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Trip report 7-17 March

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Southborough...
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Trip report 7-17 March

Will reply as it may be quite long, but hopefully not boring

Southborough...
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233 posts
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1. Re: Trip report 7-17 March

Flights - Flew from London Gatwick with Virgin. Flights were uneventful and food was the usual rubbish. It took 10hr 45 to get to Vegas and 9 hrs to get back. Looked at the plane info on the video screen on the way home and we were doing 717mph! must have been one hell of a tail wind.

Hotel - We always like to stay somewhere new so we decided to try Aria as City Centre was not built the last time we were there. First impressions were of the horrible vanilla smell every time you enter the hotel. Check in girl was friendly, got upgraded to a City View room on 36th floor. We also managed to get complimentary wifi without having to pay the $20 a day resort fee which surprised us, the wife spent the rest of the holiday paranoid that they were going to charge us at the end of the holiday.(We had not paid for the resort fee as we had booked last year before the resort fee was made compulsory)

There was always a person checking room keys at the entrance to the lifts which we like. The lifts were excellent and soon got us to our floor. Our room was very clean with a spacious bathroom with bath and shower and double sinks. Frosted glass wc door is an acquired taste but you soon get used to it. Water pressure on the taps was terrible, apparently this is an attempt to conserve water so we rolled with it, shower pressure was good enough though.

Unlike some people on the forum we found the auto blinds and lights easy to work and the goodnight switch next to the bed is a superb little touch that closes the blinds and turns off all the lights. TV was good with a varied choice of channels. It did take us a while to find the safe which was in a bed side drawer. We found this to be a little odd at first but when we started using it on a day to day basis the design was perfect. Instead of having to reach in a small dark safe, the top of this safe lifted up making it easier to see all the things we had in the safe.

Housekeeping was excellent and when we requested anything it was brought promptly.

We found the Aria casino a little souless to be honest, hard to put my finger on it but it is but didn't have the same atmosphere as other casinos. It didn't help when my wife mistakenly played $5 VP instead of 5c, her $20 lasted 1 turn!

Check out is easy- simply send an email and drop keys in a box near reception.

Jean Phillipe in Aria was hit and miss, the one in Bellagio is better. The Coffee shop Roasted Bean was OK, did a decent sandwich and hot chocolate but did not seem to be open late.

First impressions of the Aria was 6/10, nice but nothing groundbreaking and hard to get to the strip but as the holiday went on we liked the hotel more and more and once you find the way to the strip through Crystals, Aria is actually closer to the strip than Bellagio and Caesars. The short corridors and speedy lifts ensure that the trip from your room to strip takes 5-10 mins. We would stay here again and in the end preferred the stay to the Bellagio and Caesars, but please get rid of that horrid vanilla smell.

Food/Drink - We are both foodies so love trying new places. After endless research on this forum we tried the following places.

Japanais - Mirage - Went for the happy hour from 5-8pm. Apps were $7 as was the wine. We had the meat skewer which was a bit small but the meat was to die for, so good in fact we came back later in the holiday and had 1 each. Avoid the floating Orchid cocktail, my wife who is a cocktail connisseur said it was the worst cocktail she had ever had. We had 1 or 2 other apps which were good too and its a place with a nice atmosphere, definitely recommend it.

Lounge 107 - Stratosphere - Went for happy hour from 4-7pm. Get to the lifts at 4pm so to be the first in the Lounge so you can pick a good seat. It was our first time up the Strat and what a view. We had 4 apps between us inc chicken wings, carpaccio and ahi tuna. The wife liked the apps more than me, I thought they were 6.5/10 The apps were half price so they were still decent value. The crowning glory of this place though was the chocolate martinis. They are 2 for 1 ($13) so my wife got 2 and I had a beer. She absolutely loved them and immediately they went into her top 5 cocktails of all time.

