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If you tell me you’re going to Vegas and I ask you where you’re staying, and you reply that you “don’t know” or “can’t remember” …well I’m just not sure we can be friends.
This was a conversation I had most recently with my sister (whom I love dearly and won’t un-friend) but it’s not unique to her; I’ve had friends give me the same reply. It drives me crazy. How can you be so cavalier about where you’re staying in Vegas?!
I’ve found there’s a common element among these laisse-faire respondents: typically, it’s their first trip to Las Vegas. It’s not really their fault, but I can assure you, when they return again, they won’t be so flippant about their accommodations.
The fact of the matter is, where you stay has a significant bearing on your Sin City experience. I’ve been twice, so I can say with surety, that there are many factors to consider before you book.
Location, location, location
Rule #1: Without hesitation, you want to stay on the Strip.
Why is this important? I can’t adequately communicate the scale of Las Vegas to a first-timer; everything is huge. The hotels are towering, the casinos are elaborate, and the properties are massive.
You can spend five or ten minutes walking along the Strip and still be in front of the same casino. Due to Vegas’ sheer size, I spent most of my time in my own hotel, and visiting the attractions and casinos in the immediate vicinity. If you choose to stay off the Strip or at the extreme far ends, it means you’ll need a shuttle or taxi to get, well, anywhere.
Tip: Most of the action is concentrated between Spring Mountain Road/Sands Avenue and West Hacienda Drive.
Pick your Theme/Vibe
Hotel and casino themes run the full gambit. Do you want to pretend you’re in a different country? Do you want to sleep in a castle? Do you want sleek and sophisticated for a luxe experience? Do you want to see-and-be-seen by Vegas elite?
Consider this: if you need to run down to the main floor shop for water, do you want to do it in flip-flops or high heels?
I’m partial to luxe without pretension, and appreciate a property that channels Las Vegas nostalgia without being too kitsch.
You get what you pay for
The bargain-basement deal calling your name will be guaranteed basic. I don’t know about you…but do you really want basic?
“But we won’t be in our rooms much anyway,” you say.
To that I say: on my first time to Vegas I opened the door to a room that looked like it hadn’t been occupied in weeks. On my second trip I stayed at a different property, which had, what I can only describe as a trap door above the shower. I thought to myself: don’t you want to go on holiday and stay at a place that is nicer than your own home?
Maybe the people who say they don’t spend much time in their rooms do so because they’re staying in musty rooms with trap doors?
Let me ask you a question, are you travelling to Vegas alone? I’m willing to bet you’re not. If you’re travelling two or four to a room, splurge. Break down the cost of a room, suite or villa per person, per night to see the real value of what you’re getting.
Plus, when you’re in Vegas, everyone wants to feel at least a little bit baller. The person you are in Las Vegas, is not the person who booked the package from their living room or office. Live a little! Peep this suite and tell me you wouldn’t like it…
Consider the On-Site Amenities
Is there a casino? I’m sorry…if there’s no casino, it just isn’t Vegas (to me, anyway). I’m not much of a gambler but I love the ambiance.
What’s the pool like? This is where it’s time to get judge-y, because during pool season (May through September) this is where you’ll want to spend most of the day. Markers of a good pool: cabanas and loungers and palms. Marker of the best pool? Being voted the best. This pool above was voted best pool in Vegas.
Pro tips: some pools have swim-up Blackjack. How cool is that? Screen drink menus for happy hour pricing. Some pools can charge $15USD a drink (ouch!)
Does the property host a famous pool party? Are all-star DJ’s, water guns and beautiful people, all vibing under a Las Vegas sun, your party scene?
Restaurants: Consider the food options on the property – and not just the fine dining. Grab-and-go, cafes and food courts are your secret weapon to protecting your pocket book.
My tip: pick a property that allows you to spend less on lighter meals so you can splurge on dinner. You might think Vegas is all cards, slots and clubs, but the culinary scene is unreal. Christmas in Vegas was the most succulent Christmas dinner I’ve ever had. (Sorry Mom!)
Health facilities: Are you a gym rat who can’t resist working out, even while on holiday? Me neither. I’m more of the spa type. After a long night out I just want to rehydrate and revitalize. A detoxifying Aroma Spa Seaweed Massage ought to help.
Social spaces: Travelling with a sports fan who can’t miss Thursday night football? Might want to consider a hotel that has a sports bar…just sayin’.
Good entertainment at your hotel means no money spent on taxi rides, there and back. Plus, if you want to catch something last minute, just pop downstairs and ask the concierge to help you out.
The One Thing You Don’t Even Know You Should Consider
There’s a great advantage you have as a Las Vegas first-timer who is diligently picking your hotel-casino: you can start earning rewards for immediate benefits and future comps.
Let me reiterate, Las Vegas hotels and casinos love extending privileges to loyal guests, which means hotel-hoppers are at a distinct disadvantage. Find your special place, then start earning points to return to your happy place, faster and with VIP advantages.
Some Las Vegas properties even have memberships that span multiple partners, making tier-climbing all the more rewarding. For example: Tropicana Las Vegas is a Doubletree Hilton property, which means you can start collecting Hilton HHonors™ that can be earned at Hilton Hotels worldwide. It also offers Marquee Rewards, whose membership spans a cruise line and multiple US hotel-casinos.
How Long Should You Go for?
I’ve always been ready to leave after a shenanigan-filled four days.
When Should You Go?
Vegas is great any time of the year; I’ve gone in April and over Christmas.
Fall is an especially good time to travel because sizzling desert temperatures become more comfortable for us Canadians. Shoulder season savings are always a bonus too.
But most times, Las Vegas is a place to celebrate occasions: bachelor(ette) parties, birthdays, girls’ getaways, romantic escapes, and holidays. Unlike other destinations, there’s no real need to let the seasons dictate your trip.
Hot Tips You Want to Know:
- Upon arrival, have your taxi stop by a grocery store so you can stock up on hotel room provisions like bottled water, snacks, and drinks. You'll save a bundle.
- Making a call from hotel rooms is notoriously expensive. Check with your cell provider to see if roam-like-home packages are available. (They allow you to use your data/minutes just as you would at home, for just a few dollars a day.)
- Pack one least one pair of comfortable shoes.
- Traveling late October to early April? Bring warm clothes.
Have you been to Las Vegas?
What advice would you give first-timers?
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