To discover the land of the free was the challenge and to experience all New York, L.A and Las Vegas had to offer was the mission, 10 days were set aside to complete the journey of a lifetime.
Before we knew it we had landed into the bitterly cold blistery darkness that was New York, hustled through the airport with American precision we were in a queue an hour long for a taxi, and fake UBER drivers lurked at every corner. Finally in a cab with a TV screen for every eye we were bombarded with adverts of New York life, the rain poured down around us and the traffic smothered us.
Our taxi pulled onto 5th Avenue and stopped, “I’m not going any further the voice from beyond said”, and with nothing left to do we dragged our bags from the cab and stomped the rest of the way to the hotel soaked and exhausted. The moment we stepped through the swivel doors of The Pierre, time stopped still for a moment as our fate changed, decadent, luxurious, glamorous and warm, we had found our heaven.
The weight of travel had been lifted from our arms as we were ushered through the reception, our bags whisked from our hands, we were taken to our room, the only way it could be described was as ultimate luxury.
The peace and tranquility once the door closed behind us was a world away from the New York we had just experienced, with the sound of rain beating down on the window, we thought better of a late night adventure, so rooms service was the only thought on our minds.
Waking up in a cloud of comfort, New York was a very different place to the night before, sun beamed through the slight gap in the curtain and central park peered into our window.
The Pierre Hotel New York
It was finally time to experience New York, as we stepped onto the pavement the sun was deceptive, the ice cold air hit our uncovered cheeks, and certainly made for the best wake up call.
5th Avenue, Madison Avenue, Barneys, Bloomingdales, it felt like our day was on time lapse and we had no control of the pace that it went, the day disappeared into shops and Starbucks.
Simone De Beauvoir said “There is something in the New York air, that makes sleep useless”, never a truer word had been spoken, we were consumed by the city.
We had only one deadline to hit, sunset and a high rise building to watch from. 230 bar was our destination of choice we had heard it had the best views of the city, it was- BUT the glamour and romance, was lost in it’s own tourist trap and $12 hot chocolate. That aside it was still worth every moment to see time at last slowing down, and the sun setting behind the concrete jungle that was the New York high risers.
In the heart of the city it is very difficult to escape the tremendous pace it commands even on a weekend, but we took control of our time and slowed it to a Brooklyn pace, Bedford Avenue to be exact, a street filled with restaurants and late night bars, it’s a task to find somewhere here that isn’t good.
Pizza was a food of choice and we were determined to maintain leisurely pace and watch the evening pass by, it was the weekend night after all. Through a packed candle lit restaurant our server appeared and before we had even spoken it was like he knew we were English, he jumped into and onslaught about Piers Morgan, slightly tickled by the strangest of conversations we relaxed with bubbles and pizza, the perfect way to unwind.
Brooklyn was comfortable and relaxing and now full of food we had another rooftop in mind, well, and a few cocktails. Just a short walk down Bedford Avenue and we were at the Wythe Hotel, perfection is the only way it can be described. Quite expensive and very busy it still worth a visit.
Embracing all that Brooklyn had to offer we walked a few paces to the left to Output club for a night of DJ Sneak, to complete the perfect night.
With our time in New York coming to an end our last day started and finished as every dream should, with utter bliss, and Sunday brunch. The city is filled with wonder and you could spend more than a year lost in its magic finding a new place to eat and bar to visit everyday, but if you only have time for one then the Mandarin Oriental Sunday brunch is the one you should choose.
Set on the edge of central park, the towering building engulfed the space above it, 35 floors up, the Asiate restaurant welcomed us, we were led to a table that peered down on central park, this really can be described as the best view of New York, breathtaking, and romantic, it paused the outside world.
Champagne was the only way to begin this experience, for starter we had a selection of four melt in your mouth dishes, each one as perfect as the next, the taste sensation was so delectable you didn’t want it to end. Luckily we still had our mains and desert to go, the choice was hard but we decided on two dishes one Salmon one beef. Gushing with flavour, they were both everything you could hope for and there was still more heavenliness to come. Desert. Well I’m sure you can only imagine the chocolate delights we experienced, and again you didn’t just get one but a choice of two. What a way to leave New York behind.
$64 dollars, make sure you book in advance.
