Las Vegas – Feb/Mar 2020

Las Vegas – Feb/Mar 2020

SUNDAY, 23 FEB 2020, 3:00 PM

The Back Story

The day before Vegas is always so exciting! No matter how many times you go, the anticipation ramps up over the weeks and months leading up to the big day.

This was our 5th trip to Sin City and, for the 2nd time, we’d be mostly based downtown at the Four Queens.

I’m writing this journal almost a year after the event, in a world where travel has been so heavily restricted due to COVID-19, to remind myself how lucky I was to have this holiday before everything went a bit wonky and to help me plan the next one.

Water feature @ Sheffield train station

Part diary, part review, part recommendation list but mostly, hopefully, a light hearted reminder of good times spent with great friends.

So, one last sleep before leaving home, spending the night at Heathrow, and then departing for our first big holiday in 4 years.

It certainly is!

Viva Las Vegas!

MONDAY, 24 FEB 2020, 5:00 PM

Road Trip!

The title of this chapter makes it sound way more exciting than it was… though, it was exciting… for us.

On the road, Heathrow bound

A steady 3 hour southbound drive listening to a Vegas-themed playlist soon had us arriving at the EasyHotel just a couple of miles from the airport. I’d booked this because it had the option of staying one night then leaving your car for 2 weeks. That, and it was cheap… very cheap!

We received a friendly welcome from the receptionist who was both dealing with booking us in and assisting the police with the eviction of a room where a couple had booked in but now appeared to have a multitude of friends staying there.

The hotel was clean and sufficient for our needs though the combination of a hard bed and excitement resulted in little sleep for both Donna and myself.

TUESDAY, 25 FEB 2020, 6:00 AM

Virgin Virgins!

Everyone should do this at least once in their life. That said, it will spoil any other method of travel you use in the future!

We’d booked Upper Class tickets with Virgin and were excited to travel with them for the first time having seen so many great reviews.

Took an Ola from the hotel and were whisked in a few short minutes, via a private entry point, to Virgin’s Upper Class check in terminal. It was certainly an experience. The staff meet you out front, greet you by name, whisk your luggage away and issue your boarding card in the same length of time it takes to read this sentence. No waiting in the usual snaking queues, we were whisked through a private security channel, navigated the circuitous Duty Free shop (including purchases, more on that later) and were checking into the Virgin Clubhouse within 10 minutes of arriving outside.

Nothing beats a decent cup of tea

This lounge consistently wins awards and it’s not hard to see why. It’s largely open plan but has so many different areas that enable you to relax, work, party or sleep depending on your needs. Eating options range from formal cuisine to casual snacking and the drink options are endless. Service is on point in an attentive yet unfussy style.

A marvellous breakfast was delivered and demolished in short order in the restaurant area before we relocated to some comfy seats with glasses of champagne. Donna went off to be pampered in the attached hairdressers, whilst I awaited the arrival of our friends to the lounge.

Post-breakfast champagne

Jayne & Stuart arrived and we got down to some serious snacking and drinking business.

I genuinely can’t recommend this lounge enough and I hope to use it again sometime when the roof garden is open… sadly, the weather prevented that experience this time around.

Jayne, Stuart, myself & Donna

Before we knew it, boarding time was upon us and we made our way to West End Girl, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which was another first for me.

I imagine this is how celebrities fly! From the welcoming glass of champagne to disembarking in Vegas there was not one part of the experience that, in my opinion, could be bettered.

After a smooth takeoff from LHR it was time for an aperitif, lunch then a film. Donna went off to sleep whilst I went and sat at the bar and chatted to the staff and passengers. Afternoon tea was served an hour or so before we started our decent into the Vegas valley.

Orville & Wilbur… before being stolen

Off the plane, through customs, a rare laugh with a Border Protection agent and we were stood outside with Jayne, Stuart and Paul ready for 14 days of fun.
We ordered a limo at the kiosk and Bryan from Presidential, had us cruising to Downtown, via the strip, in no time. No matter how many times you go, the awesome excited feelings, sounds, smells and sensory overload of that drive never fails to hit you. Factor in the entire bottle of Red Stag that was consumed… we’d certainly got the party started!

