Being an Indian who has lived her whole life in India, my idea of Las Vegas was what I had gathered from movies. The very first image I remember having of Vegas is from Shahrukh Khan’s song ‘dil diwana’ from the movie Pardes.
All I understood from that video: Vegas is where the glittering lights are and where people are just a little bit freer. Then several movies later I made this assumption about Vegas –
- It’s a big bucket list destination before you die
- It’s where people get drunk and marry strangers
- It’s where you can easily get drugs and end up losing your friend on top of the hotel
- It’s where a secret mafia exists
I am hoping you have guessed the above movies by now and if yes then yeeee. You are as filmy as I am!
It is safe to say that even with this idea of what Vegas has to offer when I and my husband finally went to Las Vegas, I was surprised. Sometimes pleasantly and other times not so pleasantly. There were moments of wide-eyed surprises and then somewhere I craved a break from all that novelty. My husband said, it is Disney World for adults and yes, I completely agree with him. And even then I feel there is so much more to Vegas and you must know these things before booking your first trip.
This blog is for all of you out there who are planning your first trip to the sin city. Believe me, the movies or photographs don’t capture the real ‘Vegas’. If you have already been to Vegas then I know you know what we know. Let me know in the comments if you experienced more surprises from your first visit than we did. Brace yourself for Some Vegas Time Peeps
I apologise but I have to start with some bad news first
1) No Tea Kettle In The Hotel Room
This was a shock for me and honestly the one that almost made me cry on occasions. I am a true tea addict and I just don’t understand how can a 4 star or even a 5-star hotel not have a tea kettle in the room? Turns out, most casino hotels do not provide this facility in their rooms. Yes, we smell a conspiracy here, and apart from the obvious one which is making customers spend more money on daily cups of tea and coffee in the hotel café or maybe a deal with a big coffee chain?
It was tough for me. Really. We tried getting one from the front desk and they did not provide it. We contemplated buying one from target and disposing of it afterward but did not go ahead with that either. We also tried making some from bathroom hot water but sadly the water was not hot enough to brew the tea.
The sadder part is, most cafes in hotels and around sell various kinds of coffee but hardly anyone sells a normal English breakfast tea. After one day of search – we found Illy Café in a few locations on the strip which sold a good English breakfast and Earl Grey with a choice of milk and a good affordable price. (You are welcome, all tea lovers)
2) There are Sneaky Resort Fees
When you search online for hotel deals on the strip of Vegas, you will find crazy awesome deals. Some are shocking like the one I saw for $99 dollars per day in Caesar Palace. BUT, pay attention to these prices as these will not be the ultimate price you will be asked to pay at the hotel. Expect a resort fee to be added at the time of check-in and it really does not matter from where you got your deal. You will have to pay the resort fee. As far as I know, all casino hotels charge you this (even when they do not provide a tea kettle in the room – I am not going to let this go). There is no point fighting too as everyone will be doing it but you can try if you want.
3) The Casino’s Are a Maze
Bring your walking shoes to Vegas as even if you have a car and are not planning on much walking which is strange considering you are going to see the strip which is really long and you definitely will venture out to several casinos.
The reason I am asking you to wear comfortable shoes is that even if you are just going inside a casino for a quick stroll- you will be lost inside. All these big casinos are built with great architecture and themes. You definitely will be in awe the first time you are seeing those grandiose but even when you are ready to leave, you will spend another hour or so just figuring out the exit. Most of the casino (hotel) entrances are circular in shape and have casino tables all around with many staircases going to all sorts of places like a magical fountain, a shopping complex, a tram, etc and you will read a signboard which will say take left to the restroom and at the end of that line, it will say take left for the restroom – got my point?
These places are skilfully and sometimes sneakingly designed for people to just stay inside and why not? The decors are next to nothing and each new hotel gives you something unique and bigger than the last one you saw. They all are competing for your attention and they are trying their best to keep you inside.
4) The Casinos And The Lights Stay On – always on
Honestly, there were moments when I needed just some quiet normal time. The hotel lobbies are the casinos so even if you have to go down at 7 am for a cup of coffee then you have to walk through these glittering lights, slot machine noises, and red-eye people who were probably playing since last night. For me, it was a shock to the system to see all that glitter even before my mind has processed anything.
5) Las Vegas Hotels Don’t Like Uber & Lyft
I am saying this because, in all the hotels, the pickup and drop locations for these companies are fixed. Most of the time the spots are somewhere in the backside entry of the hotel for which you again will have to walk a lot. In contrast, normal taxis are available at the main entrance. One suggestion – the taxi prices are fixed from and to the airport and so it’s ideal to just hail the normal taxi. But if you have to call an Uber as it’s late or because your shoe hurt then just find the nearest hotel and book right in front of that. You will still have to call the driver and get the exact location but they also know that this is a problem so they will help.
