Worth getting out of bed for
After you’ve visited the unparalleled spa, sipped rare brews in the tea lounge and soaked up desert sun by the pool, you’ll want to hit the town.
Call it the Broadway of the south-west: Vegas hosts an excellent line-up of shows. The aerial gravity-defiers behind Cirque du Soleil (www.cirquedusoleil.com) perform several different shows throughout town. Former Olympic divers show their aquatic stunts in the elegant O at the Bellagio. Mystère at Treasure Island, one of the more classic shows, is a nonstop whirl of acrobatics. There is also a steady stream of singers, performers and musicians who host one-night shows or long-running bonanzas.
If you want to get outside, Mojave Desert National Park sits 30 miles outside town on the road to Los Angeles. The sprawl of sand, wildflowers and Joshua trees creates a fantastic photo backdrop. Set up a hike, roam the abandoned mines or bring a picnic.
Modern gamblers aren’t the only fortune-seekers to find their way to the area. Back in the mid-19th century, the south-west was a mining hub. Check out the ghost towns, including Calico and Goldfield, that were left behind when the mines dried up. Arizona’s Chloride Mining Town near Hoover Dam once held gold, silver, lead and other precious troves. It was abandoned in the 1940s, but has found new life as an art colony. See sweeping murals, visit the old-fashioned saloon and check out the staged week-end gun shows.
In much the same way that people keep summer homes, prominent chefs – including Thomas Keller, Wolfgang Puck, Michael Mina, Mario Batali and Joël Robuchon – maintain outposts in Vegas. Bouchon in the Venetian is Keller’s swish bistro, which has shellfish plateaux, juicy roast chicken and onion soup, all best enjoyed on the terrace (+1 702 414 6200; bouchonbistro.com). Spanish chef José Andrés combines Chinese and Mexican cuisine at China Poblano (+1 702 698 7900; www.chinapoblano.com) in the nearby Cosmopolitan. The inventive chef serves dim sum, spicy noodles, lobster tacos and fantastic ceviche. Batali dry-ages meat for up to eight months to tease out the beefiest flavour at Carnevino, his Italian steakhouse in the Palazzo (+1 702 789 4141; www.carnevino.com). Stray from the steaks only to try the pasta, including black fettuccine with crab. North-east of the strip on Sahara Avenue, Lotus of Siam serves some of the best Thai food in the country (+1 702 735 3033; www.saipinchutima.com). The chefs don’t hold back with spice, heaping extra chilli onto larb gai and noodles, so be sure to fight the fire with one of the crisp rieslings from the impeccable wine list.
Lots of casino-revellers stroll the Strip with yard-long margaritas. Avoid the temptation and opt, instead, for a shrub at Sage inside the Aria (+1 877 230 2742; www.arialasvegas.com). Cocktails mix herbs and juices together for combinations such as the Desert Shrub, a tequila-based mix that includes grapefruit, sage and prosecco. Keep an eye out for the clever tea-infused mixes, or up the ante and choose something from the absinthe list. Longstanding cocktail joint Herbs & Rye on Sahara Avenue has survived many changes in town (702-982-8036 ;www.herbsandrye.com). These days, it’s a great late-night spot for steak and a stiff drink. We recommend the bartender’s choice.
No need to head all the way to California to try a famous In-n-Out Burger. Vegas has an outpost a few blocks from the hotel on Dean Martin Drive (+1 800 786 1000 or www.in-n-out.com). Order a Double-Double, ‘animal-style,’ and fries.