The Four Queens on Fremont Street was to be our home for the first 12 nights and Mary, the check in manager, managed to get us an upgraded room in the South Tower at a bargain price after some negotiation.

The Four Queens is great and I’d recommend it to everyone. Sure, it’s not the most modern but it’s clean, the staff are amazing, it’s location is perfect if you don’t want to walk too far to the action and it’s about the last hotel on the Strip or Downtown that doesn’t charge resort fees… that should be supported.

Bags dumped in the room, we headed to the bar, met up with Jodie & John who’d arrived the day before, took a quick stroll around Fremont Street then headed back to the hotel to welcome 2 more arrivals, Dani & Anna.

Myself, Dani, Paul & John

Headed to bed around 1am after 29 hours awake, 5200 miles travelled, lots of laughs and a few light refreshments!

WEDNESDAY, 26 FEB 2020, 7:00 AM

Strolling The Strip

Woke up after 6 hours sleep and, I freely admit, I may have still been somewhat tipsy! A cup of tea (eventually, I always forget the voltage is less so kettles take longer!) and a Chas & Dave sing-a-long later and we were good to go.

I wanna be Edouard

It’s kinda become our thing to have a buffet brunch on the first morning to mull over plans and recover from the effects of first night syndrome. Main Street Station is always a solid choice with great food and service in a garden pavilion style of setting. There’s every type of food you can imagine including Asian, Italian, BBQ, etc. and the deserts are great.

Jodie, John, Paul, Stuart & Jayne

Whilst at Main Street Station, don’t forget to pop into the Men’s toilet and have a look at a piece of the Berlin Wall. Ladies, ask one of the security guards and they’ll let you sneak in after they’ve checked it’s unoccupied… or just walk in, it’s Vegas!

Graffiti on the wall

After breakfast we wandered down Fremont Street as far as El Cortez. Sign up for their players card and show your boarding card within 24 hours of arrival and you’ll get a free drink and $25 match play. Wandered over to the roulette table put it down with $25 of my own money and 30 seconds later walked away with $100… this gambling sure is easy!

Decided to jump on the Deuce bus and head down to the strip as Anna had never been in Vegas before. There’s always something amazing about watching people’s reactions to all the sights of Vegas on their first trip.
We made our leisurely way through Wynn, Encore, Palazzo, Venetian, Harrahs, Linq and Flamingo where I actually found the flamingo habitat for the first time.

Fountains of Wynn

As it was approaching 5pm we decided it would be rude not to take in the Happy Hour at Bird Bar. It’s a lively bar with a DJ and insanely priced booze. From 5-6pm beer is 50 cents… then $1 for the next hour.
Without a doubt this is the best deal in town and it’s a fun spot to hang out for a while… it wasn’t our only visit this trip!

Feeling refreshed we continued our tour taking in Paris, Bellagio (and a fountain show) and ending up at Caesar’s Palace.
With over 25,000 steps completed we jumped in an Uber/Lyft back to The D and chilled at the Sigma Derby before hitting the room around midnight to freshen up… and fell asleep!

THURSDAY, 27 FEB 2020, 5:00 AM

A Flipping Good Burger

Up again after 5 hours sleep! This always happens to me in Vegas… 4-5 hours a night then up and out again. I think that my subconscious brain is scared to miss out on anything! Played some slots at Four Queens whils waiting for Donna to wake up then headed to Donut Bar on East Carson.

Mmmmm… donuts

This is a definite recommendation to start your day, but get here early. They open at 7am and close when they sell out. There’s a massive selection of donuts and they’re huge. We opted for a Strawberry & Cream and a Mississippi Mud Slide and coffees… the breakfast of champions.
Had a wander around Fremont Street before getting an Uber to McMullans Irish Pub for the Celtic game.

McMullans is a great bar, if a little out the way. The booze selection is awesome, the food’s delicious, service spot-on and always a good atmosphere. Several pints of Guinness later, we made our way over to the Orleans for some slots, keno and a mooch around before heading to the Rio.

