Viva Las Vegas: Splurges, shows and a shortage of sleep
Las Vegas Travel Special
Splurges, shows and a shortage of sleep are the only way to go on a short break in Las Vegas says Gillian Tsoi.
Set the mood
I'm lounging in a fluffy white bathrobe on a plush king-size bed, eating the biggest chocolate-dipped strawberry you've ever seen.
Entertainment news flashes on the massive TV at the foot of my bed - one of three flat-screens in the hotel suite where I'm staying.
I'll need to be well rested for the action-packed day I have planned for tomorrow, but here, in this luxurious room on the 42nd floor of the five-star Palazzo in Las Vegas, it seems like such a shame to sleep.
I'm in Sin City on a short, four-day stay and am determined to get the most out of this Stateside getaway.
Millions of dollars are gambled every year in Vegas, but there's so much more for thrill seekers to do. A chopper ride with Maverick Helicopters over the Grand Canyon will allow you to enjoy spectacular views of the Hoover Dam, Fortification Hill (an extinct volcano) and Lake Mead (the largest man-made lake in the US, which took seven years to fill).
Enjoy the adrenaline rush as your helicopter hovers at the dizzying height of 3,500ft above ground, before touching down on Hualapai Indian Territory to enjoy a champagne breakfast amidst the breath-taking Arizona landscape. See maverickhelicopter.com.
Vegas works best with a splurge or two, but there are budget-friendly shortcuts. The Bellagio's famous fountains (every 15 mins after 8pm) or The Mirage's volcano (evenings, every 15 mins) won't cost a cent, for example. Nor does simply walking the Strip, or taking in the Viva Vision light shows at the Freemont Street Experience in the old Downtown Las Vegas (vegasexperience.com). A 1,500ft screen studded with 12.5 million LED lights dazzles above the pedestrian mall (6pm-1am, on the hour).
Otto Pizzeria (lasvegas.ottopizzeria.com) serves reasonably sized portions (unusual in a city of excess), including healthy salads and melt-in-your-mouth pizzas and pasta. Set beneath an artificial sky, it feels like dining al fresco.
Head down to Las Vegas Boulevard and you might witness one of the 315 weddings that take place daily in the city. The Graceland Wedding Chapel hosts an average of 28 weddings a day, with each ceremony lasting approximately six minutes. It'll cost you between €199 and €800 to tie the knot here, following in the footsteps of Jon Bon Jovi and Billy Ray Cyrus (gracelandchapel.com).
There's no shortage of world-class concerts in the entertainment capital of the world. Based on the timeless music of The Beatles, Cirque du Soleil's Love at The Mirage Hotel is a sensational treat of astounding acrobatics, dance and costume, with interactive sets that left me awestruck (cirquedusoleil.com/beatles-love).
Get me there
Gillian flew with British Airways (ba.com), which operates three non-stop services from Heathrow to Las Vegas daily. Prices start from €437 return in economy or you can treat yourself to business class in the Club World cabin from €1,709. Spacious seats convert into six-foot lie-flat beds, meaning you can catch up on any sleep lost in the City of Lights.
Rooms at The Palazzo (palazzo.com) start from $199/€169 per night. For more on shopping, dining, hotel and entertainment in Las Vegas, see visitlasvegas.com.