Exploring: Las Vegas – The Hotels

Exploring Las Vegas
If there was one thing I was looking forward to when we hit Las Vegas it was the hotels. They may be hotels and on any other holiday you wouldn’t just stroll into one to have a look but this is Vegas, and the hotels are, shall we say a little different to normal vacation (holiday if you’re British!) spots! In pictures, they look so random but so intriguing and exciting at the same time! So, I’ve put together a little list of my favourites (in no particular order) from the strip, if you’ve ever been, see if you agree with me:

Treasure Island:
This is the hotel we stayed in. The German was adamant he was going to get a good deal on a hotel in Vegas, and, after weeks of telling my brother we were sleeping on his sofa because the German’s Priceline attempts weren’t working, 48 hours before we left Atlanta his bid was accepted and we were staying at Treasure Island:

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The hotel room was comfortable, clean and had everything you need for a stay in Las Vegas. We had a king size bed (always good, having one at home means we’re a little too close for comfort when we sleep in a double bed!) and we were on the 25th floor so we had some good views of the strip. Obviously, there was a casino, it was slightly random and weird walking through a casino pulling a suitcase behind you but that’s standard in Vegas. We had a pool (that we didn’t use), various bars and restaurants and a Cirque du Soleil show in the hotel’s theatre. Sadly we didn’t see this, or any show for that matter, but I’m sure we’ll fit one into our next trip whenever that may be. We also can’t forget about the pirate ships outside, our room looked onto them and they are just typical Vegas – random but fab!

New York New York
This was, by far, one of my favourite hotels in Las Vegas. You walk up to it and there’s a Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and the Chrysler building mixed into a mock-up of New York’s skyline along with the Brooklyn Bridge before you even head inside to check out what looks like a typical New York suburb, complete with shops and restaurants. It’s pure madness and a little bit like stepping into New York, just with a huge casino in the middle!

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We also can’t forget the hotel’s roller coaster too. Yep, you read that right, this place has a roller coaster that goes inside and outside the building – if you look closely on the picture of the German and I in front of the Statue of Liberty you can see the tracks. We didn’t go on it but given the chance next time I’ll be on it like a shot!

The Venetian
Another hotel of utter madness, step inside The Venetian and it’s like stepping into Venice but without the smell (or so I’m told, I still haven’t made it to Venice but it’s on the list.) You can take a ride on a gondola, visit St Mark’s square, walk over the Rialto Bride, take a stroll along the Grand Canal – like I said, utter madness! The gondola men even sing while you’re taking a ride! Obviously there’s a casino, bars and restaurants inside too, this place is definitely worth checking out!

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There’s also an amazing pizza place inside The Venetian but we’ll come to that in a later post!

The Bellagio
From the outside this place isn’t as spectacular as the other hotels, it doesn’t have a specific theme like the New York New York or The Venetian, that is until the fountains come on. This hotel has been the backdrop from many a film in shot in Las Vegas, most notably Oceans 11, and believe me, in person, those fountains are even more spectacular than on-screen, although the area in front of it is a lot smaller that it looks in a movie! The Fountain Shows start every 15 – 30 minutes depending on the time of day and each show is different – you simply have to check them out! Inside the hotel has an amazing conservatory with some beautiful flowers and butterflies in and of course there’s a casino, we are in Las Vegas after all! This place looks so pretty at night too!

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Oh, and there’s an amazing roof in the lobby (bottom right picture) made out of glass flowers. These people know how to make hotels that little bit different!

The Paris
Another of Las Vegas’ themed hotels the Paris bases itself on, you’ve guessed it, the capital city of France, and it does it pretty well. Complete with an Eiffel Tower (if you’re staying there you can easily find your way home after a few drinks on the strip!), French bistros both inside and outside and small French looking streets inside, some people might think they’re actually strolling through the famous city of lovers. Of course there’s a casino in the middle which kind of shatters the illusion but it wouldn’t be Vegas without a casino!

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You can also dine in a restaurant within the Eiffel Tower – I’m sure you can get some amazing views of the strip from up there.