Guinness and Celtic @ McMullans

Sadly, the Rio these days is a mere shadow of how I remember it the first time we came, 10 years ago. The highlight used to be the Carnival In The Sky but that stopped a few years back and the general slow down of this property is quite obvious.

Our reason for visiting today was to play the Kiss-themed mini golf which had relocated from its old spot opposite the Hard Rock Hotel (now Virgin Hotels). This was actually great fun and a good enough reason to drop in at the Rio.

Donna finished with the lowest score but was rewarded with a pass for unlimited free games in the future!

Flippin’ Good Burger is my go-to spot on Fremont Street for a quick bite. This place opened as a fast food style joint but has transformed into more of a gastro-pub style. Their burgers are genuinely the best I’ve had in the area and they’ve enough beers, sports etc. to keep you occupied. Perfect place for solo dining if you can grab a seat at the bar.

Flipping Good Burger

Hung around Fremont Street for the rest of the mostly playing craps at Golden Gate, a casino that I’ve been guilty of under rating in the past. Good games, fun staff and relentless drinks service. Managed to play till around 2am before hitting the sack.

FRIDAY, 28 FEB 2020, 6:00 AM

East Is East (Fremont)

Managed a full 4 hours sleep before getting up at 6am. The best thing about Vegas is that time generally becomes irrelevant as you can eat, drink, gamble, whatever at any time. Hit Starbucks at the Golden Nugget for a caffeine injection and hung around there for a while. I’ve never really taken to the Nugget… and I don’t know why. It’s nice enough, but I think it somewhat lives on past glories and has ideas above its station! The club lounge upstairs, in its previous guise (Golddiggerz), once served me the best Singapore Sling I’ve ever had. Moved on to the Plaza for a Fortune Cup session. It’s no Sigma Derby, but it’s still fun enough. We decided to jump on the bus and check out further down The Strip.

Murals @ Plaza

Jumped on the bus and arrived at Cosmopolitan, one of my favourite venues and one which we’d be back to a few times. So much to see and do here and the Raspberry Lemon Drop Martini’s are a decedent sip whilst gaming. Checked out the Park MGM, New York New York (didn’t get to Nine Fine Irishmen this trip!), crossed over to MGM Grand before hanging out at Planet Hollywood for a while.

Love the colours (or should that be colors) of NYNY

We then met up with Jayne & Stuart for a few beers before the meat feast at Pampas Brazilian Steakhouse in the Miracle Mile Mall. The food was decent, and endless, however I felt the service wasn’t great. In a city, and country, where service is really on point it’s really noticeable when it’s even slightly lacking.

Pampas @ Miracle Mile Shops

Took a bus back downtown, had a quick freshen-up then assumed the usual position at Sigma Derby at The D… we all absolutely love this game! We were all taking it easy, ahead of Jayne & Stuart’s Vow Renewal the next day, so opted for a stroll down Fremont East with Andy and Rob, who’d arrived as a surprise, for a few beers at Corduroy (great, lively bar with awesome decor), Downtown Terrace @ Container Park and Atomic Liquors which remains one of my favourite bars in the area and is well worth the walk down.

Wandered back up to the Four Queens around midnight to meet the final arrival, Carolyn, and had a few drinks with Jean Michel the legendary barman at the Kings Bar. Our group was now complete with 12 people and we were looking forward to the big day tomorrow!

Corduroy on Fremont St. E.

SATURDAY, 29 FEB 2020, 6:00 AM

Elvis Has Left The Building

An absolutely brilliant day got underway with breakfast at Magnolias in the Four Queens. The food is consistently good here and, if you get a seat at the front, it’s ideal for people watching in the casino. Back upstairs to get changed then we all gathered at Reception for a limo ride to the Graceland Wedding Chapel. It was Jayne & Stuart’s 2nd Anniversary though they’d been together 8 years having married on leap year day!

Ladies and Gentlemen… the happy couple!

The service was brilliant, funny, just the right amount of cheesy and hosted by Elvis himself.
We had some time outside for photos then the limo driver kindly whisked us down the strip and dropped us off at The Linq.