Wolfgang Puck Cucina - Crystals - We went past it everyday on our way to the strip and never gave it a second look as it was never busy, until one day we saw a sign saying happy hour on bar food all day long! which was obviously new as we had not seen the sign before. We tried the pizza and the artichokes with a glass of wine and a Peroni - excellent meal and even better value, total $25 inc tip, it was probably the best value meal on the whole trip. We went back 2 days later and had meatballs and this was superb too. By the way check out the double sided TV above the bar.

The Pub (Tod English) - Crystals/Aria - We had heard good things about this place so being convenient this is where 2 jet lagged and tired people ended up on their first night in Vegas. I had the chicken salad which hit the spot and the wife had Ahia Tuna. Decent atmosphere, unless someone is playing magnetic darts then it becomes a bit like chinese torture. Great selection of beers and excellent service, we would recommend this place for couples or groups, top marks.

Wicked Spoon - Cosmo - Heard mixed reviews about this place especially for breakfast, so we went there for lunch - twice! I have probably given the game away now, the fact we went twice meant that we absolutely loved it. Yeah some of the dishes are so so, but most of it is top top quality and tasty as hell. Great selection of meats and a dessert station to die for, the mint choc and salted peanut ice cream was awesome. Only niggle was the food was lukewarm, they obviously need to work on that but for $21 apiece this place is an absolute must and has now gone to the very top of our buffet list, knocking Wynn of top spot.

Wynn Buffet - Wynn - This is a really good buffet, but having had the Wicked Spoon buffet I am finding it hard to get excited about this one. What can I say apart from the fact that if you not near the Cosmo or have an aversion to going in the Cosmo then this is a great buffet, otherwise why eat here when the Wicked Spoon is so good! For an extra $10 you can get as much champagne as you can drink, excellent value.

Peppermill - Strip - We have eaten breakfast here before on previous trips and always enjoyed it. This place never disappoints, very good sized portions and decent quality food. They serve wonderful coffee and the best Cranberry Juice I have ever tasted. If you want a change from buffet breakfasts this is one I would recommend.

Bar Moderna - Aria - You get a free drink when you check into the Aria and this is the best place to cash them in, but otherwise it is bit of an average Lounge.

Chandelier Bar - Cosmo - Heard so much about this place we had to go and try it out. WOW. This place has the wow factor although I have to say it looks better from the outside. The seating inside is not located well enough and some of the seating feels like you are sat half in the bar and half in the shopping area. One morning we had a Verve Cliquot and a Guinness (mine was the Guinness) and went off to play VP downstairs, a 4 of a kind and a $100 win later we went back to the bar for the same again! Really really nice innovative looking bar but choose your seat wisely.

Le Cirque - Bellagio - We ate at Picasso's last time we were in Vegas and loved it so we thought we would go for another Bellagio restaurant having heard so many good reviews. From start to finish the service was impeccable, not too intrusive but there when you needed it. The food was truly a mixed bag though, some of the courses were a taste sensation but others were just badly cooked. We would not return because of these inconsistancies which should not really happen in a top kitchen like Le Cirque.

American Fish - Aria - We went for the happy hour from 5-7pm (only available in the lounge area). Its an interesting restaurant that looks like 3 people have designed different parts of the restaurant but never spoke with each other. The food itself was excellent, the mini fish and chips were the stand out dish and the cocktails were so strong it could take paint off the walls. We would go here again and I would definitely recommend the happy hour.

Sterling Brunch - Ballys - We always go for this Brunch as we love the endless champagne and the wonderful food. Again it did not disappoint but I had probably drunk too much the night before and did not really do it justice. The food was as good as ever but I feel the decor really does need an upgrade. To be asked to pay $80 each I think the atmosphere should be better than it is and the waiting area to be seated was a cafe with its lights turned off which is amateurish. We had a great waiter called Mario though, top marks for him. The wife still rates this as her favorite place to eat in Vegas.

La Salsa Cantina - Miracle Mile - We always struggle to find a breakfast place that is not a buffet so having heard decent reviews we decided to give their $3.99(I think) breakfast a go. We were amazed at the quality of the breakfast for the price, everything we had was really tasty and a bill of less than $15 was a steal for what we had. A must visit especially for those on a budget.

