’t ask for change unless it’s more than $2! We took our bags up to our rooms instead of using the hotel service as we had no idea how much or how to tip!

7. Take a phone with a camera and calculator (if your phone doesn’t have this WHAT ARE YOU USING?!) Makes tipping, converting between £ and $ and divvying up the bill easy.

Rule #5 PRIORITISE (there are a million and one things to see and limited time)

8. Get a guide book, most hotels have a free one in their lobby with a map of the Strip and most of the things you can see and do. Pick your top bucket list things and work out a rough plan for the week (we thought we could walk the Strip in a day) OH NO YOU CAN’T

9. Take a camera wherever you go…and attach it to yourself as you will probably never have cause to put it away.

ABOVE ALL: ENJOY IT & GO WITH FRIENDS. Relatively responsible friends who will stop you reenacting the hangover, getting married, going bankrupt or worse. Love every second.

10. Have a place you all meet if you get lost and make sure your phones work out there so you can communicate (remember you can get lost in your own hotel)

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Excalibur, Treasure Island and the Palazzo

Vegas travels

Excalibur        Excalibur

The Exalibur, directly south of NY-NY looks just like a Lego castle, in fact take that picture and add the Lego logo in the corner, you wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the toy shop shelves. It is grand, but not like the Bellagio, it’s fun and playful and probably the hotel most kids would pick just for the decor; turrets, battlements, suits of armour and chandeliers, it’s quite Disney. Near the South end of the Strip it’s only got the Luxor and Mandalay Bay between it and that famous Vegas sign. But you can get a free monorail from Excalibur that will take you to either one and from Mandalay Bay you can walk to the sign in about 20 minutes. A hotel with a busy but relaxed atmosphere, defiantly family friendly and perfect for your childish side that always wanted to live in a castle.

Excalibur        Excalibur        Excalibur

Treasure Island on the other hand is on the North East part of the Strip, opposite the Palazzo and Mirage with THAT volcano. Opened in the boom year of development in 1993 it is actually the second smallest of the 10 hotels we visited, with 2,884 rooms- only 60 more rooms than NY-NY. But it does not feel small. At night it feels like the heart of the Strip as all the surrounding hotels are very close to each other and gives the impression of a Disney resort, one hotel merges into the next. Your eyes will be overloaded with things to see!

And then there are those pirate ships…ok so they don’t rise out of the water anymore but are still pretty impressive! Again…go at night, the lights are just amazing.

Treasure Island      Treasure Island

Now if you are thinking, “oh but how can I pick one hotel when I want to stay in all of them?”, the Palazzo is your answer. Right next to the Venetian, so you’ve got those gondallers right outside, and there are a lot of similarities between the Bellagio and the Palazzo (sound the same, look the same, same sign, same entrance, same grandeur…I could go on). Want the shops and the architecture of Caesar’s Palace, not a problem, Grand Canal shops won’t disappoint.

But with that said, the hotel does seem to lack some identity….you can never try to be like someone and do it as well as they can (like if someone tried to remake Harry Potter, they would have the benefit of hindsight, but it would never be as good as the original). Maybe it was someone’s idea to take all the best bits from each of the surrounding hotels and amalgamate them in a new hotel as the Palazzo is the most recent builds, not opening until 2007.

Saying that, it’s still totally awesome and would blow any British hotel out of the water…

Palazzo       Palazzo

The Luxor

Vegas travels

The Luxor     The Luxor    The Luxor

The Luxor: a black Egyptian pyramid against the white desert backdrop. At first sight when driving past from the airport it seems smaller than expected…but this is Vegas, size lies; when you reach it, it is anything but small. The inside is a hollowed out pyramid with rooms all around the outer walls and a huge cavern left in the centre.

The Luxor      The Luxor

Though there is only one main room (huge empty pyramid!) the Luxor is the second largest out of the 10 hotels we visited, with 4024 rooms and completed in 1993 along with the MGM and Treasure Island. Like all the major hotels it has a Cirque du Soleil show on but what you really have to see at the two main exhibitions: Bodies and Titanic.

The Luxor      The Luxor

WARNING: the next bit is very sobering. The Bodies exhibition is the display of the human body, dissecting each system (nerves, blood, muscle, bone and skin!) so you can see each layer and all the working parts inside. You’ll think it’s fake, but no, it is all real; including a human man and woman playing sport, but with no skin 🙀😱. WARNING: THERE IS NO BLOOD, BUT IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH, DO NOT GO!