The Stratosphere
Talking about amazing views, this hotel is slightly off the main part of the strip, if you’re staying on the strip you might want to get a taxi up there, unless you fancy a good walk, but it’s definitely worth the trip for the views from the top of the Stratosphere tower. The hotel itself is nothing to write home about, inside there’s a casino, some shops and restaurants, as with every hotel. The big draw to The Stratosphere is the tower, and the views from the top of it. If you’re staying at the hotel you can go up the tower as many times as you want during your stay, if not, I think it’s about $18 per person.

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When you’re at the top of the tower you’re more than 100 floors up (those lifts are pretty fast too, prepare for your ears to pop!) and around 1,149 feet above the Las Vegas strip, it’s the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States. As well as amazing views at the top there are rollercoasters galore, well 3 I think, one of which is pictured above and pretty badly, it was hard to capture it! This one literally dangles you over the edge! There are bars and nightclubs and if you want a quicker way down you can bungee jump off it! Rather you than me on that one – the rollercoasters look good though! A little tip for you – if you buy a tower admission ticket and roller coaster ride at the same time you can save a lot of dollars!

The Luxor
Fancy a trip to one of the seven wonders of the world? If you can’t make it to Egypt then this is your chance. The Luxor is a replica of a pyramid and a sphinx. Inside the pyramid there are hotel rooms that must have sloping walls to be inside a pyramid. The inside isn’t much to write home about, a casino (obviously), hotel rooms, a couple of bars and the longest check-in queue I have ever seen! If I was staying there and was stuck in that I wouldn’t be a very happy bunny by the time it was my turn to check-in, that’s for sure. Back to the pyramid – it’s doesn’t necessarily look like the original’s in Egypt although it’s location is pretty similar – when I went to Cairo I was shocked by the lack of desert you had to drive through to see the pyramids, literally take a left turn off a main road and you’re there, a little bit like the strip!

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It’s pretty impressive when you’re standing inside the pyramid and looking up to the point though!

Caesars Palace
Sitting next door to The Bellagio and The Mirage, this little piece of Rome in the middle of the desert is definitely a sight to see. Will a full-blown Colosseum that houses a theatre where the likes of Celine Dion and Elton John perform, a replica of the Trevi Fountain and some of the most expensive shops on the strips I would definitely recommend a stop off at Caesars Palace. At one point the hotel hosted a Formula 1 Grand Prix – looking at it now you would never guess where! Obviously there’s a casino inside too!

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Caesars also has the most amazing all you can eat buffet (that gives you unlimited mimosas at the weekend!) but again, we’ll save that for another post!

So there you have it, my favourite hotels in the weird and wonderful city of Las Vegas. Obviously there are many more to check out like the Wynn and Encore and their amazing flower displays, the MGM Grand with its huge lion outside, Circus Circus with its big top and circus attraction rides, the Disney castle inspired Excalibur, The Mirage with its white tigers, the list is endless and believe me, it can take you a long time to check them out!

Which Las Vegas hotel is your favourite?

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Exploring: Las Vegas – The Strip

Exploring Las Vegas
You can’t avoid the Las Vegas strip when visiting Vegas, mostly because the main reason why you’re there is the strip and it’s hotels and casinos. And let me tell you a walk down the strip is an experience in itself. If you’re visiting Las Vegas, you must have a good stroll down it, yes taxis are easier, quicker and pretty cheap, but you miss all the fun stuff if you don’t take a walk!

Before you start though, make sure you’re wearing a comfortable pair of shoes. On a map those hotels are technically next door to each other and look so close together but once you start walking they are much further apart than you think! Getting from one to the other takes a lot longer than you expect and my feet weren’t happy with me. I did wear an old pair of sandals that I thought would be very comfy, turns out the heat and those sandals don’t mix – cue a huge blister appearing on my foot. Ouch.

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We hit the strip as soon as we landed in Vegas, I was desperate to get out there and see what this place was all about! Within 10 minutes my sister-in-law and I already had a frozen margarita in hand to help us on our merry way, as I said before, it’s customary to have an alcoholic drink in your hand when walking down the strip. Drinking on the streets is legal in Vegas, this to me is strange because it’s a definite no go back in the UK, but I was happy to take this new-found freedom to heart and happily strolled along with my frozen cup of goodness!

The strip, and Las Vegas in general, is a weird and wonderful place and I loved it. It’s just surreal that somebody decided to create this party capital in the middle of the desert. Build these massive hotels, all with a different random themes that aren’t just dotted around here and there inside the hotel, the whole hotel is built on the theme, complete with an Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty or pyramid! And just about everybody is there with the same thing on their agenda – to party, gamble and catch some sun! Let’s face it, there aren’t many more things you can get up to whilst vacationing in Vegas!

