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Top Holidays

Holiday showdown: New York v Las Vegas

  • Travel 101
  • By Ellena Rowlin
  • Published 10 November 2012
  • Published 10 November 2012

Gamblers, shoppers, foodies and relaxers, listen up as we pick apart these two powerhouses

American cities always pack a punch, whether it’s blinding architecture you can’t help but gaze at or cultures that invite you in with tantalising food and fascinating traditions. The capital of style, New York City and the capital of fun, Las Vegas are two of the country’s most visited locations, but what sets these cities apart? With both offering lavish accommodation, fine dining, legendary fast food, and pastime activities to shout about, there’s an unforgettable trip to be had by every kind of traveller in these two bustling hubs. If you find yourself struggling to decide which one is right for you, check out our handy guide picking the iconic spots, the newest haunts and the trendiest places in the Big Apple and Sin City. 

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We can see what inspired Alicia Keys when she sung about “A concrete jungle where dreams are made of” with the blanket of skyscrapers that greet you from the moment your plane touches NYC airspace. Look down from above and see grids of towering spectacles, from the oldest buildings to the newest innovations. Stretching your neck upwards to gaze at architecture poking into the clouds from below is something the city actively encourages, and you can’t spend time here without ticking off the favourites. 

The Rockefeller Centre is a haven of Christmas festivity in the holidays with an ice rink and towering tree outside, as well as epic views of the New York skyline from the observation deck (which will include the Empire State Building, too.) The Statue of Liberty holds her torch of independence high on Liberty Island and can be visited by a boat trip from Staten Island on the southern tip of the city. Whether the active want to climb the 393 steps up to her crown or the chilled-out would rather admire from below, it’s an itinerary entry that mustn’t be missed. Head to the hippiest neighbourhood Downtown and The World Trade Centre not only provides the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, but more than 1.5m-square-feet of designer labels and fine dining in the gleaming new mall. 

And speaking of gleaming, the flashes of neon lights in Vegas illuminating the crazy buildings will beg for a place on your Instagram feed. No matter which five-star property has lured you in – and there are bucketloads of them – a walk down the strip will have you in a different world of fairy-tale castles and even an Egyptian pyramid. This is the land where anything goes: A slightly smaller replica of the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas where you can have dinner; a mini Lady Liberty at New York, New York Hotel & Casino with a rollercoaster running around it; and the city’s very own slice of Italy at The Venetian, complete with canals and gondola rides. For more glitz and glamour, a stroll down Las Vegas Boulevard is no ordinary walk, and instead you’ll weave in and out of lobbies, restaurants and malls brimming with glitz. Some of our favourites are The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas with a mirrored lobby reflecting digital artwork columns and hues of lilac resonating from the dripping chandelier, and Bellagio’s Arcadia, where each season the conservatory turns into a floral wonderland. Continue the floral trail to The Wynn, where a floral carousel and hot air balloon made with more than 110,000 flowers await. The perfect pre-casino culture cash in. 


The Office NYC
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

New York and Las Vegas both boast unbelievable nightlife. If it’s chic and sophisticated living you like to experience once the sun hides behind the clouds, NYC is your best bet. Endless amounts of rooftop bars and underground hideouts offering laid-back vibes, the latest sounds and a fashionable crowd line the grids. Oh, and expect many of the bars to boast moody interiors and a closing time of 4am. Hidden inside the Mandarin Oriental, New York, The Office NYC is a love letter to the 20s, when drinks were strong and outings were gadget free and all about the company. For a view of the skyline in the colder months when you don’t want to brave the open air, head to The Fleur Room, a new rooftop destination offering 360-degree panoramas in a glass-encased lounge adorned with floral fabrics and a vintage disco ball. But if you fancy heading outside, then we have a few firm picks. They may have the same name, but The Roof at the top of Le Méridien New York boasts vistas of Central Park in an elegant setting, while PUBLIC Hotel's The Roof exudes a chilled vibe with comfy sofas overlooking the Manhattan lights. But for the trendsetters, Rumpus Room is the location for the drinks reception turned wild night out after the Met Gala, with animalistic décor and shadows dark enough to hide all kinds of celebrities.