We had a few light refreshments at Bird Bar before some of the party indulged in a zip line flight, then we all headed onto the Big Wheel for the best Happy Half Hour in Vegas.

Anna, Paul, Carolyn, me, Jodie, Dani, Stuart, Donna & Jayne

30 minutes with some of the best views across the city and an open bar… what’s not to like? We all wobbled off then jumped in a taxi to Excalibur for a meal at Dick’s Last Resort. I’d never been here though I’d certainly heard about it and it definitely lived up to its reputation. The food is excellent, the drinks are strong and the staff are downright insulting… but that’s the point. From the patronising DJ to the sarcastic servers, the experience was kept edgy, but funny, without overstepping the mark. They couldn’t have picked a better place for the meal and I’d definitely recommend it for any group event.

Jayne @ Dick’s Last Resort

Headed back to the hotel then Ubered down to Vamp’d for a gig by 80’s hard rock band Love/Hate. A great gig in a really nice, smart venue. Headed back to the Four Queens after as yet another 20 hour day caught up with us!

Love/Hate @ Vamp’d

SUNDAY, 1 MAR 2020, 8:00 AM

Another Day In Paradise

Up early to watch Celtic on the iPad from the comfort of my bed before breakfast at Denny’s @ Neonopolis. Popped into Axeholes whilst there to make reservations for the following day.

Boulevard of broken dreams

Took the WAX bus, ideal for getting to the far end of the strip in 20 minutes, and spent the morning exploring Oyo (formerly Hooters), Tropicana, Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay, the location of the only Holy Grail slot we spotted all trip! Early afternoon we jumped in an Uber to the car hire place near the airport and took a drive South to Seven Magic Mountains, a painted rock art installation about 20 minutes away from the airport.

Seven Magic Mountains

Heading back toward The I15 we decided to tick off another casino we’d not visited by dropping into Terrible’s, notable for its vintage car collection and the world’s largest petrol station!

A load of old cars in a casino @ Terrible’s

Back to the Four Queens to park the car, freshen up and headed off to the Neon Boneyard. Now, I’d heard a lot about this place and was genuinely quite excited to go but, on reflection, I wish I hadn’t bothered. There was nothing in Vegas that had disappointed me till now but this attraction, personally, I felt was not value for money and is seriously overhyped. You can walk round it 20 minutes and see all the signs, of which 90% don’t light up. Managed to get a couple of photos with the Sahara and Riviera signs as a nice memory of previous stays, but that was about it!

Fitzgeralds, now The D

We decided to have pre-dinner drinks at Whiskey Licker Up at Binion’s. This could be my favourite bar on Fremont Street with its revolving bar, amazing cocktails and awesome vantage point. Dinner was at Tony Roma’s at the Fremont which, at under $30 for steaks, lobster tail, drinks etc., has to be one of the best bargains in town.

The revolving bar, Whiskey Licker Up @ Binions

Caught up with some others for gambling at The D and Golden Gate before turning it in.

MONDAY, 2 MAR 2020, 7:00 AM

Choppers and, well, choppers

Another 6 hour sleep and another Magnolias breakfast before checking in at Axeholes. Justin, our instructor, walked us through the technique then left us to fling axes at the target. It’s somewhat harder than it looks and all about the rotation rather than brute force. The last part of our session involved throwing spears, ninja stars, shovels and more. Great place, nice staff and well organised… just watch out for bounce-backs!

A few of us headed to the car and had a mini road trip to Valley Of Fire. It’s an easy 1 hour drive from Vegas and highly recommend. The scenery is utterly spectacular, it’s easy to get around and it makes a nice break from the noise of the city. Bring sun cream… the heat is relentless.

Back to Vegas and it was time for our helicopter ride with Skyline Helicopters at North Las Vegas airport. Justin was our pilot this trip and, as usual, we paid the little extra to have the doors removed pre-flight. The trip lasts around 15 minutes and takes in the full length of the strip as well as downtown. It’s genuinely my favourite thing to do in Vegas and Skyline have always been brilliant with us.