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We started pretty much at the top of the strip – by the Treasure Island and Palazzo hotels and headed down Las Vegas Boulevard towards the Welcome Sign, if we thought we were going to get that far down we were very much mistaken! I think in about 5 or 6 hours we made it to the New York, New York, about half way down. We could still see both hotels where we started and they didn’t look that far away! Admittedly we popped into a lot of the hotels and had a look around (again that takes a lot longer than you think because they are so huge!) and stopped for a quick bite to eat, but I thought we would have made it a little further down!

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The atmosphere on the strip is fab! Everyone’s in a good mood, probably because of all the frozen margaritas and beer they’ve been drinking, the sun is shining and I think most people were more than likely thinking the same thing as me – ‘this place is mad!’ Whilst strolling along and checking out the hotels, snapping some pictures and drinking it all in, there are so many characters walking along too, ready for you to have your picture taken with, for a small fee of course. Think Disney characters, Star Wars characters, minions from Despicable Me (my brother’s favourite!), half-dressed women advertising various nightclubs and casinos and not forgetting my all time favourite and the one that I would choose to have a picture with…this legendary guy:

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oh yes people, it’s Alan from The Hangover! He comes complete with tiger, giraffe, baby and stand in Alan having a cigarette whilst lurking behind a bush! I think that is my favourite part of this picture, the stand-by waiting around the corner! You couldn’t make it up! They were both pretty convincing Alans though and maybe if I’d had another couple of frozen margaritas (or maybe the German, he was the one stopping me from jumping straight in there!), I’d have been in the exact same spot as that lady, complete with a stupid grin, possibly stroking Alan’s beard…

We also can’t forget the lovely women and men who try to thrust the cards of call girls into your hands, claiming they can get you hot girls, direct to your hotel room in 20 minutes wearing t-shirts with the words ‘orgasim clinic’ on. I think they need to get a dictionary and also realise that the guy down the strip that they’re trying to give the cards to his holding hands with his wife!

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Aside from all the fun and laughter on the strip there’s also a serious side. As you walk along the footbridges to cross the road, on just about every footbridge there’s somebody who’s homeless and begging. In a city where money rules it’s literally like one extreme to the other. These people have no money, whilst inside the casinos there are high rollers, betting thousands of dollars on just one game. I know it’s the same every where you go, people are homeless in every city, but I think it stands out a little more in Vegas, purely because of your surroundings.

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Now, the strip during the day is completely different to the strip at night. Once sun goes down, those bright neon lights we immediately associate with Vegas are turned on and the city changes yet again! Everything looks completely different. Things are highlighted that weren’t highlighted before. You notice every light and how it changes, flashes and draws you into the casino or hotel that it’s advertising. It’s also pretty picturesque.

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I don’t think street lights are needed on the strip, the neon signs do the job on their own! The evening atmosphere is even more electric than the atmosphere during the day. People are now ready to party, and party hard! The shorts and beach dresses have been ditched for party dresses and heels for the girls and smart shirts for the boys. They probably all stopped off in the beer cave in Walgreens (yes, that actually exists) to stock up on some drinks to get ready with, the alcohol intake doesn’t stop in Vegas!

Vegas Collage 5And of course you can’t hit the strip without taking a trip to the Welcome Sign! It’s a huge part of Vegas, and let’s face it, it’s on just about every single bit of tacky memorabilia you can take home with you from your trip. Yes, we did get something – a magnet for our fridge (we’re very American now with random things attached to our fridge!) and yes, it’s in the shape of the Welcome Sign! What else!

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Have you been to Las Vegas? What were your experiences of the strip?

Exploring: Las Vegas – First Impressions

 

Exploring Las Vegas
We went, we saw and we conquered Las Vegas and after spending nearly a week recovering I now need to tell you guys all about it, and oh my is there lots to tell – hell, it’s even getting its own blog series! This thing is major.

Now usually, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas but I thought you guys might want to know a little bit about our trip so I’ve decided to ditch that rule and reveal all – well maybe not everything, some things that happened in Vegas WILL be staying there!