Be sure to make the time to head to Tribeca, and visit the Brandy Library there really is no other place in the world quite like it. www.brandylibrary.com and if you are looking for affordability in a hotel in the heart of the action look at the Roosevelt hotel. www.theroosevelthotel.com
“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years” Tom Wolfe said, in four days we felt like we had lived a life time, and it was true to say the reality of time had left us, but it was time to leave, as LA was calling.
Delta airways is the Ryan Air of America, we were delayed and pushed around, had drinks split on us and no movies to watch, but one massive difference that changed the way we flew, WI-FI on board, oh yes, it really is the digital age.
Finally In LA, it felt like the weight of New York had been lifted, to be honest it was probably just the winter clothes we had taken off, the warm sunshine hit our faces as we queued for the bus to take us to our Avis hire car, designated buses whisked us straight to the front desk about 5 minutes away from the airport, and although they had our booking wrong, it was a sign of relief to finally jump in our classic America red mustang, drop the roof down and hit the freeway. A meeting was first on our stop, to hopefully change the future, and thank goodness we had brought an AT&T SIM card because being a child of the naughties I am lost with out an iPhone.
Meeting complete it was time to relax, so we headed for the hills and our Hilton hotel at Universal opposite Universal Studio, with parking under the hotel, it immediately felt easier, the perfect hotel to forget your troubles, a cafe as we arrived in the hotel with normal priced coffee and muffins not at New York prices. We excitedly got our room key and headed to the 15th floor. A suite room that overlooked the mountains of LA, the view was simply incredible, the bed looked out across the spread of glass that was our 8ft high window, and with the sun setting behind the hills it was what dreams are made of. Moments later fresh fruit and water were delivered, it was the perfect welcome L.A.
With only a few days in L.A we had friends and shopping to pack in, so a day of the Hollywood sign, Venice Beach and of course the stars on Hollywood Boulevard was in order, I have been to L.A many times and never done any of these, it was amazing to be a total tourist for the day. There are tours you can go on, but there is no need if you have a car, a map, and a sense of adventure, it’s much more fun to go it alone.
We were almost shopped out after New York, but there was no way we could miss a chance to go to Melrose Avenue, with it’s miles of independent shops, its the perfect place to fill you suitcase, there is no doubt about it, it’s one of the best shopping streets out there. If you ever wondered where the celebs got their attire for the oh so photographed Coachella festival then here is you answer. After an exhausting day of shopping we drove to the top of Melrose, tittering on the edge of Beverly Hills and found the rejuvenation that was very much needed.
Looking for Echinacea to boost our energy we stumbled into Grass Roots Alchemy cafe, it’s blissful space drew us threw the doors and sat us down to a concoction of herbal delight, if you ever find yourself out of sorts or energy, it can all be found in a personalised tea at Grass Roots – With a menu filled with the unknown we left our herbal fate at the hands of the most beautiful lady behind the counter. www.grassrootsalchemy.com
Full of energy we decided stupidly to drive in rush hour to Citadel mall on the outskirts of L.A we sat in traffic for 2 and half hours but, with BCBG, Kate Spade, and many more it was worth it.
Tired, we finally made it back to the hotel for one more night of blissful sleep, L.A is truly one of the only other places in the world I could live, however it was finally time to leave the City of Angels behind and hit the road to Las Vegas.
The sun was low and the day cold, it wasn’t really the romantic road trip I had imagined, we kept the roof on our red mustang for the first hour, but as the sun rose through grit and determination we pulled back the roof.
The journey was long and endless, desert and tarmac filled our thoughts. The wind beat against our bodies for hour after hour until finally we saw a Ralph Lauren outlet store where we managed to buy hats to keep the cold from biting our skin.
It was all worth it as our armchair car, finally reached the insanely bright lights of Las Vegas, Chuck Palahniuk said “Las Vegas looks the way you’d imagine heaven must look at night.” I am not sure heaven would have so many neon lights, however, we certainly reached our heaven as we slowly wound our way through the traffic to the Venetian, a hotel that was seemed to be bigger than some countries.
Through there, round here, a little bit to the left, and right, and finally we found the elevator, to take us 24 floors to the sky, to a suite that can only be describe as a once in a life time experience, bigger better and bolder than anything I had seen before, yes this was 650sq. ft. of heaven. It was however only a mild moment of calm before the storm of Vegas took control.
