Whether it's vintage glamour, high-roller Hollywood heists, or an 'all-in, what stays in' weekend with your squad, Las Vegas is the entertainment destination of your dreams. Melissa Leong reveals how to get the most out of wild desert town.
There’s a whole lot more to Vegas than bright lights and blackjack…
Since its birth in 1905, Las Vegas has been a beacon for high-stakes fun and frivolity, even if you never roll a dice. The mere mention of this American city conjures colourful history, poolside glamour, parties for you and your 3000 closest friends, Hollywood stars and, these days, celebrity chefs.
But not everything this city has to offer revolves around full-tilt glitz and the frenetic energy of Las Vegas Boulevard (the Strip). If you want to fully appreciate the subtlety as well as the spectacle that makes Vegas such a grand town, step away from the glare of the bright lights and get out there and explore.
Where you stay in Vegas will colour your experience significantly. This really is a town where there’s something for everyone – and we mean everyone. Well-heeled travellers who want to be in the thick of things should consider The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (3708 S Las Vegas Blvd; cosmopolitanlasvegas.com) or Mandarin Oriental (3752 S Las Vegas Blvd; mandarinoriental.com) for a sleek, modern interpretation of the Vegas experience. The former also happens to house some of the more exciting eating options in town, including Momofuku and sister establishment Milk Bar, as well as LA exports Egg slut and Scarpetta. For when virtue is necessary, The Juice Standard serves up superfood smoothies, nut milks and cold-pressed juices infused with the likes of bee pollen, turmeric and spirulina (to atone for one’s sins). The Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Tower also offers some of the best views of the Strip, including many of its gleaming neon signs and the legendary Fountains of Bellagio shows, for that Ocean’s Eleven moment.
If you want a little space between you and the masses, Mandalay Bay (3950 S Las Vegas Blvd; mandalaybay.com) is about as iconic as resorts in Vegas come. Commanding prime position next to the
Luxor hotel and its giant sphinx at the south end of the Strip, Mandalay Bay is home to one of the most impressive pool complexes in town, and also happens to be within walking distance of that ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign, for pole photo positioning.
EAT & DRINK
The past decade or so has seen the Vegas dining scene transform from prime-rib central to one of the most high-calibre offerings you’ll find in this part of the world. Whether you’re feeling like a high roller or are down to your last chips, there is plenty to sate your appetite.
The mega resorts and casinos in this town have the pulling power to create world-class eating experiences, and in venues such as The Cosmopolitan, Bellagio, The Venetian, Caesars Palace and MGM Grand, you’ll find particularly strong dining options at every level – many with a celebrity chef’s name attached. Try Thomas Keller’s casually elegant Bouchon (The Venetian,
3355 S Las Vegas Blvd; venetian.com) for French bistro classics, or the clean, bright Italian fare of Giada at Giada de Laurentiis’ namesake venue – popular with ladies who lunch – in The Cromwell hotel (3595 S Las Vegas Blvd; giadadelaurentiis.com/vegas).
Cake Boss star Buddy Valastro’s modern Italian-US bistro, Buddy V’s Ristorante (The Venetian, 3355 S Las Vegas Blvd; buddyvlasvegas.com), is perfect for relaxed antipasti, while fans of New York’s
Carbone (Aria Resort & Casino, 3730 S Las Vegas Blvd; aria.com) can make their date an offer they can’t refuse in the Vegas version. With those red-velvet-curtained booths, who could blame them?
You know it’s cool if David Chang did it. The punchy and fresh modern Asian cuisine of Momofuku works a treat here. From the buzzy front bar to the dining room that faces out over the Strip, this joint at The Cosmopolitan draws a crowd that is young, vibrant and informed – just like the staff. If you want to drink Jura wines and slurp cold ramen topped with uni (sea urchin), smoked trout roe and Alaskan crab, this is the place to do it.
If you beat the house, or simply feel like a winner, look no further than Joël Robuchon’s eponymous restaurant. Undoubtedly the pinnacle of haute cuisine in Vegas, Joël Robuchon (MGM Grand, 3799 S Las Vegas Blvd; mgmgrand.com) is a temple devoted to the art of food. It might be located just off the casino floor, but once you step through those curved