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Third trip, first report

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Third trip, first report

I love the detailed trip reports, so this is going to be a long one. We went back in May & I’ve finally been able to sit & write all of this up.

Let’s see if I enjoy writing a trip report as much as I enjoy reading them!

If you don’t enjoy the long reports, then look away now…. You have been warned! Those who do like the long reports, I hope you enjoy this one, and that some may find it helpful.

Some background first, then I’ll post each day as a reply.

This was myself & my husband’s third trip to Vegas. Our first visit was just us two 5 years ago, then there was 23 of us last year when we got married at the Bellagio, then this time it was back to just us two.

I had surprised (let’s call him) P with this trip for our 1st wedding anniversary & his 34th birthday. I had planned to not tell him until the day before we were due to leave (his birthday) but a couple of weeks before, he announced that he could no longer have the time off work he had booked. “Sh………..t!” ….and so I had to tell him. Funnily enough, as a trip to Vegas was at stake, he of course had the time off, as planned.

I had actually booked this trip on a whim when I was delayed on a train, so didn’t put an awful lot of thought into it; it just seemed like a really good deal.

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1. Re: Third trip, first report

Day 1 – Friday

3 hours sleep for me, 1 for P, yet the lack of sleep didn’t stop us getting up as soon as the alarm went off at 4.30am

Got ourselves ready, & packed the last few bits before the taxi picked us up at 6am to take us to Manchester Airport, which is only about 20 minutes from home.

Bit of a queue at check-in, where a member of staff was trying to sell upgrades for £200 each to premium economy. I asked what we would get for this, and was told you get your meals served first (ooh, woo!) & a smidge extra leg room & width to the seats. We passed.

We were flying with Thomas Cook, which I was honestly dreading after reading online reviews. It was advertised very cheaply, then creeped up as meals, luggage etc were added on, but it was direct & still considerably cheaper than we’d paid on previous visits.

After check-in we queued for ages through security with it being a Friday morning. When we were through, holiday time could finally begin!

We would usually pay the £20 to go into the airport lounge, but as I didn’t have high hopes for the flight, we thought it best to go somewhere for a decent breakfast rather than the meager bacon sandwich & pastries you would get in the lounge.

We were in terminal one & went to Bar Mcr for an English breakfast, then I had the customary mimosa & P had a Bloody Mary (a pitcher to himself if you please!) It totaled £40 with tip & was an OK place to wait for the flight: food & service both fine.

I’m babbling on about the airport, when this is supposed to be focusing on Vegas, so I’ll just tell you that Thomas Cook Airlines is pretty poor, but you get what you pay for. It was a budget airline, but doing that long haul was not so fun. Meals were James Martin (‘celebrity chef’) but bordered on inedible. Had to pay for any drink you might want. TV on the back of each seat, with 4 films which ran on a loop which was pretty annoying because you didn’t actually know when it was going to start & there were many announcement interruptions, and you couldn’t pause/ rewind.

So I spent as much of the flight as possible asleep, which was probably for the best considering the lack of sleep the night before & the fact that after the 10 hour flight it’d still only be midday when we arrived. I actually fell asleep before we even took off! What can I say, I’m a good sleeper.

We were on the second row of the plane so upon landing were able to get off quickly. Customs queue was really short, with only passengers from our flight. Still waited 20 minutes to clear though. Not long to wait for baggage though, which was a bonus.

Walked out for a taxi & no queue there thankfully.

The driver said “You want the most direct route I’m guessing?” so I didn’t bother with my usual “no tunnel” request. We got tunneled. Not impressed.

Taxi fare exceeded $30! I gave him $20 as well as a piece of my mind! I’m aware that even $20 is probably more than he deserved.

We’d been dropped at Paris, where we’d be staying for the first couple of nights. On previous visits we’ve stayed at Excalibur & Bellagio (broad range, hey?)

It was only 1pm, so we used the bathrooms near reception to change into fresh clothes, then gave our cases to concierge to keep hold of until after check-in.

We had a quick wander around the casino floor, and stopped for some video poker with a couple of comped drinks: JD & coke for me, brandy & ginger for P…. goodness knows why he kept ordering this during this holiday, he doesn’t drink it at home. I don’t have a clue how to play poker, so was pretty pleased to break even on the VP. We spent about half an hour here, before getting ourselves out onto the Strip.

The weather was very sunny & hot, which was a pleasant change from all the rain we’d been having at home.

We got to the Cromwell & decided to check it out as it had only recently reopened since the refurbishment to transform it to the Cromwell. I actually really liked it. The casino floor is considerably smaller than other resorts, but I thought it looked very elegant.

We were welcomed at the door, which was a nice touch, and all the staff we experienced were very friendly. I settled down at a Wonka slot machine, as I’d had this on my list of things to do. I am not well-practiced at slot machines, but this wasn’t just a slot machine…. no it wasn’t an M&S slot machine, it was a Willy Wonka slot machine. (Apologies to any non-UK readers there for the M&S reference.) It was so fun! And lots of activity. I’d only put $5 in, but sat there for half an hour & finished $40 up. I must’ve only pressed spin 10 times or less, but there’s was loads of bonuses & whatnot going on. I got ever so excited when I got the three golden tickets! :-D During play, a manager I guess he was came over to ask how we were getting on, what we thought of the casino etc, and the cocktail waitress had come over for our drinks order whilst we’d only been sat down a couple of minutes. So not a bad start to the trip, and I vowed to return to the Cromwell.

Outside & over the bridge we went to Caesars to see what was new…. Fizz the champagne bar looked like a good place for a few pre-night out drinks, and we clocked Gordon Ramsey’s pub there. They were both in my little book. Yes I had a little book. P insisted on telling me what a “loser” I was every time THE BOOK came out. It was basically a loose itinerary for each day & lists of where I wanted to make sure we went. I know sticking to plans doesn’t always work in Vegas, but they do tend to for me as they are just loose plans. I say that, but after much research & planning (a lot from Trip Advisor – thanks everyone) I had made reservations for dinner every night but the first & last. I just like to make sure that we don’t miss out anything we had wanted to do, and this way I could make sure they were in some sort of coherent order so we didn’t end up going back & forth up & down the Strip. I had a list of places we wanted to eat etc, which I always like to do so that we don’t end up going somewhere cr*p that we don’t enjoy. There’s nothing worse than on the last day realising you’ve missed out a load of places you wanted to go & instead you’ve just gone to somewhere poor that you stumbled upon. OK, you got me…. who am I trying to kid? The book was full of suggestions, phone numbers, approximate cab costs, walk times, daily budget planners…. I could go on. P is right, I am a loser!

We were getting hungry by now, so I consulted THE BOOK & reminded myself that Earl Of Sandwich was order of the day for lunch. As this was at Planet Hollywood next to where we were staying at Paris, we figured we’d go there before returning to Paris to check-in, which incidentally wasn’t until 4pm.

So we dawdled over to Bellagio & had a walk through. We passed by the terrazza di sogno, where we were married this time last year. We went to reception to ask for a schedule of the fountain songs as we had wanted to catch Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon at some point, as this is the song that had been arranged for the fountains to play when we did ‘the kiss’ at our wedding ceremony. Unfortunately they had run out of the sheets with this information.

Then over to the botanical gardens as I knew they’d be closing in a couple of days while the theme was changed. We saw the Spring butterflies theme, which was pretty. I particularly liked the giant flower ladybirds, and fortunately I didn’t spot any dead butterflies in the greenhouse, as I had read about here on TA.

It was around 3pm by this point so we went over to Planet Hollywood to sample the many times recommended Earl Of Sandwich. There was a bit of a queue, but nothing major, and it was less than 10 minutes from starting to queue & sitting down to eat. P had the Italian, which was mozzarella & a selection of Italian meats; I had some kind of barbecue chicken creation. With drinks etc the bill totaled $25

The sandwiches were indeed very tasty, but not as big as I had been expecting, and I was now aware I would need another meal at some point before bed tonight. I was anticipating a relatively early night as we’d left home 20 hours ago, and wanted to be able to get up tomorrow morning feeling refreshed for the remainder of the week. It’s always important to me to get by body clock as sorted as early on in the holiday as possible. Otherwise I just end up exhausted & needing afternoon naps/ walking around like a zombie.

From PH we headed over to check in at Paris. There was quite a long queue, but plenty of staff at the desks, so we waited around 20 minutes. Did the $20 trick (still 100% success rate with this) & were offered a red room, which is what I was going to ask for, so was pleased with that.

Went up to the room, which was nice: decent size & nice décor, with a large comfortable bed, sofa etc. I read a trip report recently where the writer said they always seem to get the room furthest away from the elevator…. this is also the case for us…. literally every time. It wasn’t too far though, so not a big deal. We were up on the 26th floor with a view overlooking Bally’s, a roof, a car park & the mountains.

We called down for the cases to be brought up & they were with us within 10 minutes or so. I had packed strategically, so that we would only need to unpack one case, and the other wouldn’t need to be opened until we checked in at the Monte Carlo in a couple of days time. So case one was unpacked, we freshened up & went to check out the pool, look for the ice machine etc.

At 5pm the pool area was fairly quiet, but there was a DJ playing very loud music.

