In winter 2011, my friends and I travelled to Sin City- Las Vegas! We stayed for 4 nights, 5 days. It’s probably my second time going and it’s been over a decade since I went back. I don’t remember anything from my last trip, so going to Vegas in 2011 was a whole new experience. Fortunately, the weather was great in Vegas and shopping was good. It got a little chilly at night, but during the day there was sunshine and blue sky! It was definitely a lot of fun and I want to give a quick guide for people going to Vegas and a review of my hotel.I stayed at Vdara, which is located at City Centre. Here is a breakdown of Vegas:
1) Vdara Hotel and Spa
It’s very posh isn’t it? This hotel does not have a casino in it, so when we walk inside, it’s not loud full of people playing slot machines. There’s also a no smoking rule in here, so the air is fresh and clean compared to the other hotels. However, there is a very pungent floral smell that made my nose a bit itchy. I went in a group of five, so we stayed in two rooms. We stayed at the basic suite (also called “deluxe suite.”)
(excuse the messiness) The room is very spacious and clean. There was one giant bed that was extremely comfy and squishy. When you sleep, you pretty much feel like you’re rolling around in a giant marshmallow. And this was our washroom:
There is a giant tub and a shower. We didn’t try the tub since it looked kind of dirty. There wasn’t any evidence of dirt, but I didn’t feel like soaking in a tub where some man soaked before us. There were lots and lots of fluffy towels! The washroom space was kind of small. The downside: the shampoo/lotion/conditioner was kind of a disappointment. The conditioner was hard to get out of the tube and the lotion was just, lotion. I didn’t feel like I got “what I paid for” in the hair care department. I recommend bringing your own shampoo if you stay at Vdara. Their hair dryer was fantastic though. It dried my hair within 5-10 minutes, which is even more powerful than my dryer at home! Very handy for morning showers what I wanted to get my hair dried ASAP.
Also, the other feature of the suite is its kitchenette. The kitchenette had a microwave, a mini fridge, and stoves. There was no cutlery or pots and pans, so you have to call housekeeping to bring them up. Beware: they are extremely slow. I had to wait 30 – 60 minutes for a pot. I’m not sure if we were supposed to tip the person who brought it up, but I had to pay a resort fee for the hotel, so I didn’t bother tipping.
The resort fee was $20/night which gives us two (tiny) bottles of water per day and Wifi, which was useful, but also slow.Lastly, the view from our giant window. We got a view facing the front of the hotel, so it wasn’t terrible. And we could also see the swimming pool from our view.
At night, there is a fountain that changes colors in front of the hotel. Very pretty!
There are no restaurants in Vdara, you will have to walk to Aria or Bellagio (there’s a pretty neat tram that connects the hotels). The hotels were within walking distance, 5 minutes walk approximately?
There is a small cafe called “Market cafe.” The food was very yummy there. Check out the menu here. It IS expensive, but what can you expect for food inside a hotel? I tried the Turkey Club panini ($10.25) and it was very delicious and they put it in a cute plastic tray/box. I didn’t take a picture of it, sorry! I also tried the Chicken Ceaser Salad ($14) and Strawberry Fruit Cup($5). The prices were steep, but it’s fairly reasonable if you split it with someone else because the portions were big.
Overall, the experience was fairly good, and the lack of smoke didn’t kill my lungs. When I went, it costed approximately $650/person which includes flight (from YVR), shuttle to and from airport, and 2 complimentary buffets per room. (Since there was five of us, one person had to pay the full price of $20 and we split that cost.)
The downside: there was no coffee maker! We ordered a pot to boil our hot water, but I’m someone who loves a good cup of tea during vacation. All hotels I ever stayed in my life always had a coffee maker. But I survived with a pot anyway.
I didn’t have any trouble with customer service or anything, no noise complaints so everything went smoothly. Vdara is more on the expensive side, given it is a 5 star hotel (via Trip Advisor.) Would I recommend this hotel? Yes. Would I stay here again? Probably not in a while, since:
a) I rather give other hotels a try when I want to go to Vegas again
b) This hotel is not exactly budget friendly. It also is a farther walk to the Strip and other Vegas nightlife excitement. I could’ve saved a bit of money from resort fees and taxi-ing from other hotels.
I would probably stay here if I visit in another 10-15 years and want a quiet place to relax.
*Vdara now charges a resort fee of $25/room per night now. Probably I won’t go back now since this fee is higher than most hotels. See more details here.
2) Food & Dining
Food is expensive everywhere in Vegas! Our first meal was the cheapest – Mcdonalds! We arrived around 10 pm on December 25th, so nothing was opened. 20 McNuggets costs only $5.80! Apple pies were only $0.50! Here in BC, 6 McNuggets costs $4.99!
We didn’t go to that many restaurants, mostly small cafes and food court. My favourite dining experience was definitely at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Hotel. We made a reservation at 7:30 and we were seated on time!
The waitress that brought us to our table was very friendly, and our server was even more friendly! He made conversation and told us the daily specials and recommendations. Before ordering, our server brought us a loaf of warm bread, butter, and some french salad that can be put on the bread. Everything was delicious. The butter melted perfectly and the salad was different and tasty. For my main course, I ordered their steak frites – Steak Au Poivre.For $24.95, it was definitely worth it. I couldn’t finish! The frites were tasty and cripsy. The steak was tender and not thick, so it was easy to chew. The brandy peppercorn sauce was on the spot.
