In this exhilarating tale penned by our very own Hannah Gregory, readers are whisked away on a whirlwind adventure through the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, as she embarks on a girls’ road trip with her beloved friend. As a part of the furniture here at House of Coco, Hannah brings her trademark wit and charm to every word, inviting readers to join her on a journey filled with laughter, exploration, and, of course, delectable culinary delights...

I have a friend, a very special friend. Eighteen months ago she was taken away from me – I’m being a tad dramatic, no one died but her husband works for the American Air Force and the time had come for them to be stationed far away from these English lands. Amid the snotty sniffs and gulpy wails of our goodbye we agreed we would meet every year for an epic voyage. Both avid travelers and the majority of our friendship being made up of random road trips and adventures, it was settled – every year an escape, just us, a time to reconnect and explore whilst belly laughing and telling each other how much we had missed each other in the process and so the time came for the first of these expeditions to take place. 

We knew we wanted a road trip – America for ease. We knew we wanted epic vistas, a mix of bright lights and cityscapes with jaw dropping scenery and coastal roads. We wanted the quintessential experience – nothing but us, the open road and a banging playlist and most importantly we knew we wanted food and lots of it – a firm believer that nothing reinforces bonds than breaking bread I made it my mission to find the best eats, the most sustainable producers and the most exciting offerings knowing nothing brings people together better than good food.

And so it was settled, I would fly into Las Vegas and meet her there, we would spend a few days in Sin City soaking up everything it had to offer, the glitz, the glamour, the decadence. From here we would wind up the Pacific Coast Highway to SloCal – an area of Central California famed for its slow paced living, food and wine and incredible scenery. The perfect girls road trip that reconnects two friends as they connect with the west coast. 

Viva Las Vegas!

Flying into Las Vegas instantly makes you feel like you are the main character of a movie. Forehead pressed up against the glass of the plane window as the iconic strip comes into view, neon lights glowing in popping contrasts against the inky black sky, it’s hard not to daydream about what adventures are about to unfold. Perhaps it’s from watching too many films that site Vegas as their backdrop or maybe the hopeful notion that in a mere few hours maybe, just maybe, you could become infinitely richer. Whatever it is was manifesting itself in a physical reaction – a grin splashed across my face and butterflies doing back flips in my belly, I was ready to revel. 

Where to stay

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is  an adults playground and  the perfect hotel for first timers – a luxury and decadent offering in the heart of the strip, its location makes for the perfect base to explore everything there is on offer. Feeling like Charlie when he entered Willy Wonka’s factory for the first time, my eyes were on stalks, never mind the fact I hadn’t seen my friend for the best part of two years, I couldn’t stop looking at the lights, the people, the theater of it all. Entering the hotel under giant chandeliers, bouncing light to create a kaleidoscope of colour over the high gloss black floor, the ringing of slot machines buzzing around the space, cheers and whoops from crowds, cocktail shakers adding a rhythmic beat underneath it all, a place for those who are triggered by sensory overload this is not but for those looking to be fully immersed in everything synonymous with Vegas – this is it. 

As the lift whisked us upwards to our Terrace Studio room, the enormity of the hotel became apparent with signs to restaurants, bars, pools and fitness suites flashing past us. You could spend a week here and still struggle to see everything the hotel has to offer let alone what lies outside of it and the enormity didn’t stop there. Opening the door to our studio, the vastness continued – a king sized bed that allowed both of us to fully starfish without fear of punching (very important when spending the next two weeks sharing mattresses), a separate seating area that would have allowed for about fifty people, a bathroom that left me shrieking THAT quote from Pretty Woman and the cherry on top, a private terrace offering views of the strip for as far as the eye could see. As I lent on the balcony, the hot desert air whipping around my face, the colours of the flashing lights creating dancing shadows on the ground below, I thought ‘this is it, this is Vegas’. I could have stayed there soaking it in all night but I was plucked from my neon coloured thoughts by one of my favourite sentences, “shall we go and get a cocktail?” 