We then went to collect Jersey Boys tickets for Tuesday night that I’d ordered on Vegas.com with some kind of discount offer. It took us ages to find the box office, despite it being right there opposite where we’d been queuing at check-in!

There was no queue & fortunately I’d remembered to bring with me the credit card I’d used to order. I forgot this last year when collected Boyz II Men tickets from the Mirage, and it was a right hassle. So we were all done & dusted within a matter of minutes.

We headed to the Paris shops, but we were pretty much wandering aimlessly by this point, particularly P who had slept less than 3 hours out of the last 48. We were determined not to go to bed too early, but by this point we were barely even talking as we were so tired.

Over to Bally’s, P checked out the times of the poker tournaments, then wander wander. Meandered to Planet Hollywood, stopped for a drink in one of the bars on the casino floor, followed by more aimless wandering.

We were a little peckish again, and P spotted Blondies, where apparently he had enjoyed some chicken wings last year. It didn’t look like my cup of tea, but I was too tired to really care. There was of course some kind of sporting event on, and whatever it was, was causing a lot of volume from other diners. I thought it was just OK, but how good can mozzarella sticks & onion rings be? I had these with a giant coke. P had a dozen hot wings, which were apparently amazing, along with a giant beer. Totaled $45 including tax & tip.

We slowly walked back to the hotel, knowing that bed was calling.

P stopped to buy some novelty pens, which he informs me is customary in his office when someone goes on holiday. Whatever.

We got back to the room soon after 8pm, and we hit the hay with P making me promise not to tell anyone that we went to bed so early on a Friday night in Vegas.

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2. Re: Third trip, first report

You may have "went to bed at 8" but hopefully you were not sleeping!!!! Happy anniversary and hope you enjoyed!!!!

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3. Re: Third trip, first report

Day 2 – Saturday 10th May

We’d set the alarm for 7am, but thanks to leaving the curtains open I woke up at 6 I lay around for a bit before waking P up & getting ready to go down to Sugar Factory for breakfast.

I understand why the Sugar Factory shop has that name, but it just doesn’t suit the restaurant…. Not the menu, nor the décor. It was the giant cocktails that had tempted us most into the Sugar Factory, but the menu was decent, and the food actually really nice.

It was extremely quiet for a Saturday morning. We sat inside, but the doors/ windows were open onto the patio & Strip.

We ordered a $36 cocktail goblet to share: a passion punch, which was vodka based. It was huge, poured tableside & looked great…. very mystical! Then to eat I had poached egg, bacon, toast & potatoes, which did the job. P had banana French toast, which was just ridiculous. It was huge & came served with berries & caramel sauce. He was more than happy with it. Breakfast totaled $85 including tax & tip thanks to the giant cocktail.

By the time we finished breakfast at 8.30, P was drunk. Yep, 8.30am & he was more than a little tiddly.

As we were only at Paris a couple of nights & wanted to spend some time by the pool, this seemed a good time…. A good time for P to sober up I thought. So up to the room to change into swimwear.

We were down at the pool shortly before 9am; a sign there said it didn’t open until 9…. It was open, but no staff around, nor any sun at this point. There was a few people down there securing their loungers, and as they were all in the same kind of area, it was clear they were set up ready in prime position. We grabbed some towels & settled down near the apparent sun experts.

After around 15 minutes the sun arrived, and we stayed out there for a couple of hours. It had got considerably busier by this point, but there wasn’t any of the loud music we had witnessed when we popped down the previous day. The pool is a good size, so you could have a good swim without a lot of people getting in the way. There is a bar & snack area, and also waitresses walking around asking if anyone wants drinks.

After the pool we went over to the Cosmopolitan, Aria & Crystals…. had a look around the shops there, played a few slots (nothing exciting to report) & stopped for some nachos & margaritas at Javier’s in the Aria. I say ‘stopped’, but it actually took us ages to find it. I thought it was in the Cosmo, but as I hadn’t brought THE BOOK with me I couldn’t check. That’ll teach P for telling me to “leave the bloody book in the room.” Anyway we found Javier’s eventually, even after a Cosmo employee telling us it was up on their fourth floor. Just say you don’t know if you don’t know…. don’t make it up!

Javier’s is a Mexican bar/ casual restaurant on the casino floor. We sat at the bar & had strawberry margaritas (which strangely the barman had to ask his colleague how to make) & nachos with shredded beef/ chicken. Both were really good, but we probably could’ve shared nachos rather than order one plate each, as this was really only supposed to be a mid-afternoon snack.

We meandered back to Paris after this, stopping at various slots on the way, again with nothing exciting to report: no major wins or losses.

Back up to the room to relax & get ready for the evening. There was a decent bath, which I’d usually prefer, but was worried it might make me sleepy, so opted for a shower, which was in a separate cubicle rather than being over the bath. The bathroom also had a lit cosmetic mirror which was good, as hotel lighting is more often than not really poor for applying make-up. The hair dryer provided was also decent & powerful.

We were back down on the casino floor by 6pm & went to a bar (I forget the name) for a JD & coke for me, brandy & ginger for P…. $28 for drinks + tip, which I thought was pretty steep, and obviously just wished we’d sat ourselves down at a slot or VP machine & waited for a cocktail waitress!

We had reservations at Sinatra at Encore at 9pm, so had decided to walk there, stopping off at Bally’s, the Quad & the Venetian on the way…. Again a few slots & drinks…. some decent wins, but also a few losses, so probably broke even, although I say we’re up what with the comped drinks we got while playing. P said that the brandy & gingers he insisted on continuing to order were completely different wherever he ordered them from. I can only assume it was some kind of experiment, as I’ve never known him drink brandy in the 11 years I’ve known him.

Eventually arrived at the Wynn, where we of course stopped for a few photographs. We must have the same pictures that many times from each visit here. There was a lovely carousel made of flowers inside the Wynn this time though, and a hot air balloon.

Down to the outdoor patio at Parasol Down, where we were seated immediately & took the last available table. There were two really drunk girls out there in swimwear & giant sunhats despite the sun having recently gone down for the night. When the giant frog came out to sing What A Wonderful World they were heckling it & howling. They then got up to take pictures of themselves in front of it, blocking the view of others. Goodness knows how those pictures must’ve turned out, as the girls were a mess by this point. Oh well, it provided me & P some entertainment at least while we waited an age for our drink order to be taken, and a further age to actually be given the drinks. We were given some snacks to keep us going though.

I ordered the Sinatra Smash, which was as delicious as I’d hoped it would be. P had the cucumber & ginger cooler, which was a gin-based concoction as I recall. $15 each. P liked his drink, but was jealous of my Sinatra Smash. I could just drink one now actually, it was divine! We decided against another however due to how long the first drinks had taken, plus it had started to get a little windy out on the patio.

We went through the Wynn & Encore over to Sinatra, stopping at a Wizard Of Oz slot that I’d been looking forward to playing at some point during the trip. After the fun I’d had on the Wonka machine at the Cromwell yesterday, I was really quite disappointed with the WoOz. I must’ve fed in around $50 in total, waiting for something exciting to happen, but nothing as exciting as an oompa loompa special occurred…. not even anything exciting as hitting an Augustus Gloop feature! So I gave up in the end.

We arrived at Sinatra, which is tucked away in a corner. Had a quick look at Frank’s awards before letting the hostess know we were there for our reservation. She advised that due to what was now heavy wind, unfortunately we wouldn’t be able to sit outside as requested. We didn’t mind though as it had indeed got increasingly windy whilst we were sat out at Parasol Down.

We waited in the bar area…. I guess the outdoor patio not being open meant a little longer wait than usual, but we were still only waiting less than 10 minutes. I can’t remember what I ordered; I just remember that it was now me with drink envy as P had chosen the Sinatra Smash this time & I had gone for something nice, but not as nice. I’ve actually just typed ‘Sinatra Smash’ into a search engine & up came a video of how to make a Sinatra Smash…. tempting…. but not as I sit here in my dressing gown in the afternoon…. could quite easily get a name for myself.

There was a table in the bar area of an older man with two younger women…. he obviously had money & they seemed be lacking in any kind of moral standards. I think it’s safe for me to assume they were working girls. Not really sure what the set-up was, but I have to say I did notice on this trip more one man two women ‘arrangements’ …. quite a lot actually. I don’t know if these were just greedy men or if ladies of the night now need a chaperone.

I’ve just remembered a little story that relates to this actually. Last year in Vegas for our wedding, one of P’s friends made the acquaintance of two ‘ladies’ in the Excalibur & took them back to his room. One hour & $500 later, the friend woke up to a missing iPad & iPhone. But he had been left a single female shoe. It’s like a modern & sl*tty Cinderella story! Goodness knows what went on in there, but somehow he reckons it was worth it! The frantic phone call to our room at 5am suggested otherwise, but maybe with time he was able to look back on the situation fondly.

I digress.

Back to Sinatra…. Yes so the bar area was very nice: modern, elegant, chilled. As I say we weren’t there long before a waiter came to take us over to our table, carrying our drinks over on his tray. At the table was a card wishing up a happy anniversary, which was nice.

