Las Vegas is unlike anywhere else on earth. The first holiday resort-city of its kind, Vegas is a thriving experiment in vice and neon which has picked up a fair few casualties – and plenty of criticism – along the way.
So it’s often assumed that there is nothing to do in Las Vegas but to get wasted and lose all your money. If that’s your bag, then fine, good luck at the slots. But for plenty of folks – let’s be kind and call them chin strokers – Las Vegas just doesn’t appeal. With this in mind, here are five intelligent reasons to go on holiday in Las Vegas.
- People watching. Go to Sin City and it’s hard not to be fascinated by how people behave. As a city of excess, you’ll see the extremities of human experience – from destitution and desperation through to ecstasy and even delirium. To witness western culture at its most hedonistic – and crucially, to theorise about it – is the thinking man’s guilty pleasure.
- Architectural insanity. Have you seen that documentary, The Queen of Versailles, about the filthy rich dude who boasts that his hotel has the brightest sign in Las Vegas – so bright it keeps people awake at night in the hotels opposite? The people who built Las Vegas are all like him. A lot of the architecture is a crass, theme-park style parody of other places in the world, like the artificial ‘Venetian’ canals, the replica Eiffel tower and the Caesar’s Palace casino. It’s a truly postmodern experience that will blow your mind with its tasteless hubris.
- Visit the scenes of some of your favourite TV and films. Whether it’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, CSI, Leaving Las Vegas, or any number of mobster movies that wind up with Joe Pesci stamping somebody’s face into the sidewalk, Vegas is the setting for some classic moments in movie history. Which is for good reason, as the whole thing often feels like one big, elaborate film set. Step into the desert of the unreal…
- Capitalism: a love story. It’s often been stated that Las Vegas is capitalism on some kind of drug. The whole place is run with a ruthless dedication to wealth and status which – unlike other drugs – really has to be experienced to be believed. Even if you’re not mad about how it’s run, to see the cogs grinding up close is a thing of both terror and wonder.
- Indulge yourself. Yes, that’s allowed, even for chin-strokers. Material indulgence doesn’t even have to be intoxicating. Rock up to one of the big hotels out of season or on a weekday and you’ll be amazed at some of the rooms – or even suites – they’ll throw at you for bargain prices. As you’re plumped up in a Jacuzzi overlooking the strip with a copy of the New Yorker, you could be convinced that Vegas is quite the doozy.