The internet is full of advice for those looking to plan late-night, booze-fuelled bachelor parties to Sin City. Looking to party the night away in the hottest clubs with the loudest music before heading to the busiest strip club in a free limo? No shortage of opinions or websites to help you plan a few days away with the guys.
What isn’t as easy to discover is all that Las Vegas has to offer for the more refined visitor. You aren’t 20-something years-old any more. It’s time to learn how to navigate the classier side of Las Vegas. Hence, The Ultimate Gentleman’s Guide to Las Vegas. A where and what to do guide that still pushes the limits of fun and excitement but allows you to return home without that week-long hangover.
Where To Eat
You don’t need Fodor’s to tell you where to eat in Las Vegas. These days the resorts and casinos on The Strip are all packed with top notch restaurants. Whether you fancy a massive multi-national buffet, a visit to a celebrity chef owned restaurant, or a high-end dining experience, you can literally find dozens of choices. However, there are some gems that really stand out when you’re traveling with your pals.
Sushi has become somewhat of a cliche in North American cities. Food courts and strip malls seem to each have their token sushi joint for those in search of a wasabi hit. However, they have all taken away from the elegance and art involved in eating sushi. Top notch sushi chefs train for years before even being allowed near the sushi in good sushi restaurants. The nuances and subtlety that goes into cooking the rice, cutting the fish and forming the sushi are all honed over years of training. So it goes at Shibuya where the art of sushi is taken very seriously by Master Sushi Chef Yoshinori Nakazawa and the staff of sushi chefs and servers.
Shibuya is an excellent place to head to and will change how you think of sushi. The plates that come out to the table are much art as anything. A perfect place to eat with a group and share a meal. When you arrive, put the menus aside. Let your server know what your likes/dislikes are and any food allergies and a general price point. Then allow him and your sushi chef put together a custom tasting menu of sushi and Japanese warm and cold tasting plates. It's a great way to try a variety of dishes and share the experience. The palate-pleasing dishes are perfect for pairing with Shibuya's vast sake menu (with over 125 sakes) that shouldn't be missed. You'll never look at fast-food sushi the same again!
While everything in Las Vegas is fast, fast, fast... the whole experience at Portofino is centred around allowing diners to sit and relax. There is no pressure by staff to turn over tables and rush you out the door. Rather, Portofino allows diners the ability to take the time to enjoy the food, wine, and company. A uniquely Italian experience in the middle of the Nevada dessert. Again, while diners can order from the menu you can also order family style and let the waiters bring you overflowing sharing plates of appetizers, pasta, and mains that will take you on a taste-led journey through Italian cuisine. The pastas are all made fresh in-house daily. The made-from-scratch experience will have you convinced that someone's Nonna is back in the kitchen. However, it is Chef Michael LaPlaca who insists on nothing but the finest ingredients and freshly prepared dishes. Sourcing farm fresh vegetables, imported ingredients, and only 100% pure Italian buffalo mozzarella.
The dishes are custom-built, with the basis of all dishes being vegetarian. Proteins are added on at the end and many dishes can be made gluten-free. So coming up with a menu that accommodates some variety in a large group is no problem. The perfect place for dinner with friends. Tables are spaced out to allow privacy from other diners and will make you feel like you are dining in your own private osteria.
Go with plenty of time to spare, and try the wine pairings with each dish. The restaurant is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the casino floor. A great oasis from the stormy pace of Las Vegas and a unique dining experience in a city where everything is about fast and faster. Portofino is about a dining experience true to Italy.
Every Saturday night out partying deserves a morning-after brunch at Fleur by Hubert Keller. The absolute perfect start to the day after the night you'd like to have back. From their menu of hangover cocktails and endless mimosas to their Bloody Marys (packed full with vodka, shrimp, bacon, a salad-size serving of vegetables and made in-house season mix). Fleur is the ideal place to meet-up and get your Sunday going. As your group stumbles in it's the quintessential place to re-calibrate, restore, and get ready for whatever the day has planned for you.
Their Sunday brunch menu is filled with hearty fill-your-belly foods and pastries made with dough flown in from Paris. The highlight is surely their Fleur tasting plate which includes an omelet, an Angus short rib benedict (crispy potato pancake, red wine jus, jalapeno hollandaise), red velvet pancakes, and crispy potatoes. A perfect way to forget the throbbing in your temples which is helped by the dim lighting and bucket-sized mugs of coffee. If you are ready to start your day off on the right foot, nearly every dish is paired with a different beer. There are about two dozen hand-picked to pair with the menu.
A unique brunch experience that will allow everyone in your party to recover at their own pace.