Helicopter Monday

We went for a post-flight dinner at Texas Station and were pleasantly surprised at the quality of their buffet, especially the Mexican food. Jumped back down to Fremont Street and spent the rest of the night playing craps at The D and Golden Gate.

TUESDAY, 3 MAR 2020, 8:00 AM

Old Favourites

A 2 1/2 hour drive into the desert for a burger, a root beer and to look at a No Entry sign… way more fun than it sounds.

Up at 8am and called into Walgreens for road trip supplies before heading out North to Rachel, Nevada and the Little A’le’Inn. There’s something rather charming about this place literally in the middle of nowhere and we were lucky enough to catch some US Airforce jets flying around… or aliens!

Anna, Dani, me, Donna, Jayne, Stuart Paul & Jodie

A 20 minute drive from there brings you to one of the entrances to Area 51 where you can indulge in stepping over the line and hoping not to be shot by the security forces.

Hammer Time

Returning to Vegas we dropped the car at the airport and went to Peppermill for drinks and dinner. I absolutely adore this place, both the cozy retro lounge and the main restaurant… it’s proper old school.

Fireside Lounge @ Peppermill

After dinner Paul, Jayne, Stuart and myself went on a bit of a pub crawl taking in Stage Door, Ellis Island and the infamous Double Down Saloon. Amongst all the glitz and glamour of Vegas you have places like these that bring you right back down to earth… in a nice way.

Stage Door “Casino”

Stage Door has to be the cheapest bar in Vegas and it’s mere steps away from the strip. I love bars where you find locals as well as tourists and off-strip is the place to find these.

The pub crawl continued via the new Front Yard at Ellis Island to the Double Down Saloon… the self-titled “Happiest Place On Earth”. It certainly doesn’t look like it when you walk in. If you look up dive bar in the dictionary, there will just be a picture of the Double Down. But one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and, should you venture in, you’ll find cheap drink, friendly locals and free live music.

Yeah, did I mention it’s a dive bar?

Ubered back to the Four Queens for my new favourite drink, Crown Royal Apple and Sprite, recommended by Jean Michel.

WEDNESDAY, 4 MAR 2020, 10:00 AM


Slept till 10am… though hadn’t gone to bed till 3am! Played some slots at the California before a leisurely lunch buffet at Main Street Station. Had a stroll around Plaza before jumping in a taxi to Mint Tavern. This old school bar styled on the Mint hotel and casino on Fremont Street, now Binions, was once a popular hang out of the Rat Pack. Great cocktails, music and service and a real red UK phone box.

The Mint… a Vegas design classic

Headed round the corner and upwards to Level 107, the bar at the top of The Strat. I would, seriously, never tire of the view from this bar which is great in the daytime and seriously awesome at night.

Top of the world

Back down to earth and out to the circus tent for Celestia. Well worth the ticket price, it’s a Cirque De Soleil-style show at half the price. Acrobatics, magic, daredevil stunts and a storyline that doesn’t really matter, it’s 90 minutes of engrossing action and genuinely entertaining.

No caption needed!

Met up with Jayne and Stuart and had a quick photo stop at the new Welcome To Downtown sign before making a first, and not last, visit to Dino’s.

Donna, dollybirds and dice

This bar is utterly bonkers… but highly recommended! The beer is reasonably priced, the service is spot-on and the customers are definitely interesting. We all indulged in a bit of karaoke and were definitely not the worst! Similar to Stage Door, it is a proper locals bar that happens to attract occasional tourists and you definitely get a different experience. We never got back there on this trip but I’ll definitely make a point of going next time. We hung out there till around 2am before a nightcap at the Four Queens.

THURSDAY, 5 MAR 2020, 9:00 AM

Bows & Booze

Up at 9am and, after a quick Sausage McMuffin, Ubered down to Impact Archery with Donna, Jayne & Stuart for an hour of firing arrows at a target and sometimes hitting it!

