I look down my bucket list and nowhere can I see Las Vegas. But guess what, when I wrote the list I really hadn’t imagined what was possible or what was really ahead of me. Now here I am heading out of LA toward Las Vegas and I’m actually really excited.
It feels like such an adventure, we are driving across the desert, the dry sparse landscape feels like I’m on the set of a sci fi flick. I love watching the changing landscape as my loves zooms through the hollywood hills out into a flat landscape dotted with occasional grey green plant life. I hold my breath between small flashes of colour as the occasional bloom flashes red or yellow as we whip past the otherwise barron expanse. It is a beautifully alien feeling landscape that I am finding quite intriguing.
Feeling peckish we watch the signs flashing past and spot Denny’s – on one hand so not us, but on the other it feels strangely like some kind of right of passage – like we simply can’t go through America without eating at Denny’s. Denny’s is known as Americas best value diner where you can get whatever you want, whenever you want it. They say if you want breakfast for dinner or milkshakes for breakfast you can have it at Denny’s.
Suddenly in the middle of nowhere a cluster of buildings erupts. So we take the exit and pull into the Denny’s stop. The diner is vast. Booths, tables or counter spots are available. We perch on barstools and review the menu. Excess is the word that comes to mind. We watch huge plates of food carried out to tables around us and scour the menu looking for smaller options. We opt for Moons over Hammy – ham and eggs in a sandwich. It’s not too bad really and it is certainly an experience. The service particularly is outstanding. All the staff wear big friendly smiles and your coffee is never ending, topped up frequently as you sip.
Back on the road and into the desert we carry on toward las Vegas. The drive is quite beautiful, I love how the rock formations and plant life change as we move further into the desert. The joshua trees are amazing, they look more like creatures than trees. I imagine them uprooting themselves at night and dancing around the desert together.
A round the world ticket – one magical night in Vegas
Finally in the distance a small cluster of geometric shapes emerges. As we get closer Las Vegas materialises before us. Its incredible, this big, bold, brassy city out here in the middle of nowhere. Architecturally it’s an incongruous compilation of bits and pieces from around the world, scaled up or down to fuck with your head. It’s like the town planner took his world travels scrap book, pulled out all the highlights pasted them on the Vegas plan and then sprinkled it with glitter.
Paris Las Vegas, a hotel built in classic parisian style with its grey parisian roof top and mini eiffel tower. The big give away though that you are not actually in Paris is that the entire thing is covered in party lights!
From a distance the Palazzo Hotel looks like a largish building with several stories of long windows. Up close you realise its enormous. What looks like one window is actually several floors, a masterful trick of the eye.
New York New york – this hotel complex is a mini recreation of New york. Designed to evoke a skyline that says New York. the empire state building and other landmarks including a statue of liberty and a Brooklyn Bridge are weaved into the structure.
There is even a thirty story pyramid hotel that projects a huge beam of light up unto the desert from its tip (or is the light really being shone down? Who knows?)
We are staying right on the strip at the Cosmopolitan. As we enter the building the scale of Las Vegas really hits me. The hotel lobby is a huge expanse of black shiny floor tiles and mirrored ceiling held apart by with eight substantial pillars that are in fact an amazing digital art installation. I have never seen anything like it, it’s breathtaking. The digital columns constantly change, presenting moving, inspirational, mesmerising images that evoke experiences, places, people. The mirrored ceiling creates the illusion that the pillars go on forever. Its incredible, I could stand here for hours but we need to check in.
Our room is amazing, our terrace overlooking the Eiffel tower and the iconic Bellagio Fountain, where more than 1200 illuminated fountains dance to beautiful music streaming over 140m high into the air. and, perfect. At night it is an even more spectacular view.
We have a full evening ahead but we’ve got time for a bit of an afternoon stroll, my love wants to show me the amazing shops inside Ceasar’s Palace. Outside we are in bright colourful flashy Las Vegas, inside we are transported to ancient Rome. The shop facades replicate ancient roman buildings and there is a magnificent central roman fountain complete with sculptures. The highlight is the incredible domed ceiling. It is painted to replicate a sky, daubed with soft billowing clouds. As we wander around, the light changes and I realise it’s the sky ceiling changing to mimic the time of day, wow! The blue sky that was there when we entered the last shop has softened and we watch it slowly transition to a beautiful sunset red through to a starlit evening sky.