Living in L.A. can skew your perspective (or hadn’t you heard?). Take the weekend getaway. The ultimate destination isn’t about sunbathing or cocktail-party hopping in some seaside town.
We do that all week long already.
Fortunately, God — or someone, anyway — created Vegas. And now that it’s been spruced up with the requisite shopping, restaurants, and VIP fare, we don’t even have to shed our urban-sophisticate exterior when we hotfoot it there. But with all the new (and old) glory, some guidance is in order. Our suggestion? Do Sin City the DailyCandy way.
The Palms Hotel & Casino (4321 W. Flamingo Road, 866-942-7777, thepalmslasvegas.com) is hot. Everybody’s talking about the cool no-theme theme, the 300-thread-count Egyptian-cotton sheets, and the loosest slot machines in town (don’t they all say that?). The breathtaking rooftop GhostBar has mid-century furniture and an intriguingly futuristic access policy: They scan your fingerprints before they let you through the door. (If you don’t pass, you can head to Little Buddha, the first domestic offspring of the famed Parisian Buddha Bar, in the lobby.) The pool club, called SKIN, is sexy as heck — but we think the palm reader in the casino is the clincher.
Mandalay Bay (3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 877-632-7800, mandalaybay.com) has the best concentration of restaurants on the strip.
The sweetest deal accommodations-wise is definitely the Venetian (3355 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 877-2VENICE, venetian.com), where every room is an opulent suite and strolling in and around the shops on the canal is actually romantic in a sort of Italy-meets-Disneyland sort of way. For an earnest oasis of detox in the middle of all the irony, the Venetian houses an outpost of the Canyon Ranch Spa as well.
Before you drop all your chips on the roulette wheel, take a gander at the retail: It’s as good as home, and unlike the casinos, if the shops clean you out, you’ll have something to show for it at the end of the trip.
The Grand Canal shops at the Venetian are all about the Italian stores (Tina Cosma, Acca Kappa, Lior) and the not-so-Italian (Jimmy Choo, Burberry, BCBG) and the big reward when your feet get tired: a gondola ride, complete with serenade.
High roller, are ya? The shops at Via Bellagio (Bellagio Hotel and Casino, 3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 888-987-3456, bellagio.com) should suit you: Yves Saint Laurent, Tiffany, Chanel, Gucci, and Armani (designed by L.A.’s favorite restaurateur, Mr. Chow).
As for the rest …
Best Cheesy Souvenirs: Head over to the Liberace Museum (1775 E. Tropicana Avenue, 702-798-5595, liberace.org), a monument to the maestro of cheese himself.
Best Off-the-Beaten-Path Find: Luv-It Frozen Custard (505 East Oakey Boulevard).
Best Escape From It All: The Desert Inn, once uncontested in this category thanks to its Rat Pack associations, has finally been outclassed by the Four Seasons (3960 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 702-632-5000, fourseasons.com/lasvegas), where you don’t have to enter through the casino.
Best Don’t-Miss Classic-Vegas Good Time: The Bally’s Hotel Jubilee Dancers (Bally’s Hotel and Casino, 3645 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 888-7BALLYS, ballyslv.com), whose Bob Mackie-designed finale costumes are still setting the standard for Vegas glitz.
Best Wedding Chapel: Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel (1205 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 800-574-4450, vivalasvegasweddings.com), where specials include an Elvis-impersonator minister who sings the King’s greatest hits to you.
Best Thrill Ride (For Those Who Don’t Find Vegas Stimulating Enough): The Stratosphere Tower Big Shot (2000 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 800-998-6937, stratospherehotel.com). This free fall launches you 160 feet in the air in 2.5 seconds.
Best Swanky Car Rental: You’ll want to drive around in style. Rent a sporty classic from Rent-a-Vette (5021 Swenson Street, 800-372-1981, rent-a-vette.com).
Best Way to Kill Time While Waiting for the Ten-Dollar Blackjack Table: Don’t hit the slots. Instead, play with your casino bracelets by Jennifer Kellogg. The odds are no better, but at least you won’t be losing money. (Available online at jenniferkellogg.com.)
Best way to spend your winnings: Take a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon and have a champagne lunch while you’re up there. (Sundance Helicopters, 800-653-1881; helicoptour.com)
Best People-watching: The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (4455 Paradise Road, 800-473-7625, hardrockhotel.com) is the place to catch all your favorite celebs at both the craps table and at Nobu; the locals prefer to set up camp on the terrace at Mon Ami Gabi in the Paris Hotel (3655 Las Vegas Boulevard South 877-796-2096). It’s the best vantage point from which to peruse the unending parade of fascinating humanity while lingering over a glass of vino.
Best Health Food and Drink: When you can’t manage another dollop of caviar or tulip glass of champagne, the Raw Truth (3620 East Flamingo Road, 702-450-9007) is your haven. Try one of everything, and say hello to proprietors Bob and Jason.
Nobu. Tiffany. Raw-foodism?! Granted, you don’t have to leave L.A. for any of this stuff. The real reason to go, of course, hasn’t changed: the thrill of the jackpot, the endless pursuit of the royal flush, the elated screams around the craps table. So book yourself a room, pack your LVs, and hop the next flight to Vegas.
Because if you want to win, you’ve gotta get in the game.