When it comes to retail therapy, Las Vegas is a dream - so in the name of research (and fabulous new handbags), I checked out exactly where a girl needs to go to bag the best bargains in Sin City
Vegas is not just about gambling, all-you-can-eat-buffets and Celine Dion - it also has the best shopping I've found in the USA, by a mile. Much has already been written about where to stay, where to gamble, comps and shows - but what I’m really interested in is the best places to shop, see a few sights and grab a bite to eat. This guide is for anyone who loves to splash out and bag a bargain as much as I do!
FASHION SHOW MALL
Right on the Strip, heading towards the north end, is the Fashion Show Mall, which houses all of the usual US labels and a bit more. Forever 21 is one of my favourite US stores; it’s a bit like Topshop but with Primani prices. Expect to find the latest trends ridiculously cheap - dresses can be anything from $12 upwards; jewellery and accessories from as little as a dollar. The store here isn’t huge, but it’s the only one in Vegas. You’ll also find a Guess for gorgeous jeans and handbags, a Macy’s (if you can catch it at sale time there are great bargains to be had here), an Ed Hardy store for those tattoo-style tees worn by celebs and, of course, the staple Abercrombie & Fitch for cool casual wear. For shoes, try Steve Madden, Aldo and Nine West – all have a great selection and are pretty similar in price. If you’re after something a bit different and don’t mind splashing the cash, try Betsy Johnson. This cute boutique stocks kitsch dresses and accessories by the designer – the handbags are especially tempting. Although at $350 each...
Here’s a good photo op: Abercrombie & Fitch have a habit of using half-naked male model types, who stand at the doorway to lure you into their stores. Works for me!
Find out more
Stroll a little further down the strip and you’ll come to the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace. This has to be my favourite place to shop in Vegas. Mac, Foot Locker and Victoria’s Secret are nestled amongst Dior, Cavalli and Marc Jacobs. And don’t walk by these designer stores thinking they’re out of your price range – I picked up a cute clutch bag from Marc Jacobs' diffusion line for a gleeful $30. The Juicy Couture store is another highlight and again, if you can catch the sale you could get very lucky; I grabbed a coveted chocolate leather bag marked down from $350 to $90 – who could argue with that? Walk towards the large tropical fish tank and you’ll find Express – a bit like H&M but with a better selection and better quality. Don’t miss Victoria’s Secret loungewear collection, named ‘Pink’, which is like Abercrombie for the super-girly. Expect to pay around $10 for flip flops, $40 for a hoodie and $30 for track pants.
It's not strictly shopping but next door to Express is the Cheesecake Factory - I defy you to look at the menu and not go in to eat! Though if you have eaten in the last 72 hours, you may want to go for the lunch menu as opposed to the full dinner option – the portions are huge. And, of course, you want to leave plenty of room for cake; I recommend the choc chip cookie dough.
Find out more
The newly remodelled Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood is another great place to shop. It has a Sephora, which is a fantastic cosmetics store stocking all the major players (Clinique at half the UK price, anyone?) and other hard-to-find brands such as Too Faced, Philosophy and Sephora’s own extensive cosmetic and body-care range. Alongside all the usuals – Steve Madden, Victoria’s Secret, Gap, etc - you'll also find Frederick’s of Hollywood for posh pants and nice honeymoon goodies, Urban Outfitters for the super-trendy and Hervé Léger for red carpet dresses (OK, so I could only look).
Stay at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in one of the fabulous Hollywood Hip rooms, overlooking the Bellagio fountains (ask nicely when checking in!). These have been recently refurbished during the hotel’s conversion from the Aladdin and are decked out with king-size beds, flat screen TVs and enormous bath tubs. The hotel itself is definitely the youngest and trendiest on the strip. There are several eateries, including a Starbucks, and the casino area is massive, but most importantly, you don’t have far to walk to your room with all your shopping bags from the Miracle Mile!
Find out more
It’s definitely worth a wander through the stores at the Bellagio, even if you are too terrified to go in to any of them (just don’t ask the price of anything!). Gucci, Fendi and Chloé are just some of the names you’ll find here – this is definitely an upmarket sort of place. This is one of the reasons I love Vegas so much, though – you can wander into Dior in your shorts and T-shirt and browse and no-one bats an eyelid.
This hotel is also home to my favourite Vegas attraction: the Bellagio fountains. I don’t know how jets of water coming out of a lake can be so mesmerising, but they are, take my word for it. Have an Ocean’s Eleven moment after dark when the lake is all lit up - excellent photo op.
Find out more
LAS VEGAS PREMIUM OUTLETS
You’ll need to take a cab here from the Strip, but it’s only a 10-minute journey. There are around 150 stores here, selling a wide range of stuff – mostly last season, but who would know? Recent highlights for me have been Fossil sunglasses for $10 and a DKNY purse for $20. The Ralph Lauren store offers some good savings, as do Guess and Adidas. There is also a Juicy Couture here, but I found the store in the Forum shops to have a better selection and better bargains. It’s definitely worth a visit though.
If you have a man in tow whose shopping skills aren’t as finely honed as your own (not me: my other half’s shopping habit is worse than mine, but that’s another story!), park him at Starbucks with a Vente Vanilla Latte for an hour so you can browse in peace.
Find out more
MY BEST VEGAS BUYS 2009
Juicy Couture large leather bag - $90
Marc Jacobs clutch purse - $30
Clinique mascara - $12
Guess sunglasses - $20
DKNY purse - $20
Aldo leather peep-toe heels - $25
A THRIFTY GIRL'S TIPS
1: If you are planning to see a show in Vegas, you’ll find a few Tix 4 Tonight (www.tix4tonight.com) booths along the Strip. These sell tickets for that same evening at discounted rates and are definitely worth a look. We managed to bag tickets for Tom Jones's lounge show at the MGM for half price– unforgettable!
2: Pick up as many Vegas brochures as you can (not the ones being handed out by Mexicans in the street, though). You will probably also find a couple in your hotel room. These will often contain discount vouchers for various attractions in Vegas – sometimes even for shopping.
3: The best things in Vegas are free. No, really. I’m biased, as I love the Bellagio fountains, but there are tons of other attractions that don’t cost a penny either. Check out the lions at the MGM, the volcano at the Mirage, the canals at the Venetian and the Sirens at Treasure Island. There is plenty more to see just by walking through each hotel and casino on the Strip.
4: Wear comfy shoes. Heels are best left to the showgirls in this town. Even when you are just wandering around your hotel, if it’s one of the Strip’s themed resorts you will literally walk miles.
5: Even if it’s warm outside, take a cardi or jumper – most of the casinos will have the air con on full blast, so if you stop anywhere for drinks or a nibble you’ll probably need one.
6: Take a trip to the Stratosphere and grab a burger in Roxy’s Diner, where 1950s-styled waiters and waitresses serenade you while you drink shakes and tuck into fries and a foot-long dog. Totally kitsch, but brilliant!
7: Cabs are pretty cheap in Vegas, but if you stay centrally on the Strip you can walk just about everywhere. I recommend Planet Hollywood as it’s smack bang in the middle of the action. The deuce bus and the monorail are both inexpensive ways to travel up and down the strip, too.
8: If you love nature, visit the flamingos and terrapins at the gardens at the Flamingo Hotel, a relaxing haven just off the strip. Not free, but definitely worth the $10 admission is Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden at the Mirage. You’ll get to see dolphins, big cats and other rare animals here.