Pampas Grille - Miracle Mile - We saw this whilst visiting La Salsa Cantina. Pampas offers a breakfast for $6.99(I think) This was also good value but having eaten at LSC we felt a bit disappointed. It is good value for what you get but if you are looking for a cheap breakfast go to LSC.

Rhumbar - Mirage - We had drinks here. Nice outside seating area, bar area looks a bit clinical but service was excellent and cocktails were good. I think this will be a really busy bar when the weather is hot.

Table 10 - Palazzo - To get to this place use the entrance at the top of the lifts opposite the Wynn. We initially went in just for a drink. We had a New Zealand Sauv Blanc which was stunning and for $5 on happy hour any SB lover should pay a stop here. I was not hungry but the wife had marrow bone which she enjoyed. Really nice bar and a great happy hour which is on from 2.30pm - 5.30pm

Sushi Samba - Palazzo - Popped in here for their happy hour. Drinks were $6, the wife found that her Mojito had too much mint in it. She had Salt and Pepper squid which she thought was ok. Bar did not have much atmosphere and was next door to Table 10, so if you are in the Palazzo Shops and fancy a quick drink head for Table 10, its better in every dept.

Mon Ami Gabi - Paris - We have been here before and absolutely loved it. We pitched up at 6.30 and was given a pager disc thingy and told it would be a 70 min wait as we had requested an outside table, in the end it was more like 90 mins but who's counting. As we were led through the main restaurant we were shocked at how dark, loud and crowded it was, we really would not like to eat inside. Got a nice table and we both ordered steak frites as we loved them last time we ate here. Again it did not disappoint, the steak was very tasty, although a quick note to our British compadres we did find that all our meat on this trip was slightly overcooked to how we are used to it in the UK, we like our meat medium so in the end we had to start asking for it medium rare and that was perfect. The frites in MAG were slightly out of the norm in the fact they were shaved potato pieces that were fried rather than fast food type fries. Got to say my preference would be for the fast food type fries. Service was excellent and good value, and sitting across from the fountains never disappoints. First song on was Time to Say Goodbye which is our personal favourite.

Isla - TI - We have eaten here before and really enjoyed it, this time we popped in for happy hour, 4-7pm. I had a beer and wife had a Margaritta which she thinks for $5 is amazing value. Really nice lounge area and a good time was had. One odd thing happened though, as I saw ashtrays on the tables I assumed I could smoke but I always ask the waitress out of consideration anyway. She told me that if I was smoking cigarettes I could smoke but as I had a cigar I couldn't, I spent the rest of my drink trying to figure that one out but gave up in vain!

Diablos Cantina - Monte Carlo - This place has risen up since our last visit. We popped in for a quick drink and it was a fun bar. The food portions looked huge, I reckon a girl we saw must still be there now trying to finish her nachos.

Nine Fine Irishmen - Not a bad bar at all and serves Magners on draught $5. Tastes a bit odd and not like the UK and they do not serve it with ice so you have to ask. When we left Vegas on St Paddy's day the place looked jumping.

JB Margarittaville - Strip - Wife has had many Margarittas from here, she loves them, however a word of warning they are stronger than the average bear, so drink with caution, even after just 1 I can tell my wife is on a downhill slope to an early night.

Sahara - $1 Millers and $1 hotdogs, they fill a hole but nothing special.

Late Night Pizza - Grabbed a slice from Monte Carlo food kitchen and was very nice, the one from Caesars Food Kitchen was not.

I am sure I have forgot some of the places we went but overall the quality of the food we had was wonderful, so thank you to all you posters who gave me ideas of where to go.

Casino - My wife and I are pretty low rollers, we prefer to spend the money on our hotels and food, so we searched for the $5 BJ switch and craps and $10 Pai Gow tables. Our fave place to play Craps is definitely Casino Royale, its a decent little casino that also does $5 BJ switch, has $1 Michelobs and decent waitress service.

Our fave place to play $5 BJ switch was Bills. The circle of tables next to Drais was a great atmosphere and some of the best dealers we had the holiday were there.

