Vegas and I go way back. I’ve been making the quick turnaround trip from Phoenix for about 15 years and have experienced just about everything that glittery den of iniquity has to offer. I’ve seen my share of seedy downtown casinos and dined in fancy restaurants run by celebrity chefs. And I love it all.
Our recent trip to Vegas was a spur-of-the-moment thing precipitated by a free two-night stay offer from the new Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. I had never even heard of the place but the web site was pretty impressive. We figured there had to be a catch, but it was worth a call. Turns out, there was no catch. I don’t know who these people thought we were, but they apparently mistook us for high rollers deserving of a free room. No matter, we’ll take it!
We arrived before our room was ready, so we headed to one of our favorite lunch destinations, Olives at the Bellagio. While the food is great — I enjoyed my spicy broccoli flatbread — we go there to enjoy the front-row seats for the fountain show. I don’t know what it is about fountains that dance to show tunes, but I can’t get enough.
We had more time to kill after lunch so we went in search of some cheap blackjack tables. That’s a bit of a joke, really, because there is no such thing anymore. We headed down the strip from to some of our favorite lower-rent destinations (classic car collection at the IP, anyone?), and found nothing cheaper than $10 tables — even at O’Sheas. That’s a bit too rich for my blood. Apparently, the new way to gamble on the cheap is to play beer pong or War. That’s right, War. It was like something out of Vegas Vacation. We eventually settled at a table at Harrah’s and I managed to play the same $10 for about 45 minutes. That’s my kind of gambling.
I had just cashed in my chips and collected my $11 in winnings when we learned our room was ready. We headed back to the Cosmopolitan and got our keys. This was our first chance to check out the casino, and we were pleased with what we saw. The place is all crystal chandeliers and attractive artwork. Tasteful and understated in that over-the-top-Vegas-spectacle kind of way. Vegas can’t do anything small, but it can do it with class when it wants to.
Our room was a big hit. The small suite had a nice-sized living area, a large closet and bathroom with a sunken tub and a very comfy bed. But the kicker was the terrace with a view of our favorite free Vegas attraction.What fun it was to have our own private view of the dancing fountain show all day and night.
As I’ve gotten older my Vegas experience has changed quite a bit. I can’t stay up all night anymore, nor do I want to. These days Vegas is more about eating good (and over-priced) food, relaxing at an over-the-top (and over-priced) luxurious spa and enjoying the wide array of non-gambling entertainment opportunities it offers. The Cosmopolitan delivered on all accounts. We tried out a few of their numerous dining options to good success, I enjoyed a lovely therapeutic massage and to top it all off, we rocked out at an incredible Big Boi-Black Keys concert in one of the hotel’s intimate concert halls.
I’ll definitely go back to the Cosmopolitan as a paying customer. It is stylish and fun, and although the hotel caters to the well-heeled, it also has its fair share of quirks. My favorite (and a bit of a life-saver Monday morning) is the unmarked “secret” pizza parlor that serves up cheap and delicious slices all day and night. And while the price point of the hotel draws an older crowd — like, as old as me and Tim — there were still plenty of young whippersnappers blowing their rent money in a boozy haze at 5 a.m. when we were leaving for the airport Tuesday. Having that kind of energy is but a faint memory for me. But that’s okay, because with places like the Cosmopolitan, there is still room for me to enjoy Sin City at a slightly less sinful pace.