No-one lost an eye and that’s the main thing

This was a really cool place and the staff were great. After some instructions they pretty much leave you to it and we had to decide to leave when we realised we’d gone well over our time. Don’t think it’s really a business that gets a lot of tourists but it’s definitely a great spot to hang out for an hour or so and channel your inner Robin Hood!

Hopped back up to Luxor to see John & Jodie who were leaving that night. Passed the new Raiders stadium on the way… it looks amazing and I can’t wait to visit next time. Grabbed a quick brunch at Johnny Rockets then we all played craps for a while. Headed back to the Four Queens for a bit of gaming and a freshen up before I headed out on my own to find the Underground bar at the Mob Museum.

Allegiant Stadium

I genuinely fell in love with this place! The staff are amazing, the venue is classy and the music is electro-swingtastic! The cocktails are amazing and uniquely presented in a prohibition style. I had one disguised as a cup of tea and another that arrives hidden inside a hollowed-out book.

Paul arrived to join me and LJ took good care of us, giving us samples of new cocktails she was trying to invent whilst Jimmy the Doorman kept an eye on everyone.

Tea… honestly, officer!

We left Underground and jumped into Hogs & Heifers. This bar isn’t for everyone but I love the energy here. The original NYC venue was the inspiration for Coyote Ugly and, if you’re not careful, the bartenders will get you very drunk… and themselves at the same time!

Hogs ‘n’ Heifers

A few beers and shots of Jameson later, we walked right down Fremont to Atomic. There was some sort of 4×4 buggy rally on and the entire length of the street was filled with stalls, food trucks, sound systems and souped-up cars. After a couple there we made our way to Downtown Cocktail Room. It’s always a cool atmosphere in here and the drinks are amazing… it’s just really hard to find the door to get in! Had an amazing whisky-based cocktail which was set on fire!

We continued on to Hennessy’s to take in the world’s worst Irish pub. This place is so bad that the house band don’t actually know any Irish music. I refrained, this time, from getting up on stage and singing for them!
Now, we were getting a little peckish, and I’d heard so many people were excited that there was a White Castle downtown so we thought we’d check it out. Seriously disappointing. The beef in the burger is like meat paste and the whole experience was quite poor.

Decided to check out another much hyped new bar, Cat’s Miaow. Hit with a cover charge then served lukewarm cans of beer in a bar that strongly smelt of cooking grease! They do karaoke and have fun hosts but, on balance, not worth paying to get in.

Hopped up to Golden Gate for some craps and a few whiskys, then back to Four Queens to hang out at the bar with Jean Michel plying us with Crown Apple till 3 in the morning!

The word legend is overused… except when referring to Jean Michel

FRIDAY, 6 MAR 2020, 10:00 AM

Rock, Cheese, Tiki

I Up at 10am and had a lazy morning hanging around Fremont Street, mostly at Sigma Derby in The D. That machine hoovers up your coins, but the drinks service is outstanding.

Mid-afternoon we headed along to Red Rock Resort & Casino, with Jayne & Stuart, where we had tickets to see Richard Cheese in the evening. This is a cracking venue and I like the energy around it. I’d definitely consider staying here if it wasn’t so far away from everything. Played some slots & keno before having dinner at Yard House.

Working hard at Yard House

We hit there right at happy hour where much of the “small” plates are half price… so we ordered double! We could barely fit all the food on our table! Pizzas, wedges, giant onion rings and more were all sampled, washed down with chocolate stout, and the quality was excellent. At under $100 for food and drink for 4 people it’s a real bargain.

After dinner we were off to the lounge for the show. I was so excited to finally have a chance to see Richard Cheese, and his band, Lounge Against The Machine after a good friend introduced me to his music many years ago. It was well worth the wait… absolutely hysterical!

Lounge Against The Machine

After the show we took a taxi to another of my favourite off the beaten tracks bars, Frankie’s Tiki Room. From the outside it does look like the kind of place you see in a movie with a bad ending, but inside it’s a South Pacific paradise! Surf Rock music, atmospheric lighting and a range of cocktails that could blow your head off.

