A Beginner's Guide to Las Vegas
Las Vegas is the true 'City That Never Sleeps.' I'm currently saving my earnings from Hubpages to pay for my next Vegas extravaganza! Stuck in the middle of the mojave desert in Nevada, 'Sin City' is an orgy of light, colour, sex, money, glamour and sometimes, desperation. For those of you who haven't been to Vegas, you may think it's all swanky casinos, big wins and free drinks but this is far from the truth. This is a city that has experienced many difficulties in recent years and has by no means been immune to the global financial crisis. You will likely see beggers, prostitutes, destitutes and crime on almost every venture out on to the strip but it is a city that is true diacotomy of the western world.
I, for one, love Las Vegas. I love the desperation, love extremes of super wealth and third world poverty, love the excitement of the casinos at 4am and love the fact that you lose all track on reality after just a few short days there. Vegas can be several different vacations all in one and offers something for families, stags, hens, the rich, the poor and everything in between. This article is just a few tips, quips and opinions on what I believe to be the greatest city on earth.
A Place to Rest Your Weary Head
Nowhere on earth will you find hotels of the quality of The Venetian and Paris, Las Vegas at such affordable prices. I found that booked far enough in advance, these hotels can cost as little as $50 per night. Now given that the standard in America is two king size beds, this is fantastic value. But it gets better! I went with my brother a couple of years ago and hadn't booked anywhere. Now this is not advisable as visa waiver regulations in the US declare you must have somewhere to stay before you arrive. We provisionally booked into the Venetian, then cancelled a week or so before we travelled but kept the emailed confirmation - just in case we were asked for it. On arrival, we hopped into a taxi and made our way to the Imperial Palace. Now this is, by Vegas standards, a drab and dated hotel which has been dwarfed by new builds on the strip over the years. However, the rooms are clean and we weren't planning on spending much time in our room any how!
We went straight to registration and asked for the cheapest room. We were there for eleven nights and were charged $320!!! That's $160 each and for the mathematically challenged of you out there, around $15 per night each!!! This hotel is slap bang in the middle of the strip, within walking distance of all the other major hotels and has its own tram stop! All the major hotels on the strip including their facilities and attractions are open to the public so staying there is not essential!
Food, Glorious Food
Now eating out can be potentially expensive. When my brother and I went, we decided we would go to a nice restaurant on three of the nights and survive on fast food at all other times! This will obviously depend on personal finances. The major hotels have several eating establishments under one roof. This can be exciting as you can 'window shop' up to twenty restaurants in a hotel before you decide where to dine. All of the major hotels also offer a buffet where, 'all you can eat' is the watchword. We lived on Subways and McDonalds most days however on a couple of days, we ate only once! This isn't as traumatic as it sounds as the buffets provide an opportunity to take your daily calorie allowance all at once!
A great piece of advice is to pick up as many tourist guides as possible from hotel foyers and shops. These always contain discount vouchers which in some cases offer free food!
Casinos and Shows
Casinos in Vegas are the land that time forgot! If you are actively gambling, complimentary drinks are available from the hostesses, continually prowling the casino floors - remember to tip though. Around a dollar per drink is acceptable. You don't have to be gambling thousands at craps to get a drink however! My brother and I would sit at the video poker playing 25c games whilst receiving our complimentary drinks. Be wary though as my brother likes vodka and Red Bull and the hostess warned him to slow down or get out!
Casinos are pumped with oxygen to keep people gambling and the potent mix of fresh air and free alcohol can end up costing you a lot of money. A good rule of thumb to follow in casinos is to give yourself a daily budget and not to exceed it. Whatever you win, spend on something nice! I won around $400 in eleven days which paid for a couple of the best shows! Love, a show from Cirque du Soleil, features music and stories from the Beatles. For high rollers, complimentary show tickets can be won or earned but for more modest gamblers there are a number of cut price ticket stores that are completely legitimate. Never pay full price at the hotel without checking these places first!
Shows can be very expensive with the best ones costing $100 plus. Many of the casinos provide free entertainment in lounges and casino stages. This can be a much cheaper way of taking in a show! A new craze in America is that of Piano Bars and 'Duelling Pianos.' This involves two pianists playing requests to order on a competitive basis. You simply fill in a request slip and slip the pianist a couple of bucks and they'll play your song. During our time there we only had one song refused as the pianist had never heard of the Killers! Ironic, considering they're from Vegas!
Remember, Vegas can be all things to all men. It is within the reach of most holiday budgets so long as you remember to budget accordingly. Don't forget that during summer months it is one of the hottest places on earth so even short walks can cause exhaustion! Drink plenty of water through the day and limit alcohol to the evenings!
Bon Voyage and please post your vacation comments here!!
The Mirage Hotel & Casino - Home of Cirque du Soleil's, 'Love'
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Never Drink and Gamble!
I remember, just, one evening when my brother and I decided to go to the club in the hotel. We were staying at the Imperial Palace so our hopes for this club were limited. I was buzzing after a video poker royal flush and wanted to waste some of my money on cheap drink and dirty women, or was it cheap women and dirty drink? Anyhow, after several hours of drinking and getting knocked back by questionable women we decided to crank it up a bit and return to the casino. Now, one big word of advice about vegas is to drink, to gamble but never to drink and gamble. Now blinded with drink and full of bravado I take on the roulette table. I've see loads of James Bond movies and the ladies love a handsome, successful guy winning a lot of money.
First bet: $50 red
Second bet $100 red
This roulette table is making an idiot out of me in front of all my admirers! How dare it! And I'm sure I just saw the croupier laugh at me! I go again.
Third bet $100 even
Fourth bet $everything in my wallet on odd
Now I remember very little as I was very drunk but I vaguely recall crying and causing outrage in some way. Not very Bond like I know!
The morale of the story is don't drink when you gamble - it's very expensive!
Las Vegas - A Guide
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