There is nothing dull about Las Vegas. Bizarre, a head-spin, yet wonderful at the same time.
Confused? You will be. Welcome to Las Vegas!
Landing at McCarron International Airport after an 11 hour flight, I looked out the window and saw a large sphinx. I wondered if the pilot had taken us to Egypt accidentally, but no, it was the Luxor hotel. I walked through arrivals and was immediately met with the sound of jingling slot machines. Jet-lagged, I thought I was dreaming.
I was thankfully quite rested due to staying at one of the Gatwick hotels, cutting out the early morning dash to the airport. Parking at Gatwick is also cheap and convenient, taking away some travelling stress.
Despite its reputation for drunken high-jinx and ill-advised marriages, Vegas offers something for everyone. Yes, you can get drunk, gamble your life savings and marry someone you’ve only just met if that’s what you want, but you can also eat at wonderful restaurants, watch world-class shows, shop til you drop, and take an evening helicopter ride over the strip. Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon are also accessible by road or helicopter.
For thrill-seekers, New York has a rollercoaster, and there are opportunities for sky-diving. The Stratosphere tower offers dare-devil rides for those with a head for heights, and breathtaking views over the desert.
What I didn’t realise was the scale. You think Paris is a five minute walk away from the Luxor. Wrong! What you think takes five minutes, probably takes forty-five. This is where the hop-on/off sightseeing bus is a god-send. Pay once and have unlimited access for two days.
The hotels are incredible. I stayed at the Egyptian-themed Luxor. Next door is Excalibur, a fairytale castle. There’s New York with the Statue of Liberty stood proud at the doorway and a rollercoaster whizzing by her head. Across the road, the famous MGM Grand and a huge bronze lion. Paris is a little further down, and inside you’ll feel as though you are in the French capital. The beautiful Venetian with gondolier rides, stunning Caesar’s Palace, Treasure Island, the Bellagio, with its famous fountain show (worth the airfare alone), Circus Circus … it goes on.
A must-see is the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign; however it stands in the middle of a free-way so the sightseeing bus is useful here.
You will meet Elvis several times. Tip him and take a photo – make sure you pick a realistic one!
Famous for gambling, every hotel has a casino, including small slot machines to areas cordoned off for high rollers. Drinks are complimentary whilst playing, though it’s customary to tip. It isn’t unusual to come down for breakfast and see the same people sat at the slot machines from the night before.
Weddings are big business, ranging from classy, to downright tacky. If a Vegas wedding is what you’re after, do your research and you’re sure to have a ceremony to remember.
Of course, being in the middle of the desert lends means hot temperatures. The average temperature ranges from 13 degrees in January, to 45 in August, with little rainfall.
The whole experience was sublime and ridiculous, but something everyone should see. Booking airport parking made the trip a lot simpler, and I look forward to having my car brought to me at the terminal when I fly back home! Heathrow airport parking is another option if you’re flying from London, which just makes your travelling that bit easier.
With so much to see and do, from breathtaking to bizarre, Vegas is a place that needs to be seen to believe. But as they say, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!