My friend ordered the Steak Classique -with “maître d’hôtel butter” sauce. Here’s her snapshot of her delicious steak frites!
Check out their dinner menu here. (Because we were in a group of 5, there was a 18% gratuity charge.) If I go back to Vegas, I would come here again.
Walking around Aria hotel (or Bellagio?), we ran into a very cute cupcake store! Reminds me of the cupcakes in downtown. I didn’t take a picture of their cupcakes, unfortunately. I bought a lemon cream flavoured cupcake ($4) and it was really good! Always love a good cupcake and anything lemon flavour.
There were also other good eats at Aria. With our complimentary buffet promotion, we went to the Buffet.
One word of advice: Get there an hour earlier before the time you actually want to eat. My friends and I arrived at 1 ish and we didn’t get in until 2. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. Hungry + no breakfast = horrible mood.
They had crab legs, sushi, chicken, prime rib, lots of dessert, salad….indulgence is wonderful.
We also went to Cafe Vettro for a late night snack. Choosing from their late night menu, we had chicken wings and nachos. Expensive, but extremely satisfying after drinking beer.
On the last day before leaving Vegas, we went to Mandalay Bay’s Raffles Cafe for breakfast. They had an extensive selection. I shared a breakfast platter with a friend and had a chicken noodle soup. Once again, expensive, but big portions.
The chicken noodle soup was way to salty. I couldn’t finish it because I felt like I was drinking liquid salt. The breakfast was yummy. The potatoes were hot, the bacon was crispy, and the eggs were nicely scrambled. The servers were also very friendly here. But, they were also slow. The food came 45 minutes after ordering. I was getting pretty restless by then.
Vegas has lots of selections for dining or snacking. I haven’t had any bad experiences for eating this trip so overall I’m quite satisfied with the food there.
I love shopping, and I did so much of it in Vegas. It is nearly possible to shop till you drop. I went to the one of the Outlet Malls (North) on the second day and my wallet deflated. You can either taxi there or take a shuttle. Taxi took approximately 10-12 minutes and costed $20. Shuttle is less expensive and it is supposed to take 1-1.5 hours. Since we were in a group of five, taxi was the better option. There was endless hours of walking and trying things on. Michael Kors, Guess, Nine West, Aldo,Fossil….even a Disney Store outlet!Picked up this cute pea pod toy from the Toy Story 3 movie. (Yes, that’s a Piglet plushie in the background- picture taken by Diana Lee)
Another mall we went to was Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood. We stupidly took a taxi there, but the hotel is “technically” across the street. (“Technically” means 15-20 minute walk) The mall is very nicely decorated inside, with giant fountains and they made the ceiling look like the sky. How come malls in Vancouver don’t look so fancy?! I blew all my money at the Sephora there. Prices are so much lower compared to Canada.
The next big mall we visited, on the second last day in Vegas, was Fashion Show Mall.
This mall is located across from Wynn Hotel. There were great stores to check out there too. I bought a jacket and a sweater from Pac Sun (Buy one get one free deal as well!) I also bought a pair of $20 jeans from Wet Seal- and these jeans FIT! They don’t go pass my feet, which is a problem for most jeans I buy. I was telling myself not to spend anymore, but then I ended up buying a pair of boots from Aerosoles.
The sales in Vegas are totally better than boxing day sales in Vancouver.
Each hotel in Vegas has their own theme and attraction so that you are never bored. We hotel-hopped around. I regret not going to Venetian or Ceaser’s Palace, I must visit them next time! My mom was in shock that I didn’t visit the Venetian. We did visit various hotels:
This is a view outside Excalibur Hotel. It’s made to look like a giant medieval castle. It’s an old hotel. Looks a bit like Hogwarts, doesn’t it?
We also stopped by MGM Grand to check out the lions. Too bad they were asleep.
We also went to Wynn Hotel twice. It’s sister hotel is Encore. XS Nightclub is located at Encore.
Inside Wynn Hotel, the decorations were gorgeous.
Another hotel we checked out was Luxor- the Egyptian themed hotel. It was kind of scary inside since it’s known for people falling off the balconies.
At night, Vegas looks beautiful because the lights are bedazzling. Walking in the streets at 2 am in Vegas feels more safe than walking in Vancouver at 9pm.
We also walked by New York New York (Near Excalibur.) The roller coaster in the background belongs to Circus Circus Hotel.
Since it was in December, there were many beautiful Christmas decorations in hotels as well!
This was taken at Sweet Chill in Aria- it was 1 am , the ice cream place was closed but we were just walking around with our beers. I really like this photo from its pinkness, and then there’s us in the corner fooling around.
Vegas also has loads of candy stores! I think this one is Sugar Factory, but I can’t remember.
And a 4 floor M&M Store!
Overall, Vegas was great! Lots of excitement, shopping, and food! Too bad I didn’t see any shows- but hopefully I will when I go again! I would love to visit in the summer time so I can wear my summer clothes and go to pool parties! I didn’t try a lot of restaurants so I wished I took time to decide where I wanted to eat. I could’ve gorged myself with more dessert as well. So many cute bakeries and patisseries and sweet shops with little cakes and gelato! I know what I want when I go the second time around. This vacation was a great way to escape all the burdens of school and it’s so enjoyable to travel somewhere with your friends <3