I liked the restaurant, the tables had a decent distance between them, Frank Sinatra music was played & service was excellent. I liked that it was a high-end restaurant with all the professional & informative service you’d expect, but the waiters seemed a little more laid-back & fun, and not as formal as some places.

They brought out some delicious breads. I then had a starter of Antipasto (parma prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, roasted peppers, olives) whereby the mozzarella was particularly delicious & very creamy. P had the carpaccio to start, which he really enjoyed. He then had a special fillet, which he claims is the best steak he’s ever had… Woah, quite the claim! He really didn’t want to finish it & I actually have quite a funny picture of him when he has just eaten the last bite & he looks extremely disappointed that there’s none left. He had this with some kind of potato & vegetables, and no doubt onion rings, all of which were ordered as side dishes. I had the Chicken Parmigiana for my main meal, which was basically a crispy breaded chicken breast in a dish with pomodoro sauce & lots of melted mozzarella. It was very nice, but the portion was a bit too big, and I did have to leave some if I was to have room for dessert. Ordinarily I would’ve had steak, but we would be visiting a few steak restaurants through the week, so thought I best have something different so I didn’t grow bored of steak. That happened on our first trip, and it felt very much like ‘first world problems’…. “oh have the poor little princesses grown bored of fillet steak?!” Ha ha.

I wasn’t really hungry enough for dessert, but I couldn’t say no to the chocolate mousse hat. It was brought out a long plate with a ‘Happy Anniversary’ messaged written on it in chocolate sauce. It was far too chocolatey for P, so I was forced to eat the lot. What a shame.

When the table next to us was leaving (two couples), one of the men apologised to us for all the noise they had been making, & said they hoped it didn’t ruin our evening. I can’t say I’d noticed. He seemed quite arrogant, and also a little disappointed that we hadn’t noticed how much noise & therefore fun they must’ve been having.

I hadn’t seen much about this restaurant during my extensive planning & research, but I can definitely recommend it. I don’t usually like to make repeat visits to restaurants as there’s so many places to go & that I want to try, but I’d definitely consider going again on my next visit. This was my favourite restaurant of this trip.

For the two starters, two mains, I think three sides, dessert & a further two Sinatra Smash’s each, the bill totaled $400 including tax & tip. This was excluding the drinks at the bar before the meal.

After dinner we headed back out into the casino & set ourselves down at a different style of Wizard Of Oz slot machine, hoping for a bit more fun & luck this time. We got neither. We did get a couple of drinks though from a very friendly cocktail waitress. Think we’d moved onto Jack & cokes by this point.

A few random slot machines followed, but nothing too exciting.

There was a massive queue through the casino floor to the night club at the Wynn, I think it was XS…. We’re not really nightclub people anyway, but I could tell from the queuing clientele that it wouldn’t be my thing. Some might say glam, I’d say uber-try-hard. These people sometimes don’t seem to realise that they aren’t being followed around by a camera crew, they aren’t reality TV stars, they are not a Kardashian. I do wonder if they actually have fun, or if they just get dressed up to the nines to stand there holding their drink & hoping to catch the attention of the opposite sex. Have fun! And if this is your idea of genuine fun, then tell that to your face! It’s just too posey for me.

We headed out to get a cab to Mandalay Bay, as I wanted to check out 1923, the new bourbon & burlesque bar there that Holly Madison appears in.

The cab driver pointed out when passing the High Roller that it wasn’t running tonight due to the high winds. We wanted to go on the wheel & had considered saving it for our last night, but now decided to try to go on sooner in case it wasn’t running on our last evening.

We knew roughly where 1923 was situated in MB, but still took us a while to find it. Finally saw a vintage car tucked away in the corner by a really small bar, and figured that must be it. Went over, took a seat & ordered a couple of drinks. The bar area was maybe 10 feet square & was just out in the open, you didn’t go inside a separate room or anything. There was also a bookcase to the side. I was confused as to where the main bar & performance area was as there were no doors around. After a few minutes the barman asked us if we wanted to go through, as one of the dancers had just started. A woman came over to greet us and pushed back the bookcase to reveal the hidden lounge area. Ah, now it made sense!

It seemed very authentic as a speakeasy from the Prohibition era. It was small & dark, with a few seats, a bar in the centre & a low stage area at the front. When we arrived Holly was performing atop a piano. It was probably around midnight by now, and this was the only performance we saw from Holly. I think it was every half an hour that performances took place with different dancers. As is with burlesque, the girls were flirty but classy & sexy without showing too much.

When the performances finished there was live music playing, which was excellent. This is where the modern twist comes into play, as it was recent music but not too loud or annoying. For example you might have a Beyonce song, but played in a 1920s style.

I really liked it in here, it was relaxed, but fun & different. It was a Saturday night, and there was a good vibe without being too busy or rowdy. Cocktails were pretty expensive as I recall, so as we planned to stay here a while I switched to JD & cokes (I know I should’ve been more adventurous as it specialised in bourbon whiskies) & I forget what P was drinking.

Later on we were treated to Skye Dee Miles, a larger than life singer & performer, who was brilliant along with the live band. Plenty of audience interaction & fun with her.

We did plan on having a couple of cigars…. neither of us smoke, but hey it’s Vegas & there’s a cigar lounge here. I don’t know what happened to that idea, but it didn’t end up coming into fruition.

I would definitely recommend this place if you’re looking for somewhere relaxed to spend a few hours one night, and I’ll definitely visit again on our next trip.

It was around 2am when we left to get a cab back to Paris, but the queue was horrendous, so we walked through Luxor & Excalibur, stopping for some bottles of water in there. We got a cab from the Excalibur & were back up in our room & asleep by 3am


Then I was up at 5am vomiting. Not fun. Goodness knows why, but then despite not feeling drunk, I had had a fair amount to drink today & I’m not good with mixing drinks. Plus I’ve recently lost a bit of weight & haven’t been eating as much, and P reckons the amount of food I had consumed today was about 3 days worth of what I would have at home. So like a psychological gastric band I guess!

I hope you’re not getting too bored. Although judging by how much I’ve babbled on, I imagine that more than a few have lost interest. If you’re still with me…. Hi, well done & thanks!

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4. Re: Third trip, first report

Day 3 – Sunday 11th May

The alarm was set for 7am so that we could have breakfast before checking out & moving over to the Monte Carlo.

I was still feeling a little delicate after the vomiting incident a few hours ago, but managed to drag myself out of bed at 8am & we went down to Mon Ami Gabi with me wondering what I could eat that wouldn’t make me feel worse. I would usually have eggs benedict here, but something told me eggs were not a good idea given the circumstances.

I needn’t have worried about that as Mon Ami Gabi weren’t accepting walk-ins today. Ordinarily I would’ve been disappointed, but I was feeling too fragile to care right now. I don’t know if it was because it was Mother’s Day, but I didn’t think you could make reservations for breakfast here.

So I consulted ‘the book’ & we decided to go over to Café Bellagio as I thought a waffle or pancakes or something might see my right.

Got out to the Strip & it was really cold due to wind & I wished I’d put a cardigan on. That’s the first time I’ve been cold outside in Vegas. I hoped it would blow away any illness left in me though.

Over at the Bellagio the queue to Café Bellagio was huge, right through the conservatory. So we looked round at Jean Philippe & the queue there was huge too. We decided Jean Philippe was the better option, as at least there we wouldn’t need to wait for tables to clear etc.

I chose a berry smoothie & a berry crepe: raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries. I then went off to sit down whilst P queued to order. I sat for a while, then went for a wander, stopping for a flutter on roulette on my way, but as I didn’t have ID on me I couldn’t play :-( After about half an hour I went to see how P had progressed in the queue…. he had ordered but still had a way to go until he could collect. He was getting a little impatient by this point as he hates queuing, so when I went over he was telling me that the system they had was ridiculous, and how he thought they should be doing it to save people waiting as long. I couldn’t be bothered to speak to tell him I was pretty sure they knew what they were doing.

After around 40 minutes of queuing we got our food & sat at a couple of seats near the windows looking out to the Bellagio pool, just near Jean Philippe’s. P had a coffee & I forget what crepe, but I think it had something to do with apples.

That was just what the doctor ordered, I felt a little better after my breakfast. It was really nice, but I wouldn’t queue for that long (not that it was really me doing the queuing) to have it again. The cakes looked really appealing, but it’s probably best I didn’t have one or I might not have been feeling better. P also liked his crepe, but wasn’t overwhelmed & said he was far from full after eating it.

We went back over to Paris to pack our stuff together & check out at 11am.

There was a queue to check out, that took about 10 minutes. I wanted to pay cash rather than my card be charged, so express check-out wasn’t an option unfortunately.

We went out to get a cab (again, a bit of a queue) & when we got to the front after about 5 minutes, were told we weren’t even in the taxi queue…. durrrr! I don’t even know what we were in the queue for actually, maybe baggage check, I don’t know. So we went over to the actual taxi queue…. I say ‘queue’ but there wasn’t one, so we hopped right in to a cab to take us just over the street to the Monte Carlo. We had toyed with the idea of walking, but given that I don’t travel light, that I wasn’t feeling 100% & that it was late Sunday morning so the Strip was busy, I was glad we were getting a taxi.

