travel notes | las vegas


I hadn’t been to the US since 2017 (good times) and was a bit apprehensive about going back. I’ve really enjoyed exploring more of Europe in the last couple of years and with all the recent upsetting news (and their tumultuous political atmosphere), I was just a bit unsure about why I was going. Landing in Las Vegas however gave me the perfect reminder of how whacky and wonderful the states can be and it was honestly one of the best trips of my life. I just hope I get to go back soon! 

getting there & getting about.

You can fly to Las Vegas from London and Manchester. Our direct Thomas Cook flight from Manchester took just over ten and a half hours and whilst Thomas Cook is not as nice an airline as Delta or Virgin Atlantic, it was comfortable enough and we managed. Our flight landed at McCarran International Airport at about 1pm and a quick border control process (unlike JFK) meant we were soon in Las Vegas. 

Ubers are everywhere in this city so we headed to the Uber/Lyft designated pick-up point within the airport and got an Uber to our hotel Excalibur which cost about 11$. The airport is about 12 minutes away from the end of the strip making getting to and from it super easy and painless.

Leaving Las Vegas, we flew to San Francisco with Frontier from McCarran as the next part of our trip which made it a little more expensive but return flights from Las Vegas seem to be around the £500 mark. 

It is easy to walk about the Strip – it is designed for pedestrians with escalators leading to walkways so you don’t have to cross all of the roads and wide pavements. There are mono rails connecting some of the hotels as well and most of them are connected by walkways as well. The hardest part about exploring Las Vegas on foot is the overwhelming heat – it gets very hot during the middle of the day (I melted) but you can find refuge inside with the aircon. Oh, and from Fat Tuesdays where you can have an alcoholic slushy to go to help keep the heat at bay. I miss the mango ones. 

If you are wanting to head a bit further out or don’t fancy melting into the pavement, Uber and Lyft are the easiest way to go and all of the hotels seemed to have a designated meet your driver point. 

where we stayed.

I expected accommodation in Las Vegas to be a lot more unattainable than it actually was. Don’t get me wrong, you could easily spend $2000 a night in some places but we paid around £500 for a double-double room at Excalibur for five nights. The hotel did us fine – it gave us a full tacky Vegas experience, the aircon was powerful, beds comfy and the pool area was great. We didn’t have the best view as it just looked out over the roof of the hotel but it was quiet and I loved being able to see so far – we were on the 22nd floor or something. 

There are so many hotels in Las Vegas so it is easy to be overwhelmed when booking. I would definitely stay in Excalibur again but there are other hotels such as the Cosmopolitan I would like to try depending on budgets. It would be important to me to be on or just behind the strip as whilst it feels safe walking down the strip at 3am, I wouldn’t say the same if you wandered a bit further out. 

what we did.

SO MUCH. So so much, I needed a severe detox after Las Vegas but unfortunately it had to wait a little longer thanks to SF. 

We spent a lot of time lounging at the pools at Excalibur. Well, Rachel lounged, I sat in the pool with the other people who didn’t enjoy the searing heat and sipped on bud light limes whilst my retinas burned. One of the pools was really shallow and designed for people to sit in so I just sat there with my phone and worrying about whether or not I had enough suncream on my back. The bar staff at the pool were really nice and we had food one day from the poolside burger joint but I was too hungover to tell you if it was nice or not but I did eat it. 

One of the highlights was a day trip to Grand Canyon. Now it is a long day but the fab tour we went on with Sweetours was so worth it. We booked through Viator and had to phone 24 hours in advance to confirm our booking and chose our sandwich options for lunch. Getting lunch provided was so handy and helped save costs on the day. 

We were picked up early from Excalibur in the designated bus pick-up area and taken to the tour company’s depot where we joined the rest of our tour on the coach. Narration is provided by the tour guide initially, mostly about the history of the valley and the city of Las Vegas and films are shown as well. The journey there is long but you have a convenience stop, photo opportunity stops at Hoover Dam and Historic Route 66, the latter where you eat your lunch. We had two hours to spend at the canyon whilst was plenty of time to catch the bus on the blue route up to the furthest point of the rim walk mapped out and walk the 1.2miles or so along the canyon to where the bus had dropped us off. 

It was an incredible experience and it does really have to be seen to be believed. I feel so lucky to have been able to witness and I would love to do some hiking in it in the future but considering I struggled with the hike we did with work in lapse of the Mighty Hike a couple of weekends ago I think I’d struggle. The drive back is very long (a good 5/6 hours) but there is a convenience stop en route. 

In Las Vegas itself we spent a lot of time exploring the different hotels and the casinos. It is the most surreal place I’ve ever been and some of the hotels are simply incredible. I particularly loved New York New York, Paris, the Flamingo, Luxor and the Venetian. The Bellagio is outstanding and Caesar’s Palace is a must see. You can spend hours wandering through the hotels and seeing their sights – plus most of them have a Fat Tuesdays in them somewhere which was a bonus. 

We also walked along to the iconic Las Vegas sign for some pictures – there was a queue, it was baking hot, I moaned but Rachel got some pictures she was happy with it. 

In the evenings we spent some time in the casinos, at happy hours and one night we saw the Rat Pack Reformed tribute show. I didn’t enjoy it all that much but it was a token Vegas thing to do and I’m glad I’ve got the ticket. 

what we ate.

I don’t love American food. I find it too much, too salty, the portions too big. And Vegas is like that but more. There is an abundance of restaurants and buffets and fast food joints on the Strip as each hotel is jammed full with them. One particular food highlight for me though as In-n-Out by the Links High Roller which was worth the journey to the west coast for. 

We had buffets at the Excalibur and Tropicana hotels where we were overwhelmed by options but the food was so good. At the Tropicana I went from eggs, sausages and pastries to sushi in one swift jump as I just couldn’t ignore all the options. The highlight of the Excalibur buffet however was the bottomless mimosas they serve on weekends. 

We had good Mexican food from Gonzalez Y Gonzalez in New York New York and Italian from Buca di Beppo in Excalibur as well as a Subway and Starbucks at points as well. As I was scrolling through my phone finding pictures to include in this post I found loads of screenshots I had of Vegas eateries we didn’t venture to whilst there so next time I go, I’m gonna try harder at finding nice food. 


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