The Bleisure Guide to Las Vegas

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by Jonathan Thompson - 29 May 2019

So you’ve played the perfect hand and your boss is sending you to Las Vegas. Congratulations! They say the house always wins here - but that doesn’t mean the office has to. Sure you’ve got meetings diarised, but the good news is that Sin City laughs in the face of New York’s self-styled insomnia. This is truly a city that never sleeps, with plenty to keep you occupied when you’re off the clock. Here’s what you need to know for your next visit to Vegas…

Your arrival: Less than 10 minutes’ drive [MP1] from the famous ‘Strip’ (aka Las Vegas Boulevard), McCarran International Airport is ridiculously close to the action. Once you’ve collected your vehicle from the Hertz pick up point, turn right onto Gillespie Street and then right again onto Warm Springs Rd. After a couple of blocks, it’s another right onto iconic Las Vegas Boulevard itself. Almost immediately, you’ll pass the glitzy “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, before following the river of neon to the big name hotels beyond.


Your car: They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas – and that includes your hire car. So why not splash out on something stylish for your short sojourn in Sin City? If there was ever a place to roll like a high roller, this is it. A muscle car could be just the ticket (particularly if you’re planning to head into the Nevada desert and beyond).


Your accommodation:  From a hotel perspective, Las Vegas is a monster – boasting nearly 150,000 rooms. In terms of both business and entertainment, almost everything is still focussed on the Strip, so that’s where you should be looking to book. With its unmissable copper curves, Wynn Las Vegas is still the property most synonymous with luxury, while Bellagio Resort & Casino is one of the best all-round options in terms of price, amenities and location (which is outstanding – right in the middle of the Strip, set behind its own man-made lake). For those on a budget, there are great deals to be had at the spacious new kid on the block, Park MGM, and its hotel-within-a-hotel, NoMad Las Vegas. Both are offering generous room rates as they look to challenge The Strip’s more established names.


Your running route: Let’s be honest: Las Vegas isn’t really a running city. The tumultuous madness of the Strip combined with the intense heat of southern Nevada means most people stick to their lavish resort gyms. For super dedicated pavement-pounders, however, there are still a few options. One of the best involves exiting the Strip at East Harmon Avenue (between Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Resort & Casino and the MGM Grand), before heading east along the flat straight towards the University of Nevada Las Vegas. On reaching the campus, turn right onto the appropriately monikered Gym Road, before hanging a left onto University Road and beginning a big anti-clockwise loop of the handsome campus. You’re ultimately headed for the track stadium, your half way point. From here, continue the loop anti-clockwise to find yourself back at the main Gym Road/East Harmon junction, before retracing your strides towards the Strip – and a well-earned dip in your hotel pool. (Total distance: approximately 5.5 miles).


Your breakfast meeting: Whether you’re staying there or not, Bouchon Bistro at The Venetian Las Vegas is an excellent place to start the day. Headed by celebrity chef Thomas Keller, it serves breakfast daily from 7am with stand-out dishes including brioche French toast with blueberry compote and house-made Merguez sausage hash served with eggs any style. For something slightly more affordable, try The Peppermill – a Las Vegas institution tucked away on the Strip, just past Wynn Las Vegas. A traditional diner-style establishment, you’ll find everything from pancakes and waffles to country style ham and eggs on the menu here (the crab cake benedict is particularly amazing). If you’re keen to escape the Strip for a breather, the smart money is on Rooster Boy Café, a cozy establishment on the banks of Lake Jacqueline, just 15 minutes’ drive northwest. A warm, welcoming farm-to-table establishment, the “Hearty Start” frittata with kale and spinach here will set you up beautifully for anything Vegas has to throw at you. 


Your business lunch: Options abound for working lunches here, from Wolfgang Puck’s newly redesigned flagship Spago, with its stellar seafood menu (book a seat on the patio, boasting extraordinary views of the Fountains of Bellagio) to time honoured favourites [TR1] like Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen at  Caesars Palace and Top of the World, serving New American cuisine on the 106th floor of The STRAT Hotel, Casino and SkyPod. If you really want to push the boat out, there’s always the $5,000 burger at FleurHubert Keller’s high end restaurant inside the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. Or at the other end of the scale, the more affordable (yet still mouth-wateringly moreish) “butter burger” and other delicious small plates served at the breezy Carson Kitchen, where you’ll also find live music on the rooftop patio.


Your drinks with clients: The Chandelier at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, which spans three floors, is truly a sight to behold. All three are tied together by the enormous centrepiece chandelier, and a feisty menu of speciality cocktails. If views are more of a priority, it’s hard to beat the Skyfall Lounge at the Delano Las Vegas. Located on the hotel’s 64th floor, it’s renowned for its spectacular vantage point over Vegas, as well as a cocktail list designed to match moods. Meanwhile, if work takes you closer to downtown Las Vegas, seek out The Laundry Room - a speakeasy hidden behind a false wall on Fremont Street, all candelabras and atmospheric 1930s deco, with drinks to justify the drama.

 

Between your meetings: The Mob Museum, with its scurrilous stories of Prohibition-era Vegas, is well worth a visit and can be completed in around an hour. Adrenaline junkies might fancy trying the Strip’s new zipline, FLY LINQ – affording you a bird’s eye view of the city as you soar across its heart from 12 storeys up. If food is more your bag, Lip Smacking Foodie Tours specialise in high-end culinary walking tours of the city, where guests get to sample different courses at a variety of high-end restaurants over the course of an evening. Of course, Vegas is almost as renowned for its shows as its casinos, and there are a multitude of options to choose from if you have a spare evening, whatever your taste.

Your gift buying: With sprawling Premium Outlet malls at both ends of the Strip, Vegas is a shopaholic’s dream. Those after something a little more unique should check out the boutique Shoppes at Mandalay Place, located on the sky bridge between the Luxor and Mandalay Bay, while unconventional gifts can also be found at Downtown Container Park on Fremont Street, an offbeat shopping centre and series of art galleries built from shipping containers. 



Your weekend extension: Las Vegas is ideally positioned for a number of classic road trips, from the Grand Canyon to Area 51 – both of which involve driving through some of the most scenic desert roads in the US. Further afield, the beautiful national parks of Utah, specifically Zion and Bryce Canyon, are only three and four hours away respectively. Closer to Vegas, the extraordinary scenery of Death Valley is reachable in just under two hours.    

Your additional information: visitlasvegas.com; lasvegasnevada.gov

Jonathan Thompson has chronicled his journeys through 50 states and more than 100 countries in myriad magazines on both sides of the Atlantic, from Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveller to GQ, Esquire and National Geographic Traveller. Follow his travels on social media: @JT_Travels.

 

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Article by Jonathan Thompson

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