I thought I’d start off by talking about my first impressions of Sin City, always a good place to kick things off if you ask me! Now, I’ve always wanted to go to Vegas, the German on the other hand was a little skeptical about the whole thing. I wanted to see the flashing lights, check out the casinos you see in movies, look at all the huge hotels and basically party in the middle of the desert! When we got married in Destin last year, I actually wanted to go to Vegas for the comedy pictures in a little white chapel with Elvis, kind of like in The Hangover but without the rufees! Needless to say the German got his way and we went to Florida instead, looking back I’m kind of glad he did.

Anyway, my brother was going that way so we decided to tag-a-long, the German needed some persuasion but we got there in the end and man was I an excited bunny to be heading to said party capital in the middle of the desert!

After our 4 hour flight from Atlanta (that included some amazing views of the Grand Canyon just before we landed – good work from the German for picking the right seats, he always does his research well!) we picked up a hire car, an essential for our trip to the Grand Canyon the following day, and headed to our hotels on the strip.

You can already see the strip from the plane but I really don’t think anything can prepare you for what you’re about to see as you drive up it, huge hotel after huge hotel, all with a different theme ranging from Egypt to New York to pirate ships to Disney castles to Italy, it’s like a trip around the world in about 10 minutes! We drove up shouting out the different hotels – ‘There’s the Bellagio!,’ ‘It’s the MGM Grand!’ ‘Look at the Mirage!’ We were like little excited kids in a sweet shop!

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These were my thoughts as we hit the strip: first of all, this place is mad! Second, who the hell thought to build a party city in the middle of the desert. Third, they did a bloody good job. Fourth, I can’t wait to explore more of it!

And that is exactly what we did, well after getting to our hotels, unpacking, getting changed into something a little more fitting for the Vegas heat and of course, picking up some sort of alcoholic beverage – it would seem you’re not down with the cool kids in Vegas unless you’re sporting an alcoholic beverage as an accessory! My drink of choice was a frozen margarita:

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Everybody wants to be down with the cool kids right? Plus, a frozen margarita keeps you cool in the 90 degree temperatures, as you can see the German finds that a beer does the same thing!

So, sit back, relax and prepare yourselves for a deluge of Las Vegas posts, we’re talking everything from my favourite hotels to where to eat and where it all began in Downtown Vegas. Oh, and not forgetting our trip to the Hoover Dam and down Route 66 to the Gran Canyon! Just amazing.

The Grand Re-Opening of The Richter Hotel

Yes, people, it’s happening! After officially closing the doors of The Richter Hotel at the end of August last year after a steady stream of guests, today those doors are being flung open again for the start of the new season!

Richter HotelThe last couple of days have been spent preparing for the arrival of our first guests – cleaning has been done, new cushions bought (including the one in the middle of the picture above which I LOVE) the guest bedroom has been preened to perfection, breakfast goodies have been bought and of course lots of beer and wine because the first guests are:

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My big brother and sister-in-law! The last visitors to be waved out of The Richter Hotel last year and the first visitors of the new season. It’s now their third trip to Atlanta (they obviously love me and the German sooooo much, well either that or they like the free accommodation, or maybe both!) so they know the drill. This time though there’s more excitement on the cards…

There are big plans ahead on this trip! This weekend we’ll be celebrating Becky’s birthday, it’s actually today so she’ll be spending the majority of it on a plane but we’re making up for it on Sunday with a trip to Table & Main (One of my Top 5 Atlanta Restaurants…so far!), we’re heading to the basketball on Tuesday and the baseball on Wednesday – standard trips when they’re in town. On Thursday though things get exciting because, wait for it, we’re all heading too…VEGAS BABY!!!

And man am I excited! The bright lights of the Las Vegas strip will be the place we’ll be calling home for 5 days. We’ll be tripping the light fantastic, checking out all the casinos (no gambling from this lady of leisure though), lounging by the pool and kick-starting that wedding tan, probably tucking into some very unhealthy food, oh and taking a trip to the Grand Canyon. Oh yes people, it’s going to be five days of fun-filled heaven!

So if I disappear off the radar for a few days you know why. There will be some blogging action about the bright lights of Las Vegas after the trip but I may not reveal all because people, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas! Keep an eye on my Instragram and Twitter though for some snaps and updates – they will more than likely include food, or a casino, or possibly even both at the same time…