Why I HATE Vegas

What happens in Vegas…mostly stays in Vegas, when you’re there on business. Thank God, because in the spare time I did have to explore the city for the first time as an adult, I quickly discovered how much Sin City is not for me.

Okay cocktail for an okay view at Skybar at the Waldorf Astoria

The highlight would have to be seeing the Cirque Du Soleil show, “O”, at the Bellagio. This show is different from their other shows because it’s water based, so there are divers and synchronized swimmers in addition to the acrobats and usual mind-blowing acts. My splurge for great seats on my last night was worth every penny, and probably the only redeeming quality of Vegas.

Here’s why everything else sucked:

1) FOOD is unnecessarily expensive

I’m not a stranger to bougie restaurants and overpriced cocktails, but man there is no reason for the food to be as expensive as it is here. Portions are small and the food quality is honestly nothing to rave about. This was the one thing people told me I’d love about Vegas, and it turned out to not be the case at all. A very average meal will run you at least $30-60, and the restaurants have a somewhat overdone look to them. Casual restaurants or coffee places are hard to come by, and it’s impossible to just “stop in” anywhere.

Eel and soft-shell crab rolls from Nobu. I heard the Vegas location was better than DC, but it still can’t hold a candle to Uchi in Austin.

I ate at two of the restaurants inside the Bellagio hotel: Harvest, as part of my “progressive dinner” one night, and Lago, before the Cirque show. Harvest had a late-night happy hour with a good deal on drinks, and my cocktail was pretty good. The food on the snack cart looked like it had been sitting out for hours, and tasted like it too. At Lago I enjoyed my aperol spritz and lobster gnocchi, but the portions were so small I had to order a second dish – a ricotta honey focaccia which had great flavors, but was kind of soggy.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to wait in line at Eggslut or Bouchon Bakery, but I did have a mediocre crab cake at Hexx (inside the Paris Hotel) and extremely disappointing pad thai from Lotus of Siam (which had come highly recommended to me!) I also had several terrible Postmates/Uber Eats experiences, which is another strike against this city because food delivery is synonymous with work trips. Unless you want to shell out on your per diem for insanely priced room service, that is.

2) VEGAS TRAFFIC IS unnecessary

There’s no public transportation, and you can’t get anywhere by walking. Everything is concentrated in one area, so there’s nowhere to go except with traffic – for no good reason. And why do taxis cost $40 from the airport?! The only redeeming quality here was that I got to ride in one of Lyft’s Level 4 autonomous vehicles on my last night. The ride-hailing app partnered with Aptiv to launch a Las Vegas pilot program in May 2018, and is one of the few public autonomous vehicle programs in the U.S. Having organized a panel at SXSW in Austin, TX on AVs earlier this year, this was very exciting for me!

The only positive of traffic going 12 miles an hour: more time to ask the Aptiv safety drivers a zillion questions about the autonomous vehicle 

3) awful weather

Vegas is stupid hot. Worst of all, it’s DRY. While this may be wonderful for some people’s hair, it just makes my nose bleed. I also have never had to apply lotion 3x a day to keep my skin from cracking and flaking – gross, I know! I get that there are beautiful parts of the desert, but they are not in Vegas and I crave greens and blues, not browns.

4) LACK OF culture/originality

If you spread out Times Square (the worst part of NYC) over five miles, what you get is the Strip. Even the most famous attractions in Vegas are a copy of other overly-tourist-infested places around the world (Eiffel Tower, Venice…) There’s no culture unique to Vegas, unless you count having no open-container laws  and regular sights of half-naked people as culture. In one word, it’s just fake.

Vegas, you’re not Paris. Stop tryna make Paris happen.
I laughed and had to send this attempt at (horrifically overpriced) Taiwanese street food to my mom

5) predatory gambling

Gambling, if you’re not addicted to it, can be a thrilling form of entertainment. On the other hand, the entire premise of gambling is getting people to make irresponsible decisions. To me, there is something very ethically questionable about getting people to drink, smoke, and objectify women as much as possible so that they then lose as much money as possible. There were so many wrinkly old people gambling away at all hours of the morning, I felt icky inside. A business model that creates more addicts and targets vulnerable populations cannot be something I advocate for.

Fake Paris streets under a fake sky in the fake Paris hotel, with a very real sign that says “SEX TIPS” at the top.

On top of all that, I had the worst customer experience in a hotel I’ve ever encountered at the Hilton Grand Vacations on the Strip. I purposely wanted to stay a bit away from the hustle and bustle, but it was not worth it. I wrote management a lengthy list of complaints in a “To Whom it may Concern” email, the most egregious of which was being accosted by an employee for not having my ID when trying to buy overpriced ice cream. Yes, ice cream. At 11pm. Wearing pajamas. #traumatized. I switched hotels after two nights, and the service at the Four Seasons was a world of difference (duh).

So – is it just me? I can think of a thousand better places to have a bachelor/bachelorette party than Vegas, and would never choose to spend my own money on a trip here. Anyone else?

See ya never, Sin City


3 thoughts on “Why I HATE Vegas

  1. oh HELLS yeah.

    I’ve only been dragged to Vegas once in my life–in 2013, on the way to SFO, by my wife who was determined to go see the Cirque in residence at Treasure Island–and it was only on the promise that I would NEVER have to go there again EVER that I agreed.

    I’m right on board with every one of your criticisms of the Strip. I found nothing about it to be in the least pleasant or entertaining, and ESPECIALLY the ubiquitous smoking. (I’m an Austinite of many years’ residence, and we first got hincty about no-smoking way back in 1986.) Also, I’m not a gambler, at ALL. When I was a boy, my mother advised me never to bet on anything I wasn’t morally certain I would win, and that advice has kept me out of SO many bad bets in my life.

    So if you don’t gamble and don’t go to shows in Vegas (I didn’t even go to Cirque; my wife took our son with her), what do you do? Bugger-all, is what. And I can think of ever so many places I would rather be where I would have far more than bugger-all to do.

    So c’mon back to Austin instead, but this time see whether you can’t find a less tourist-trappy area than SoCo to stay. We have them. And for heaven’s sake avoid Dirty Sixth, which I gave up on back in the ’90s.

  2. hahaha AMEN! Also the bar is quite high if you’re from Austin, a city that has my heart 🙂 I will be back at the end of October, staying with a friend and can’t wait! (I did the Dirty Sixth thing once to say I did it and yeah… it’s like Bourbon Street in NoLa, not really my thing but interesting people watching!)

  3. Tell ya what … lemme know exactly when yer gonna be in AUS and gimme some contact info, and I’d be pleased to treat you to a coffee or a cocktail or lunch or something or another. I’ve lived in this burg since 1975 and the days of the Armadillo, and I still live like a mile from the University and 3 miles from the Capitol. Central Austin is my _jam_. As much as the city has changed since the day I came here, I still can’t imagine living anyplace else.

Leave a Reply