The driver took us a short cut through an indoor car park, which was weird, but got us there in a matter of minutes.

It was too early to check in, so we gave our bags in at the bell desk & had a wander around the hotel, as we’d never actually been inside the Monte Carlo on previous trips. It had only cost me $300 for the 5 nights, and as I’d booked this trip on a spontaneous whim, I thought that was a pretty good deal.

We went to check out the pool area, as I’d heard it was good, but due to the wind the pool was closed, and umbrellas & sunbeds were strewn around after being blown over. I’m glad it wasn’t this windy in May last year when we were here for our wedding!

We walked through to the Aria & played on a few slots for an hour or so. P really likes Bloody Marys so we wanted to go to the Todd English Pub at Crystals for their Bloody Mary cart. It’s only available at weekends & until 2pm, but we were tired & P wasn’t Bloody-Mary-ready yet, so we were just killing time playing on the slots, but as there were no big wins it wasn’t incredibly exciting. I was considering convincing P to find a bench for me to sleep on as I’d got so tired, but had a word with myself & pulled myself together.

Finding a bench to sleep on might sound a bit weird, but I really can fall asleep anywhere as I get so tired sometimes. I think the weirdest places are probably on a bench in the middle of Rome like a homeless person, or on some grass at the side of the road down in Cornwall (UK). I even fell asleep at school once & when I was younger, at work I fell asleep in a box of scarves. All but the school occasion were planned sleeps as well…. I get so tired that I think “f**k it, I’m going to sleep!” This is the kind of story P tells me to keep to myself, but hey, it’s shared now! :-D Don’t judge me!

Anyway I shook myself off & we got the tram over to the shops at Crystals. We’ve never used the tram before, but found it really convenient. Sometimes the same walks through the same places every day get a little boring once you’ve done it a few times, so it was good to know the tram was there. And it’s free, so even better!

Had a look around Crystals, and can I just mention that I really do love the smell in there! We didn’t buy anything, it was just more window shopping whilst slowly walking around to Todd English.

It was pretty busy & we didn’t want a meal, so we took two seats at the end of the bar. We both started with a couple of cokes to revitalise us, then P a beer. There was only one waitress working our side of the bar, and she was busy but really helpful, friendly & attentive. We asked about the Bloody Marys & she brought over the menu & explained how it worked. It was basically a menu with boxes to tick with all the ingredients you wanted with your drink. First you needed to select your vodka or infusion…. P chose chipotle, jalapeno & pepper (other options included bacon infused vodka), then you chose your ‘fixins’. The ‘fixins’ you could choose from varied from small additions like lime juice & horseradish, to more substantial (/weird) things like lobster, cheese, salami. Think it was 3, 5 or 7 you could choose…. P chose 5 which if I remember correctly was supposed to come to around $20 He had beef jerky, celery sticks, smoked bacon, pickles & black olives. I don’t like Bloody Marys, so I just ordered an Orange Fizz, which was basically a mimosa with berries.

The Bloody Mary cart was set up at the front of the pub & the ‘farm girls’ who serve them were stood with the cart & also outside. The outside area was full too despite the wind.

We also ordered some skinny fries, and they came out really quickly. We ordered, I went to the bathroom (which was a scary place by the way) & the fries were there by the time I arrived back. They were served in a little metal bucket & were very moreish.

The Bloody Mary on the other hand took ages. The barmaid (is that just a UK term?) kept apologising for how long it was taking & going over to the cart to see what was taking so long. She said that the girls are often very slow in more ways than one (meow!) & that they would take care of it. We didn’t mind as we were in no rush (check in wasn’t until 3pm), but it did take an awful long time. Eventually one of the farm girls brought P’s drink over with a half-hearted apology & an extra fixin: a shrimp. Neither of us like shrimp, but it added to the effect of the monstrous drink. It was very impressive-looking & P said tasted good too. A few pictures were taken & uploaded onto Facebook of P & his giant Bloody Mary.

We paid the bill & left a decent tip to the waitress who had been so helpful & friendly.

Before leaving P wanted to do the 7 second beer challenge, whereby you choose a beer from the extensive menu & have to drink it within 7 seconds to get it for free. They turn an egg timer over, then ring a big bell behind the bar once you’ve finished.

P found this easy & drank it in about 5 seconds. I don’t know how he does it, he just seems to open his throat & pour it down. Not that I could drink beer anyway, but even with a pint of water I think it’d take me 2 minutes or more!

We walked back to the Monte Carlo to check in. As expected, there was a queue, but again, it didn’t take long to get to the front. I did the usual $20 trick, but may have got the same room even if I hadn’t, I don’t know. The receptionist took some time looking at all the different options & asked what kind of room we wanted. P was cheeky & asked for a suite, but she said they can’t upgrade to suites, and anyway there weren’t any available. We got a room on the 26th floor I think it was & with a Strip view.

I would describe the room as adequate. It was exactly what is to be expected for the price, so I’m not complaining, but was basic & no-frills. For the price I wouldn’t be against staying here again, as I’m really not a hotel room snob, but quite honestly the rooms at the Excalibur are superior to this. I don’t have a problem with the Excalibur, as many seem to. No the hotel as a whole is far from luxurious, but the rooms I’ve stayed in there were great. As mentioned at the beginning of this report, I stayed at the Bellagio last year, which was obviously beautiful. I only stayed there though because we were getting married there & I had a big suite as I needed the space. However for $500 a night in the Bellagio or $500 for a week at the Excalibur, I’d choose the latter. I understand that may sound cheap, but we barely spend any time in the room, so I’d much rather save that extra money to spend, and heck, even save it for another holiday!

We called for the bags, which were brought up soon after, but even during that short wait, I’d started to fall asleep. I don’t think we’ve ever had an afternoon nap in Vegas before, but we decided to have a couple of hours sleep, as it seemed necessary.

We awoke thanks to an alarm we set and got ready for the evening.

We were in a cab off to Fremont around 7pm We had reservations at Hugo’s Cellar at Four Queens at 8.30pm, so we spent some time going in & out of a few casinos & playing on a few slots…. Golden Nugget, The D, The Fremont, Binions…. Not sure which casino it was we where we went upstairs & played on the old style slots with coins & a cup…. that was fun, but no wins unfortunately. We also had our picture taken with the $1million in Binions. Not sure how we’ve missed it on previous visits. There was no queue, but when we got there, there was one creepy guy having his picture taken. I don’t really know how to explain it, but he was kind of caressing the $1million (which is encased in plastic by the way) with a perverse look on his face. The lady at the counter who I guess presses ‘Go’ to take the photo, had to say “come on, enough now” so maybe he’d been there a while & goodness knows what he’d been up to. He said “No, just one more”, so the woman said “OK, hurry up then, there’s people waiting” & he pretended to lick the money in the next one. He wasn’t laughing, he was very serious. Odd. We went forward & the woman apologised. I’m pretty sure his tongue didn’t actually make contact, but we still made sure we didn’t touch the display!

We were told to collect the pictures around the corner half an hour later. We got two copies of the same image, which were free. There was a sign that stated only one picture per person per 24 hours, so not sure how the odd bod before us managed to get apparently several. We saw him walking up & down the street a few times that night…. just your average Fremont freak I think.

It was really busy out on the street, and plenty to keep you entertained: be that the performers on the stage, the ‘street artists’ (a thalidomide man playing the drums/ buckets, dancing children, 4 men dressed as Kiss with their bums out) or just the general weirdos that hang out there (a man in a soiled wedding dress, an old toothless woman yelling profanities, a boy that looked like a thumb…. Google it).

We easily found Hugo’s Cellar thanks to signs in the Four Queens. Having the word ‘cellar’ in its name it doesn’t take a genius to figure out this restaurant is underneath the main floor.

I wouldn’t have known about or considered this restaurant if it wasn’t for seeing it here on Trip Advisor & reading all the positive comments. When I told P that it was on our itinerary & showed him their website, he was unsure, but said that he knew how much research I put into things, so he was confident it’d be OK.

The restaurant was dark & small, with booths along the sides, and tables in the centre. It wasn’t full & diners were separated nicely. I hate it when a restaurant is quiet but they insist on putting you right next to another table. We were seated in a booth, and I was presented with a long stemmed red rose, as all female diners are. This was put in a vase on our table until the end of the meal.

Our waiter was Carlos, and he was delightful…. very polite & friendly, as well as professional & knowledgeable. He helped us with food, menus & specials. Another very energetic older gentleman came & asked us what drinks we’d like; there were no menus, but he asked what we liked & made recommendations accordingly. I had a Raspberry Lemondrop martini, and P a martini with cherries & Maker’s Mark. They were only $12 each & definitely worth it…. I’m not sure P would agree however; he said his was so strong it tasted like paint stripper, and sipped it throughout the meal despite wincing with every taste.

We were brought some delicious breads along with butter which was presented in the shape of a flower. We chose the Hot Rock Specialty For Two which was fillet steak, ahi tuna & chicken on a sizzling granite slab. This came with three sauces. Carlos demonstrated how best to cook the meats & in what order. Ordinarily you would get shrimp as well, but we asked for extra of the other meats instead.

