Bridget Gleeson writer + illustrator

Thirty days in Sin City

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I spent a whole month in Vegas, and I’m still recovering.

My feelings are best summarized by the words of a Yelp! reviewer I found online when I was looking for extra opinions on XS nightclub at the Encore Hotel:

In the span of six hours, I experienced significant amounts of pain, pleasure, lust, love, hate, glee, annoyance, bemusement, laughter, concern and ultimately an abiding hope in the future.

Right, then. Vegas is crazy and ridiculous. But I had a better time in my temporary residency in Sin City than I ever thought possible. I get paid to write about conventional attractions, restaurants and hotel rooms, but here’s another list of things I liked and loathed:


Most surreal spot in Vegas: Lake of Dreams at the Wynn

Coolest swimming pool novelty: ‘swimming with sharks’ at the Tank, Golden Nugget                                                                   Longest + liveliest ‘lazy river’: MGM Grand

Vintage Vegas landmark I’m desperately wishing will avoid implosion: the Sahara. It closed in 2011, so the faux-Moroccan palace, where the Rat Pack once hung out and Elvis lounged by the pool, is creepily abandoned on the north Strip. Apparently some big-shot hotelier is going to revamp the whole thing.

I hope he’ll keep the sultan statues and campy Arabian Nights glamour, but I doubt it.

Coolest new museum: Mob Museum (left.) I interviewed the executive director for the Lonely Planet book I’m working on.

Cleverest mob-themed appetizer:

spaghetti and meatball bites at the new Mob Bar (above.)

Best place for free champagne – ahem, if you’re a woman – and views of the Bellagio fountains: HYDE Lounge (left).

Simplest + smartest design for a cocktail bar: three-story crystal-draped Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan Hotel (right.)

Most striking entrance to a Vegas show: Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE at the Mirage

Most vibrant flowers: at the Bellagio. Both real (in the conservatory) and glass (by Dale Chihuly, on the lobby ceiling.)

…. and in case the faux-European elegance had you fooled, a few reminders of where we’re at.

Oh, glorious, absurd Las Vegas, where the vintage neon burns bright (the Aladdin lamp from the Neon Museum) and the drinks, made with eight varieties of alcohol and topped off with dry ice (at VooDoo Lounge) are big enough for you and your friends to share.

It gives one ‘an abiding hope in the future,’ indeed.