A city like Las Vegas is constantly experiencing an influx of new extravagance to enjoy. From the glittering hotels, to the elaborately-themed nightclubs, whatever is built in Vegas is never truly there to stay. I noticed what a difference a year makes when I saw a newly opened hotel, The Cromwell, appear next to my family's timeshare. This boutique hotel includes Vegas' hottest new night and beach club called Drai's, as well as the eponymous restaurant of Food Network extraordinaire Giada. Britney Spears' "Piece of Me" show at Planet Hollywood is another welcome addition to The Strip that wasn't in existence just a year before. I'm dying to see the pop diva lip sync her way through her greatest hits, and I say that with absolutely no hint of sarcasm.
I still get a thrill walking through the parade of hotels that line The Strip, taking in each one's decor, restaurants and shopping. I felt like a seasoned traveler while navigating the resorts with ease for some eye-pleasing shots for my Instagram.
Like I realized last year, the Paris hotel is my favorite gem of hospitality on Las Vegas Boulevard. With its crystal chandeliers, stained glass and fine French details, everything about this hotel quenches my desire to feel Parisian. Someday I'll have to visit the actual country, but I'm appeased with the petite piece of France I got to exist in.
I took Courtney, my closest friend who joined me on this belated birthday weekend, to Mon Ami Gabi for a beautiful brunch with a view of the Bellagio fountains from the restaurant's outdoor terrace. I ordered the chocolat-noisette (chocolate hazelnut) waffles with an iced mocha while Courtney ordered the strawberry-banana waffles. The crispy confections came with rich whipped cream and maple syrup. It was the perfect setting and the preferred meal for us to catch up on our new lives (even though we talk just about every day). At Gonzaga, Courtney and I would get brunch together all the time, so it was surreal to be doing the same thing in a totally different state of the country.
At night, the Mirage transforms from a daytime desert oasis to an explosive entertainment destination with its signature erupting volcano. I love watching the free fire show every time I come here, it just never gets old to the inner pyromaniac in me. I was happy to get an even better view of the hot attraction this time.
The Bellagio was just as elegant as I remembered it with its fresh cut roses and blown glass art. The hotel would later be the setting of our first nightclub experience during the weekend.
Over the weekend, I learned that Courtney's favorite hotel was the Wynn. Like me, Courtney has visited Vegas quite a few times prior, making it just as much a Déjà Vegas vacation for her as it was for me. After shopping in Fashion Show Mall for my Ray Bans, we walked over to this hotel with her badass boyfriend Christopher. Not surprisingly, our favorite features were the flower orbs (which I affectionately called florbs last year) that hung gracefully in the hotel's lavish lobby. Chris, who is a golf fanatic, certainly appreciated the Wynn's expansive golf course.
Courtney and I stopped by Caesar's Palace to pick up some essentials to keep us looking fabulous throughout the trip. The Sephora at The Forum Shops was were I found the St. Tropez tanning lotion mentioned in the previous part of this blog series. I had to admit that it was really fun to just romp through the hotels of Vegas with my best friend and shop wherever we felt like it. The whole experience reminded me of our seemingly endless adventures in Spokane this year.
Saturday night, Chris, Courtney and I all went to Maggiano's for Italian cuisine. I had actually been to the restaurant once before during my under-documented 2010 trip to Sin City. I ordered the baked ziti, which was just as delicious as I remembered it from years ago. We took a bridge over to The Palazzo and walked through it until we were inside The Grand Canal Shoppes that connected to The Venetian. In the romantic replica of Saint Mark's Square, we ordered creamy gelato. Of all the tempting flavors, I chose salted caramel to indulge in.
We ate some of our meals in the huge double suite to save money, but as you might suspect from me, I didn't let any meal go without the proper ambiance. I set our suite's dining room table with fresh cut flowers, that were bought for my birthday twin Carissa (who joined our group along with some other friends), for a meal that Courtney cooked. While it looks like we used a fancy vase for the flowers, it was actually just one of our Paris beverage containers sans alcohol.
I had the most surprisingly satisfying meal of the trip when our gorgeous group of seven went to "Hash House a go go," the self-proclaimed twisted farm food restaurant. There I dined on a massive chorizo hash which was full of big flavors and interesting ingredients. The restaurant included menu items like bacon waffles and coffee concoctions that Starbucks only wishes it could ideate. We were so full I didn't even need to eat lunch before my plane ride back to Seattle.
Dining and shopping in Las Vegas is always an exhilarating series of events, but having some adult fun was what made this trip truly unforgettable.