“Fabulous” is a pretty solid understatement when it comes to describing Las Vegas. The sheer scale of attractions and entertainment is out of this world, a little fun-tastic universe, all contained in a not-very-long strip in the heart of a desert. And it can offer just as brilliant an experience for non-gamblers, if not more!
“Fairly decent-ish at poker” is pretty much where my betting experience ends. For this reason, I decided to dedicate the very short 2 days I had in Vegas to hopping from hotel to hotel, and taking in the amazing atmosphere of the city of non-stop entertainment. Unfortunately, the short amount of time I had meant missing Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas… but what better reason to go back one day?
I chucked my bags onto the massive bed in my room over in the Monte Carlo, and set out on a tour of the strip. Over the two days I visited Paris, The Linq, The Venetian, New York-New York, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Flamingo, The Mirage, Caesar’s Palace, and Bellagio (in that order), but below I’ve listed them in order of preference based on the best overall atmosphere, as well as experiences on offer.
But before the Top 10, here are some other honourable mentions…
If you have enough time, stop by Wynn to catch the Lake of Dreams, a nightly show that unfolds against the backdrop of a 40 foot waterfall.
Best Las Vegas Hotels
It’s nice to walk through its gardens, and see real flamingos chilling around the little ponds dotting the miniature wildlife habitat. The decor is also quite good for weddings, and the tiny chapel in the grounds is frequented by daring (hopefully sober!) tourists.
9. Mandalay Bay
One of the higher-end hotels, but it’s worth visiting for the good range of entertainment, such as the Boiler Bar and the House of Blues. Don’t miss the ‘HOTO’ art installation featuring an 18-foot mirrored pagoda boasting close to 4,000 brightly-coloured LED displays.
8. Excalibur & Luxor
At Excalibur you can catch a jousting show at the thematic Tournament of Kings; then you could take the tunnel that will take you straight to Luxor, where you can enjoy the Titanic artefacts on display, or the slightly more gruesome, but just as real, Bodies exhibition.
7. The Linq
It might not be particularly impressive in terms of interior, but the Linq can offer the world’s largest classic car collection showroom, so if you’re an auto enthusiast, you should definitely stop by. Also, for a great view of the strip you can go on the High Roller, a 168m Ferris Wheel just behind the hotel.
Perfectly reminiscent of the atmosphere of the city of lights, from the beautiful façades and the adorable little bars, to the impressive ceiling of the Galleries Lafayette. You can grab a bite in the Eiffel Tower restaurant, or take the glass lift to the top for “the most romantic view in Vegas“.
5. The Mirage
In truth, the reason I rated Mirage higher than Paris is the Volcano experience. The video below doesn’t do it justice, it’s an absolutely enchanting show with brilliant sound and visual effects that you just can’t miss. They make a pretty good Cosmopolitan, too.
4. Caesar’s Palace & The Forum Shops
The Forum Shops at Caesar’s is by far the best spot for a splurge on designer pieces. The hotel itself is a massive thing, with vaulted ceilings sunken in a constant twilight. Everywhere you turn you can see the silhouettes of marble statues of Roman gods and goddesses bathing in sparkling fountains, and the Fall of Atlantis Fountain and Aquarium is the most impressive of those, hands down.
Bellagio’s name might ring a bell if you’ve seen Ocean’s Eleven, and also it’s one of the most stylish and luxurious hotels on the strip. The video of the dancing Bellagio Fountains below might give you a bit of an idea of how stunning those are, but I was really enraptured with the interior, specifically the glass flowers on the reception hall ceiling, and the Conservatory and Botanical Garden, which transforms each season. There is also the Gallery of Fine Art, which holds art and wine events.
2. The Venetian
I haven’t been to Venice in a while, but The Venetian definitely managed to take me back there with its romantic square, but most of all, with the authenticity of the Italian gondoliers singing arias while ferrying tourists across the canals. The Grand Canal Shoppes is also a great place for luxury shopping.
And the winner is…
1. New York New York
By far the most captivating hotel on the strip for me, maybe because it captures the urban feel of New York so well in its winding streets with hip cafes and the cool downtown eateries. Nothing beats New York burgers and waffle sandwiches with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Also, there is a Coyote Ugly bar, which was pretty cool. It might be that a New Yorker wouldn’t agree, but for me, as someone who has only seen the city in movies, the hotel got pretty close to making me feel I could easily have been there. You might also want to check out The Big Apple Coaster and Arcade.
Viva Las Vegas, Viva United States of America! Until we meet again.