Las Vegas: How and when to travel
By The Daily Telegraph | Published: 11th December 2012 01:58 PM |
Risque nightlife and glamorous casino resorts draw crowds from around the world but not just to gamble and gawp. In modern Las Vegas, top chefs dish up global flavours, while boutique hotels, fashion-forward shops, art galleries and chic clubs attract even gambling neophytes who can’t tell a full house from a flush.
Where casinos have no clocks, nightlife has no limits, and Sin City stays wide-awake until dawn. Saunter past velvet ropes at an ultra lounge, sip cocktails under the stars at a rooftop bar, or take in a mega-star’s stage show.
Roll out of bed just in time for a champagne brunch buffet, then sun yourself at a hot pool club. Las Vegas is made for sybaritic escapes from the humdrum everyday.
From its roots as a Western cowboy town, Las Vegas (Spanish for “the meados”) transformed into a mid-20th-century mobster hideaway, where Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack, stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Elvis, and bigwigs like JFK cavorted together with showgirls.
Every building boom was bigger and better than the last. Even during the recent US economic recession, the action at casino tables along the Strip hardly missed a beat.
When to go?
Las Vegas is an anytime destination. Casino doors never shut, not even for Christmas. Spring and autumn are the most temperate times to visit. In summer, the heat and humidity can be oppressive, although June, July and August are when Vegas’ sexy pool season peaks.
Winter weather is cold and rainy, but snow is rare except in the mountains outside the city. New Year’s Eve is by far the biggest annual event, when room rates skyrocket and every hotel for miles around is booked out.
Airport transfers: Taxi fares to the Strip average $15-20, to downtown $20-25. Request that the driver take surface streets to avoid being scammed by the longer I-15 connector tunnel to the Strip. Airport shuttle buses are slower but cheaper: one-way fares cost from $7 per person.
On foot: It’s a four-mile walk along the entire Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard), but the main attractions are on a two-mile-long pedestrian-friendly stretch centred on Flamingo Avenue.
Taxis: It’s illegal to hail cabs in the street. Find taxi stands outside casinos, hotels and shopping malls. Rates start at $3.30, plus $2.40 per mile (airport surcharge $1.80). A trip from one end of the Strip to the other, or between the Strip and downtown, should cost under $20 (including tip), depending on waiting time in traffic.
Buses: Double-decker Deuce and SDX express buses connect the Strip and downtown 24 hours a day, but service can be slow. A two-hour pass costs $5 (all day $7, three days $20; 702 228-7433, 800 228-3911)
Monorail: A private monorail runs along the Strip’s east side, as well as to the city’s convention centre, but it’s expensive (single-ride ticket $5, one-day pass $12) and stations are a 10-minute walk off Las Vegas Boulevard. Operates daily 7am-2am.
Trams: Free trams connect these Strip casinos: Mandalay Bay, Luxor and Excalibur; the Monte Carlo, Aria and Bellagio; and the Mirage and TI (Treasure Island).