las vegas confidential

Bellagio Conservatory Las Vegas
Spring display at Bellagio Conservatory

I’ll be completely honest: Las Vegas is more le Monsieur’s thing than mine. But even for those who don’t come for the gambling, there’s still plenty to enjoy. The food, for one. While the cheap buffets are mostly a thing of the past unless you get away from the Strip, there are many excellent restaurants to try. And shows. There are multiple Cirque du Soleil productions at any given time, and others such as Blue Man Group, major musical acts and various musical tributes. We don’t see a show very often, but had heard good things about “Absinthe” and as we were celebrating a special occasion (our 20th wedding anniversary) thought, why not?

If Cirque du Soleil, a classic burlesque show and HBO’s “Carnivale” had a threesome, “Absinthe” would be the resulting offspring. It was SO much fun! Raunchy, offensive in an equal-opportunity way, funny and featuring some truly amazing acrobatic acts, it delivered entertainment you probably won’t see anywhere else. It’s staged in a smallish circus tent, so you are very close to the performers. (Word of warning: don’t get seats in the front row unless you’re willing to be part of the entertainment, and those with delicate sensibilities might want to skip altogether.)

Bellagio Las Vegas Conservatory

Bellagio Las Vegas conservatory

Bellagio Las Vegas

One of my favorite activities is strolling through the Conservatory at the Bellagio, which always includes some fantastical floral displays. This Spring’s theme is “Cherry Blossoms.”

Las Vegas Bellagio Conservatory

Best time to visit is early in the morning when crowds are lighter.

Did I mention food? In addition to the mind-blowing meal we enjoyed at Joel Robuchon, le Monsieur had also asked the hotel concierge to see if we could get dinner reservations at Picasso at the Bellagio. Not only did she get us reservations…

Bellagio fountains Las Vegas

but one of the best tables in the house, on the patio right next to the Bellagio fountains! It was truly special. Again, I resisted taking food pictures until dessert arrived…

dessert at Picasso restaurant
Earl Grey Tea Cheesecake

Truly magnifique!

We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental in City Center, which I loved, mostly because it has no casino attached, and so is very low-key. And no smoke!

Mandarin Oriental Las VegasThe view was quite nice, especially at night…

Vegas view

the room was spacious and comfortable, and the staff very attentive.

And yes, we played some games. A bit of blackjack at the cheap tables, mostly poker and blackjack on the 25 cent machines. I look at gambling as just another form of entertainment. I decide how much I’m willing to spend (i.e. “lose”) and try to make that much last as long as possible. If I lose less before I get tired of the smoke and the noise, I consider that a win. 😉

There’s also plenty of shopping, from tourist tat to highest end and everything in between. (Only in Hong Kong did I see more Chanel boutiques per square mile.) Yes we did a little shopping, though mostly of the “just looking, thanks” variety.

But we did stop on the way home to pick up a tee shirt for jeune homme at the Alien Fresh Jerky place…

Alien Fresh Jerky

Have you visited Las Vegas recently? What’s your favorite thing to do there?

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  1. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful and special break! It looks awesome and I’m sure if we ever went, would choose pretty much the same things to enjoy as you both did. Mon Monsieur will reach a significant birthday next year and I have to organise something very special for just the 2 of us and wondered if you posted about this occasion before – off to search! Really glad the trip went so well!

  2. I’ve only been to Las Vegas once. I accompanied my husband when he was speaking at a legal conference there. The conference was at The Four Seasons, so that is where we stayed. It was quite nice with a magnificent view from our room’s window at night. I could have sat at the window to view the view all night. I agree with you about the food. We attended several different dinners and receptions at various venues. The food was outstanding

    I really abhor gambling. I have an almost visceral reaction to it–and to smoke. It makes me sad to see all those people riveted to the machines and /or other methods of gambling. I find it very disconcerting. We walked (quickly) through one casino. My husband (who does not gamble) insisted that we do that just so I could see what it is like. It was the Casino connected to The Four Seasons, so at least it was not one of the seedier ones.