The man that had suggested the cocktails came over again with his salad station, and I realised he was Victor, who I’d read about in the Trip Advisor reviews. Ah, I loved him! He really is what makes the restaurant what it is, and as much as I enjoyed the meal, I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed it as much if it had been Victor’s day off. He’s chatty, comical, hospitable & knowledgeable.

Victor made us two giant salads…. he calls out the ingredients, and you yell “yes” or “no” depending on what you fancy. I’m not much of a salad fan usually, but I really liked this one.

For the main P had a special lobster dish & I had filet mignon with bernaise sauce. Both came with a choice of vegetables & potatoes. All really tasty.

Between courses we were brought a mini cone with mango sorbet, although I can’t remember between which courses. Think it must’ve been before the main though.

After the main meal we were brought a large metal tray with chocolate dipped strawberries, apricots & figs. Then we were asked if we wanted a dessert! We were far too full, which was a shame as I saw the dessert trolley & had been tempted, but wanted to another vomiting incident.

The bill including tax but before tip was $208 which I think is incredible value. The breads, salad, sorbet & dipped fruits were all complimentary. We tipped generously after the fantastic service from Carlos & the incomparable Victor.

The décor is a little chintzy & the whole thing is a little dated, but not in a bad way; in a really good way. It’s like stepping back in time to how you’d imagine old Vegas. So Hugo’s Cellar comes highly recommended from me, and I’d be hard pushed to be convinced to eat anywhere for dinner downtown after this.

We went up to the casino & put $50 each down on roulette. It took a fair while to find a table with free places. I’m usually reasonably lucky with roulette (well not unlucky at least), but this time I kept losing. I didn’t buy in any more, but eventually I had a few wins & cashed out when I got back up to $50 in fear of having more losses. I then stood out of the way for someone else to play as there were a few people waiting. P continued a bit longer & finished around $100 up. We weren’t offered any drinks unfortunately, maybe because it was so busy.

Back out onto the street, where we walked around & watched the band performing on the stage a little more.

I must admit I still feel uneasy on Fremont, especially when we walked down towards El Cortez & Commonwealth, where there’s less people around. It doesn’t stop me going, I’m just more on my guard down there.

We played a bit of $1 roulette in El Cortez, but it just wasn’t a fun table so we didn’t stay long.

We passed the Heart Attack Grill & I attempted to show P why going there was a bad idea. It’s just a disgusting concept in my opinion, and I don’t like the idea of being hit with wooden paddles if you don’t finish your ‘bypass burger’ or ‘flat-liner fries’…. I think it would’ve been a much better idea for him to go there with his pals when they were here with us last year.

We got a cab back to our hotel, where we played some roulette & slots for an hour or so & had a few drinks, before heading to bed around 1am.

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5. Re: Third trip, first report

Day 4 – Monday 12th May

Woke up nice & early at 7am, so showered & headed out to walk around so my hair could dry.

We hadn’t been to the South of the Strip yet on this trip, so we headed towards New York New York & grabbed a Starbucks from there, and sat out front to drink it. It was nice sitting out at this time, albeit a little chilly. We were sat out there a fair old while though.

We then went through New York New York & played on a few slots, including Monopoly. Then up the escalators & out across the bridge, into MGM Grand. We had a walk around there & I played Willy Wonka, but again, it wasn’t as enjoyable as in the Cromwell, even though I had a little win. We wanted to find the Lion’s Share slot, but had to ask as we couldn’t find it (well it is a big place). Despite being told, we still couldn’t find it. I was expecting a small crowd or queue, but when we did eventually locate it, there was just one man sat at it with his friend on the next machine. He had credit in the machine, but wasn’t playing. We asked if he was going to be long & he said yes, but was having a rest. @r$e h0l3….he could’ve budged so we could have a go.

We were getting hungry, so rather than wander around the MGM doing nothing until the Lion’s Share hogger had finished resting at the machine, we went back to the hotel for me to get myself looking mildly more presentable, and vowed to return to the Lion’s Share another time.

We were back out of the room by 10am, and according to ‘the book’ today’s breakfast would be at Wicked Spoon. We’d never had a Vegas buffet before, so would be able to tick it off the list. ‘The list’ by the way isn’t as literal as ‘the book’…. in case you were wondering.

We had wanted a later breakfast today so that it was more of a brunch, given the types of food on offer. It would’ve felt too strange eating Chinese food & chocolate pudding at 9am

We walked slowly over to the Cosmo & arrived at Wicked Spoon at 11am. There was no queue so after paying (I think it was $30 each) we were seated immediately. Once seated the waitress came to take our drinks order & we decided to have the bottomless Bloody Marys (P) & mimosas (me)…. this cost an additional $12 each. The waitress was very quick at replenishing the first couple, but after that we had to ask. Think we had 5 each. The mimosa was nice, but P said the BMs were just OK.

There was a ridiculously large selection of food on offer, from breakfast foods like eggs benedict, to prime rib, sushi, bone marrow, chicken wings. It was a good opportunity to try things you wouldn’t ordinarily. The desserts looked impressive, and despite being full & this being my breakfast I took two (apple cobbler & melt-in-the-middle chocolate pudding)…. followed by a further nine: cookies, chocolate dipped strawberries & various cakes.

I have mentioned about the drinks not being regularly replenished, and it was also the case that the plates were rarely cleared. We were sat near a collapsible table where some plates had been left, so we just kept putting our dirty ones on there.

The food was nice, but it was more of an experience & an opportunity to be greedy than to enjoy great food. I liked it, but I think if I’d ordered full size versions of these dishes in a restaurant, I would’ve just described them as average.

We were so full that we practically had to be rolled out of the place.

Down into the Cosmo casino & had a look at Liberace’s rhinestone car that’s there. The full exhibit didn’t open until 3pm so we couldn’t check that out.

We went out passed the front of the Bellagio & the weather was far better by now & was getting really hot, with no wind. Then over to Caesars Palace so P could have a mojito from the little hut out near Serendipity. I’m not sure what it’s called, but P usually has a mojito from here when passing. We sat out while he drank it, but the 5 mimosas I’d just had meant I didn’t need anything else just now.

We crossed over to the Cromwell, and went in for some more Willy Wonka fun. Again, quick, friendly & attentive cocktail waitress service in here. And again, more luck on Willy Wonka, cashing out at $120 from $20. I think I’d play that game even if there was no chance of winning any money! I just got so excited when I got three golden tickets, then the anticipation of which feature you’d get…. Wow. Can you tell I liked it a lot?! Wonka & the Oompa Loompas gave me the best wins.

As we were close to the new Linq area, we went for a browse around. It was nice, and very ‘Los Angeles’ I thought. There wasn’t loads of empty units, as had been suggested by some on here. We went into Kitson but didn’t buy anything. I wanted to go to Purple Zebra & Sprinkles but we decided to return another day when we weren’t quite as full. We walked up to the High Roller, but didn’t go on as we wanted to ride it when dark.

We were feeling sluggish after all that food & needed a sit down, so figured the best place to do this would be at a slot machine, so we went into O’Shea’s followed by the Quad for some gambling. We probably spent an hour or more playing, although a lot of the time I was just watching P play.

We then went over to the Mirage, where we stopped for a drink in the bar near the lobby, then played on a few slots, but this didn’t last long as I won a decent amount on my first couple of spins, so cashed out. What I mean by ‘a decent amount’ is I put $10 in, and within a few seconds was up to $150.... One spin that didn’t win me anything & I was sensible & cashed out.

Back to Caesars casino (we’ll save the forum shops for another day) & Bellagio…. they still didn’t have a copy of the fountain schedule which was disappointing, as we were dining out on the patio at Prime this evening, which is just beneath the terrace where we got married last year, so we wanted to catch either Fly Me To The Moon or Viva Las Vegas, as we’d had on the day. Never mind, we’d have to wait and see.

We returned to the Cosmo; the Liberace exhibit was now open, so we had a quick look around. It’s not at all big, so doesn’t take long. It’s free though, so worth a look. The outfits in there are so intricate & OTT…. Very fancy. And a rhinestone piano. Obviously none of the items could be touched. Liberace was earning $300,000 a week for 30 years according to the exhibit, so no wonder he could afford such things.

Back at the Monte Carlo at 5pm, so I went up to get ready for the evening while P stayed down in the casino, where he turned $10 into $200 on roulette, then watched the Blue Man Group parade that goes through the casino every day at I think something like 6pm.

At 7pm we got the tram from Monte Carlo over to the Bellagio, where we called at the concierge desk to find at the fountain schedule…. still not available. So over Hyde to have a few drinks & to watch the fountains while the sun was setting. Upon arrival we were asked for ID before being led down to the bar area. Really nice décor, and relaxing ambience. It was quiet at that time, with just one table seating one lady who was in the semi-circular seat immediately looking out over the fountains. P & I were seated just a step down, so the fountains could be seen, but we had to stand to see them in full force.

