Now more than ever, visiting Las Vegas is not just about gambling. A stopover in Sin City these days is all about the headlong, hedonistic pursuit of pleasure. Here are just a few of our top picks for over-the-top luxury, both on and off the Strip:
1. Elevate your spa rituals
The Strip harbors dozens of fantastically creative million-dollar spa oases. You can release everyday stresses with a Hawaiian lomilomi massage, an ayurvedic herbal bath or a chai-tea mud mask. Sweat out toxins in a California redwood sauna, a Turkish-style hammam or a Japanese salt cave. Afterward, chill in an arctic ice room where artificial dry-ice snowflakes fall. Romantic couples’ side-by-side spa treatments are guaranteed to bring bliss, while more adventurous spa offerings outdoors include rock climbing in Red Rock Canyon or kayaking on desert lakes. Almost all of the Strip’s spas welcome men as well as women, some upping the macho ante with high-end barber services, sports TVs in the steam room, and more.
2. Score the best seats in the house
All of the Strip’s a show, full of magicians, comedians, Broadway musical casts and leggy showgirls all competing for applause. For total escapism, let yourself be hypnotized by the artistry of La Rêve (The Dream), where surreal vignettes swing from romantic rendezvous to eerie nightmares. Aquatic acrobatic feats and choreographed underwater ballet by scuba-certified performers are the centrepiece of a custom-built theatre, which holds a one-million-gallon swimming pool. Alternatively, seek out a better-than Broadway show like Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular or one of Cirque du Soleil’s many acts - you can’t swing a cat on the Strip without hitting a troupe of whimsically-costumed acrobats. After the show, see out the wee small hours of the morning at one of the city’s hottest nightclubs - if you want the full treatment be sure to call ahead for bottle-service reservations.
3. Taste the whole world on a plate
Literally you can eat your way around the world in Las Vegas, bouncing from high-flying French dining rooms to Japanese izakaya (gastropubs) to southwest American chilli-spiced kitchens. In fact, sometimes you can taste it all in the same place. At Mandalay Bay, Fleur by Hubert Keller (the first guest chef ever invited to the White House) is a sophisticated, worldly take on a tapas bar. Atlantic halibut cheeks, Iberico ham, Russian caviar and Japanese wagyū beef all rub shoulders on the inventive fusion menu of small plates. Red-curtained cabanas make dinner feel like a private star chef-catered party for you and your friends. After-dinner affogato brings Bailey’s ice cream dramatically mixed tableside – with liquid nitrogen!
4. Shop and drive like James Bond
Calling Las Vegas a fashion-forward city doesn’t do it justice. International haute couture purveyors on the Strip carry everything from catwalk fashions fresh off this year's runways to diamond jewels. Why not pop in on Fred Leighton - many Academy Awards night adornments are on loan from the world’s most prestigious collection of antique jewelry. Unlike at their uptight NYC outlet, they might even let you try on finery that once belonged to royalty. After you finally hit that slot-machine or video-poker jackpot, take a flashy imported sports car for a test drive at one of the Strip’s luxury auto dealerships. Vroom, vroom! If you don’t have $100,000 to drop on a brand-new Maserati, you can still strike a debonair 007 pose while taking a souvenir photo next to one of these high-performance driving machines.
5. Fly into the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is the USA’s best-known natural attraction. At over 275 miles long, roughly 10 miles wide and a mile deep, it's an incredible spectacle of Technicolor rock strata. Carved by the Colorado River, the canyon's uncountable peaks and buttes and its meandering rims give access to fantastic views – and perhaps none better than from the seat of a helicopter. From Las Vegas, deluxe chopper tours fly by Hoover Dam, an art-deco desert masterpiece, before descending 3500ft below the canyon’s west rim. Landing at a scenic viewpoint just above the mighty Colorado, your pilot will break out a bottle for a champagne toast. Attention, lovebirds: you can exchange your wedding vows at sunset here.