The casinos and hotels surrounding the Las Vegas Strip come to life at dusk.
Traveling to Las Vegas is like taking a trip all over the world: You can gamble in settings that resemble Monaco and Macao, eat fish that swam in the Adriatic Sea 48 hours earlier, and debauch in a nightlife scene so hot it makes Ibiza and St-Tropez feel dated. This mélange makes it a spot unlike any other. It’s easy to overindulge, which, of course, is the whole point—and why many people visit several times each year. But relaxation is also attainable. A perfect long weekend means doing both.
The Country Club at Wynn overlooks a pond and waterfall
Checking into Wynn Las Vegas, the most luxurious and grown-up casino, is a good start. (The ultra-lavish tower suites bring in the biggest players; don’t be surprised to see people counting bricks of cash in the elevators.) After dinner, walk through the upscale mall that connects Wynn to its sister resort, Encore. That’s where you’ll find XS, a majestic nightclub where star DJs like Afrojack and Avicii hold court. This is a true mega-club: 13,000 square feet inside, 27,000 square feet outside, 95 VIP tables, and 26 cabanas. In a city known for ample excess, there’s still only one XS.
But that doesn’t mean you need to spend all night in one spot. Many VIPs bounce from club to club, so it’s worth befriending (or eavesdropping on) those with tables around the dance floor. They might be headed to Tao at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino or to the Drai’s afterhours spot at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon.
And if you’re hungry after a long night of partying, Tacos El Gordo, an outpost of a Tijuana mainstay, is just north of Encore and open until 4 am on weekends. The $2 tacos include many excellent spicy pork and ground beef options, but you’ll be fine grabbing a juicy steak taco, too.
Even after just one night in Vegas, you might be ready to chill. Start Saturday with the jazz brunch at The Country Club restaurant at Wynn; gaze at the stunning golf course while sampling chef Carlos Guía’s Cajun dishes, then have a spa detox afternoon at The Venetian’s Canyon Ranch SpaClub, home of what I think is the city’s most transporting Thai massage, which will stretch you into submission and then into a state of complete bliss.
Retail therapy can come next. The hip new Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas resort includes AllSaintsSpitalfields and CRSVR, DJVice and NickSakai’s fantastic sneaker shop. And you can easily spend hours weaving your way through the 85,000-square-foot BarneysNewYork at The Shoppesat thePalazzo.
LMFAO perform at The Cosmopolitan’s Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub
When the gambling urge strikes, Bellagio, with the best poker room and lively table games, is a solid bet. If someone in your group doesn’t feel like playing, send them to O, the water-themed show that’s still the most entertaining of the Cirque du Soleil productions and knockoffs. Those who chase the newest and hottest will have another reason to hit Bellagio soon: Los Angeles hospitality heavyweight Sam Nazarian’s HydeLounge is opening on New Year’s Eve. Hyde has serious competition, though: New York club kings RichieAkiva, ScottSartiano, and RonnieMadra are partnering with The Light Group to open 1 OAK at The Mirage that night, as well.
Vegas starts to wind down on Sunday, but Chinatown is always bustling, with its Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Korean, and Vietnamese restaurants, bars, and karaoke lounges. It’s where numerous Asian “whales,” the richest gamblers in Vegas, feast when they’re not buying an Audemars Piguet watch or betting $20,000 on black at Wynn. BigWong, with Asian street food often as amazing as what you’ll find in Malaysia, Singapore, or Taiwan, is the restaurant of the moment in Chinatown. And it’s in the same strip mall as late-night chef hangout Raku, a Japanese spot specializing in grilled dishes that brings in regulars like Paul Bartolotta, Kerry Simon, and JoëlRobuchon. Hitting Big Wong and Raku on the same night will make you feel like a true Vegas insider.
Many tourists are gone by Monday, and that’s a perfect day to head to The Cosmopolitan. You’ll see many hospitality-industry folks having dinner at STK or BlueRibbonSushiBar&Grill, hanging out with friends after yet another wild weekend; if you’re friendly, you might get some useful tips for your future visit.
But don’t think about the next trip just yet. After dinner, hit MarqueeNightclub & Dayclub, The Cosmopolitan’s resident megaclub. Monday parties there include a monthly DJ gig from Redfoo of LMFAO, who will remind you in no uncertain terms that you’re no longer in South Beach—tonight you’re partying in the real Sin City. And no matter how insane your trip has been, on this Monday night, you should dance. After all, it won’t be long before you’re back in Miami, plotting your next spectacular long weekend in Las Vegas.