    We did not attend a show as our time was booked with conference events. I AM glad that I went to Las Vegas. I am certain that it will be my only trip there. If I am going to venture west, give me Big Sur, Pacific Grove, or other examples of nature’s beauty.

    1. I have to agree with you, Susan. I’ve been to Las Vegas a few times with my husband for conferences. He has to go alone now. I really dislike Vegas. I’ll give the food a good review and I have seen a few good shows there, but I really dislike the atmosphere. The fake everything, the crowds, the lack of natural surroundings – like a sketchy version of Disney World. We’ve stayed at the best hotels, but you can go to many other locations and stay at a luxury hotel with great shopping. Why go to Vegas?

  3. I love that you cavorted about, and after all Monseuir has been very patient about Paris 😉

    One of my GFs mother picked Vegas to celebrate a decade birthday, so, groaning, off GF went… and had a fantastic time. It is possible to skip the gambling entirely- but her mother played a slot and won 5K on the first pull, then walked away! (I have never been.)

    1. Duchesse, yes he’s been a very good sport about working Paris into our travels. I think one of the reasons we’re still happily married is that give and take; Las Vegas is his “happy place” and Paris is mine, so we try to make room for both. (Though he does certainly enjoy the food in Paris too…)

  4. Happy Anniversary – will save your recommendation for a no-casino, no smoking hotel! As I dislike both!

  5. We went years ago with our 2 kids when they were trying to make it a family-friendly destination. My daughter was in her princess phase and loved that we stayed at Excalibur. We rented a car and drove to different national parks. This past October I returned with my husband, who had a conference there. Once again, we rented a car and drove to Bryce Canyon and the north rim of the Grand Canyon before the conference started. (Just stunning!) I noticed quite a few new casinos since my last trip. I also highly recommend checking out the Marshall’s on the Strip – lots of designer things that you just don’t see at our Marshall’s at home.

  6. Yours is definitely my favorite blog. Not only do you have a beautiful sense of style, but your posts are constant reminders to build a little adventure into life on a regular basis! When you get back from your trip, would you consider talking a bit about fitness?? I am struggling with weight issues, and could really use some motivation! What does your typical diet look like? Exercise? Thanks!

  7. I have never been to Vegas but have heard what a vibrant spot it is to visit. Actually I have never been to a Casino to gamble. Once I was there to help with a fundraiser for the school I was working in but we never got to play any games.
    Your weekend jaunt looks like fun and a great way to honour a milestone celebration. Happy Annversary!

  8. Happy 20th anniversary! Looks like you celebrated in style, as evidenced by your stunning photos, which are a feast for the eyes!

  9. Happy 20th anniversary!

    We’re headed to Las Vegas in May—I’m packing my “Sylvia Fine” leopard print jumpsuit as the wild-card in my wardrobe capsule. : )

  10. Happy 20th Anniversary ~ mine is coming up in a few more years 🙂

    Great photo’s .. I love a short stay at Vegas .. Have seen two of the Cirque shows ~ they are amazing.


  11. I can’t ever imagine visiting Las Vegas – I only visit places east of Chicago (like Paris!!!), but I love that you compromised with your husband, and managed to find the beauty in a place that wasn’t your first choice. That’s the true key to being happily married, and to being happy in general, to get along with others, and to find the beauty and pleasure that is inherent in any place you go together.

    Congratulations on your anniversary!


  12. I’ve never been and with the places still unchecked on my travel list, I probably won’t get there. But you make me see a side of it that I’d definitely consider. And I’m so pleased you had such a wonderful getaway together — Happy 20th!

  13. I adore Vegas and think a little excess every now and then is wonderful, and Picasso…it is my long-time favorite restaurant in Sin City. We took our two adult children (along with my son’s best friend) to Vegas last year in lieu of Christmas gifts. So much fun! My daughter was not yet 21 so while the boys hit a club she dined at Picasso with us. The food and service were, as ever, exquisite; our evening was slightly ruined, however, by the rude people surrounding us. Children rolling across the carpet next to our table, people talking with their outside voices…yes, at Picasso. Hope your evening was quiet and as special as the occasion that you were celebrating!