But there’s no denying that many people go to Las Vegas for one thing and one thing only: for non-stop partying, and it’s not limited to just after dark here. Drai’s Beachclub & Nightclub is the destination for R&B music and worldwide hip-hop artists like 50-Cent, French Montana and Wiz Khalifa. XS Nightclub at Wynn is another great option for the clubbing crazy with the 2019 residents including Alesso, Major Lazer and Steve Angello, while Encore boasts a raving beach club attracting big names, lairy designs and a pool long enough to practise every dance move. Jewel Nightclub in Aria is a ‘gram favourite, where you’ll enter through a psychedelic display of neon lights, into a world of week-long dancing to names like Steve Aoki. But the main stop on the party train is the casinos. The Cosmopolitan is one of our favourites while big spenders will love the 1,300 machines, as well as tables to experience classic Vegas games like blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat. Although, if you’d place bets on tables being your big win, the Bellagio’s poker room remains a veteran’s favourite, with 40 tables offering food, drink and back and neck massages delivered as you play.


Canal Street Oysters

The contemporary design that runs throughout New York has given way to some fabulous food offerings. Where the innovative meets the stylish and legendary American portions marry tantalising flavours, the food scene here is irresistible and constantly growing. Scrap the sidewalk pretzels as big as your face and be sure to visit our top picks of newly opened restaurants, which include Canal Street Oysters where the fresh seafood is all in the name, and Il Florista, the perfect addition of floral garnishes and rich dishes. Read about the newly opened restaurants we’ve got our eye on here. The Big Apple also has its fair share of Michelin-starred restaurants, five of which boast three of the renowned accolades. Eleven Madison Park serves an upscale menu based on 8 to 10 courses of traditional American cuisine personalised to each customer, Masa brings skilful Japanese food and a two-hour feasting experience to diners, while Per Se offers a treetop setting alongside New American and French cuisine. La Bernadin is another must visit, mastering French seafood for 10 consecutive years. If you need a sweet treat after, a stop by Dominique Ansel Bakery to see what the cronut craze is all about will have you feeling like a true New Yorker. 

Vegas offers nearly the complete opposite of New York’s modern restaurants. Instead, here nothing is too much, and the dining options are extravagant in setting and outlandish in taste. Chic gets an upgrade at Beauty & Essex, found in The Cosmopolitan, where plush velvet furniture accompanies sirloin steak, seared scallops and mac & cheese. In the Bellagio, you’ll find scenic additions like LAGO by Julian Serrano, an award-winning chef who offers sublime views of the hotel’s fountains and twists on Italian Brunch favourites. Is a sugar craving calling? Sprinkles Cupcake ATM is one of our hidden gems, and this 24-hour vending machine will deliver baby pink cakes and mouth-watering cookies in a brown cardboard box, fit for the ‘gram. Discover our other hidden spots in the bright lights here.


The New York EDITION
Empathy Suite by Damien Hirst

There’s no question when it comes to these American icons that luxury is most visible in the array of hotels. New York is the place for packing a whole lot of fashionable design into the rooms and suites. If it’s minimalistic design and cream colour palettes that tick your box The New York Edition is the ideal place. Nestled in the artistic Flat Iron Building, light streams into the Penthouse Suite, offering striking views of the city. The Four Seasons Hotel New York has an old school vibe, with tall marble walls and unique artwork in the TY Warner Penthouse. For a more intimate stay, head to the Crosby Street Hotel, located in eclectic SoHo, featuring a 12-foot cat statue and unique pig ornaments among pastel colours and a relaxed terrace.

