travel: las vegas hotel picks

*this blog is pure personal opinion, so please take it as such.  people’s views on “the best places to stay in vegas” vary wildly depending on personal preference*

a very large chunk of the business i do is selling vegas.
and a very large chunk of the travel i do, it to vegas.
so it stands that i spend a lot of my time thinking and talking about what hotel to stay at when in fabulous las vegas… so i’m going to share some nuggets of my wisdom that usually people have to come see me for.

i have a personal goal to stay at all the strip hotels.
the cool part about this goal is that the hotels themselves are always changing.  even in the 6 years i’ve been going, i’ve seen at least 4 hotels go and about 7 new ones pop up.  not to mention all the ones that stayed and kept their names but have revamped their images and refitted the hotel.

i have personally stayed in the following hotels… in this order:

  1. the monte carlo – deluxe room stripview
  2. the bellagio – deluxe room poolview
  3. the flamingo – neapolitan suite
  4. mandalay bay – penthouse suite
  5. the hotel at mandalay bay – standard suite
  6. the wynn – panorama room golf course view
  7. mandalay bay – regular room stripview
  8. vdara – regular suite aria view
  9. the mirage – deluxe room volcano/strip view

there’s a few things i’ve learned about staying in vegas and how i like my trips to go.  almost every hotel has a positive to choosing it and every hotel has their own vibe.
for me the biggest factors in choosing are: who im going with, what we’re planning on doing, restaurants, pool area and location.  pretty much in that order.

for instance, i am a loyal hardcore lover of mandalay bay.  but many people would never dream of staying there because they find the location to be too far.  my response is always the following:  first off, all you do in vegas is walk anyways. so does it really matter if i’m always walking in one direction?  not really.  second, there’s a free tram that takes you from MB to excalibur and that shortens your walk considerably.  often if i’m doing a late night strip stumble, i’ll just walk all the way down and taxi back to MB from the flamingo-ish area.  it’s under $10.  really, not a huge deal to me.  but, i also am mobile, wear sensible shoes and love walking.  i’m not the girl in high heels teetering around nightclubs.  but if i was, or was traveling with those girls, we’d probably stay at the hotel that had the nightclub we’d be going to most often.  ya dig?

for me, mandalay bay has so many other massive positives too.  the restaurant selection is top notch.  my absolute favourite; border grill is there.  they have many super high end choices and tons of great casual choices.  i could happily eat from only their restaurants for every meal and have nothing but success.  even the buffet, while not one of the high end buffets available, is always good and has ample options for a good price.
the pool area is hands down the best on the strip and they have the house of blues, where i’ve seen a couple great shows.  its like if the commodore ballroom was in your hotel and all you had to do after was stumble upstairs.  that shit is worth every penny.  also, i like how it’s connected by a mall to the luxor.  i’m not a big luxor fan, but i like shopping sometimes.  and that mall has some solid choices.

that being said, despite my mad love of MB, i wouldn’t stay there EVERY time.  in fact, on my last stay at the mirage, i didn’t even set foot inside mandalay bay.  we never made it further down the strip than monte carlo.  which, actually marked my very first trip to vegas without eating at border grill.  i feel like i let myself down with this choice.  but thats a whole other restaurant blog, lol.
next topic… high end hotels.
it’s no secret that i love luxury.  and here’s the reason why.  i can’t afford to live that way in the rest of my life.
vegas is a magical fantasy world where you touch down and immediately feel like a rockstar.  i get off that plane and i’m a freaking millionaire.  so i splurge.  because to me, i don’t want to count my pennies in vegas, i just want to live.
and there’s no where else on the planet where you can stay at a 5 star hotel for under $100 a night.  end of story.  so, why on earth would i waste that opportunity?  to me, this is a gift that should be welcomed with open arms and sincere thanks.  thank you vegas for letting me stay at a 5 diamond property with an exceptionally stunning view of the strip for a ridiculously cheap rate that wouldn’t even get me into a motel 6 in most cities.  thank you from the bottom of my heart.

sure, i could go with a basic accommodation and think “oh, i’m never in my hotel anyways”… but i actually *am* in my hotel.  i use the facilities, like the pool… i inevitably spend more time in the restaurants and casino than anywhere else… i like my room to be nice and posh and welcoming, not so barren that my first morning thought is “let’s get up and get out of here”.  in a city where all you’re doing is going from hotel to hotel day and night, why wouldn’t you choose one for yourself that you actually enjoy spending time in?

again, that’s not to say that i’m staying at the wynn every time… but i’m reasonable.  even when i’m on a bit more of a budget, i’ll always find the extra few $ a night for at least a mid-range property.  there are a few properties that i sell a ton of that you would never see me at….

imperial palace – this one i actually kinda like as far as the casino goes and hanging out in.  good location, but for just a few dollars more per night (literally) i can stay next door at the flamingo, which IMO is far superior and has a spectacular pool area.  i sell a TON of this hotel.  people LOVE it.  the budget conscious people love it. the people that honestly do wake up and get out of the room as soon as possible and don’t care about hotel facilities.  this is the perfect hotel for those people.  those people are just not me.

excalibur – never ever in a 100 years.  i’m sorry, but its just not happening.  i’ve never walked in there and thought “gee, this is a great casino with a nice feel, lets stay a while”.  as soon as i walk in, i can’t wait to get out.  it generally has more kids than anywhere else on the strip, it’s hideous in decor, run down and so trashy.  theres no fine dining, everything is cheap cheap cheap.  it’s like if walmart had a hotel.  but you know what?  a lot of people shop at walmart and a lot of people go to vegas for a cheap vacation, not to do fancy stuff.  so it works for them.

circus circus – yaaaa.  i’ve set foot in here once, to see the carousel bar from fear and loathing.  and while i kinda dig the old school dirty smoky vegas feel of years past, at the end of the day, it’s just too far down the strip with nothing around it and the circus theme is vaguely creepy and unsettling to me.  and i think i can find more than $29 a night to spend on where i lay my head.  but if all you care about is the lowest price possible, this generally is it.
the last thing i wanted to touch on today is upgrades & suites…
this is what i like to think of as the win/lose.  sometimes i’ll stay in a hotel that’s not quite as nice as i’d like because i’ll pay to be in an upgraded room or a suite.  because let’s face it, a suite is always kickass.  now, not everything is going to be my penthouse suite at mandalay bay (aka – nicer than my house will ever be) but even a suite at the flamingo can feel pretty swanky.
it’s a good thing to price out when you’re shopping for vegas… sure you could stay in a standard room at the wynn, but you might be able to get a suite somewhere less fancy for the same price and that would give you an overall more enjoyable experience.

also, once you’ve ventured into suite territory with a hotel, they’re more likely to consider you for an upgrade.  simply put, if you’re already in a higher room category and they have something else available, it’s really easy to bump you up one more level.  if you’re in a standard “cheapest possible” room, then the best you can hope for in most places is an upgrade to a strip view.  ya dig?


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. anormalday
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 08:30:45

    Having stayed with you in Vegas a couple of times, I must say that your plans are always spot on- I would trust you to help me choose a hotel no matter who I was going with. And you’re right, taking the activities you’re planning and the people you’re going with into account is the best way to choose the hotel.

    And just so you know, all you have to do is say the words “Border Grill” and I start thinking of perfect ceviche. I’ll be over hear drooling by myself. Not in Vegas.


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