House cars & meatballs

Lavo

They say what happens in Vegas stays there. Well Las Vegas tourism bureau, I like your slogan, but I’m about to violate your golden rule. Below are two of my favorite “secrets” about the city.

The house car

Mandarin Oriental's gorgeous accent wall.

Mandarin Oriental’s gorgeous accent wall.

One of the worst things in Vegas is when you head out the doors of the casino and the taxi queue is 50-people deep. Tragic. But you do have a few great options. The first is a town car. The town car can cost you as low as $20 depending on where you’re going, what hotel you’re at and what time of the day it is. If you hit the sweet spot and the driver is bored – which happens more than you’d think! – they will often offer you a great deal. A taxi ride in traffic halfway down the strip will cost you $20 anyways, so might as well ask and get a town car!

Now, if you get really lucky, you can also hitch a ride for free. Most of the luxury hotels in Vegas have complimentary transportation. These house cars are often reserved for those spending an inordinate amount at the hotel. But, if they’re available, there’s nothing wrong with asking for a lift! One of the best hotels on the strip is the Mandarin Oriental and on a recent stay I was able to take the town car at least five times throughout my stay; all for free! And let me tell you, there is a huge difference between stepping out of a town car – complete with bottled water, air conditioning, reclining seats, mints – and hoisting yourself out of a cab – complete with a broken air conditioner, smelly leather and a creepy driver. It’s worth asking the concierge if the house car is available or waiting a few extra minutes for one to arrive.

Lavo

This restaurant and club isn’t really a secret. And it’s not even the best. But what it is, is free. When I am in town with friends who despise lines and don’t want to do bottle service, I always take them to Lavo. Why? Because after dinner at the restaurant, admission to the club is free. Yes, even if you’re a guy!

Make a reservation for around 10 p.m. so by the time you enjoy your meal and drinks you can head straight to the club and it won’t be empty.

The restaurant has an amazing view of the strip, probably the best view on that end of the boulevard. Try and get a seat out on the patio. If you’re there in the winter they also have heat lamps to keep you warm. Even better, you might even get to see the pirate show across the street at Treasure Island. It’s uber cheesy but makes for great conversation.

The food is nothing mind-blowing but is tasty. The flatbread pizzas and Kobe meatball are the best items on the menu. The meatball is large enough to be shared because you’ll fill up on the complimentary garlic bread and dipping sauce.

Lavo by night light.

Lavo by night light.

After dinner and a pirate show, make sure you ask for a stamp to get free entry into the club. The place is not worth bottle service because the space is incredibly small – I mean really, really small – and people encroach on you and your friends. If you don’t mind everyone in the exact same space you paid for, the bottle service is affordable compared to other places. On top of that, if you are a hotel guest and don’t finish the bottles, you can take it back to your room. A rarity for clubs!

Any club in Vegas is crowded; but Lavo is above and beyond crowded almost into the claustrophobic realm. The dance floor is also very small. I don’t mind that though. I go into the club expecting that. Instead I opt for hanging out by the bar, doing a shoulder shimmy and chatting with friends.

Because I’m all about recognizing great service, I want to recognize their security staff. Whenever they spot a girl struggling to get through the throng of partygoers, they create a gap for you to walk through. I’ve actually had one bouncer escort me all the way to the ladies room. When you’re all dressed up in your Herve Leger bandage dress, teetering in stilettos – a 6’7’’ man muscling his way through the crowd for you is always appreciated.

For their meatballs and muscle, I’ll always turn to Lavo.

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About Young is the new black

Latte-addicted 20-something. Serious consumerist. Join me as I shop, travel & eat – hopefully getting good customer service along the way!

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