I think I wrote about this back in South Africa, but I’ll mention it again: being a travel journalist is funny. One day you’re out camping and living on baked beans on cup-o-noodles, and then next day you’re thrust into the lap of luxury at a beautiful resort eating Kobe beef. My latest visit to Las Vegas definitely fits into the later category. We were absolutely pampered by our stay at the beautiful Aria Resort and Casino. During our stay, we got a spa treatment in, took a helicopter ride over the strip at night, and got to push the button to make the Bellagio fountains work. But most of all, we ate, and we ate well! The Aria is home to some of the best restaurants in Vegas, and we sampled a lot of them.
Now, this article will be less of a travel photography article, and more of a “this is what we did in Vegas” article. But, I hope you like it. Of course, there will be loads of photos from Vegas as usual. And again, if you ever end up in Las Vegas and you’re looking for a weekend of luxury, I can’t recommend the Aria Resort enough. It really was a fantastic stay. We almost had a hard time leaving the resort itself to explore, it was so amazing.
Where we Stayed in Las Vegas
As I mentioned, we stayed at the Aria Resort and Casino. The property belongs to the MGM family, and is connected to the Bellagio by a tram. It’s also right on the strip, so if you’re looking to wander down Las Vegas Boulevard a little bit, you don’t have far to go. The room we had was fantastic. It had a little living area with a flat screen TV. There was a massive bathroom with a tub, shower, and his and her sinks. In the bedroom, the bed itself was one of the most comfortable I’ve ever slept on. It was the type of bed that you didn’t want to leave. So comfortable that it was hard to find the desire to explore.
The absolute best feature of the hotel room was the view. From our hotel room window we could see the entire southern part of the strip. It was a fantastic place to watch the sunset and then the city’s lights come on at dark.
Where we Ate in Las Vegas
We didn’t take our dining options lightly in Las Vegas, and were spoiled by some of the best meals we’ve had in years. Yes, the saying “World-Class” is overdone. And, yes, the places we ate in Vegas we’re exactly that: World-Class.
On our first night in Las Vegas, we were treated to a cocktail tasting at Sage Bar. Our bartender, Robert Schultz, was an absolute wizard and crafted us some wicked drinks including everything from an ultra-girly drink made with Cotton Candy, to a classic “Old Fashioned”. It was fantastic, and I’d be lying if I said we weren’t more than a little bit tipsy when we left there.
After our cocktails, we headed into the restaurant at Sage. We ordered steak, and didn’t hold back on the quality either. Tiffany had the Wagyu beef, and I went all out with a Kobe beef. My steak was the best I’ve ever eaten, and yes I keep tabs on that sort of thing. The previous title holder for best steak I ever had was actually a Wagyu beef in Santiago, Chile at a place called “La Vaca Gorda”. Absolutely mouth-watering. I mean, this steak was butter. I can still taste it, and hope I never forget how delicious it was.
On Saturday, we went down to a pizza joint in Aria called Five50. This is a great spot for lunch in Vegas. They have amazing New York-style pizza, and really well thought out cheese and meat platters, which hit the spot. But what really sold the place for me was the desert. They have gourmet milkshakes! We tested three of their milkshakes, one was a s’more, one was chocolate-mint, and the other some peanut butter shake that was garnished with bacon. It doesn’t get any better than that!
We left Five50 stuffed to the gills. My recommendation: share. The portions are massive.
Though all the places we ate were amazing, Bardot might have actually been my favourite. I mean, Sage is fantastic for special occasions, but Bardot is the type of place that I could hang out, and keep coming back to.
We went to Bardot for brunch on the day before we left, and loved the experience. I mean, where else in the world can you have Lobster Benedict and bottomless rose wine for breakfast. Although we didn’t try it, the French Toast they serve here is unreal, too. It’s more like a French Loaf, it’s massive. What also impressed me about Bardot was the price. I found the menu to be incredibly reasonably priced. The service here was also fantastic, as it was at every place we ate in Vegas.
Of course, what would a trip to Vegas be like without a little bit of room service. We got room service for breakfast twice and both times it was fantastic. I got huevos rancheros, and a breakfast burrito the other; both were perfect. Tiffany got the French Toast one day, and oatmeal and fruit the following. The service was incredibly quick too. I think the most we ever waited from call down to the food arriving was about 25 minutes.
Things we Did in Las Vegas
I’ve been to Vegas before, but I haven’t really done any of the touristy stuff. Quite often, as a travel photographer, you’re out shooting images rather than experiencing life as a tourist. This trip was different, I really did get out and explore the city a little bit, and I had some of those typical tourist experiences.
Bellagio Fountains Experience
This was crazy. We headed to HYDE at the Bellagio and actually got the chance to push the big red button that makes the fountains burst. We also got to chose the song the fountains would play. It was extremely cool to have the opportunity to see the fountains from that perspective as well. I’ve seen the fountains from the strip, but from HYDE, you are essentially right inside the fountains.
I was amused to find out that you can actually purchase the Bellagio fountain experience. Included in the experience is a giant bottle of champagne, of which there are only a couple in the world, the opportunity to push the button and start the fountains as many times as you want over the course of a night, and, of course, the best seat in the house to experience it all. The price tag? A measly quarter of a million dollars. Psh, I’ll take two.
Helicopter Ride over the Las Vegas Strip
The night before we left, we jumped in a helicopter with Maverick Helicopters and got to fly over the Las Vegas strip at night. It was a cool experience despite the fact that it started to rain on us a bit. I have an article that’s going to discuss this experience, and about the photography side of this helicopter trip, in more detail soon. So, stay tuned for that.
Spa Treatment at ESPA
If you read my blog regularly, you know I’m not a massive spa person. However, this was nice. After driving some 16,000km around the US, camping, hiking, kayaking, etc., this was such a relaxing hour.
Las Vegas Strip Street Photography
Of course, I couldn’t resist heading out onto the streets of Las Vegas to do some street photography well I was in town. There are just too many interesting characters on the streets not to want to photograph them. So, I pulled myself from the comfort of my suite at Aria for a little while to photograph the Strip.
More Travel Photography from Vegas
This wasn’t your typical trip to Las Vegas as a travel photographer, and I really didn’t focus on the photography side of things this time. Rather, I tried to focus on the luxury side of life, I tried to let myself be spoiled a little bit. But, Vegas is such a cool place, it’s hard to leave without a couple cool images.
What’s Next on the Travel Photography Blog?
My next article will be about my helicopter experience over Las Vegas. I’ll discuss how to shoot the areal footage at night, and the things I learned from the experience. Then, I’m off to San Francisco!