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As someone who's originally from Nevada (Northern Nevada to be exact), I've always had this love/hate relationship with Vegas growing up. Albeit, hate is a strong word. Perhaps it's more of a distaste? A moderate disliking? An indisputable intolerance?
Don't get me wrong. There's a love side to this relationship, too. Ever since I was young, I've logged plenty of family vacations down to Vegas, numerous road trips with friends for college football games (go UNR!) and have even had the occasional drunken gambling spree with girlfriends when we were passing through after a jaunt to the Grand Canyon. I don't think I could argue with the statement: Vegas doesn't disappoint for a good time.
But then the third day in town hits. And I usually wonder (with a pang of a hangover headache settling in), "OK, should I pack up now?"
I think I can pinpoint this to a few things. First, as much as I love playing Blackjack and a few kitschy slot machines, I hate losing money and will usually bow out once I've lost $50 (which happens pretty quickly). Second, I like to mix things up when I'm on vacation. There's something about just staying inside a casino or a hotel the entire time that gives me cabin fever (which for the most part, a lot of my past Vegas trips have been centered around just hopping from casino to casino).
So where am I going with all of this? Well, this rambling preamble is simply to say: after this last trip, my mind has changed about Vegas. Drastically.
So what changed you ask? For starters, our hotel made all of the difference. I, along with a handful of other bloggers and influencers, was invited out to experience The Cromwell, a new boutique hotel that recently opened on the Strip, directly across from Caesar's Palace. You're probably wondering, as I was at first, what difference is a boutique hotel going to make, if you're still on the Strip?
Let me put it this way: even with the ringing, buzzing and dinging of the casino floor, I didn't quite feel like I was in Vegas anymore. Instead of the typical dimly lit, "I-can't-tell-what-time-it-is-outside" feel, there are windows letting daylight in. Their casino floor bar, Bound, harkens to Vegas lounge bars of yesteryear (with zero gambling inside it and a rotating lineup of musicians on hand). Instead of a cloud of cigarette smoke, there's a faint hint of cologne. And the decor. Oh, man, the decor. One part gentleman's parlor, one part lady luck and a whole lot of whimsy (some rooms even had pinball machines in them).
Oh, it also doesn't hurt that Giada has her one and only namesake restaurant in the hotel and let me tell you, her monthly wine dinner pairing is not to be missed.
As for the rest of our stay? I think it made me see Vegas with fresh eyes. We hopped around to different museums and art galleries, including the Martin Lawrence Art Gallery (which boasts the likes of original Warhols and Picassos) and the newly opened Neon Museum (home to all the old neon strip signs of years gone by -- incredibly cool!). And for our last evening in town, we rode The Highroller (the large ferris wheel seen in the first photo), which is actually 100 feet taller than the London Eye and even includes a mini bar in some of the pods (because you know, when in Vegas).
It should also be noted that I now know how to play craps thanks to a very patient instructor at The Cromwell. I think I might stick to Blackjack still, but it never hurts to switch things up, right?
All in all, there's something undeniably happening in Vegas right now -- a little renaissance almost with more culture and renowned restaurants opening up that reminds me of what it might have been like in years gone by when Sinatra, Bogart and Martin were prowling the town. A return to glamour. A return to glitz. A return to magic.
Huge thanks again to The Cromwell for hosting me! I think it's safe to say, I'll be back in town soon! And huge thanks to my fellow companions on the trip. I couldn't have asked for a better Rat Pack to hit the town with.
Photos by the very talented photographers in our group: Derrick Freske, Adam Stewart and Jonathan Zizzo.
This post was in collaboration with The Cromwell. As always, all opinions and styling are my own. Thank you for supporting all This Time Tomorrow collaborations!