I don’t know how much we lost playing roulette, what time we left the casino or the club, how many drinks we downed or how we found our way back to the hotel. All I know is that by the time morning came, we were circling Trump’s gold skyscraper in a chopper, looking down at Vegas as if it were a toy town, and I was still wearing last night’s make-up and fake diamonds, and was still drunk on last night’s champagne.
But we were in Vegas, baby! I’d never felt so good. Or so bad. You don’t go to Sin City to relax, you go to complete your bucket list — then compose your confessions. It is the homeland of The Hangover.
Only in Vegas can you book vodka-themed suites or rooms with a basketball court; stay out all night playing blackjack, then have an Elvis-chapel wedding. It’s a town where stretch limos are ubiquitous, grocery stores have slot machines and, for £50, you can hire exotic dancers to your room. As the saying has it: “Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go to Vegas.”
So I did.
Cirque du Soleil’s risqué Zumanity showThe Strip itself is a frenetic funfair in the desert, Blackpool on steroids, a place seemingly built by a mobster so fearful of flying, he erected the wonders of the world on one street. We rolled down it, past hotels shaped like pyramids, a mini New York, a Fantasia castle, a demi-sized Eiffel Tower. Past Caesars Palace’s re-creation of Rome, with vast plaster columns and the Fountain of the Gods, to our hotel, the Venetian, complete with fake sky and gondola rides.
The whole town is supersized instant gratification: every corridor sparkles with fake-diamond chandeliers, every hotel resounds with the “ker-ching” of slot machines paying out, the calls of roulette and the rattle of craps.
Neon signs promise “Burlesque”, “Jackpot!”, “Megabucks”, “Win $1 Million”. Outside the Erotic Heritage Museum, a huge sign stretches to the sky, advertising the Déjà Vu Love Boutique. The word “penis” is written in huge letters up its considerable length.
Wild nights: top DJs are on offer at Tao nightclub (Al Powers)The drinking in Vegas starts at breakfast and never ends. We sank bottomless mimosas at brunch in the pink-washed Paradise Garden at the Flamingo Hotel & Casino. I bought a pint-sized pink-glitter hip flask that said “Girls night out”.
On the gambling floors of the casinos, drinking isn’t just free, but encouraged by waitresses who shimmy past taking requests. We played poker and drank espresso martinis at Caesars, hit the slots with vodka limes at the MGM Grand, played roulette drinking Jack Daniel’s at the Venetian, then ended up somewhere so low-rent, I don’t know what it was called or what drinks they gave us. But who cares? We left £30 up.
In Vegas, the only thing there’s more of than neon or booze is nipples. In summer, people party at topless pools such as Bare at the Mirage. Winter is the season for strip shows, which are infinite, depending on how seedy you want to go. In Jubilee, at Bally’s hotel and casino, high-kicking showgirls dance topless in sequins, but at least maintain a sense of old-school Vegas glamour. Cirque du Soleil’s risqué burlesque show, Zumanity, caters for those who like their sex more… acrobatic. It’s all downhill from there.
In Vegas, days blur into nights and meals come at all hours. We ate at In-N-Out Burger (to cure hangovers) and Nobu, where you can blow your winnings on the best meal of your life. Ours was so exceptional, it was like a performance: wagyu beef (£26 an ounce), flambéed at the table, and creamy sea urchin sashimi, washed down with Yamazaki Sidecar cocktails.
The venue also serves up a side order of raunch (Chris Weeks)We took a VIP table at Tao club, where waitresses in suspenders served us from a menu on which spirits started at several hundred dollars a pop. We were brought silver buckets of ice, vodka and mixers, and had our own bouncer to watch our table as, beside us, girls in skintight dresses twerked against men in gold chains and black suits.
It was morning when we fell out of Tao onto the roulette table. I can’t tell you what happened next, because what happens in Vegas… you know.
But I can tell you that, the next day, we discovered there’s no better way to blow away a hangover than by racing a Ferrari F430 GT at 110mph. Dream Racing, the driving experience at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway complex, on the northeast fringes of town, gives you access to one of the largest collections of supercars in the world, with Porsches and Lamborghinis also on offer.
It’s probably the most fun you can have in Vegas — without getting arrested or divorced.
Katie Glass was a guest of the Venetian, which has Luxury Suites from £107 (venetian.com). The Jubilee show at Bally’s starts at £23 (caesars.com/ballys-las-vegas/shows), and Zumanity at £46 (cirquedusoleil.com/zumanity). Maverick has helicopter tours from £84pp (maverickhelicopter.com); Dream Racing experiences start at £121 for two laps (dreamracing.com). British Airways flies direct to Las Vegas from Heathrow; from £545. Find out more at lasvegas.com.