We were given some snacks (too spicy for me) & a cocktail menu by a waitress who seemed to be under the influence of something…. she was slurring her speech & blinking & sniffing a lot. She was pleasant enough, but probably shouldn’t have been at work in that state! We hadn’t noticed her walking over to us, but someone obviously had, as a suited man stood a few feet away observing & looking anxious while she was talking to us, then when she walked/ stumbled away, the man grabbed her by the elbow & marched her away. Her poor stiletto’d feet couldn’t keep up with her. We didn’t see her again.

A different waitress came over to take our drinks order; I had a Blackberry Elderflower Collins & P, a Passionfruit Sunset. Both were nice enough & totaled $35 + tip. We would’ve had more drinks as we were there over an hour, but nobody came over to ask, so we didn’t bother.

The songs we got to enjoy from the fountains were Luck Be A Lady, Hey Big Spender & Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (which we heard far too many times when we were hear last year!)

We thought about going back after dinner, when Hyde turns into a nightclub, as it seemed like a good feel for a night out.

Anyway it was 8.15pm, so we needed to set off to Prime, where we had dinner reservations at 8.30.

I had been so excited about going here to celebrate our first wedding anniversary just a few feet away from where we’d been married, that I’d booked the table 3 months in advance, as soon as that date had become available on the online reservation. Of course I’d requested an outdoor table, and added the reason why to the reservation.

We headed down the escalator & were greeted at the desk by a lady who took my name etc, and said she could see I’d requested an outdoor table, but that’d be a 40 minute wait, so we could sit indoors instead. I understand the patio seating is a request, not a guarantee, but I was still disappointed we’d have to wait so long, especially given that I’d booked 3 months ago, had confirmed the reservation the day before we left the UK, and had explained the importance of us sitting out on the patio. I also didn’t appreciate the fact that she didn’t apologise, and wasn’t particularly friendly or pleasant. We were told we could wait at the bar.

The bar area was fairly small, seating around 8 people I’d say. We were ‘served’ by Doug, who was hands down, the rudest barman I have ever encountered. He attempted to take our order by asking "What do you want?".... I asked for a cocktail menu, which was slid across the bar to me. Maybe unique, but certainly not very professional! The menu was limited & I didn't like any of the cocktails listed, so asked if he could do a cocktail I'd just had at Hyde. "We don't do mixes" I was told. So I asked for a bellini. "Just stick to the menu" Doug told me as though completely exasperated with my request. I was pretty gobsmacked, and was resigned to choosing a cocktail which had a few ingredients I liked, a few I didn't. I forget what it was now, I just recall paying $27 for a cocktail I didn't really like. When Doug had gone off to make the cocktails, I said to P, “Can you believe him?! What’s his problem?!” P said we should leave, but I really wanted to eat here & had been looking forward to it for ages.

Throughout the time sitting at the bar, Doug didn't smile & was surly & rude. We weren't asked if we'd like another drink when our glasses were empty, and he didn't even speak when he gave us the bill, nor when we paid.

I’ve really never experienced such poor service, and this was somewhere I’d least expect to get it.

So our visit to Prime had not started at all well, and when we were finally taken out to the table, I was feeling pretty p*$$£d off.

However service on the patio from Julio was excellent: he was informative of specials, helpful, attentive, friendly.

Food was also very good, but I couldn't say it was the best meal I've had in Vegas. To start I had tomatoes, burrata cheese, balsamic & basil, P had steak tartare & carpaccio. For the main I had fillet mignon with bernaise, and P a fillet from the special menu (I forget what was so special about it), and we shared onion rings (which were very good), asparagus & gratin dauphinois potatoes (also great) & a bottle of Veuve Cliquot.

Our anniversary hadn’t been mentioned, which I was a little disappointed about, but never mind, obviously nobody cares about that as much as the actual couple do.

It was obviously a lovely setting on the patio, and I’m glad we had chosen to wait to sit out here than indoors. There were a mix of people dining out there, including a family birthday, a hen party & an inebriated old couple, but still all quiet & enjoying the atmosphere. The drunk old couple were sat in front of us, so we were kind of looking over/ through them to watch the fountains. They were bickering constantly and making mean comments to each other, but you could tell they were the best of friends, and were even holding hands at times when verbally abusing each other!

When we asked for the bill Julio brought it out along with a complimentary dessert, wishing us a happy anniversary, which was nice; they hadn’t forgotten after all! The meal of two courses plus wine totaled $450 including tax & tip. The price wasn’t a surprise, but I still thought it was a little steep for what it was. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very nice meal, but as I said, it wasn’t the best meal I’ve ever had. Maybe I’d built it up too much in my mind…. Or maybe I was too wound up by Doug to enjoy the meal as much as I’d wanted/ expected to.

Julio also offered to take photos of us in front of the fountains with our camera despite a photographer being on the patio selling the prints, which was really nice. The pictures were great & he timed them really well with the fountains.

Whilst we dined the fountains gave us Hey Big Spender again (which turned out to be this year’s Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds), the old favourite Time To Say Goodbye, along with many others, but sadly not Fly Me To The Moon or Viva Las Vegas. Oh well, what can you do?!

So overall, despite a lot of good points, I was pretty disappointed with the Bellagio this evening. When I got home to the UK I even emailed to tell them how we were treated & made to feel by Doug. Prime’s manager courteously replied to apologise & assure us the matter had been dealt with. Still not a nice feeling to have a sour taste in your mouth about the place you got married though.

When we left at 11pm I was feeling really full (still hadn’t fully digested this morning’s buffet), so instead of heading back to Hyde, we decided to jump on the tram back to the Monte Carlo. We’d planned to stop for a bit of roulette on the way, but all the tables were too busy, so we gave any gambling a miss.

We saw the conservatory display being disassembled as we passed by. I had thought they might cover the area so it was all done secretly, but it was very much open with people stood watching while big trucks drove through the corridors of the hotel to take parts away.

When we were back at the MC, P cashed in his $200 from earlier on, and we had a few goes on Wheel Of Fortune, only finishing $30 up. Bought some water from the little shop near the elevators & up to bed.

3am: Another vomiting episode. Great. Maybe the psychological gastric band theory wasn’t far wrong!

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6. Re: Third trip, first report

I love detailed trip reports and I have a 'book' too, it's useful to put all the little tips and stuff you glean from reading other peoples experiences.

Looking forward to the rest

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7. Re: Third trip, first report

Day 5 – Tuesday 13th May

Begrudgingly out of bed for 7.30am, and sent P down to get me a cup of tea to settle my stomach. He came back with a giant Starbucks cup filled with tea hotter than the sun!

Still not feeling too clever, but it was spa day today, so I knew there was nothing over-exerting ahead.

We were giving Mon Ami Gabi another go after getting turned away the other morning. This time we were seated out on the patio immediately. It was a little chilly, but it was still early so the sun hadn’t had much chance to do its job yet, and I was wearing a cardigan, so it was fine.

P had eggs benedict, which I usually always have here, but I went for apple cinnamon waffles this time. The apples looked a lot like slugs, but they tasted good! I must’ve being feeling appley, as I also had a freshly squeezed apple juice, while P had a Bloody Mary & coffee. Think it totaled $65 including tip etc.

There was a bus stop just outside of Paris that we could see & considered taking a bus downtown where we were heading. We’ve never used the bus in Vegas before, so as I wasn’t feeling 100% we decided against it, as I’ve heard/ read reports of a long & bumpy journey. Instead we took a cab from Paris down to the Golden Nugget.

I’d purchased vouchers from Travelzoo (thanks to whoever it was on the Vegas forum who brought this offer to my attention) for $99 each which gave us use of the spa facilities, 2 treatments & access to the Golden Nugget pool & shark tank pool.

We took the elevator up to spa when we arrived at around 10am to get wristbands which gave us access to the pool. We’d been warned to arrive early to secure a bed; if we’d have arrived much later I think we’d have missed out, as there were very few beds available in the sun. The beds were very tightly packed in, and you couldn’t as much as stand between them as they were literally touching. It felt a little odd being sat that close to a complete stranger.

P & I had to take turns in getting towels as they’d only let you take one each, which was silly really as you could easily walk back up to get another; I doubt they’d remember you’d already been up once.

We sat out & read for a bit & enjoyed the sun. The pool was nice, albeit quite small & with cold water. There was a waitress walking around offering drinks…. the strawberry daiquiris were OK despite coming from a machine rather than being made.

I hate putting my head under the water, so I’d avoided the slide so far, but vowed I’d go on later. You can swim/ walk up to the tank in the centre of the pool anyway, and can see the slide running through it. Most of the pool is in open air, but there is also a side which is covered. Before I’d seen the Travelzoo deal, we’d been interested in going to the Golden Nugget pool for the tank & slide…. As a non-guest you can call up in the morning to see if they have space by the pool, then pay $20 for a pass to gain access for the day. I would’ve been disappointed & felt overcharged if we’d done this, but it was part of the Travelzoo deal, it was fine.

