For those of you who have never been to Las Vegas I’ll attempt to describe it for you:
It’s a very subtle place. Everything is paired to the bone and nothing is at all extravagant or excessive. Take the MGM Grand for instance. For a start it’s very difficult to find when you’re coming along the strip. You could almost go straight past it if you weren’t paying attention:
Luckily they’ve put a small, fifty-foot golden lion outside to help you find it. Usefully to, they have another of these lions, similarly sized, in the main reception of the building. So you can be exactly sure that you’re checking into the right place.
The reception area itself is similar to the rest of the complex in that it’s quite understated. I think there were only forty or so check-in desks and the fountains in the entrance area to the elevators only barely go up as high as the ceiling. Checking in itself was an experience. The conversation went something like this:
“Welcome to the MGM Grand Mr Duck*, do you have your ID and credit card? I see you’re spending only the one night with us and we currently have you in a standard room in the West Wing. That’s quite a small room so I’m going to go ahead and upgrade you to a double suite for a charge of only $60. I’ll put that onto your bill now.”
“Wait what? Hang on, I don’t want an upgrade, the standard room will be fine.”
“Are you sure Muscovy* (for some reason we were now on a first name basis)? We want you to make the most out of your experience at the MGM Grand and your current room is one of our basic ones.”
“I know, that’s why I booked it. It’ll be fine.”
“It’s a good deal compared to the usual cost of the suite.”
“I’ll be fine in the room I booked, thanks.”
“How much luggage do you have Mr Duck* (obviously we were now no longer on first name terms) as the storage space in our standard rooms can be limited.”
“I have one bag.”
“Ok then. I’ll go ahead and remove the upgrade from your account (this was said as if it had been there all along) and put you back in the standard room.” I now felt somewhat underwhelmed by what I’d originally though was quite a good room.
*Names have been changed in commemoration of the fact that London Heathrow Airport (which has apparently become self-aware) referred to me yesterday as ‘Mr Muscovy’ on Twitter.
Unfortunately the lady on the reception desk was right. My room was small, pokey and (to be quite honest about it) utterly unacceptable. Of all the hotel rooms I’ve been in this was by far one of the worst. Take for example the walk-in shower that had (gasp) only two shower heads:
Or the puny size of the television embedded in the bathroom mirror:
I mean how am I meant to see anything meaningful on that while brushing my teeth? And then take the size of the room in general. The main floor / bed area has got to be no more than 8m by 7m. The queen sized bed hardly fits it! Then there’s the storage. Oh dear; the storage. The lady on reception was spot on – the only storage in the room was one small, pokey, walk-in wardrobe in which my case only just fit:
(That’s my case jammed in the bottom there). I mean, what if I’d had six people over to my room in the evening and we’d decided that we wanted to have a cocktail party in the wardrobe? We’d have all been able to fit in but it would have been quite cramped for the canapés guy.
But then that’s Las Vegas for you. Efficient, environmentally-aware and considered. Nothing over-the-top, nothing extravagant and definitely nothing that you could even begin to call tacky.
After checking in and recovering from the shock of my under-spec room I went for a wander. As I left the main entrance of the hotel I was in for a surprise: Despite having been on a plane for the best part of five hours, it appeared that it had all be a deception! I was, in fact, back in New York!
Who would have guessed it?!
Anyway, more on Las Vegas later. It’s 7:30am (3:30pm GMT) now and I’ve just finished breakfast. The security staff are starting to eye me up as I’ve now been sitting here, in the Starbucks off the main casino floor, for almost an hour and haven’t yet gambled on anything. I think they’re concerned that my seat could instead be occupied by someone who is willing to bet their house (literally) on the fact that a little ball will land in a red square rather than a black one.