No idea what it says above the door… probably a health warning

All the drinks are graded with a “skull” rating of up to five according to their strength. My advice here is to start slowly and work your way up.. though I’ve never managed more than 3 drinks in here!

Deceptively strong drinks @ Frankie’s

Made the short hop back to Fremont Street and ended up playing craps at Plaza till 3am.
I’m becoming a big fan of that casino and have even forgiven them for removing the beer garden from out front!
The games are good, there’s a huge amount of slots, the dealers are so friendly and the drinks service is great. It’s on my list to stay here sometime.

SATURDAY, 7 MAR 2020, 9:30 AM

I Just Can’t Wait For Saturday

Up at 09:30 and, after the regulation McMuffin, Donna, Dani and I headed down to Green Valley Range for some shooting. It’s a little out the way but it had an amazing Groupon deal and is right over by Sam’s Town, a resort we’d never been to before.

The Uruguayan Provo

The staff were excellent at the gun range and we had some fun with a Glock and an MP5.
There’s so many ranges to choose from in Vegas and we’ve visited half a dozen of them. This was the least glitzy, in a good way, and feels very much like a place local people come to shoot.

They wouldn’t let me keep it 🙁

We took a short ride over to Sam’s Town and I was genuinely surprised, again, at how big some of these off-strip resorts are. It had a cinema, bowling alley, food court, a 25,000 sq. ft. park in the middle and one of the largest casino floors in town.

We hung out for a while, had a beer in the park and caught the Mystic Falls show… it’s kinda cool.

Sam’s Town

Sam’s Town is about a 15 minute ride from downtown but definitely worth a look. The taxi driver says it attracts a lot of people from Texas… I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing!

Back up to the hotel for a freshen up the we went with Dani & Anna to Underground for some more delicious cocktails before hitting the happy hour at 107 at The Strat. I could spend hours at that bar, and on the roof, just gazing at the view… from the Gents toilet!
If you’re going to the bar you don’t need to pay the fee to go up to the rooftop!

Next on the agenda was dinner at Peppermill, always a winner, before Donna and I strolled over to Westfate to catch Patty Janura and her band at The International Bar. We first saw them at the Riviera and it’s been traditional ever since to see them play. A good, lively crowd was at the bar and the music was the usual feel-good cover version selection.

Patty Janura and the band @ Westgate

In search of some proper house music, we next hit up one of my favourite DJ’s at one of my favourite bars where we caught up with the rest of our group. Downtown Cocktail Room has Douglas Gibbs playing on a Saturday night and his vibe perfectly suits the venue.

Made our way back to Four Queens around 3am for a couple of hours playing craps, fighting off a cockroach and being assailed by hookers… but that’s another story!

Finally called it a night at 5am… an amazing Saturday!

SUNDAY, 8 MAR 2020, 9:00 AM

A Touch Of Class

Had a lie in before packing all out stuff, saying goodbye to those that were leaving, and moving to the Vdara for the last 2 nights.
It was our second time staying there in a Panoramic Suite and I’d certainly recommend it.

They don’t have a casino on the property but there’s a connecting walkway to both Aria and Bellagio and the Cosmopolitan is just steps away from the front door.

Jayne & Stuart joined us for a couple of beers in the room before we headed downstairs to the bar. The Maple Old Fashioned might be my favourite drink of this trip and the pickled onion popcorn is amazing!

Before we got too wobbly we made our way to the Mirage buffet for a pre-show meal. Another great food selection and, despite many people turning their nose up at the thought, it’s a great way to try loads of different foods that you wouldn’t normally.

Off to 1Oak in Mirage next to see Matt Goss. We’ve seen him on every trip so far and it’s a proper old- school Vegas kinda night. Great singer, amazing band, intimate and luxurious atmosphere and Vegas showgirls.

Classy people in a classy joint

Donna managed to get up on stage and dance with Matt, whilst I was molested by dancers… shocking… but Big Joe did ply me with Tequila, so all is forgiven.
Had a meet and greet after the show and it was nice to chat with him about his music for a while.

When will he be famous?

