Written by Claudia Hartley
Much as I’m a bit of a homebody, a long weekend away is an opportunity that I really struggle to pass up, especially a girly one! So, off we jetted to Vegas! I’ve always wanted to visit, so I went all out on this occasion—treating myself to a fancy hotel, more food than any one person should really eat, and even an afternoon’s hiking. If you’re fortunate enough to be jetting off to Vegas, then I’ve included some of my must-sees from the first 24 hours (I wouldn’t want to spell it all out for you!), as well as two of the yummiest meals I’ve eaten in my life.
Tip number one is that you should not pay for a taxi from the airport—they are ridiculously expensive. It works out cheaper if you hire a car for the day and drive yourself down. The added bonus of having the car is that the world—well, Vegas—is your oyster. If you choose to only keep the car for the day, then expect to fork out for a lot of Ubers. If you choose to keep the car for the weekend, parking can get a little expensive, and the designated driver may get a little disgruntled from not being allowed to drink. We decided to make the most out of our one day’s car hire by trekking just outside of town to Red Rock Canyon. Whilst this did mean having to sling our slightly-too-heavy suitcases into the boot by ourselves (I’ll admit it, I could’ve travelled lighter), it did feel like a proper adventure in that we could choose exactly which way to go.
Red Rock Canyon
The drive around Red Rock Canyon was one of the highlights of the trip. It costs just $15 to take a car in, and the incredible 13-mile drive is worth every cent. The rock formations and seemingly endless landscape feel almost otherworldly. We parked up and went on a short hike to get a bit closer to the nature. There are mammoth 6 or 7-hour hikes at the park, but we opted for just a couple of hours—enough for a post-plane leg stretch and more than enough to build up an appetite!
The park is nearly 200,000 acres and has plenty of stunning rock formations for the geologists out there, as well as plenty of fossils. Some of the fossils are so immaculately preserved that you can see the individual claws of the dinosaurs that once walked here—any visitors, regardless of age, could be kept fascinated for hours. We did trail number 6, which took in lots of natural springs, meaning we even saw some wildlife! I wore trainers for this, which was fine, but don’t choose your best white ones. The rocks here are very red, and your trainers will be the same after a couple of hours hiking.
The Mirage Hotel
After our trip around the park, we were beyond ready for a quick freshen up, so we dropped the car off in town and made our way to the hotel. Staying at The Mirage Hotel was the ultimate treat. It’s been home to some big names in its time, including Australian billionaire Kerry Packer, who once dropped a $1 million tip here! Although we didn’t tip quite like Kerry, we did stay in the ultra-luxurious Lanai suite, which is enough to make anyone feel like a billionaire.
The hotel is absolutely stunning, and, to be honest, I could’ve spent the entire weekend here and not felt like I’d missed out. Our suite was incredible; everything you could need was provided. Normally I’m happy with towels and fancy hand lotions, but this really was something else. Entering the hotel was like being in a film. There’s a huge atrium at the entrance, filled with exotic plants, palm trees and waterfalls. The grounds of the hotel are spectacular, too, with white tigers roaming in the gardens and even a dolphin habitat, where, yes, you can meet actual dolphins. Anyway, after an adventure around the hotel, we scrubbed up and made our way back out into Vegas for night number one!
Disclaimer: We were planning on going somewhere else after dinner, but it was so nice here that we stayed. Tao was a really beautiful place to eat, and the decor was something else. An absolutely enormous Buddha kind of levitates above a pool that’s full of colourful koi fish. If you’re an Instagram-aholic then be sure to get a photo in front of this. Wanting to avoid being so full that we couldn’t dance, at dinner we opted for lots of sharing plates and a couple of cocktails. I won’t go through all of them here, but the highlights were definitely the pork pot stickers and pretty much all of the sushi, although the sea urchins and scallops were to die for. Honestly, if their menu were just reduced to the sushi and sashimi, I could still eat here every night for a week and not get bored.
After dinner we made our way to the nightclub part of the building, and, being ladies, we were fortunate enough to get in for free! There are loads of different rooms to explore here, so if you ever get bored of dancing (Who are you?!) then you can usually find a less-crowded bar where it’s quiet enough for a chat. If you were really pushing the boat out, then it would be nice to get a luxury table. I have no idea what they cost, but the skyboxes look out over the main room or over the terrace, which has incredibly views of the Vegas Strip.
Eat at SkinnyFATS
The morning after we were feeling a little foggy-headed. Personally, I want something enormous when I’m hungover, but my friend wanted something wholesome and mostly green (I don’t get it either). Anyway, SkinnyFATS seemed to cater to both of our needs in that there’s one half of the menu that’s healthy and another half that’s totally enormous and brilliant. The breakfast menu is served all day, and I promised myself that I will once again have the chickawaffadopolis, even if it is the last thing I do. It’s basically just really great fried chicken, waffles and loads of syrup—salty and sweet and everything I needed to combat that hangover. I had a juice, too (which is specifically designed for hangover curing) with apple, ginger, celery spinach and beetroot—to make everything wonderfully pink!