But the home of glamour is Las Vegas. Sleek lines and refined aesthetics are rare but can be found, most likely inside a castle of blinding lights, fake rivers and Vegas’ very own take on international monuments. Making your choice can be difficult, so let us tell you our absolute favourites. The cool kids will feel at home in The Cosmopolitan and Aria, where sparkle, shine and art installations are the name of the game. For old school luxe, the Bellagio is where you want to go while Encore offers immeasurable views through floor to ceiling windows of the skyline. The artsy kind will love the Empathy Suite designed by Damien Hirst at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. We’re talking sharks suspended in a tank art piece, feature walls of the signature butterfly motif he’s known for and a cantilevered pool hanging off the edge with the bright lights of the strip gleaming in the distance. With a location off the strip, this option is great for those who want a quieter escape from the liveliness.


As the trees turn 50 shades of burnt orange you can fill your days with shopping trips, museum visits and, when timed correctly, the hustle and bustle of Fashion Week in September

What are the flight times to New York and Las Vegas?
The direct flight time from London to New York is eight-hours while the Vegas strip is 10-hours and 40-minutes away, also non-stop.

Where is best for a family?
Despite both cities being packed to the brim, many of the activities you can take part in are family friendly. Head to the Big Apple in the winter months and little ones will love gliding over the multiple ice rinks the city offers. Christmas time in the city is great for children too, with light shows and toy heavens bought to life by the iconic department stores across Manhattan. When it comes to pleasing the teens, there’s an option for every taste. Sporting fans can immerse themselves in quintessential American entertainment when watching the New York Knicks basketball team at Madison Square Garden while musical muses can take their pick from the heaps of Broadway shows.

Las Vegas and 18+-year old partyers may go hand in hand but if you fancy taking the children to see the bright lights there are still plenty of activities to whet their whistles. Thrills for the older kids come in the form of rollercoasters and epic heights, so make sure to go to Stratosphere where you can find both. X-Scream shoots you off the side of the skyscraper, Big Shot reaches into the clouds and Insanity is the third highest ride in the world. For fun back on the ground, Topgolf @ MGM Grand Hotel and Casino brings the Essex outlet of swinging excitement to Sin City, while rushing down the waterslide next to a tank of sharks at Golden Nugget should satisfy adrenaline seekers. Live a fairy tale adventure at Excalibur, the medieval castle-shaped hotel where entertainment comes in the form of jousting shows in the Tournament of King’s. This tale of King Arthur turns into a live-action production in an arena of regal proportions. 

What time of year should I visit both of these cities?
The changing seasons in New York bring a turnstile of beautiful sceneries and ideal pastimes to fill your day. There’s no denying that the festive period is given a sprinkling of magic in New York with the lake in Central Park freezing over and the strips of skyscrapers adorned with the grandest light displays. But head there in summer and you’ll experience a wash of vibrant green in the city, where al fresco lunches, boating in the park and rooftop bars make up your itinerary. Fall (or autumn to us) is another great time to visit, and as the trees turn 50 shades of burnt orange you can fill your days with shopping trips, museum visits and, when timed correctly, the hustle and bustle of Fashion Week in September.

Las Vegas, on the other hand, enjoys an ideal climate of around 21- to 31-degrees throughout March to May and September to October. Remember, it is in the middle of a desert and temperatures in summer can soar, so make sure to plan your trip wisely. Families with children may prefer the lower temperatures of February and November, although you’ll have to add some layers at night. 

It’s hard to choose between these two American powerhouses, so we say why not visit both? There’s no match for the craziness of Vegas but there’s also no match for the sophistication of New York. The expanding food scene in the big apple tempts gastronomy connoisseurs across the world while the carefree attitude that anything can happen is alive in sin city more than anywhere else. Want to wake up in a city that never sleeps? Or want the assurance that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? There’s something for the inquisitive and bold, the relaxed and the adventurous in both of these cities. 

Managed to choose one or fancy a tour of the American jewels? Get in touch with our team of personal travel managers on 0203 816 0985 or enquire here

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