After the show, we went across the road to Casino Royale for a while. It’s greasy and it smells a bit funny, but I love it. Had a few beers and played some slots till bed time.

MONDAY, 9 MAR 2020, 8:00 AM

Drinking The Town Dry

Up early to make the most of our last full day in Las Vegas. We started with breakfast at The Cheesecake Factory in Forum Shops. Shockingly, I’d left it so late to visit here, so I ate mine and most of Donna’s.

Cheesecake for breakfast. It’s Vegas!

After a little wander we popped back to Vdara and pulled up a seat at the bar where Todd took good care of us with more Maple Old Fashioneds and an excellent Espresso Martini.

Mid-afternoon we crossed the road to meet Jayne and Stuart at Bird Bar for a final happy hour… or so.

Dinner that night was a final buffet (thanks, MyVEGAS app), this time at MGM Grand.

Walked dinner off as we made our way back up the strip and decided to check out Ghost Donkey at the Cosmopolitan.
This is a hidden bar behind an unassuming door at the back of the food court… well worth looking for. It’s a Tequileria and I’ve genuinely never seen so many varieties. We managed to get a seat at the bar and a couple of cocktails. It’s not a huge venue but it’s great for people watching and has a nice energetic vibe.

One tequila, two tequila… that’s plenty!

We went to play downstairs for a while and wandered round the slots. Finally settled on a Sharknado machine that I’d never seen before.

The drinks service was on point, as usual, and we had our usual last day luck at Cosmo with a decent win and plenty Raspberry Lemon Drop Martinis!

Raspberry Lemon Drop Martini @ Cosmopolitain = awesome

Headed back to Vdara and hung out at the bar for a while. Met a couple of guys in town for business that knew my Uncle and, on the strength of that, hammered their company expense account buying us cocktails and shots.

Crawled up to bed at some ridiculous hour, grateful that I’d asked for a later checkout time.

TUESDAY, 10 MAR 2020, 9:00 AM

Leaving Las Vegas

Always the worst day… I hate saying goodbye to this place!

Checked out and left our bags with the bellhop. Unusually, I left my passport in one of them secretly hoping it might go missing and I’d have to stay! No luck!

Even the weather got sad we were leaving

Wandered round Planet Hollywood for a bit before going for brunch at Blondie’s in the Miracle Mile. Had some great food and a few beers then crossed back over to the Aria for an hour or two betting on the horses in a big comfy chair.

Booze and betting

Before collecting the bags we had a last couple of drinks at Vdara where Brandie made me another amazing Espresso Martini. If we don’t stay at Vdara again, we’ll definitely pop in for cocktails… and popcorn.

Espresso Martini @ Vdara

And so, it was time to head to the airport and catch up with Jayne & Stuart at the Club LAS lounge. Our host, Abbie, was great though had her work cut out keeping the food replenished behind the human hoover that was making the most of the free grub.

Last drink in the USA

The flight experience was as excellent as the outward journey and it was so refreshing to grab a few hours sleep on a proper bed ahead of a long drive on arrival.

Virgin provided an all round experience that exceeded my expectations and I wish I could afford to travel like this everywhere.

Virgin Atlantic… thank you

And that was it… all over! Home in time for a takeaway and Emmerdale.

The post-Vegas blues are a real thing but the best way to beat them is to re-live the experience and plan the next one.

Thanks to Donna, Jayne, Stuart, Dani, Anna, Paul, Carolyn, Jodie, John, Rob and Andy… a good holiday made great by the excellent company.
Thanks to Virgin, Four Queens and Vdara for the hospitality and every bartender for the headaches.

Till next time!

WEDNESDAY, 11 MAR 2020, 4:00 PM

Epilogue – Let It Go!

It’s been great writing this, but it occurs to me that I’ve missed loads out. Catching the fountain shows, the stunning Bellagio conservatory, some of the Fremont Street bars… and more.

Looking ahead, the list is already being compiled. Resorts World, Downtown Arch, Laundry Room, Raiders Stadium and the amazing new Area 15 amongst others.

Anyway, I’m done now. Thanks for reading and here’s to Vegas 2022! Wanna come?