So we’ve discussed where to eat, but I think I’ve overlooked the most obvious topic: Where to Stay! There are so many awesome hotel-casino in Vegas that they all start to blur together after awhile. They all brag about having the best rooms, the best service, the best “fill in the blank”…so I’ve decided I’m going to weigh in with where to stay at why. The caveat: I’m only going to share with you the places I have stayed so that I can speak personally to what you’ll get—not what I think you’d get if you stayed somewhere. That said, I’m a Caesar’s Entertainment (herein: CE) junkie which means most of the places I’m going to recommend will be Caesar’s-centric! It’s nothing against MGM/Mirage (or whatever the hell they’re calling themselves these days), it just that with the Total Rewards system and CE having casinos all over the country, it’s easy to stay/play at a CE property.
Alright, so let’s start with the least expensive rooms and work our way up to the most expensive rooms, shall we? Any one of these hotel/casinos would make for an awesome first time stay in Vegas…
Imperial Palace (herein: IP): Man I love this hotel/casino. I usually get quite a scowl from my friends when I tell them this, but I really do. Of course, that said, it’s because I lost my Vegas Virginity to this location. My “first time” was in 2006, my parents sent me out there as a congratulatory gift for passing the Michigan Bar Exam. I got on to one of those wholesale travel websites where you could book a flight and hotel package as one price for a deep discount, and IP seemed like a great location at a great price. And, by and large, it really is. Look, I’m not going to candy coat the IP, it’s an incredibly affordable hotel at an even more incredible locale. VegasTripping recently stayed there and did a review on IP (check it out here) and I agree with the overall sense of the issue: You don’t get what you don’t pay for. The IP rooms are clean, they’re (relatively) spacious and they’re far from pretentious. Furthermore, the casino is great because it’s one of the few places on the Strip where you’re going to find table games at a $5 minimum. The downside to the hotel is that the place is tired, in need of new carpeting/wallpaper, and the elevators are atrocious, to say the least. But for the elevator issues (they take FOREVER), I would rate this location as an A+ option…but I’ll still give it an A to an A- overall. Don’t let the poor reviews discourage you from staying here. Most of the people who trash the IP are comparing it to high end hotels on the Strip and that’s just an apple to oranges comparison.
Flaming: You owe it to yourself to stay in one of their GO rooms. I’ve not heard positive things about their non-GO rooms, but again, these people dog he IP so I suspect the rooms are fine. That said, I’ve stayed in a GO room and I loved every second of it. I’m not going to lie when I say I kinda didn’t want to leave my room I loved it so much. At first I hated the color scheme (white, brown & pink) but the longer I was in the room, the more I liked it. The great thing about the rooms is how art deco awesome they are. First of all, the bathroom isn’t the traditional walled off room, but instead it’s frosted glass. Not exactly the kind of hotel room you’d want to share with Grandma, but with a lovely lady, it’s pretty sweet. The shower itself is a standalone shower (meaning, no tub) with clear glass walls. In hindsight, I can’t really recall if the shower was as large as I remember it being or if it had the appearance of spaciousness because the bathroom itself was so large and the glass walls allowed you to see everything in the bathroom. Regardless, it has a television set into the mirror in the bathroom (which my then girlfriend/now wife) absolutely loved. I don’t understand her love of television in the shower but this gets her every time (Caesars Palace) has it in some of their rooms. I really dug the lighting in the bathroom…I’m coming to the realization I perhaps loved the bathroom more than the room itself. The room itself had a mirrored light on the ceiling (70’s porn-esque) and automated curtains for one touch open and closing (which is less and less atypical in rooms these days), which really yanks my crank (in a good way), for some reason. These rooms are newer so they cost a bit more than the standard rooms, but I think they’re totally worth it. Our room over looked the flamingo garden and somewhat of the GO pool. This is a place I would say is worth the initial sticker shock compared to some of the other hotels I’m recommending. It’s your first time in Vegas, come on, live a little!
Bally’s: My wife is head over heels in love with place. A lot of it is based on the fact she can navigate her way through it with such ease (a significant problem with Caesars Palace). The rooms are very very spacious. Surprisingly spacious…and incredibly inexpensive. I find that the $20 trick works extremely well and will typically get you upgraded to a mini-suite. We also love this place because we have met a wonderful cocktail server by the name of “Diane” who works in the video poker section of the casino in the back left corner by the deli. She now recognizes us upon seeing us and she always knows what we’re drinking so she’ll have it on her tray when she comes to greet us. She’s a phenomenal face to the company and I’ve emailed CE’s CEO to let him know. I’m pleased to say that he did forward the email to the President of Bally’s/Paris and it was passed along to her. That said, Bally’s is a fantastic stay with an excellent location the Strip. If you really didn’t want to pay the per night rates of a Flamingo GO room but wanted something a little nicer/newer than IP, I would tell you flat out: Bally’s is the place to stay. 9 out of 10 times I tell people this is where they want to stay when they ask my opinion on where they should stay.
Caesars Palace: Ok, the rooms themselves are great…getting to them, when in the casino, not so much. Both my parents and my wife hate this place for that reason alone. The casino is poorly laid out so getting around/through it is a mess. My parents, who had not been to Vegas since the early to middle ‘70’s stayed there on a comp for my wedding and said they’d never even step foot in there again because it’s so convoluted. I have to agree. This is not the place you want to stay on your first trip out to Vegas, so keep reading…
Venetian: Stayed in both a standard room and a “Prima Suite” during my most recent stay. The standard rooms are fantastic, in and of themselves. I would stay at this hotel again, in a standard room if it were comped. The Prima suite is nice but it’s not that great. I would never spend $350 a night on a hotel room but for my Honeymoon. We were able to host a nice after wedding party in the room for our friends and family who came out to Vegas to support us, so that was nice. That said, I would probably not recommend this place on your first trip out to Vegas unless money is not a concern. At a going rate of $180/nt for a standard Venetian room, I would rather stay at Bally’s and use my extra $125 (and CE doesn’t charge those ridiculous Resort Fees…an add on just to get more out of the consumer) for the gaming floor.
Rio: Another place to stay WAY away from…unless you’re 21 years old and enjoy that scene. It’s like the D-Bags of Jersey Shore have infiltrated the place. While the rooms themselves are large and roomy, the location is off-Strip and I just hate not being on the Strip. The nice thing about this place, however, is that it’s reasonably priced (again with no Resort Fees) and if you’re 21, 22, 23 years old, this might just be the place for you!
Stratosphere: This about says it all…click here
Well, you’ve heard what we have to say…where would you tell a Vegas Virgin they should stay on their first trip out? Why specifically?