  14. My favorite thing to do in Las Vegas – leave. I am just not a fan, hate smoking and find the gambling environment sad.
    The scenery within a few hours drive is pretty amazing. Mt. Zion in particular was awesome.
    Your pictures are beautiful and I am glad you had a lovely anniversary. Here is to another 20 years!

  15. Las Vegas is like a fantasy destination and with all the various aspects, you can make it into what you want. When we ate at Picasso’s you could almost believe you were in Paris looking at the Eiffel Tower (after a glass of champagne or a martini or two). And the spas, you forgot the spas, darling. You head to the spas, your husband heads to the gambling tables. There are numerous concerts by top celebrities and I believe they are now booking plays from Broadway. There is also a lot of good shopping. I think it’s a great place to go with a group of girlfriends, they even have shows just for women if you want to be a bit naughty. Very convenient…spa, dining, shows, shopping all in a few miles.

  16. I have been many times, (my husband also loves Vegas), and I have found things to love. Bouchon, for one- great little restaurant at The Venetian.It is lots of fun to explore the many different celebrity chef restaurants. The dinners have ranged from very forgettable to sublime, but approached with a good attitude, all are fun. I always visit the art gallery at the Bellagio, and mourn the loss of the fine gallery that was in the foyer of the Venetian for years. Great shopping at every level, including my beloved St. John’s and Ferragamo at the outlets. The Spas are great, as are the pools. I am a Las Vegas convert!

  17. I haven’t been for a couple of years -husband quit the job that sent him to conferences there and we’ve taken trips other places in recent years- but I still haven’t been to Zion and want to see the Tillerman bridge, so I think I’ll be going again. I’ve had a good time there despite not gambling or drinking alcohol. The shows are fun, shopping while hubby is conferencing, and hanging out at the pool. The best time we were there we stayed at a timeshare at the far end of the strip from the airport and I liked that a lot. We had a small efficiency so we could have a coffee without needing to traipse through a casino.

    I love your anniversary dessert!

  18. I LOVE Las Vegas!! When I first moved to CA, I probably went 6-9 times a year. Back then gas was so cheap and we had friends that lived there so it was a fun inexpensive weekend. Since having a little one, going to Vegas just does not feel right anymore. I do miss the gambling and the people watching…oh and all the eating.


    Hope to see you Thursday for TBT Fashion link up.

  19. Congrats on your 20th. Sounds like you had a lovely time.
    I saw Absinthe a couple of weeks ago…loved it! Quite different for the other shows I’ve seen in Vegas. And yes, it’s up close and personal. The roller skating thing was a little scary…how far into the aucience would they fly if things went wrong???
    We had a wonderful meal at Bazaar Meat. Heading back in July. I love Las Vegas!!

  20. I love LV. We were just there in February. We stayed in a timeshare about 3miles south of the strip. We golfed 5 out of the eight days there. We went to the strip a few times at night for dinner. One day we did the quick trip of the casinos to see the flowers and decorations and of course the conservatory at the bellagio. It was Chinese New Year. we rarely gamble, but LV is such a great city for people watching. I am perfectly content with a coffee or drink in my hand to sit and watch the people go by.

  21. If we don’t get a real trip in soon, that’s as close as I’ll probably make it. No, wait … Dan decided years ago that he disliked LV on principal, so it may be hard to get him there. But it’s a good idea. Food, shoppping, and a place where most excess is considered moderation. My kind of place to dine and shop!

  22. So great that you had 2 amazing meals and got to see a good show! One of my favorite things is the Neon Boneyard Museum…where neon sign go to die.

  23. I’m glad you had a lovely anniversary celebration (and I admire your flexibility)!

    I have visited Las Vegas several times, and I would not return. Like several others commenters, I dislike the whole premise behind the “hospitality” or “entertainment” it offers. When my family travels, we search for what is authentic, what is not crowded, what is artistically stirring and/or what is outdoors. There are so many truly beautiful places in the world, and we will be visiting several of them for our upcoming 40th anniversary.