Ultimate Girls’ Guide To Las Vegas
SheSaid Editor Julia has always dreamt of going to Vegas – who hasn’t? – so she grabbed some friends for 3 days of shopping, sipping cocktails and slot machines in sin city! Here’s the ultimate girls’ guide to doing Vegas in style:
Where to stay
We chose the amazing Mandarin Oriental which is one of a very few hotels that doesn’t have a casino. It is an oasis of tranquility and luxury from the moment you step in. Even the most basic rooms are beautifully appointed with views of the world-famous Strip. You also don’t have hoards of tourists traipsing through the hotel like the other major hotels.
From US$195 a night. Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas.
What to do
3 days and nights is the perfect amount of time to spend in Vegas.
Where to eat
All the top chefs have restaurants in Vegas, so you can seriously indulge all your gastronomic tastes. There is every kind of cuisine, from $4.95 buffets to Michelin-starred French that will set you back $1,000 a head.
Vegas is known for it’s steakhouses so make sure you get one steak dinner in.
Stripsteak at the Mandalay Bay has steak cooked to perfection with a wine list that’s second-to-none.
Raku is the place to go if you want something special. Hop in a cab and in 10 minutes you’ll be in this tiny Japanese restaurant in Vegas’ Chinatown. Exquisite Japanese food serve with care, like the freshest handmade tofu, slow-poached eggs with sea urchin and melt-in-the-mouth sashimi.
I’d heard of this LA-based cult burger joint but thought, how good can a burger joint be? So good. There were at least 50 people in the line ahead of us at 11.30am but it was worth it for the juicy made-to-order burger (and cheesy fries). Well fed for under a fiver!
Where to drink
Let me say: the cocktails in Vegas are cheap – and strong. If you’re sick of tiny cocktails that take 15 minutes to make and cost a week’s wage this is the perfect antidote. I spilt my first cocktail because I wasn’t used to holding such a large martini glass!
The bar at the Mandarin Oriental
Even if you don’t stay here (and you really should) make sure you have a drink at their bar on the 23rd floor. Most seats are right by the window, overlooking the Strip, so try and come at sunset. Amazing bar snacks too.
Red Square at the Mandalay Bay
This vodka bar has more vodkas than you ever thought existed, with incredible cocktails and a fun vibe. Try the Key Lime martini, it is out of this world.
What to do
When in Vegas – head to the spa. We arrived in Vegas and went straight to the spa in the Mandarin Oriental. I have been to spas of all kinds around the world – luxury, cheap and cheerful, downright nasty – and I have to say this was the very best. We booked the hammam where you’re scrubbed with loofahs on a marble slab then bathed in warm, lava-like bubbles and water. You leave squeaky clean and rejuvenated!
You can also enjoy the rest of the spa at your leisure, like the heavenly steam room or experience showers which have different lights, music and water pressures to resemble showering in a rainforest or waterfall.
Hammam: $100 for 1 hour
Tip: book your spa during Monday-Thursday. Not only are the treatments a lot cheaper, you’ll have the place virtually to yourself.
Helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon
I had never been in a helicopter before and to say I was nervous leading up to it is an understatement! But it was the smoothest ride I can think of and a must-have experience. The 45-minute flight over the golden Canyon is unforgettable, but landing in the Canyon itself and enjoying a glass of bubbly while you wander around pretty cactus and ancient rocks somehow tops it.
From $US290. Visit Papillon Grand Canyon Tours.
Helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon
I had never been in a helicopter before and to say I was nervous leading up to it is an understatement! But it was the smoothest ride I can think of and a must-have experience. The 45-minute flight over the golden Canyon is unforgettable, but landing in the Canyon itself and enjoying a glass of bubbly while you wander
Visit the hotels
You have to check out all of Vegas’ hotels. Grab a frozen margarita from the dozens of streets sellers and spend a day walking up the Strip seeing what each hotel has to offer, from the beautiful lions at the MGM Grand (shame about the choking cigarette stench throughout) to The Bellagio’s breath-taking fountain display.
There is also that world-famous tackiness which has to be seen to be believed, from the New York, New York hotel casino complete with Statue of Liberty, Chrysler Building and Empire State Building, to the gondolas of Venice at the Venetian (yes, they sing and steer you around a ‘canal’ under a fake blue sky ceiling!)
Don’t worry if you don’t gamble – there is plenty of fun to be had in Vegas without stepping foot near a black jack table. If you do like a flutter, I recommend the Mirage Hotel – it is airier and less crowded than other casinos.
There are also slot machines at the airport!
They say the shopping is to-die-for, but unless you’re on a Louis Vuitton budget – and there’s a Prada, Chanel, Dior at every turn – we were surprised by the limited options. There are plenty of stores selling Eurotrash party dresses that look like they’ve been attacked by a Bedazzler, and you can pick up cute swimwear for your afternoon by the pool, but don’t expect much more than that.
Vegas’ newest hotel, The Cosmopolitan, is definitely the place to party. Start your night with dinner at one of the many restaurants (China Poblano is colourful and fun for tacos), then a cocktail at the chandelier bar which is dripping in crystals and move on to Marquee, a huge club where the celebs like to party. You may see a Kardashian or Hilton; if that’s not your thing there are plenty of other clubs in Vegas!
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of shows – from Celine Dion and old favourites Donny and Marie Osmond, to five different Cirque du Soleils. Check out the discount ticket booths located along the Strip for savings of around 25% – just avoid the numerous ticket touts.
Have you been to Vegas? What are your can’t-miss recommendations?