I first entered a casino in 2010. My then-not-even-a -boyfriend took me to Atlantic City and the place wowed me to the point that it has now almost become our family legend how I was waking around the Caesar’s Casino with my eyes wide open and jaw dropped. Since then I went to AC at least 8 times and each time the wow-factor was there less and less, until last weekend it came to the point when I wanted to dry-clean all of my clothes and shoes after just spending a night there.
Sure, the ocean is always beautiful, but the famous Boardwalk is not what it used to be. From closed hotels and casinos to shops selling tacky t-shirts, from mediocre restaurants to scary-looking crowds, from loud commercials on repeat to all-penetrating cigarette smoke, this was definitely not the place I remembered from my first visits in 2010.
This past weekend we finally drove to National Harbor to check on the new MGM National Harbor Hotel and Casino, which opened just last December. Casinos in the US are very strictly regulated, so having one just half an hour drive from home seemed an exciting thing.
And this time the WOW factor was present all right.
- Smoking is not allowed anywhere inside. Not that it is something new for the US, but seems like Atlantic City didn’t get the memo. The venue smells Clorox and air freshener, which I’d take any day over cigarette smoke.
- The place is clean, there is a stylish cocktail lounge, huge patio next to the dancing fountains and a gallery that goes around the premises and gives you a nice view over National Harbor, Washington DC and Alexandria.
- Food options are many: from food court places to fancy Chinese restaurant where you can easily leave the amount of money enough to buy your next door Chinese take out. Seriously, first time since my trip to China back in 2007 I felt like Chinese food, because the place looked fancy and smelled delicious. Fish by Jose Andres, Voltaggio Brothers steakhouse and course Bellagio Patisserie with state-of-art pastries, cakes and macarons.
Speaking of Bellagio – this is exactly what came to mind when I saw the huge Chinese garden sculptures all made of live flowers, just like in Bellagio in Vegas, which is owned by MGM Resorts company.
- If you didn’t lose all your money gambling, National Harbor
with all your traditional shopping selection is less than a mile away and you can easily walk there. But don’t miss the Accents where I fell in love with a beautiful orchid vase (will go well for our future house’s living room) and SJP By Sarah Jessica Parker (oh, the stilettos!).
- And entertainment: Sting, Cher, Sarah Silvermann, Ukrainian boxing star Vasyl Lomachenko and Ricky Martin – all happening between March and May. Can’t wait to see Sting perform again in couple weeks!
So, I guess this closes Boardwalk Empire era for me. I am looking forward to warmer weather… and see this girl right there with the cocktail in her hand? Yes. that one, next to the fountain? That’s me!