How to have a rock star day in Las Vegas

I don’t really know how to write this post without coming off as a braggart, and maybe I am. But like that magical day of SUP and music in Sligo, this day in Vegas will forever go down as one of my all-time favourite travel days of all time. I literally have footage of Trish and I talking about how we are going to throw ourselves in the Bellagio fountain because life couldn’t possibly get any better after that day.

So let’s just put it this way: if you want to indulge yourself silly and spend wads of cash for one perfectly luxurious day in Vegas, use this as your roadmap. Save up enough money for one BIG day out. Drinks by the pool, spa treatment, fancy dinner, party all night.

Full disclosure: Vdara hotel unexpectedly treated Trish and I to this day. I make about $30k a year. You think I can afford this? I do, however, have a Vegas fund started to replicate this exact experience next year. Because baby I’m worth it.


Imagine me rolling into a fancy hotel with a backpack, a musty sleeping bag, a trucker hat, and a pair of jean shorts. Thankfully, Vegas is used to all sorts of weirdos, and so nobody batted an eyelash. I was hungover and tired. And then I saw our room.

Trish and I had a suite, complete with the comfiest bed I have EVER stayed in, two televisions, a living room, and a kitchen. There was a deep bathtub and a shower with a seat in it. Vdara is also one of the few hotels on The Strip that doesn’t have a casino in it, so you won’t find 80s shag carpet smelling like stale cigarette smoke anywhere. It’ll forever go down as one of my very favourite hotels in the world, right next to Kempinski. And like all things in Vegas, the service was exceptional. AND the price of rooms is reasonable. Super reasonable. I’ll likely come back to Vdara every year for the rest of my life, just like The Yacht Week.


There’s a lobby bar, a small convenience store and liquor shop, a Starbucks, and a café. Oh, and an absolutely freaking glorious pool area.


Trish and I discovered that we were both getting a spa treatment. I haven’t had a massage in about four years, yet I spend about 10 hours a day at the computer and maybe 8-10 hours at the gym per week. To say my muscles needed some work is an understatement.

I’m not sure the spa girls took us seriously. I didn’t have time to roll out of my trucker apparel before being whisked off to the spa, where I met Magical Fingers Marcella. (Her name is Marcella but I added that first bit.) To be honest, I find massages awkward as shit. I mean, I’m not comfortable with touching my own body, never mind letting someone else do it.

But Marcella was SO careful about not exposing me. I mean she maneuvered those towels like she was creating art. I even had to get into the shower at one point and somehow it was totally normal to be showering in the same room as a masseuse. Anyway. She worked on me for TWO HOURS and she was unbelievably good at her job. She predicted my problem areas before even working on them. I have issues with my hips being super tight, and she’d lay her fingertips lightly on my skin and say something like, “Oh, I can feel the heat coming from here, this must be a problem area.” And sure enough, it was. Just thinking about it makes me weep.

Plus she was full of compliments. “You’re really strong!” she’d say while massaging my arms. I know, I know.


After our massages Trish and I donned our black cocktail dresses and headed to Vice Versa for some drinks and apps. What I absolutely LOVE about Vdara (and actually pretty much everywhere in Vegas) is that the servers talk to you like you’re a human and they’re actually pretty happy and wonderful. Plus we’d always end up having long chats with them and becoming BFFs. We fawned over our servers and threatened to steal their copper mugs so many times that eventually they just gave us two copper mugs to shut us up.

Speaking of copper mugs: I am obsessed with Moscow Mules. Beyond obsessed. SO OBSESSED that I forced a server recently in St. John’s to make me one despite the lack of copper mugs. Oh well.

AND VICE VERSA HAD LAMB CHOP LOLLIPOPS. I cried. I’m not kidding you, I cried.


“How did you like the lamb pops?”

“Candice cried.”

After apps we headed out to LAGO at Bellagio for our real dinner. Yes, our real dinner was preempted by false dinner. We were already kind of full, but when in Vegas you roll with it.

Trish and I were already pretty high on life at this point. One of my favourite memories that maybe only sounds fun if you were in the moment was our perfectly timed photobomb of a family as we were descending the escalator. It wasn’t even planned — we both leaned in at the same time to ruin their perfect family portrait. The father looked at the photo and said, “What the?” And everyone turned to look at us laughing hysterically. Because we’re 10.

LAGO is a fairly new restaurant and it’s trendy as hell. We were given an amazing table outside on the deck overlooking the Bellagio fountain. Trish and I shared a few plates and then the fountain show started, and we sat there with our mouths gaping like we were catching flies. I might have cried again, and we might have held hands and proclaimed our love for one another. Everything was just so wonderful and beautiful.

The night after that, we ate at Bardot French Brasserie in the Aria hotel. I hope the Bardot owners read this and promptly promote Michael to Lead Server Person because he made the experience at least 50 times more enjoyable. We rolled out plate after plate after plate, and he was the most patient and thoughtful sever the whole time. Even when we had to return the escargots because even we’re not classy enough for that stuff.

What happens when you bring people like Trish and I to a fancy restaurant:

Server: “I lied, the gnocchi isn’t ready. Chef saw you weren’t finished with this dish.”
Me: *stands up to flip table* “That’s it, I’m leaving.”
Trish: “Is he watching us?!” *looks over shoulder*

I’ll be doing a full on foodie post later but seriously if you go to Vegas set aside at least $200-$300 for a full incredible dining experience. If you’re going to treat yourself to anything, make it that.



Thanks to some amazing people I had previously met in the US, Trish and I ended up on a party bus with a bunch of strangers driving around Las Vegas. Nobody knew anybody but it didn’t matter. We worked that party bus pole like professionals.

Later we ended up at Drais, a rooftop nightclub with a big ass pool. It only sounds good in theory. I mean it’s cool to at least see a Vegas nightclub because they usually come with insanely talented dancers and/or impressive light shows, but then everyone’s attention is focused on the stage anyway and you’ll end up spending $50 for two drinks and a bottle of water. Not my scene.

I topped off the night by throwing the rest of my change into a slot machine. Because Vegas.

One takeaway from all this? I need to treat myself every now and then. The hostel budget life is a lot of fun, but man. A little luxury goes a long way.


  • July 07 2015
    Trish McNeill


  • July 07 2015

    Love this post – it made me laugh out loud multiple times, ha! It also makes me want to go back and do Vegas right. I wasn’t backpacking when I visited, but I was in full backpacker budget mode, and ate way too much Subway, ugh. Also, that photo of you crying with the lamb pop is amazing!

    • July 15 2015

      Hahahaha thank you!! Although I mean, Subway’s pretty awesome too

  • July 07 2015

    This sounds like fun. Both my trips to Vegas were, on-the-fly, cheap-as-possible kind of deals. Maybe I should save up for a rockstar trip.

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