I Once Was a Vegas Virgin But I’m Not Now

I have returned, tiny darlings.

Forgive my absence, do. I love this blog more than I love a hot gin on a cold Christmas morning, or the pleasure I get from hurling said gin at my staff while screaming ‘gin is supposed to be cold, you horror stories!!!” Being away from you has been difficult.

The reason for my absence has been that I had been blessed with a new job in tourism PR, a delightful one closer to home and resplendent with lovely people and lots of rewarding hard work. Hence I’ve been focused on my various new tasks and ensuring no one discovers my penchant for almonds. Imagine the shame…

There was also a sandwich I needed to eat, and some minor psychotic episodes where I considered not drinking in the evenings. It was a dark time.

But what have I been up to? That’s what you’re all asking, isn’t it? Well, it’s been fairly manic. Faiiiiiirly manic. So I have plenty of blog fodder to bring you, and will bombard you with my tales to make up for my shocking absence.

One thing that happened was this.

Yes, for some reason, in my second week of my new job I was sent to Las Vegas.

A colleague could not go, I have no children (and hence no immovable plans) so was asked to step in for a major trade networking event. I swear, I did spend a long time saying “but…but are you SURE you want to send me? Someone else should get to go, surely? I’m…I…what?”

My six day trip was for work, and I spent half of that working but was lucky to have the sum of a couple of days to explore and take a gander at Sin City. My experience was not typical as I was on business and was not staying in or eating at the sort of budget places I’d normally frequent.

So rather than detailing the ins and outs of my trip, I shall give you my overview and my pitiful Vegas virgin’s guide to surviving the strip:

  • It’s INSANE

All the stories are true – Vegas is one giant mass of excess. It’s huge, a giant sprawling mass of lights and luxury in the middle of the Nevada desert. Caeser’s Palace is the size of a small town, and I am not exaggerating. When I explored The Strip, it took my three hours to cover about 1/4 of a mile as the crow flies; the innards of the big hotels are mazes of shops, sculptures, gambling tables and bars. It doesn’t make sense and you feel exhausted after only a couple of hours. But it’s fun. Oh man, is it FUN.

  • Just do what the jet lag tells you to do

I have never suffered in the past, but Vegas hit me hard. Everything messes with your senses – it’s sweltering outside, and freezing inside. There is no natural light anywhere inside the hotels or casino (even your bedrooms have the world’s greatest blackout curtains), lights dazzle constantly, noise surrounds you day and night, and oxygen is pumped into every casino & some hotel rooms to keep you up and gambling. I had to get up early most days for work, but otherwise I would have just gone with my body clock and slept when it told me and gone out when I couldn’t close my eyes. Either allow a day or two either side of your trip designed entirely for sleep, or just go with it. Vegas does not close, you will find fun, food and drink 24hrs a day.

  • Bring money

You can stay very cheaply off the strip, and find budget bars and cheap eats in the ‘old town’. If you want to stay on the Strip, either bring your gambling A-game or bring twice as much money as you’d expect to spend. It’s screamingly pricey on the main drag – between $10 and $15 a drink and meals approach $18 for a main. We went to a buffet dinner at Paris, which cost $35 without booze or $45 with. BUT! Whatever you get, will be worth it. The buffet was the biggest I’d ever seen, with every kind of starter, main and dessert. I didn’t drink that night (too tired) but those that did could order all the champagne and gin they wanted. Cocktails are loaded with booze, a G&T has more gin than tonic, and we all know American portions of food are fit for giants.

Though I do recommend the crazy cocktail stall outside of Paris – it’s a guy who will sell you giant plastic Eiffel Tower bottles with frozen cocktails containing a mountain of calypso for $10. It’s…it’s just tops.

  • Everyone is drunk and wants to have sex with you

The old saying “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” is chanted like a prayer. Seemingly everyone believes it. Everytime I got in a lift, whether it was 7am or 9pm, there was a drunk person in it, clasping beers and cocktails, swaying in killer heels or heaving into their baseball hats. And this was a supposedly swanky hotel. On one occasion, a drunk girl with her boyfriend insisted on showing me her breasts. In the evenings, when we hit the cocktail bar, men on business or just there to gamble would offer my both a drink and possible intercourse. When I explained I had a partner, they ALL responded “that’s okay! I’m married too! My wife is at home!” Booze on tap and there are always freebies to be had.

  • Don’t bring kids

See point four – this is no place for children. I mean…some parts are just delightful and would dazzle a child but….come on, it’s Vegas.

It looks child friendly. It’s not.
  • Go with friends

I had excellent company and made some great new friends on the trip, but Vegas is an experience best shared with a bunch of you. Not only will you want to share the insanity with your nearest and dearest, but you’ll also need them for physical and mental support. When jet  lag is killing you, or when you can’t face another free cocktail and need someone to say ‘it’s okay to sleep’, OR when you’ve had your eighth gin and are insisting that RED IS LUCKY, you will want a trusted friend by your side. I did miss my beau and my darling friends. I never imagined I’d want to go to Vegas, but now…I sort of want to go back, en masse.

  • Remember it’s in a desert – pack wisely

The hotels are all air-conditioned so bring a wrap, but otherwise think beach wear for the day. It is sweltering outside, and as much as you craze fresh air and sunshine, you won’t be able to stand it for long during the day. I went out exploring at 8am, when it wasn’t as hot and it was fairly peaceful on the streets. But I should have brought more shorts and more light day dresses. Also, you may want to glam up in the evening – but unless you are spending big bucks in The Bellagio and will be dining in only the finest restaurants, you will be rather out of place with the rest of the Vegas crowd. Most people don’t even bother, sticking to slutty tops, jeans, tacky heels and shorts. Dress nicely, but save that formal dress or expensive suit for another holiday.

  • Gamble, but know how to win

Come on, you have to! I only gambled in my hotel, as I did not have the opportunity to go to any others or the cheap gambling halls. The bigger hotels have a catch that the buy in for the tables is higher, and this will go up on Friday and Saturday nights.

I gambled on a Tuesday, and the balckjack buy in was $15 a hand. I wanted to play Texas Hold ‘Em but it was $45 a go, and it’s a much riskier game (but with bigger winnings). I stuck to blackjack, having read up on tactics on the flight over – don’t laugh, it’s very wise to do so. I also walked around a few tables, watching the dealers and the other players before I chose my seat, so I knew what I was up against. If playing Blackjack, pick a table with a few other players, and try to gauge how nice the dealer is. People might not know this, but the dealer’s job is to help you. They will give you advice, they will tell you when to hit or when to stay, based on the averages. A nice dealer will make the experience even better. I went to the table with $100 and walked away with $170 – not much, but a good profit. Simply sticking to $15 at a time. I also walked away earlier than I wanted to. 

It’s all pretty simple – never bring anything to the table that you can’t afford to lose, and talk to friends and pros for advice.

SO! That was my Vegas experience. Any other questions about my trip? Anything else I can tell you about Sin City? Ask me here or on Twitter.

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