But saying that it is one of the most amazing exhibitions I have ever seen and there are not many other places in the world where the public can see every: organ, bone, nerve and muscle right in front of their eyes. Not only can you see how the body works but also see how it shouldn’t: there are examples of cancerous tumours, lungs of a smoker, liver of an alcoholic and lots more. You will leave appreciating your body a lot more and realising how fragile AND strong it is. There is a clear bin as big as a fridge for people to put there boxes of cigarettes by the smoker’s lungs, nearly full 🚬🚭

A moment of thanks is needed for those who donated their bodies to such a fantastic cause…but saying that, outside on The Strip there are a group of Chinese protesting the illegal sale of body organs. A rather sobering thought to bring you from the fairytale of Vegas back to reality. Right next door it the Titanic exhibition= mind blown.

The Luxor     The Luxor

So now you are sufficiently shocked, it’s time to make you cry… on to the Titanic exhibition. You are given a boarding card of one of the passengers and at the end get to see if you live or die 😥 It is incredibly sad, but as my friend said, this way the people are remembered and so in some way live on, you will never forget who’s boarding pass you had. Mine was Ada, traveling second class to join her family in America after her husbands death in England. She traveled with her brother in law.

LuxorLuxor

He died.

She survived.

She was one of only half of the second class passengers that survived, while 1,500 perished. I hope she had a long, happy life wherever it took her. Life is precious.

The famous corridor you see in the Titanic film with dreamy Leo is also recreated, but as soon as I was standing in it every hair on the back of my neck was standing up.

You can see crockery sets, unopened bottles of champagne and items of the passengers in better condition than you would ever find in a student pad, despite the fact they are over 100 years old! Then there is the BIG PIECE, the largest part of the hull to be recovered from the sea bed, you’ll find yourself shedding a tear for titanic herself. Incredible. Eerie. Mind blowing. Unforgettable. ⚓️🚢

MGM Grand

Vegas travels

MGM Grand      MGM Wedding      MGM Wedding

The MGM Grand, the largest hotel by far with 6,852 rooms, the most impressive Cirque du Soleil theatre you may ever see as well as all the usual shops and facilities! It was built the same year as Treasure Island and the Luxor in 1993 and is part of the MGM resorts including the Bellagio and NY-NY which means you can get great deals if you sign up to the free loyalty card (M Life).

Cirque du Soleil- KA     Cirque du Soleil

What it lacks in exterior design it certainly makes up for inside…did I mention the KA theatre! KA rivalled the Grand Canyon in the OMG factor and the performers defied both gravity and physics. Paying for the best seats is defiantly worth it so ask the attendant where they suggest. If you’re there you’ve also got to see David Copperfield the illusionist, I recommend his Saturday matinee performance at 4pm as its less expensive and you don’t need the ‘meet and greet’ seats as he walks throughout the theatre.

MGM Interior      MGM Interior

MGM Interior      MGM Interior

Once you have lifted your jaw off the floor after this take a walk around the shops and rainforest cafe (with moving monkeys and alligators 🐒🐊) and go and look in the wedding chapel. It is not what you would expect. There isn’t even a hint of the cheap and trashy room you see in films with an overweight Elvis doing the ceremony. You will not be stumbling in here drunk to get hitched to your best mate. The rooms are really beautiful and the perfect place for a private service, with rooms for the bride, groom and wedding party to get ready in and lovely backdrops for photos. 👰🏼🎂💍💎

MGM Wedding Chapel      MGM Chapel

MGM Chapel      MGM Chapel

Paris…from New York…in Las Vegas

Vegas travels

Paris  Paris Entrance  Paris ExteriorParis Ceiling image

Paris, complete with Eiffel Tower and L’arc de Triomphe, it was built the same year as the Venetian and like New York New York, it’s impressive exterior fronts one of the smaller hotels out of the big 10. Paris is third smallest in front of NY-NY and Treasure Island with 2,916 rooms. The main floor is transformed into the streets and Paris and it’s a challenge not to find yourself falling in love with the place and becoming a bit of a romantic…and yes you still get proposals at this Eiffel Tower 😍🇫🇷❤️

Paris Exterior Paris Interior

Paris Interior Paris Exterior

Caesar’s Palace

Vegas travels

Caesar's Palace     Caesar's Palace     Caesar's Palace

THIS is the hotel you want to see the inside of. Not only does it have Forum Shops (which is a shopping centre in Ancient Rome!) but it wins when it comes to attention to detail. The first of the large hotels to be built on the new Strip in 1966 it really set the bar high with 3,960 rooms and still has one of the largest and most striking exteriors. Forget Oxford Street…this is where you want to go shopping and is the home of the largest H&M IN THE WORLD 💎👛💄👠👗

image     image     Dior Forum Shops

H&M Forum Shops     Forum Shops     Forum Shopsimage       image image       image