Don’t Worry! Its still an awesome place to visit. Here’s why-
6) You Can Walk Into Any Hotel
This is simply amazing. Of course, the hotels want you to come inside and gamble in their slot machines or pool tables and it is really remarkable what they have made of their property. All hotels a.k.a casinos are a more-than-life experience that will tickle all your senses. You can choose to eat at a cafe, take a ticket for some event or attraction inside, play a casino, or do nothing. These hotels are honestly welcoming everyone inside with almost no-frills attached (considering you can stay away from the slot machines). Like you can sit at a bench in Venetian Hotel and watch the gondolas go by or you can walk through the Forum Shops at Caeser and feel like walking in glamorous ancient Rome with stores from Gucci to Cartier.
7) Easy Restroom Access At All Times
One thing I really dislike in NYC is the unavailability of restrooms around the city. It can get pretty uneasy for someone like me living with Type 1 Diabetes who has to use restrooms more often than most people. But I loved Vegas for this. Because all hotels have open doors, you have easy access to clean and hygienic restrooms on the entire strip and on Freemont Street. I was on cloud 9. (I am seeing a trend in my deepest desires here – easy access to tea and easy access to the restroom)
8) Las Vegas Is For All Budgets
You can spend as much as you want and as little as you want in Vegas and I meant it. On the first night when I and my husband were walking on the strip, we heard three young people walking past us and the girl was telling her male friend, “We don’t want a party bus – we want a party limo. Do you get it? I and Jonathan smiled at each other and made a note that you can choose between a bus and limo to party and this could be an important decision that might end up making or breaking a relationship. So glad that none of us have party…cious taste!
9) The Strip Is Really Long – Pack Comfy Shoes
Yes, I am saying this again. Sense the importance?
Before we went, we were happy that we will get to walk the strip and yes, we read online that the strip is longer than you would expect. But one thing that we also underestimated was the distance from one casino to the next which is in itself a journey. You would just think, ‘I am right in front of Flamingo, I can just go in and see the décor and exit at the next door. The walk from the road to the entry gate will be long and then from that gate to anywhere near the next exit sign will be really long too- exhibit point 3.
This is also cool because you can easily spend 2 days just walking from one casino to another and admiring the décor. While you do that, you can keep your eyes open for some amazing deals for shows, food, and a trip to the restrooms (eye blink).
10) Really Good Place To Visit After Retirement From Work
It was really cool to see so many senior citizens in Las Vegas. My mind instantly said, yeah, It’s the best time to just let it be and load the fun capsule. I saw them everywhere from slot machines to taking pictures on the strip with performers. Our cab driver told us that the hotel where we were staying is the favorite place for the seniors. I don’t think I completely agree with it as I saw a good amount of folks all around Vegas and it’s so cool. I definitely would want my parents and mother-in-law to go to Vegas soon and also to be the one when my time comes.
11) Freemont Street Is A Place Beyond Imagination
DON’T JUST STAY ON THR STRIP. Please do visit Freemont Street on the second day of your Vegas trip. Why the second day?
On the first day, you will get an ultimate dopamine kick from all the lights and attractions of the strip that you will be holding your breath and going ‘wow’ every few minutes. And when you go to Freemont the next day then you will feel that it’s dopamine on steroids. It is crazy out there and in a good way. There are but of course, many things to do apart from just staring like a kid at the ceiling lights. You can visit the weird and scary dragon of container park, zip lines through the galaxy, watch performers like you have never seen before, enjoy the low-value slot machines, dance on the open rock show which will be at every 5 minutes, sing your guts out at karaoke bar, drink daiquiris and grab some amazing meal deals.
12) The Weekend And Weekday Crowd Is Different
There is a very clear distinction between weekends and weekdays in Vegas. Read this and decide if you want to visit on weekdays when the hotels are cheaper or go all out and do the weekend Vegas.
On weekends, the streets are busy – really busy with party-goers most of whom are drunk, a lot of party buses on the street, many street performers, very few cop cars (at least I did not see many), the strip club invitations on the buses, rag race cars zooming around, people from all around the world and from all ages and backgrounds walking with a daiquiri in hand. One place where we did not see people – hotel gym but very high turnouts at pools and spa rooms btw.
Come weekdays and you start seeing a lot of cop cars, lesser entertainers, less crowd in general, very few party buses or limos, and different people. By different I mean, people with business tags around their necks, rushing with laptop bags to a meeting. Even the Starbucks was brimming with the usual Manhattan vibe of meetings and surprise surprise- neck-to-neck crowd in the gym. So but of course, the offices get deals by hotels to do business outings in Vegas.
13. Tired of walking? Take Monorail!
It is fun to walk the strip and absorb all that Vegas has to offer. On the second day, you will be tired and would rather prefer to take some form of transport. For this purpose itself, there are several monorails in Vegas. We definitely took several from one casino to the next (especially from casinos you don’t necessarily want to visit again). Here is the map of the monorail for a quick look but if you forget to map this out, just look up – there is your ride.
Ok peeps, I gave my best here. I hope this was a great experience reading the blog and do leave me a comment if I have missed a surprise. I am sure I did. Vegas is more than one person can handle in one trip. I need me some more Vegas.
So Don’t walk away without telling me your best part of Vegas!