Around midday we headed out to Fremont Street to find a snack for lunch. P had wanted us to go to the Heart Attack Grill, but I certainly wasn’t feeling it, and thankfully P was still fairly full from breakfast. We weren’t overly hungry, but knew we wouldn’t be eating until much later, so just wanted a little something. We ended up in a little café area in Binions & had 2 Cokes, chicken wings & fries for $14

Our spa appointments were at 2pm, so after lunch we went back to the pool just to go on the slide before heading up to the spa. There’s a staircase up to the slide, and when we got up there was no queue. I went down first to get it over with. It was not fun! You go down way too fast to be able to see any of the fish or sharks as you pass through the tank. Then when you’re fired out at the bottom you’re trying hard not to cough & splutter while people are sat around sunbathing or whatever. Never again for me. I’m not sure what P enjoyed most: the slide, or my reaction to it when he shot out shortly after me. We stayed in the pool a while longer & witnessed a lady who looked to be well into her eighties have to be tended to by a lifeguard after being catapulted out of the slide. She was fine, but a little shocked I think. Everyone else was shocked when her friend emerged shortly afterwards, and the lifeguard had two almost-drowned pensioners on his hands. As they both walked away unscathed, I can tell you it was actually quite funny to see. They seemed braver than I was when I came out, but I highly doubt they went up for another go!

Getting changed out of wet swimwear to go up to the spa wasn’t fun, as there were just toilet cubicles rather than a changing room, and the floor was sodden so you couldn’t put anything down.

We went up to the spa, signed in, were given a gown & slippers & taken into the two separate halves of the spa: males & females. It was a really nice spa: quiet, clean, well-decorated & lovely staff. I was shown to the locker area & then a quick tour of the spa. I changed & sat in a lounge area to be called for my massage. P & I each had a full body massage; mine with Maro, P can’t remember the name of his. My masseuse was male & P’s female. We both said that’s the first time we’ve had our buttocks massaged! The massages were 50 minutes & very good.

We met up in the whirlpool afterwards until I was called to go for my shampoo & “blow out” in the salon. Kathy was very friendly & chatty, and made my hair look lovely. P had gone in the steam room & been for a facial while I was getting my hair done. He’s pretty new to the spa & treatments game, only going for his first massage a year previously on our honeymoon. He said he felt uncomfortable at first, but he’s got to enjoy the experience now after we’ve been on a couple of spa weekends at home in the UK.

Obviously after having my hair done I couldn’t spend any more time there in the sauna or anything, so after 3 hours since we arrived at the spa, we settled the bill & left. The vouchers had already been paid for, but then there’s a mandatory 20% tip on the original value, so that came to an additional $80

Spending a day at a spa isn’t something I’d considering doing in Vegas before. I probably wouldn’t recommend it on your first trip, but if you’ve seen all the delights of Vegas before, this is a nice way to relax & unwind, and I think I’d do it again if I was there for a week or more.

We took a cab back to our hotel to change for the evening…. It was lovely not having to fix my hair!

We did discover however that P had left his Kindle by the pool. I say “his Kindle” but he’d actually borrowed it from one of my work colleagues. He called the Golden Nuggett but they said it hadn’t been handed in, and he’d have to call again tomorrow after the pool had closed & the lost property desk was open. I was not impressed, as I’d offered to buy him a Kindle for his birthday, but he insisted he’d rarely use it & borrowed one as he’d only need it for the week. He said he’d go back to now to check, but I think by the time he’d taken a cab there the pool would be closed, so he would just call back tomorrow morning.

We went down to the Monte Carlo casino & had a flutter, but no major wins to speak of.

We then took a cab down to the Vegas sign just for a few pictures. The taxi driver was a female, and very friendly & funny. She offered to stay to drive us back, but we were going to the Mandalay Bay afterwards, so would just walk.

We’ve not had to queue at the sign on previous occasions, but evidently 6pm on a Tuesday is a busy time. We didn’t wait long however. There was a man offering to take pictures for everyone, and the majority of people accepted his offer, but not one of them tipped! He didn’t ask, so maybe none of them realised.

We then walked over to the Mandalay Bay which took about 10-15 minutes, passing a few dodgy individuals on the way.

We were going to the bar area at Mix in THE Hotel & knew there was a big expo starting at MB the next day, so we went straight up to the 64th floor as we expected it to get busy. There were plenty of seats available (although none outside) & an area set aside for those attending the expo. We were given a table looking out of the glass doors over the balcony to the Strip. It was a great view & we were looking forward to seeing the sunset from here.

We got there in time for happy hour & worked our way through several cocktails: P’s favourite was the Passion Mai Tai (which featured an oh-so-manly orchid flower) & mine was their Raspberry Lemondrop. We also had a few of the lounge bites: mini beef short rib tacos, duck spring rolls & fries…. All really good & totaled $150 including tip. At 7pm the manager does a little speech & puts out free champagne for everyone to toast the sunset. I’d forgotten I’d read about that beforehand, so it was a nice surprise. They’d put more out at the bar than the number of people there (either that or not everyone went up for a glass) so there was enough for us to go up for a second glass each. We got some great pictures from the balcony of the lights coming on down the Strip; it was a great view & I’d certainly visit again on our next trip.

There was an unfortunate incident (which I tried so hard not to laugh at) whereby a man walked full speed into the floor to ceiling glass going out to the patio. He left an exact imprint of his face on the glass. He laughed it off, but the poor guy must’ve really hurt himself as he then went out to the balcony & was dabbing blood off his face with a tissue.

After Mix, we wanted to check out the Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay, so we went over just for one drink. It’s a dark & quiet lounge with great drinks & more amazing views from the outdoor balcony. It’s more a nightclub later on I believe, but it was just right for what we wanted at the time we went (which was around 8.30pm).

We had tickets for the 9.30pm showing of Jersey Boys at Paris, but the camera had broken…. I say broken, but it was just that all the pictures we’d taken since we arrived in Vegas seemed to have disappeared. We took a cab back to the Monte Carlo to get a replacement memory card & hoped that the pictures we had already taken could be recovered. We then hot-footed it back down to the cab line to go over to Paris.

We already had our tickets, which were for great seats on the front row of the mezzanine, purchased with discount from vegas.com. Before going into the theatre they take your picture against a green screen for you to view & purchase at the end of the show. We got some popcorn, which P dropped all over the floor before we even took our seats!

The show was 2 hours long with a 10 minute interval. It was a really good performance, although I’ve seen it rated as the best in Vegas…. It was good, but I wouldn’t say the best. And not because it was boring, but I did feel myself nodding off in parts, but then I was really tired, and the 5 cocktails & 2 glasses of champagne probably didn’t help! There was a story that ran throughout & the singing was top-notch.

After the show we played a little roulette at Paris, before going over to Caesars to check out Fizz, the champagne bar there between the Coliseum theatre & the forum shops. The menu is on an iPad & there’s a vast selection. Great décor & drinks, but not much of an atmosphere. Service was also so-so. We only stayed for one cocktail each. Elton John & David Furnish have had a hand in this place by all accounts, with their chef providing the menu, and some of the artwork being from their personal collection.

We considered going to Pure as we’ve not been to a Vegas nightclub before, but honestly it’s probably just not our cup of tea. We’re more bar people than club people, and even though we felt we should probably tick ‘Night club’ off our Vegas list, we just weren’t feeling it tonight.

So we walked over to the Bellagio & decided to get the tram back. It was around 2am by this point, and the tram runs until 4am which is really handy. When passing the Bellagio conservatory, the decorations were still being dismantled for the theme to be changed. Again, a small crowd of people watched.

Back at the room P tinkered about with the memory card from the camera on the laptop, and managed to recover the pictures we feared had disappeared…. Phew!

Irvine, California
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8. Re: Third trip, first report

Excellent report so far. Great detail, very well written and easy to read. Thanks for going to the trouble and effort.

Just one small point. You said that you didn't have a long wait at customs and then after that didn't have to wait long for your bags. You clear customs after picking up your bags so I presume you meant that the initial short wait was at immigration. I don't want to be picky but I wouldn't want other visitors to be confused by the procedures when entering the US!

Once again thanks for the report. Much appreciated and looking forward to the rest.

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9. Re: Third trip, first report

Yes, immigration sorry. Thanks for the correction.

Thanks for the comments so far.... glad you're enjoying.

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10. Re: Third trip, first report

DAY 6 – Wednesday 14th May

We were up at 7am (no vomiting last night… hurrah!) Breakfast at the Wynn wasn’t booked until 11am, so we lazed in the room for a while & P called back the Golden Nugget to see if the Kindle had been found. It had…. Another hurrah! They were holding it at the front desk so he could go & collect it whenever…. Phew!

Slowly meandered down to the Wynn…. Had a quick look around the forum shops when passing Caesars, and P bought some new sunglasses from Marc Jacobs as he’d left his at home. We were on day 6 now & he’d managed without them so far!

We arrived at Tableau at the Wynn a little before our reservation time, and were asked if we’d like to sit out by the pool or in the conservatory, and we opted for inside. All very sophisticated, even with a little chair brought over for my bag…. very cute. Our waiter (unfortunately I can’t remember his name) was lovely, and he was adamant he remembered me eating there before, despite me assuring him I hadn’t. Both P & I had a strawberry vanilla balsamic smoothie, which was delicious. Then P ate the duck hash with eggs, and I had the eggs benedict…. both really good. Totaled almost $100 for breakfast, which is more than average, but worth it. As I’d booked in advance & noted our anniversary on the reservation (yes, again ☺) a plate of chocolate dipped strawberries was brought out, which was really nice.