As we navigated our way through winding corridors, up and down escalators, around clusters of seating areas that I assume are provided to give explorers a needed rest as they traverse the miles of the hotel, we found ourselves in a bar that sat within the belly of the aforementioned chandelier. Strings of crystals draped around us and we sipped on our martinis, we couldn’t have felt more Vegas if we tried. The balcony bar overlooking the main atrium of the hotel is the perfect spot for people watching or to grab a drink before heading to the many options for dinner. However, in an uncharacteristically sensible turn we decided to call it after one – this was a marathon not a sprint after all – but not before setting out on a mission to find Secret Pizza; a hidden ‘grab and go’ pizza joint that I had noticed doing the rounds on social media. As we wound ourselves through the warren of the inner workings of The Cosmopolitan, the secret spot soon revealed itself through a plethora of excited diners giddily running back to their rooms laden with pizza boxes and a queue of people tumbling out a record lined corridor, try as they might to keep this place under the radar, it’s impossible when the slices they are serving are this good. And so, armed with a pie, merry from a martini, we skipped back to our room and fell into a deep slumber ready for the next day. 

Where to eat and drink


No trip to Vegas is complete without an amble through The Bellagio, the short walk from The Cosmopolitan takes you past the iconic fountains and into the famous conservatory, filled with ornate floral displays themed to the season, nestled at the back of which sits Sadelle’s. Another of those perfect people watching spots (this soon became my favourite activity in Vegas), starched white table cloths, napkins tied with a bow to represent a tuxedo and waiters dressed to the nines, my movie main character feeling continued. You would be amiss to order anything but the French Toast here – it is stuff of legend. Billowy clouds of thick cut, soft bread doused in syrup, adorned with fresh berries and topped with a mountain of whipped cream. It is what childhood dreams are made of. Sipping my mimosa whilst heaving forkfuls of the sweet breakfast into my mouth, I knew it was going to be a good day. 

Best Friend

Our first evening ‘proper’ it seemed only fitting to visit ‘Best Friend’, the brain child and absolute sensation of a place from Roy Choi. A mash up of bodega, bar and restaurant serving his best loved plates from his Kogi foodtruck, as with so many places in Vegas, this isn’t just a restaurant but an experience and an epic one at that. It now proudly sits at the top of my ‘if you go to Vegas you MUST visit here’ list. Entering the ‘bodega’, another sensory overload as eyes adjust to bright lights, walls lined with typical findings on bodega shelves interspersed with merch and artwork, music blares as diners enjoy a quick bite at the bar or wait for their table ‘out back’. It sounds too much but it works, the energy is infectious and even the most weary and jetlagged are instantly recharged. Plucked from the chaos, we were told our table ‘out back’ was ready. Walking through the red plastic butchers curtains and into the restaurant space that could have easily doubled up as a club, the vibe continued with a DJ perched above the tables, playing old school hip hop, watching his audience sway and bounce as plate after plate of glorious food was set down in front of them. The menu here is extensive and everything we tried was fantastic, the slippery shrimp being the hands down stand out dish. It was reassuring to see both tourists (spottable as they couldn’t stop staring in wonder, myself included, at the madness) and residents – yes, those do exist, I know one. A sure fire sign that this is a restaurant worth visiting. This is the kind of eatery that feels like ‘pre’s’, I detest myself for using that word but you know what I mean, you leave high and ready for a party. So we did just that.

Amalfi by Bobby Flay

I have to admit something. Pre this trip I had never heard of Bobby Flay. I have mentioned this to a couple of Americans over the last few months and the look of sheer horror has been intense. I’m glad I didn’t know who Bobby Flay was because had I known I was going to a restaurant of a ‘celeb chef’ I would have probably balked. Big shiny Food Network status aside, this restaurant was OUTSTANDING. Inspired by Bobby’s many trips to the Amalfi coast, you can expect an extensive seafood offering and big Mediterranean flavours. The jewel of the restaurant being the market led fish display, gargantuan turbots and bright red mullets sitting on a bed of crushed ice, lovingly spiritzed every five minutes by a chef (who I am 99% convinced job’s title is chief spritzer). Diners are invited to talk to the fishmonger about the catch of the day, how it’s prepared etc. I was in heaven, potentially asking one too many questions about the catching methods and sustainability of each floppy flounder but nothing was too much trouble for both the wait and kitchen staff alike. They were eager to take us through the menu, making suggestions here and there, recommending wine pairings and giving a subtle nod when we mulled over the thought of having an additional side. Having spent the two months previous to this trip on a Greek island I was a tad fished out so opted for the steak which was perhaps the best steak I have ever had.  My pesci friend devoured the perfectly cooked bass and together we shared plate after plate of pasta, caprese’s and stuffed courgette flowers. Everything about this place was sensational and a complete contrast to the previous night’s Best Friend. Where Roy had encouraged us to dance on the tables (not quite but it probably wouldn’t have been frowned upon), Bobby allowed us to relax in elegance, low level music and the gentle hum of the restaurant allowing for long conversations over plates of pasta and proteins, exactly what was needed for this girls trip. We had danced and now we dined. 