$10 Pai Gow is played in quite a few places but it is hard to get on the tables. We saw it in Mirage and Flamingo but waitress service in the Flamingo is terrible, however there is a place in between Bills and Flamingo that does $2 draft beers so grab one before you go in and if you have a patient wife then hopefully she will go and get you another when you run dry. Thanks dear! Started the holiday off very well but probably $800 down by the end which was not too bad

Shows - We only managed 1 show this time, Penn & Teller. I like these 2 guys on TV but unfortunately we had tickets near the back. Whoever thinks that people this far away from the stage can see close up magic must have hawk eyes. It really did spoil it for us although some of the tricks we could see were very good and entertaining. If you plan to go sit on the floor seats of very front of mezzanine otherwise don't bother.

Hotels - Cosmo was the highlight, it is just a beautiful hotel and what a location. Bellagio beautiful as ever and fountains are still amazing. Caesars casino is looking a bit tired, time for an upgrade. Planet Hollywood casino is my favourite, such a beautiful place to be in. Rio probably the worst hotel I have been in in Vegas, off the strip, no $5 minimums, poor selection of bars and no nice places to sit, food places lood like cafeterias, answers on a postcard why a people stay there and b why do people visit there???

Service - In our past 4 visits I can be kind and say that the service we have received has been inconsistant, especially from bar staff. This time I am pleased to say that Vegas seems to have had a customer service upgrade. Everyone to a man (apart from the security chap at the bottom of the Stratosphere lift) was very friendly and it made the holiday just that little better, well done Vegas

Conclusion - Best Bits

1. Wicked Spoon Buffet

2. Aria hotel room

3. Happy Hour Wolfgang Puck Cucina

4. Meat Skewers Japanais

5. The friendly service from everybody (apart from the security chap at the bottom of the Stratosphere lift)

Worst Bits

1. Rio Hotel

2. Seats at Penn & Teller

3. Inconsistant food at Le Cirque

4. The security chap at the bottom of the Stratosphere lift

5. err thats it

All in all a great trip, maybe 10 days is a little too long. It was the worst jet lag we have had so maybe next time a 4 day stop over in Florida and a 7 day Vegas trip will be a better equation for our livers and waistlines. Hope you enjoyed my report and if 1 person takes 1 bit of info and finds it useful then my report will have been worthwhile.

Westbrook, Maine
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2. Re: Trip report 7-17 March

Great report, loved your information on each of the places you were dining.

Pittsburgh
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3. Re: Trip report 7-17 March

Great Report! My husband and I are going for our first time in June. I found you happy hour reviews/recommendations very helpful. I am all over getting a good deal. Thanks and glad you had an enjoyable holiday.

Kent
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4. Re: Trip report 7-17 March

Great TR, thanks. I'll be looking for those Happy Hour offers on our next trip !

New Jersey
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5. Re: Trip report 7-17 March

Great, great report...loved the info on the food and happy hours....thanks for the wonderful report. We're going in July and can't wait.

Amy

London
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6. Re: Trip report 7-17 March

A very informative and detailed report, which I really enjoyed.Love reading TR's from other Brits, although our American cousins have also been very helpful with info and tips on this forum. Am going for the first time in 65 days and counting.... can't wait!

Am now on here every waking moment, it's like an addiction!

Tavares, Florida
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for Daytona Beach
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7. Re: Trip report 7-17 March

I enjoyed your report very much, lots of information. Thanks!

California
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for Las Vegas
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8. Re: Trip report 7-17 March

Very nice report. You did an awful lot of Happy Hours. You must live for 4 o'clock, lol.

Actually we all do Las Vegas our own way, and you found what works for you.

Thanks for the report.

Edmonton, Canada
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9. Re: Trip report 7-17 March

Great trip report, thank you for such a detailed break down of all the places that you ate!

Canada
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10. Re: Trip report 7-17 March

Very good and informative report. I had to laugh though, we must have had the same fellow at the stratosphere elevator as you did. He was one miserable man, I'm surprsised that they keep him on staff.