The Bellagio

Vegas travels

Bellagio Hotel          Bellagio Entrance

The Bellagio…with the air of being one of the most expensive hotels (but only an extra $25 a night) it certainly is posh. Set in large grounds with a lake at the front and a long sweeping drive up to the front, it is set back farther than most from the Strip. Currently hosting Cirque du Soleil’s “O” (the most expensive of their shows though whether it is because of the venue or by popular demand we don’t know), along with the 10 minute fountain display and botanical garden display there aren’t many other must sees. The fountain display is to Michael Jackson and runs every 30 minutes or so through the evening and the botanical gardens are beautiful…but it’s a room, not gardens.

Botanical Gardens          imageimage          Botanical Gardens

But that is not to say you will be at all disappointed! Everything in Vegas is completely over the top with no expense spared (I mean look at the ceiling🙉). The Bellagio was completed the year after NYNY in 1998 but is almost twice the size with 3,950 rooms and multiple pools, shops, theatre, spa, wedding chapel and more shops etc etc.

Bellagio Botanical          Bellagio Botanical

To start with, just to get in you must first alight the double escalators up to the arched entrance which is about half a mile from the actual entrance (don’t worry there are travelators all the way, this is America after all!). Walk through the main entrance with the glass flower ceiling and just follow your nose (for what feels like another half a mile) and you will find the botanical gardens. From there you’re on your own! Handheld maps of each hotel need to be invented, you will burn off whatever calories you consumed at each meal by just walking around the hotels (but then probably re-consume them by all the lovely treats you find on your way…chocolate fountain 🍫

Bellagio          Bellagio ceilingBellagio          BellagioBellagio          Bellagio

Bellagio          Bellagio

Back to that chocolate fountain…yes that is all real and yes that model AND dress are 100% chocolate, as I said, everything is over the top, don’t bother putting your camera away.


Bellagio Chocolate   Bellagio Chocolate   Bellagio Chocolate  Bellagio Bellagio Bellagio

New York-New York! Our home for a week

Vegas travels

New York New York!NY at NightNY-NY EntranceLady LuckTwizzlers LibertyState of Sweets

So our lavish home for the week was at one of the original hotels: New York- New York! Opening in 1997 it has one of the most impressive exteriors, including of course, a roller coaster, as well as a pool, arcade, spa, theatre and indoor streets mimicking New York cafes and bars. The casino and hotel are one of the smaller buildings on the Strip (small being 2024 rooms) but the casino floor area has high ceilings and the open plan design means it’s far less clastrophobic than other larger casinos.

It also plays host to Hershey’s World, where you can get a snap of the Statue of Liberty made out of twizzlers and jelly beans (I mean why not), but if you just want the chocolate it’s far cheaper to cross the street and got to the local ABC shop. Coyote Ugly is a great dance bar for everyone (free shots if you’re a gal 🚺) and Times Square bar is the place to be for karaoke. Brought the kids? Not a problem, it’s got a whole floor of arcades for them and a day pass on the roller coaster for when they’re not in the pool.

There are your standard tourist shops inside but don’t go mad as soon as you get there. Across the street there are lots of tourist shops that sell the same stuff for less and where you can get you daily snacks without having to pay hotel prices. Invest in one of the refillable cups ($9 with free refills on the day of purchase and $1 any day after and there are 50 shops where you can do this).

Although the strip may look walkable be warned, just because you can see it does not mean it is close! You lose your sense of scale, so though you can see Caesars Palace from the hotel it’s over a mile walk away and in the heat it’s a mission. But not to fear, there is a great bus route (get the three day bus pass) and two monorails. One from behind the MGM ($5 one way or $12 for 24 hours) and goes up the east side of the Strip or get a free monorail which runs on the west side from Excalibur to the Luxor and Mandalay Bay, from which you can walk to the Vegas sign (20 mins).

NY StreetsNY StreetNY Street

NY CasinoNY CafeHershey's World

Vegas Baby!

Vegas travels

New York New York HotelBellagio Hotel

ParisBellagioCaesars Palace

Touch down in Las Vegas! Just wow…everything is huge and leaves you rather overwhelmed and without your bearings. You can get lost on the casino floor and could spend a day exploring each hotel. Everything is OTT, even the restrooms are lavish and each hotel has its inside transformed into its individual theme. Be prepared to be transported to Paris, New York, Venice, the jungle, Rome and anywhere in-between!