Despite Tableau being very high-end, it was relaxed & welcoming. All aspects were impeccable: service, décor, food, standards.... one of the waiters spent 10 minutes or more cleaning up a table, most of the time spent making sure there was absolutely no creases in the table linen.

Played a few slots at the Wynn & came out $90 up, so that pretty much paid for breakfast!

Over to the Mirage to have a cocktail at Rhumbar. The outdoor area was closed off, so we went inside to ask when it would be opened, and they opened it for us. I had a caiprahna & P had one of the yard sized frozen cocktails…. I wish I’d had one too as it was absolutely baking hot out there, to the extent that I had to sit on a cushion so the chair didn’t burn my skin! I really liked Rhumbar & would liked to have spent more time out there, but it was too hot to sit still with no suncream on. Unfortunately we didn’t get chance to go back later in the trip, but we’ll definitely return next time.

We went over to the Linq area & went to Sprinkles cupcakes. There’s a cupcake ATM outside where you can pay for your cake & it pops out of a little hatch. We didn’t use this as we were using cash instead of cards. We sat inside & I had a chocolate vanilla, P had I don’t know, I think it was carrot cake or something. They even sold little mini cakes for dogs which was cute. We saw loads more dogs on this trip than on previous occasions. Vegas is obviously getting popular with the canine community.

Next stop was the Purple Zebra frozen daiquiri bar, which is just what the doctor ordered to satisfy me from the heat. You choose your ‘vessel’…. P & I chose one that was two separate parts twisted together, so that we could choose two flavours & share. Once purchased, you take your container over to the dispenser, where one of the girls suggests flavours that work well together, and you can test them until you get the one you like the most. I chose strawberry with blueberry & P had orange with I think it was mango. The ‘waitress’ I guess you’d call her thought are choices were a little boring…. Probably because there is an option to mix all 18 flavours, so compared to that, yes maybe ours was a little boring! She broke the first ‘vessel’ so had to take a second. Once it was made though, it was delicious & very refreshing. You can get refills at a discounted rate as well.

We wandered around the Linq for a while & sat out in the sun for a bit, before we headed over to the Cromwell, where I played my favourite Wonka game again. He wasn’t so kind to me this time though unfortunately. The service was friendly & quick, as it had been on each visit. I had a strawberry daiquiri with cream which was very tasty.

We stayed on that side of the street & walked up to Planet Hollywood, where we played a few slots & got rid of the big cup from Purple Zebra as we’d finished our frozen daiquiris & it was unlikely we’d use it again. We stopped by the Coke shop & I purchased a Vegas themed bottle to add to a collection of Coke bottles I have at home. We then went to the M&M shop to get a couple of souvenirs for people back home.

Now knowing where the Lion’s Share was located in MGM Grand, we were able to go straight over when we got up to the hotel. There was nobody playing, so we took a seat, put $100 in & watched it disappear very quickly. Despite the huge jackpot, I can’t say I was tempted to plough any more money in, as it was pretty boring. There were a couple of people waiting to play once our $100 had gone, so we moved aside & played another nearby machine, where we quickly won the $100 back, so off we went.

Over the bridge & to New York York, where we stopped & watched a slot marathon…. Good grief, they were fast…. It was pretty crazy. But they seemed to be enjoying themselves, and a lady won $12,000 while we were there, much to the delight of her husband, who fell to his knees & was weeping. I told you it was a little crazy.

P was getting peckish by this point, so we stopped at a bar in NY NY & shared a plate of nachos, which weren’t great, but were fine. And P had a couple of beers as they were 2-4-1

After that we headed back to the hotel to get ready for evening.

I really could’ve done with a nap, but we had dinner reservations at 8pm, so I resisted.

We walked over to the Cosmopolitan, where it took us a fair while to find Vesper, a bar I’d read about on here & wanted to try. It was busy, so we were lucky to get a table, and due to the busy-ness, service was slow. The décor & drinks were nice though, with lots of mirrors & a decent cocktail menu. I chose something strawberry based (just for a change!) with egg whites, and P had something containing garlic flavoured vodka…. I tried it & thought it was awful, but he liked it. We’d planned to have a few drinks here ahead of dinner, but they were so slow that we didn’t bother, or have time for that matter.

We took a cab from the Cosmo to the Royal Resort to experience Barrymore, a restaurant I’d read a lot of great reviews for online. We knew not to expect an awful lot in terms of the exterior of the hotel, but I was really looking forward to the Barrymore.

The restaurant was easy to locate, and we received a very nice welcome. There were just ten tables in the restaurant, with four sets of diners. Really pleasant & quaint restaurant, with excellent service from Bill. To start I had the lobster mac & cheese, which I really enjoyed, and P had the veal sweetbreads, which sounded disgusting to me, but P liked. For the main P had a special fillet & I had the normal fillet, which was disappointingly small, but for $39 it should maybe have been expected. We had a few sides to share which were all great too. Total was $208 plus tip.

There were unfortunately a few negatives at the Barrymore, but funnily enough I still liked it (I say I, as I don’t think P was as keen). We had starters, drinks & mains, and were out of the restaurant less than an hour after we’d arrived. We didn’t feel particularly rushed, but with it being quiet, it would’ve been nice to spend a bit more time there; there could’ve been more time between courses for example. I’d booked on Open Table (as I had with I think all reservations on this trip) & (yes, yet again) noted celebrating our wedding anniversary, but no mention was made of it. It wasn’t a big deal, I think I do it more to embarrass P than anything else, I was just surprised that as everywhere else had at least congratulated us, that nothing was said. I was also surprised that we weren’t asked if we wanted to go out onto the patio after our meal, but to be honest it wasn’t at all what I was expected. It looks great on their website, but in reality it was just a boxed in space on the car park on at the front of the hotel.

Then there was the hair. Yes, a hair in P’s food. He couldn’t finish his meal after that, but had already eaten quite a lot before he’d found it. We didn’t even say anything, as it was obviously an accident & the restaurant was so small that all the other diners would’ve heard, and we didn’t want to put anyone off or make the waiter feel uncomfortable. Not pleasant though.

After leaving the restaurant we went to the front desk of the hotel to ask for a cab to be called, as the location meant there was no rank there, nor would we be able to stop a passing taxi. The lady at the desk was very rude & unhelpful, and didn’t want to call a cab for us. She was huffing & puffing, telling us it wasn’t really convenient. She wasn’t exactly busy…. there was nobody else around & all we’d disturbed her from when we went over was her reading a magazine. She was pretty miserable & told us to wait outside once she’d booked for us. Needless to say she didn’t get a tip. Surely others must ask for this, but she was behaving as though we were the first & most impertinent people ever in our request for a cab to be called.

We waited at the front of the hotel for around 15 minutes before the cab turned up. It feels a bit sketchy round there, so I wouldn’t have felt comfortable walking anywhere.

I don’t want to put anyone off going to the Barrymore, as the food is nice & of a high quality, the restaurant itself is lovely & a bit different. Nevertheless I want to be honest about our experience there.

The cab took us over to the Linq so we could go on the High Roller, and dropped us off just near the entrance to the wheel. There was no queue, so we went straight up. There are bathrooms & a bar if you need them before getting on.

We were in a pod with around 10 others…. There’s plenty of space for everyone to enjoy the view & take pictures. Although the wheel moves incredibly slowly, the 30 minute ride seemed to pass by very quickly. You get a great view obviously, and although I don’t feel the need to go on again, I would recommend it to others, especially if you can get a discount voucher (I know there have been some on Groupon recently). Of course there are plenty of places to get a great view of the Strip, but this gave a different angle & was a nice change/ experience. There was a marriage proposal in our pod, which went unnoticed at first, but the couple got a round of applause when people eventually noticed & she said yes. P had noticed right away & filmed it to email to them when we got home.

Before we got on the wheel our picture was taken against a green screen, so when we got off there was a cheesy picture with the wheel/ the view of the Strip superimposed in the background available to buy for $20 or something…. we didn’t bother.

I was still a little hungry after my very small steak, so we saw this as an opportunity to visit Gordon Ramsey’s for a sticky toffee pudding as I didn’t know when else we might get chance & I simply had to try it…. From all the recommendations & to tick it off from my book! It was 10.30pm by this point & GR’s pub at Caesars closed at 11pm, so over we went. We saw a couple of men walking out of Caesars seemingly inebriated & wearing dressing gowns, which was weird but I guess fairly typical Vegas behaviour.

At GR’s we told the waitress we were just there drinks & a dessert, and she seemed to think this was amusing as she walked us over to a table. It was fairly busy, and even though it was near to closing time, orders were still been taking & lots of people were still eating. P & I shared the sticky toffee pudding, which was everything we had hoped it would be…. Really really nice & would definitely recommend. To drink P just had a beer, and I had a delicious toffee apple cocktail.

I was happy to stay out but P has a back problem that was giving him increasing trouble & he wanted to go back to the hotel, so off we went on the tram from the Bellagio. Again I called at the desk at the Bellagio to ask for the fountain song schedule, but again this wasn’t available.

Straight up to bed when back at the Monte Carlo.