Not a moment could be wasted in Vegas as we had four days to squeeze a life time of adventure in, a quick change and we found ourselves wondering on the strange 70’s looking carpets that lined the casino floor of the Venetian. www.venetian.com
We needed to find our way out and to The Triple George Grill in downtown. In true Vegas style were everyone is a celebrity, our taxi driver sped away uttering the words, “Do you recognise me? I’m famous on the internet you know,” he played Celine Dion the whole journey which bizarrely took 45minutes and more dollars than I care to remember.
You enter a whole other world when you touch down in downtown Vegas, its quite, open and free from the mayhem that is the strip.
The Triple George Grill was the classic old American style, almost Mafia like- Rich wood and leather booths filled the vast expanse that was the restaurant. Steak, salad and chips were mainly on the menu, and portions were large, cocktails even larger.
I would definitely recommend it for the food and atmosphere but also as a way to escape from the adult Disneyland that is the heart of Vegas.
Wise to the Vegas ways we got an Uber to drop us somewhere close to the strip. All the hotels in Vegas are connected by an alleyway, bridge or a path, and we found ourselves lost for hours on end walking through casinos, hotels, shopping malls and restaurant trying to find our hotel, reality certainly became a distant memory- It really doesn’t matter where you start you will always eventually find the way, and our day only ended when exhaustion set in.
With a perfect nights sleep in the Venetian, that seemed to go by in a flash, it was time to move again, out of one hotel and on to the next, The Delano which is near the end of the strip and totally different from any other hotel in Vegas, fresh, clean, bright and simple in layout, I was in love; now this was truly heaven. With VIP check in lines, free pepsi, water and coffee it was a dream. The hotel is a suite only hotel and fresh as a daisy being in Vegas for only 3 months- It certainly separates itself from the rest.
Up to the sky we went again, this time to the 35 floor, our room again was crisp, white, fresh, clean, simple, basically perfect, there is literally nowhere I would rather have stayed or would ever stay again.
The hotel has no casino and no pool, but what it lacks in features it makes up for in feel, but we were not worried, as all Delano guest can jump into the Mandalay Bay pool and use their casino as they are part of the same chain.
Della’s Kitchen the in house restaurant is as good as any restaurant out there and if you want an easy but amazing meal, this is the place to go- even if your not staying in the hotel.
With not a moment to waste we found ourselves in a van with Gun Garage scrawled across the side. A voice from behind the wheel loudly and forcefully said “ready to shoot”, not wanting to sound like we were on a game show we enthusiastically quietly yelled “yes.”
I have many concerns about anyone being able to acquire a gun so freely and easily, but I fear my knowledge on the subject is limited so with out passing to much judgment we were handed a target, ear protects and plastic goggles, and eagerly went to fire off a Glock, Uzi and a mini Ak-47.
In my mind this is an amazing stag do experience and well worth a visit, as the staff are friendly it’s certainly a different experience and very safe, but it wasn’t for me, however if it is for you then there is no better place to go.
Las Vegas is a place where you can lose yourself in slightly seedy bars, gambling and Mcdonalds, very easily, but there is another world slightly hidden, of fine dinning and fabulous restaurants which is certainly my preferred way to do Vegas and of course a little slice of the other way never hurt anyone either.
Everyone we spoke to said you have to try Giada’s, so with that kind of recommendation how we could resist. Located on the second floor of the Cromwell hotel, we were greeted by super models at the counter and walked to our table by very glamours girls with what could only be described as belts for skirts, it was a a typical Vegas greeting, with a fabulous Italian handshake.
The food was plentiful, fabulous and very rich, and with the perfect view of the strip we eat dish after dish, the food each more mouth watering than the next, and they just kept coming.
To be honest I will never be able to eat another Italian without allowing my mind to wonder back to that moment in Giada’s. If you have a moment well, even if you don’t make time to eat at Giada’s you won’t regret it.
If you are looking for anther fantastic restaurant then try Fix in the Bellagio, again another restaurant well worth a visit. www.fixlasvegas.com
Our time in Vegas had come to an end, tired and in a false sense of reality we had certainly made the most of what Vegas had to offer Drew Carey has been heard to say that “Anything and every you want to do you can in Vegas,” it’s true you can live whatever dream you wish two in “Sin City”.
America you made time stand still for ten days and you really were the journey of a life time.