The Barbershop Cocktails and Cuts

When a bar has a queue of about 100 people outside it I instantly have two thoughts. One, that must be a great bar. Two, there is no way in hell I am queuing for a bar. Lucky for me we had a booth reserved and I could be one of those insufferable people that sauntered past the crowd and I can confirm, the queue is absolutely worth it.

Nestled in The Cosmopolitan, a barbershop by day – yes, you can actually get a shave, this speakeasy style affair is everything you want from a bar. Through the janitor’s door and down a staircase you enter a decadent low lit space, all wood paneling and chesterfield sofas with first class whiskey based cocktails and live music that varies from western warblings (in the best way)  to karaoke (I think that still counts as live). 

Making your way down the ‘secret’ staircase conjures feelings of big kid energy, fully knowing what is in store you still can’t help but giggle and feel you are being  led to a secret hideaway. Another fantastic example of Vegas theatre and experiential offerings – a must for anyone visiting.  

Things to do 

The Neon Museum

Determined not to just drink and gamble our livers and life savings away, we took a visit to  The Neon Museum. In hindsight perhaps this would have been better at dark so one could appreciate the iconic signs coming to life but it was still just as wonderful by day. A quick taxi ride to the graveyard of Las Vegas past and present and we were immersed in history and iconography. I would highly recommend to any fellow magpies who are mesmerized by flashing, twinkling things as I am – seeing some of the most recognisable signage up close and personal was an absolute treat, not to mention made for a great backdrop for an impromptu photo shoot.

Agave Bar & Grill

High up in the maze that is Resorts World sits the Agave Bar & Grill, a tropical oasis in the middle of a concrete desert. Vegas pools are often synonymous with party and I’m sorry to say, these 37 year old bodies are just not cut out for it. We wanted relaxed, chilled, cocktails brought to us, massages available on request and Agave delivered. The food offering is stripped back and basic but exactly what is needed to line stomachs before a day of poolside drinking – think burrito bowls and chicken wings, perfect washed down with a Bloody Mary. Perhaps it was due to being ‘off season’ but the pool was calm and tranquil. After two days of heavy drinking and eating, the ability to flop onto a lounger, roll into a pool and have a server bring you a frozen pina colada every thirty minutes was exactly what the doctor ordered and the perfect way to spend a sunny day on the strip.

“O” by Cirque De Soleil

We knew we had to tick the ‘big Vegas show’ box at least once during our time here and so on our last night we opted for “O”. Having never been to a Cirque show but knowing the reputation of them and that housed in Vegas, we were most likely going to be in for a spectacle, so we excitedly made our way to The Bellagio (with a couple of stops on the slots on route). Nothing could have prepared me for the next two hours of my life. As stages magically moved and shifted, floors became pools of water, acrobats plummeted and tumbled not just across the stage but into it, we gasped and cheered along with the rest of the audience. Sitting on the edge of our seats, grabbing each other’s digits, we were enraptured. I’ve heard people say before that going to the theatre or the cinema is a silly thing to do for a date (appreciate my friend and I aren’t dating but same premise) but I firmly disagree. The sharing of  such a spectacle and then being able to dissect it and discuss it afterwards is such a special experience. I would recommend anyone – kids, adults, shotgun weddingers, ANYONE, to go and see this show and prepare to have your mind blown.

Las Vegas reminds me of a festival site. The Cosmopolitan, our very glitzy base camp, the hundreds of activities and eateries all mini stages. Strategically planning days around when we can get back to our room to refresh and rehydrate as you would your tent. Looking at lengths of walk from one area to the other, planning outfits for every eventuality. It was this feeling of play and escapism that captured me, living in your own little man made world that purely exists to provide fun and frivolity. Sure, it’s not sustainable but good lord for a few days it is magic.

And so with that, part one of our girls road trip was complete. Our brief to each other, to eat, to drink, to be merry, to ‘do’ Vegas hard ready for the softness of California and we did just that. Rolling out of The Cosmopolitan car park, a little poorer, a lot rounder and absolutely full to the brim of love and laughter, we were ready to hit the road and Thelma and Louise this trip (minus the murder and double suicide).

Find out more about Las Vegas.

There are daily direct flights to Las Vegas from London and Manchester with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

British Citizens will need complete and Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) to visit the States.

Read part 2 here

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