A neon mirage in the ruthless Nevada desert, Las Vegas is a testament to the American Dream; a hedonist’s paradise where cash is king and little is off limits.
But where once this plastic Gomorrah played host to washed up crooners, regrettable nuptials and an industrial supply of seafood buffets (those are all still there, in case you were worried), today’s Vegas is a different, more nuanced beast.
With a burgeoning restaurant scene, a rejuvenated downtown and an ever more creative list of shows, concerts and events; America’s most debauched playground is still going strong after a century in the game.
1 | Stay
Like a city within a city, The Bellagio complex is a lavish monument to big time excess. A Vegas institution, it features 3,950 rooms, a 65,000 square-foot spa, two AAA Five Diamond restaurants, among countless other options, and even its own botanical garden. Oh and there’s also the best casino in the city and a fine art gallery with a Picasso exhibition.
2 | Lunch
Offering a more personal, youthful contrast to the aircraft hangar casino eateries that dominate the strip, Carson’s Kitchen is the passion project of celebrity chef Kerry Simon. The focus is simple, sociable eating, with plenty of sharing boards, gourmet comfort food, edgy cocktails and, of course, craft beer. So far so Shoreditch, but the tastefully disheveled décor and DJ sets don’t detract from a great menu and fresh approach to food in downtown Vegas.
3 | Dine
Move aside vanilla European EDM DJ’s with one hit and a USB stick, celebrity chefs are the new draw in Vegas and there aren’t many bigger than Wolfgang Puck. After gaining a stratospheric reputation in LA, Mr. Puck’s high-end steakhouse CUT is making new fine dining friends in LV. If you want to take beef consumption to the next level, then the crown jewel in this glistening bovine palace is the 100% Wagyu beef from the Miyazaki Prefecture in Southern Japan, as well as a selection of more than 500 wines.
4 | Drink
Channeling the insomniac fervor and sweaty hedonism of the strip, with an ineffable up and coming cool, Commonwealth may soon be the worst kept secret in Vegas. Occupying a vast, but unassuming space in blossoming downtown, this is a haunt in which to see and be seen. The rooftop terrace offers a peerless view of the city, whilst its basement bar The Laundry Room taps into the unstoppable trend of the speakeasy.
5 | Party
A relatively new kid on the EDM super club block, Omnia is a purple-tinged, many-headed Hydra of a venue, buried in the depths of Caesar’s Palace. Encompassing 75,000 square-feet of space across innumerable floors, this ‘nightspot’ (no clubs around here) hosts big name DJ’s such as Dumfries’ finest, Calvin Harris and offers regular themed nights with slightly unimaginative names, like The Roaring 20’s and Hidden Forest.
6 | See
Cirque Du Soleil started as a ragtag troupe of Montreal misfits, but has since morphed into one of the world’s biggest entertainment super brands, with much of its success being owed to its long ties with Las Vegas. Cirque’s latest offerings on the strip range from a Beatles-inspired 60’s circus, to acrobatic erotic cabaret, if that’s your sort of thing…
7 | Do
Go on an impossibly scenic helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, for a daytrip that doesn’t involve $1,000 bottles of Grey Goose, Deadmau5 and frat bros. Just try and get some sleep before, hangovers and helicopters aren’t the best of friends.
8 | Don’t
Marry a stripper.
9 | When in…
Pay a visit to the Neon Boneyard, the strangely melancholic cemetery for the fallen comrades of yesteryear Americana. It’s here where 150 forgotten neon signs of old Vegas lay strewn in a curated tangle on North Las Vegas Boulevard.