New York, London, Paris, Milan – they may be the cities where the fashion labels innovate, but Las Vegas is where they congregate. The Strip must have more designer shops per square mile than London’s Chelsea or Mayfair.
Caesars Palace’s Forum Shops are modestly billed as “the shopping wonder of the world”. The complex is a dizzying, Escher-like confabulation of Corinthian columns, balconies and domes, with a 227,000-litre aquarium thrown in for good measure. And if its 160 shops somehow fail to satisfy, just head across the road, where you’ll find the same number of high-class outlets at The Venetian – along with a recreation of La Serenissima’s Grand Canal, gondolas and all.
One of the newest monuments to conspicuous consumption is The Shops at Crystals beside the Aria hotel. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, with interiors by the Rockwell Group and water features by Wet Design (which also created the Bellagio fountains), it has 50 luxury retailers, including the largest Louis Vuitton department store in the US and a two-storey Tiffany & Co.
In fact, every hotel and casino on the Strip has a shopping area – it’s a browser’s heaven, with just one catch: the labels in Las Vegas with the greatest cachet are European, so British visitors may find those more cheaply at home.
With that in mind, you may be better off visiting the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, a favourite hotel of Brits. This is less Gucci and more Urban Outfitters. It’s fun just to stroll in: the ceilings are a fake sky, painted blue with clouds, and the buildings are decked out like a Moorish bazaar, so you feel like you’re Indiana Jones in the Temple of Mammon.
But even so, where, you ask, are the real bargains? Well, on the Strip, there’s one shopping mall that’s not part of any casino hotel – the Fashion Show opposite the Wynn. That’s where I pick up terrific (£25) shirts on each trip in the frequent sales. Of the six department stores among its 247 outlets, Nordstrom usually seems to have the best deals on the best labels.
And I can go one better. The best places of all for the budget-conscious shopper are the two Premium Outlets: one to the south, near the airport, and one to the north in the Downtown area, so you can see Fremont Street at the same time. If you’re up for a shopping spree, it’s worth making the trek. None of your tat here: it’s all quality designers, mostly from the US, with year-round discounts of up to 65%.
Did I need the thick black leather cowboy hat I bought last year? Not really, but at half-price, it would have seemed rude not to. And it creates a pleasing stir when I wear it to a poker table back in London. Was it strictly necessary to buy a red leather jacket with diagonal zips? At 75% off, I would argue that, yes, actually, it was. Happy hunting!
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