What to Do
There is no better way to set the tone for your visit to Las Vegas than starting your trip with a visit to The Royal Shave experience at ARIA's spa. From the moment you walk in you are taken back to another time and place. You may enter wondering why you need to have someone else shave your face, but you will leave feeling like a million bucks, ready to take on whatever Las Vegas has to offer. The relaxing experience includes a complete facial pampering as a cleanser is first applied, followed by an exfoliator, which is then removed with a steamed hot towel. A warm lather with soothing aloe vera moisturizes and preps the skin for a straight-razor shave, first with the grain and then re-lathered for an against-the-grain shave. A clay facial mask is then applied to tone and firm the skin, followed by an after-shave moisturizer to improve your skin’s texture and clarity. Concluding the treatment is an application of herbal cream under the eyes, and for further relaxation, a light spritz of rose water hydrates the face.
It will be the most relaxing 20 minutes you spend in Las Vegas and is the perfect way to mentally prepare for the trip ahead of you. There is no better way to get ready for night out with the guys. Be sure to book early so they can accommodate your group. Space is limited and you'll likely need to book back-to-back sessions to fit everyone in.
I love heading to the sports book while I'm in Las Vegas, placing a few bucks on a game and then sitting down to enjoy the game and a few drinks. It's a great way to take in an often overlooked aspect of the Las Vegas gaming experience. However, a lot of the sports books are over-crowded with minimal service and seating. Not ideal if you're with a group. Enter TAP Sports Bar, located just in front of the sports book in the MGM Grand. Place a bet, then head across the hall to have some great bar food and drinks at TAP. Whether you sit at the expansive bar, one of their elevated group bar tables, or in a booth, you will be surrounded by sports memorabilia and televisions with all of the games on. A perfect place to sit and trash talk each other as your teams make or break your Las Vegas fortune!
TAP also has a full selection of appetizers, sandwiches, and burgers to go along with their collection of seasonal and local beers. A Las Vegas experience you shouldn't pass on. The beer-battered Wisconsin cheese curds are worth the visit alone!
The ultimate in excitement - you will never forget the rush of getting behind the wheel of a high-performance sports car with a trained driver barking advice to you as you whiz around a 1.2 mile track at 200km/h. When you arrive there is a buffet of cars to look at, photograph, and sit in. From Ferraris and Porsches to Aston Martins and Lamborghinis, visitors can choose from over a dozen cars to race!
Operating since 2009 Exotics Racing offers something at every price point. For the casual fan, hop in for a drive-along with a drift racer who will make your head spin as he races around the track taking corners sideways. If you're ready to get behind the wheel, at the lower end you can hit their track in a Porsche, Corvette, Ferrari, or the like. If you are a car buff with a bigger budget you can take your pick of some of the most powerful and stunning vehicles out there. The staff makes the entire experience incredible from start to finish.
When you first show up you'll be able to browse their vehicle lineup and spend time getting photos in your favourite cars. Then take a quick pre-drive “crash” course on driving a high performance vehicle on a track custom-built just for the Exotics Racing Experience. This is followed by a couple of laps in a Porsche Cayenne with a guide who will show you the track and talk to you about the unique attributes of each turn. From there you’re ready to hop behind the wheel of your dream car for five laps that pure adrenaline excitement. The rush of driving with 500hp behind you is one you will never forget. Cheer on and watch each other from the viewing area. The screech of tires and smell of burning rubber is all around you. Afterwards you also get a video to take home that shows driver and car views, with top speeds, and speedometer. A great keepsake.
The experience is catered to any level of driver – whether you’ve never driven a sports vehicle and can only drive automatic, or if you are comfortable with sports vehicles, gear shifting and have racing experience. Your guide will custom tailor your in-car experience to get the most out of you and the vehicle. They also package multi-car experiences to ensure you get every thrill out of your visit that you possibly can.
Golfing in Las Vegas always seems a little surreal. After all you are in the middle of a dessert. Very often courses are either hard to reach, full of patch-work greens and fairways, or limited in their breadth of services. Not so at Dessert Pines Gold Club. Perfectly situated only 15 minutes from the Strip and maintained with lush green both on the course and through the rough.
The Pete Dye designed course caters wonderfully to groups as it is rather forgiving. An often-overlooked benefit when various skill levels come into play. The golf is challenging with lots of water hazards and while some of their fairways are narrow every ball is in play at Dessert Pines. So it’s perfect for any level of golfer - just don't be surprised if you see someone scrambling over a hilltop to play a ball off of your fairway from another hole. The course offers a great view of the surrounding Nevada mountains and the Strip. A round is not too expensive for those on a budget but the golf club doesn't skimp out on anything. They are one of the only full-service clubs in the area with driving range, putting greens, food and beverage all included with your fees.
As you cart around the course of lush grass and water you will forget you are in the middle of a dessert. A great way to experience Las Vegas golfing without taking an entire day out of your agenda.
Photo credits: Gav Martell & Edward Prutschi